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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
If you drive through the campus of Campbell University, you may not even realize that the school has a football team. The school has around 5,000 students, and the campus is an intimate environment which doesn’t seem to welcome football. Come Saturday, however, the Camels’ football stadium and its surrounding parking lots are home to one of the best FCS tailgates. With its recent renovations, Barker-Lane Stadium is a great home for a rising program and its great fans.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Don't let the size of the stadium fool you. There is quite a variety of food, snacks, and drinks available around the stadium. Hot dogs, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and North Carolina barbecue are the three main options. In addition, the concessions table has a nice spread of snacks and candy. Campbell is a Coke school, and bottled products are sold for $2.
The university sells concessions on both sides of the stadium; two long tables are on the west end, and a more traditional stand is on the east end. If you are looking for something a bit more unique, those options are only on the west end. Pelican's SnoBalls are a favorite for many local fans. SnoBalls are like snow cones, but with much more flavor.
With the recent renovations, Barker-Lane has changed its atmosphere dramatically. In 2013, a west stand, a field house, and luxury/press boxes were all added. Because of this tremendous upgrade, the stadium looks and feels much bigger. The most notable change is the addition of press/luxury seating. Charlie C's IGA Hometown Proud Press Tower is 80 feet tall, and is complete with a President's suite, press box, and two patios.
The stadium isn't perfect, and isn't quite on the level of most FBS schools. The scoreboard is probably the most lacking. The scoreboard has a small video screen that shows very little actual video, lights that show the score, and a game clock. While the scoreboard is certainly on par with other FCS stadiums, it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the stadium. It almost seems as if the scoreboard is just the next piece of the stadium to be renovated.
Campbell University is located in Buies Creek, NC, a town where not much goes on outside of Campbell. If you are looking for a post-game activity, your options are very limited. Though there are a few restaurants on campus (Subway, Quiznos, and Chick-fil-A), anything else is at least 15 minutes away.
Some students make the 15-minute trip so they can enjoy Sunni Skies. Located in nearby Angier, Sunni Skies boasts over 120 different flavors of ice cream. They are made fresh on-site, and samples are always free.
When you look across major college football in the south, like the programs in the SEC and ACC, one thing that stands out is the fans. No matter your opinion about these fans, you cannot deny that they are all very loyal and very loud. While I'm not suggesting that Camel fans are of SEC caliber, they share some of the same qualities.
As I drove up to Barker-Lane, I noticed that my parking option was a grass lot. I didn't think much of it until I reached the stadium and realized that the lot was completely filled with tailgaters. These tailgaters weren't just students, either. The tailgaters were of all ages; from young children to older men. There were grills, footballs, and loud music as you would find at any normal tailgate. From then on, the atmosphere was no longer one of a small school and its football team. This was good old southern football, complete with a tailgate.
The atmosphere continues into the stadium. While the students are by far the loudest, most other fans get involved in the game, as well. Most of the fans have a decent understanding of football are partisan to their team, like any good home crowd.
When a town is called Buies Creek, you immediately assume it's in the middle of nowhere (at least I did). I was surprised to find just how easy it was to get to. From Raleigh, US-401 or NC-55 will get you there. From Fayetteville, NC-210 is a direct route. From outside the area, Campbell is only about 15 minutes from Interstate 95. These options make it very easy to get to the stadium.
The two parking pass lots fill up fast, but free parking is available with just a short walk to the stadium. Overall, the parking is close to the stadium, and free parking is always a good bonus.
There is only one concourse that seems to encircle the stadium, but unfortunately does not. The stadium itself is still in a horseshoe design, and the concourse reflects that. While not a major problem, it is a bit frustrating to those wishing to walk from one side to the other.
Restrooms appear almost new, but there is nothing fancy about them. They are a good size, and therefore, there is little to no line.
Campbell offers three different seating options. On the home side (on which the sun is mostly blocked by the press boxes), you can get a reserved chairback ($13) or reserved bench seat ($9). On the opposite side, general admission bench seating is available ($3). All the seats are good, and you are always close to the action.
Gaylord the Camel is the mascot that cheers for the Camels. Gaylord is named for famous Campbell alum and MLB pitcher, Gaylord Perry. Even though he moves around the stadium, his favorite spot is with the cheerleaders near the student section.
The Campbell marching band is nicknamed the Sound of the Sandhills. The band is a newer program at Campbell, and they are already making great strides. Their halftime performance was as good as any, as they performed songs from Star Wars and Star Trek as a tribute to astronauts.
Southern hospitality is one of the great perks about southern venues. All of the staff is very friendly and ready to help in any way necessary.
Campbell also gets an extra point for its use of social networking. Each sport at Campbell has its own Twitter account, as well as the general Campbell athletics feed. This is great for those only looking to see news and updates for a certain team.
There is no doubt the Barker-Lane Stadium and Campbell are a long way off from FBS football. On the other hand, this is a great venue for the team and fans alike. With the recent renovations, the stadium is a great place to watch a game, and with tickets under $20, a good value, as well.
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