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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Delaware State has been a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) since its founding in 1970. The MEAC is made up of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) located between Florida and Delaware.
Delaware State is the smallest of the MEAC schools with a little over 3,600 students and was ranked 9th among all HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report in 2014. It opened in 1891, eventually to be named Delaware State College and later changed to a university in 1993. One of their most unique programs is the university-based flight school, and it also has a fine business school.
The Hornets football team plays at 7,193-seat Alumni Stadium, which is also their track and field venue. They are a four-time conference champion and made their first-ever FCS playoff appearance in 2007.
The team has had its ups and downs over the years. In 2007 they were named Black College National Champions, a mythical championship shared with Tuskegee University. The lowest point in the program’s history came on November 9, 1980, when Delaware State lost to the Portland State Vikings by a score of 105-0 in the most lopsided loss in Division I-AA Football history.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is not much at Alumni Stadium in terms of food, at least officially. If you enter the main entrance by the south stands you will see that the grandstand has two food stands that are empty and not used.
But there are food trucks and local vendors that are located on the grassy areas surrounding the track and field. Karibbean Grill is one such vendor offering some lovely jerk chicken with rice and beans for $9, corn on the cob $2 and steamed cabbage and carrots for $2.
The Penalty Box sells BBQ chicken for $6 and ribs for $9. Both are served with some amazing cornbread. Where Pigs Fly has pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs starting at $4. Combo meals are also available.
A more official looking stand in the northwest corner sells a fish dinner for $12 with 2 sides and Brown's Famous Funnel Cake for $5. Hot dogs are $4 and Italian sausage sandwiches go for $7.
The stadium has a very unique atmosphere. At first glance it looks like a pretty poor facility. There are high schools with better stadiums. And the track around the field makes views feel pretty far away.
The south stand is mainly bleacher seats with a few areas with seat backs. The north stand is entirely bleacher seats with no seat backs.
But the crowd is into their team. The band fires up the sound and gets everyone into the action. The stadium alone deserves a low rating, but the atmosphere makes up for the lack of facilities.
There is no real neighborhood per se around Alumni Stadium. The stadium sits off the very busy DuPont Highway. You can see the Dover Mall and Dover International Speedway from your seats. I even heard a stock car screaming around the speedway as I walked towards the game. A closed big box store is located right next to the north stand, with another still opened store nearby as well. So if you need pet supplies you will be good to go.
The area is good if you need food and sustenance before or after the game. Legendary local chain Grotto Pizza has a sports bar located across the street at 1159 N DuPont Highway. They have never been a favorite of mine but fans of them will flock there.
Other great choices include Capriotti's Sandwich Shop on Gateway S Blvd, Restaurant 55 at 2461 S State St, La Tolteca Restaurant at 859 N Dupont Hwy and 33 West Ale House & Grill at 33 W Loockerman Street. The Fire and Ice Bar at Dover Downs Casino is another choice for a drink after the game.
The most recent game that I attended it was raining constantly. I expected to see no crowd. But the fans sat through rain and wind to watch their team. The band played and got the crowd interested throughout the entire game. I will have to attend again on a good weather day to see how this stadium and crowd is at that time. It's hard to doubt the dedication and support that comes from this group of fans.
The university is right off of a major road in DuPont Highway. A toll road, Route 1, takes you most of the way north to Wilmington is also nearby.
Dover is about a one and a half hour trip from Philadelphia or Baltimore, and at least two hours from Washington DC. It seems close by on a map but is isolated at the center of the Delmarva Peninsula. If venturing to a shore destination such as Ocean City, Maryland or Rehobeth, Delaware, then Dover may make a quick, enjoyable stop, but as a destination it is not the easiest location to travel to. Watch out for NASCAR weekends when traveling in the area; those weekends are not recommended unless you have no other options, as traffic can pile up, so leave yourself additional time in those cases.
There may also be tolls unless you are already on the eastern shore or Delmarva region. If travelling from the DC and Annapolis area you will have to pay tolls across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. If going around the top of the bay from Baltimore you will have to pay very hefty tolls on either Route 40 or I-95. And coming from Norfolk you will need to pay for the Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Parking is easy as you will be directed by university police to various lots around the campus. It is free except for the annual homecoming game where parking will be $20.
Tickets run from $10 to $25. Homecoming gets a price bump from $30 to $40. Youth tickets are normally $5 ($10 for homecoming) with seniors 62 plus for $10. Parking is free except for the homecoming game. The price seems just about right for the experience you will have.
There is not much to this stadium. The lack of official food seems weird, but the local vendors offer some great food at a great value. This is the one true extra here at Delaware State University.
Alumni Stadium is not much more than a high school quality stadium. Frankly, there are many high schools with far better facilities. But the crowd and atmosphere, as well as the fine quality of play, makes a visit to Delaware State football a good time for any fan.
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1159 N Dupont Hwy
Dover, DE 19901
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859 N Dupont Hwy
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