Things have come a long way since my first Wake Forest football experience. What
started as a relaxed, underwhelming game day has turned into one of the best small
stadium atmospheres in college football. Groves Stadium underwent a name change (to
BB&T Field), the team itself earned an ACC Championship, and Athletic Director Ron
Wellman went a long way toward his goal of making BB&T Field the "Wrigley Field of
Obviously, the improvement on the field had a lot to do with the additions, but so did
the vision of Wellman. Fans have a more pleasant venue, recruits have something to get
excited about, and the players can be proud of their stadium now. The school has also
done a lot to enhance tailgating as well.
So although BB&T Field continues to be a work in progress, it is a beautiful stadium with
some truly first class features. The bathrooms are clean and updated, Deacon Tower is
gorgeous, the new video board is breathtaking, and the stadium itself looks modern, yet
classic. As far as college venues go, it is pretty darn nice.
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 a row of food stands, including some pretty good BBQ and live music that leads to a few restaurants built on land that the school owns. In fact, the school has bought up most of the space around the stadium to continue to make the area more fan-friendly with the basketball arena across the street.
While the restaurant selection still leaves a little to be desired, there is a great option in Putter's close by, as well as a decent diner called Jimmy The Greek. Putter's has some good beers on tap, and some great food. The buffalo chicken tenders are great, as are the sandwiches and burgers. Jimmy The Greek makes a mean omelet, and has the typical dive fare.
BB&T's food selection does need some work, with average menu items like hot dogs, pretzels, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, frozen lemonade, etc., but the Deacon Tower Grille, located in Deacon Tower itself, is a nice little restaurant and is open during the week.
After the 2006 season, a lot changed. A new press box, complete with a restaurant and loge seats, was built. Brick was added, new turf was installed, concession stands and bathrooms were improved, chair backs were put in, and the Demon Deacons got one of the biggest, most impressive scoreboards in the country. The 2011 Wake Forest football experience isn't even recognizable compared to the 2005 version I was introduced to during my freshman year.
The stadium atmosphere is very family-friendly, too. Deacon Hill is a great place to sit and bring the younger fans.
It's a smaller stadium that still has a long way to go. But it's getting there "" fast.
Another work in progress, the neighborhood and tailgating area are expanding every year. It is night-and-day from what it was just five years ago. The grounds are pristine, there's an underground walkway to get across the street to one of the main lots, there are a few restaurants, a nice row of stands, some live music on gamedays, and a lot more on the way.
The bar scene needs help, but downtown is only a couple of miles away. Winston-Salem has done a lot to their main drag, with a good mix of dive bars and nicer places to eat/drink. It's not ideal, but I've definitely seen worse.
The school still needs work with regards to fans. The student section doesn't take the game very seriously, and a lot of fans care more about the tailgate experience than the game itself, despite the team's recent success and bowl appearances since the 2006 ACC Championship. Far too many opposing fans buy tickets, too; when they come in droves, while rowdy and loud, they are typically cordial.
A winning tradition will go a long way toward creating an exciting gameday atmosphere on-par with other ACC schools, like Florida State and Virginia Tech.
This might be the best part of the whole stadium experience. Bathrooms are plentiful and big, and port-o-potties are everywhere in the parking lots. There are plenty of places to park at a decent price, while tailgating has improved every year. It is relatively easy to get in and out on gamedays, with traffic being pretty average. Wake has made great strides here, and it shows.
Another absurdly good part of Wake games has been the availability and cost of tickets, especially this season, which saw home games against Florida State, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, amongst others; you can see a marquee opponent at close to half the price of other venues. Parking is relatively inexpensive, food is moderately priced, and seating is decent everywhere.
Great value for a good product which is a good recipe for success in my opinion.
The video board is one of the nicest in not just college, but all of football and gives it two
extra points. It is that incredible.
Deacon Tower is also ridiculously nice. The loge seats are great, and the press box is one
of the nicest I've ever sat in, and that includes professional press boxes. That's worth a
The stadium is just about the right size for a school like Wake; the brick siding and
Deacon Hill are very good touches, and the turf looks great since the update. The outside
of the stadium, including a statue of the Demon Deacon, and some nice pathways and
landscaping, is first class, so the aesthetics earn the stadium one additional point too.
**Photos attributed to Conrad Klank.
BB&T Field is the right size for people who are intimidated by the massive college coliseums but brings with it great D-1 action. A top-rate scoreboard and cheap tickets are pluses.
I almost scored it 5 across the board. Only two things are needed to improve the experience. More students attending (but Wake is small so that is hard to do), and more seat back chairs. Since Wake's population is small they need to think of ways to fill the stadium (i.e., give free seats to area high school honors students, give to local nonprofits to honor community service, give to local church groups, discount tickets to those who live in the same zip code, free tickets to those who partner with Wake for community service, etc.).
3005 Bonhurst Dr
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
2806 University Pkwy
Winston-Salem, NC 27105
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