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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Bulldog Stadium was built in 1999 to coincide with the debut of Bryant University’s football team. The stadium is located on the northern edge of the university's Smithfield, RI campus, alongside several of Bryant's other athletic facilities, including Conaty Park. From 1976-2002, the New England Patriots used the Bryant campus as the site for their training camp, and Bulldog Stadium sits on the site that the Patriots formerly used.
In September of 2016 the entire stadium complex, including the football stadium and new Strength and Conditioning complex, was renamed in honor of David M. and Terry Bierne. David Bierne is a Bryant class of 1985 alumni, varsity lacrosse player and university trustee who has been a significant contributor to the Bryant athletic program. The Biernes have donated over $7 million to the university for upgrades to facilities, athletic programs and scholarships.
In addition to serving as home to Bryant football, Bulldog Stadium plays host to Bryant's men's and women's lacrosse and soccer teams. The facility has also hosted several of Rhode Island's high school state championship games.
Bryant University has been competing in Division One since the 2008 season. The Bulldogs are members of the Northeast Conference. While Bryant's athletic squads have been very successful since the school's elevation to the NCAA's top level, the football team is still looking for their first conference championship or playoff berth.
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There is a tent located near the entrance to Bulldog Stadium which offers a limited menu for hungry Bulldog fans needing a snack during Bryant football games. Hot dogs, burgers and nachos highlight the menu, along with assorted snacks.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Bulldog Stadium. No alcoholic beverages are sold at this on-campus facility. New England Lemonade Company sells frozen lemonades, a Rhode Island staple, out of a truck near the concession tent.
Football in the northeast, and in particular New England, is not the big deal it is elsewhere in the country. As a result, the atmosphere at games in this area is decidedly more laid back than what you will find at big-time schools in the southeast and midwest. Bryant University football games are no exception to this rule.
You will find some fans enjoying some low-key tailgating in the lot right next to Bulldog Stadium, but most fans just drive to the game, arriving shortly before opening kickoff. While there is an impressive turnout by the student body, they come mostly to watch the game, and don't add a whole lot of noise to the atmosphere.
It's a widely held axiom that the atmosphere at any college sporting event begins with the pep band. There is a small pep band on hand at Bulldog Stadium, along with the cheerleading squad and dance team, but they are fairly quiet by most standards. Likewise, the pregame festivities are remarkably subdued. The PA system is even quiet, and can be difficult to hear in some parts of the stadium.
Bulldog Stadium is a very comfortable, laid back place at which to take in some solid college football.
Smithfield is a suburb of Providence, RI, located about a twenty minute drive away from Rhode Island's capital city. Although it is a very nice place to live, it's certainly not a destination location. The Bryant campus is attractive, but there is not a whole lot in the immediate vicinity for visiting fans to see or do.
Dining options near Bryant University are few. Parente's restaurant is a favorite of students, as much for its location near campus as for its reasonably priced comfort food. There is really little else in the area besides a small strip mall in the vicinity of campus. Several national chain restaurants and shopping options are located about a 10 minute drive away on Route 44. Those looking for quality dining options should take the 20 minute drive to Providence, which is consistently rated as one of the better mid-sized cities in the country for culinary delights.
The same can be said for lodging options in Smithfield. There are a few decent options right on Douglas Pike near the Bryant campus, but visitors to the university would be better served to check out Providence or Boston for places to stay or things to do.
For those looking for entertainment options in the immediate neighborhood, Twin Rivers Casino is in nearby Lincoln. If spending time in a casino is on your agenda, you would be much better served to travel to the twin resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, located an hour away over the Connecticut state line.
Bryant averaged almost 5,500 fans per game during the 2015 season, almost doubling their average attendance from previous years, and over 100% of Bulldog Stadium's capacity. In addition, Bulldog fans are known to travel very well, and are among the most dedicated in the Northeast Conference.
The student body turns out in impressive numbers for Bulldog games. Unfortunately, they don't bring a whole lot of excitement or noise to Bryant football games, and a great deal of the student body leaves during the second half.
Bryant University is located in suburban Smithfield, Rhode Island, 13 miles from Providence. The campus is most easily accessed by car. Visitors to Bryant will simply take exit 8B off of Interstate 295. The campus is just over a mile away from the Interstate on Route 7.
Fans using public transportation to arrive at Bryant will find a Rhode Island Public Transportation (RIPTA) bus station on the Bryant campus, offering service every 40 minutes to downtown Providence. T.F. Green Airport is 20 miles away, with Boston's Logan Airport an hour's drive away. Train service to the area is provided by Amtrak, which has its downtown Providence station 15 minutes away.
Bulldog Stadium consists of two sets of stands, a 3,200 seat structure on the home side, which houses the press box, locker rooms, and restrooms, and bleachers that can hold up to 1,200 on the visitor's side. Most of the seats in the larger structure are metal bleachers, with three hundred individual bucket seats located in between the 40 yard lines.
For those fans requiring handicapped access, there is ample seating at the front of the grandstand, as well as some room fieldside to stand (or sit) and take in the game. Paved paths run on only the home side of the stadium, so be aware if exploring the grounds. There are only two small restrooms underneath the stands to serve the entire stadium. Plan to avoid this area at halftime, as long lines can form.
An afternoon at Bulldog Stadium will certainly not break the bank.
The majority of tickets for a Bryant football game cost just ten dollars (reserved chairback seating costs $15). Senior citizens and non-Bryant students are admitted for only five dollars. With free parking available just feet from the front door and reasonably priced concessions, Bryant football is a very affordable entertainment option for Rhode Island football fans.
An extra point is awarded for Bryant's efforts to upgrade the athletic department and facilities at the same time the university is rapidly expanding. Still in its first decade competing in Division One, the school has won championships in several sports. The new Strength and Conditioning Building located in the south end zone of Bulldog Stadium, opened in 2015, is the latest example of Bryant's commitment to joining big-time college athletics.
Another extra point is awarded to Tupper, the school's first live mascot, an English Bulldog who roams Bulldog Stadium clad in a Bryant sweater and is more than happy to interact with Bulldog fans. In addition, a costumed mascot is present at Bulldog Stadium, and twin bulldog statues roam both entrances to Bulldog Stadium.
Bulldog Stadium is typical of the small football stadiums that dot the northeast. It's a clean, comfortable facility at which fans can take in some quality football in a laid back atmosphere. Big-time college football isn't played here at Bryant, and that's certainly part of the charm of visiting Rhode Island in the fall.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by puckmanri on Nov 18, 2013
Bulldog Stadium was built in 1999 to coincide with the rise of Bryant University’s football team to Division I status. The stadium is located on the university’s Smithfield, RI campus, alongside Bryant’s softball, baseball, soccer, and lacrosse fields. From 1976-2002, the New England Patriots used the Bryant campus as the site for their training camp, and Bulldog Stadium sits on the site that the Patriots formerly used.
The stadium consists of two sets of stands, a 3,200 seat structure on the home side, which houses the press box, concession stand, locker rooms, and restrooms, and a 1,200 seat bleacher on the visitor’s side. Most of the seats are metal bleachers, with three hundred individual bucket seats located in between the 40 yard lines.
1114 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917
181 Washington Hwy
Smithfield, RI 02917
965 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917
355 Washington Hwy
Smithfield, RI 02917
1010 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917