Being a college athlete in Boston has always been a tough gig. It's a pro sports town, and the recent success of the professional teams has only made it harder for the city's major programs to attract much attention. Despite the fact that Boston College has sent scores of players to the NFL over the years, some of whom have even become stars (see Matt Ryan), the football program that plays on the edge of the city still struggles to fill its stands. While Alumni Stadium certainly provides a pleasant experience for the casual fan, it lacks the excitement and passion that you find surrounding many other top-tier college football experiences.
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Food and beverage offerings are par for the course at Alumni Stadium. You'll find your standard hot dogs, pretzels, and soda, with nothing that truly stands out. Prices are reasonable but not cheap. As is the case at most college venues, beer is not sold at Alumni Stadium.
The atmosphere in Chestnut Hill on game day is in a word: tame. Alumni stadium is small by college football standards, and with the exception of a year where the team far exceeded expectations, such as in 2007 with Matt Ryan at quarterback, the games do not frequently sell out.
Tailgating is a strange thing at BC as well. Since the campus is in a densely-populated city/suburban area, space is at a premium. If you have a parking spot on Shea field, or know someone who does, the tailgating experience seems normal "" rows of cars on a big grassy field. But otherwise, tailgaters are spread throughout campus, in parking lots and garages and on whatever small green space they can find. On the one hand, it's the most effective use of space possible. On the other hand, the tailgating is so divided and disparate that one never feels the excitement of being in a sea of barbecuing and bean-bag tossing that marks the traditional tailgate environment.
Finally, the student section is one place in a stadium that should always be full "" and at BC, that's not always the case. The one major exception to all of the above is the annual Notre Dame game, which is electric.
The neighborhood around Alumni Stadium is largely suburban and residential. It's safe as can be and easy to walk around. There's no real eating or drinking establishments to speak of, save for a small strip of businesses at the edge of campus that includes a Dunkin' Donuts, El Pelon Taqueria, an ice cream shop and a sandwich store.
That said, if tailgating is not your thing, the Cleveland Circle neighborhood is about a 15-20 minute walk from the stadium and has a wide range of restaurants and bars. You'll find a couple of pizza shops and Boloco burritos. Good bar options include Cityside Bar and Grill and Roggie's. Mary Ann's is a classic dive bar/student favorite; just know that your shoes might stick to the floor.
The Eagles have their share of committed fans, and there are certainly alumni who travel from far and wide to be at every home game. And, as mentioned above, if you're lucky enough to get tickets to see Notre Dame, Alumni Stadium will be filled to the brims. But at a typical contest, there are often many empty seats.
The fans who are in attendance truly care about their team, often are familiar with the players and cheer at the appropriate times. It's also a very family-friendly environment, and as there are many BC alumni who live in the area, you'll frequently see two or three generations of families taking in a game together. That said, in a game like football, the home team can garner a true advantage from a loyal and raucous home crowd "" and this is something the Eagles are not a beneficiary of.
Alumni Stadium is easy to get to by car, although parking can be a challenge. There is street parking in some of the surrounding neighborhoods, but make sure to pay close attention to the signs, which indicate what streets allow game day parking and which do not.
The T is also an option. You can take the Green Line, using one of three branches. The B branch will bring you right to the edge of campus. The D (stop: Reservoir) or C (stop: Cleveland Circle) bring you within a 15-20 minute walk, or, there is a free BC shuttle that picks up at the Reservoir stop and takes 5 minutes to get you to campus. Restrooms are found easily within the stadium.
Tickets to a game at Alumni Stadium can be had for around $20. For better seats, you can pay upwards of $40 or $50. For the $20 price point, you get what you pay for: a mediocre FBS experience. Start spending more, and you hopefully have picked a great matchup, otherwise you might not feel you're getting your money's worth.
The view of the Boston skyline is a nice extra on a clear day. If you do visit Alumni Stadium, make a visit to the Doug Flutie statue.
The jerseys commemorating former stars are a nice touch as well. Finally, circling the stadium are banners that recognize the team's recent string of bowl invitations.
Boston College football has been a success by many measures. And by no fault of their own, they happen to be stuck in a town where the Sawx, Pats, and C's steal most of the headlines.
The experience at Alumni Stadium is passable. On a nice fall day, when BC is playing a worthy opponent, it's hard to complain about seeing high quality college football in what is a perfectly comfortable venue. But college football fans who have experienced a game in-person at a Big Ten, SEC, or Big 12 school will be disappointed. If you're going to make the trip, spend the extra money and find your way into the Notre Dame game. Otherwise, be prepared for an underwhelming experience.
I'll never understand how Boston College has such a hard time drawing fans to an ok stadium situated at the edge of Boston on a beautiful campus.
The originial reviewer did a great job on this one so I don't want to steal too much of their thunder.
Parking was a pain and I had a media pass, can't imagine what it would be like without a pass. I highly recommend taking the metro lightrail train thing into the game. I saw cars getting towed left and right when I got there.
Hot dogs were $4, high for where I am from but a good price when compared to my visit to fenway later in the day.
Would love to know who rated this a 4.7 as they are out of their mind. A 2.5 to 3 is about right based on the lack of fans.
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