Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium is home to the University of Maryland Terrapins football team. Built in 1950, it holds 54,000 fans, and was host to the British Queen Elizabeth's first ever American football game. Situated in the middle of the campus, minutes away from Washington, DC, the stadium shines in an area where other outdoor sports venues do not.
If you come to DC or Baltimore, you gotta come here.
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Byrd Stadium has very good food selection. Everything you could ask for in a stadium and more are available. All the traditional fare is better than average. Nathan's hot dogs, Johnsonville Brats and ice cream made from a local dairy are all very good. Non traditional items, such as crab cakes and pit BBQ, are available as well as a decent cheesesteak. Get a crab cake. You know you want to. Don't try to break the Nathan's hot dog eating record.
As is the case with many on-campus venues, no alcohol is sold in the stadium, but there are a couple of tailgates and sponsored parties to be found on campus outside of the stadium before games at which one may get their drink on, if one is so inclined. You can't bring alcohol into the stadium so be sure to imbibe outside if you have to.
Byrd Stadium is an historic venue for a number of reasons. It has, as mentioned above, hosted the Royal Family, several NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships and two NCAA National Football Champions. The old school horseshoe shape (no, NOT copyright of THE Ohio State University, sorry) evokes memories of classic NCAA football games. But it is the student section that truly makes this venue great. More on them later, but the atmosphere is just awesome.
The stadium is on campus, so, as a result, there is no neighborhood, per se. There are, again, official tailgates and pre and postgame parties, which help, but they aren't permanent. There are lots of bars in town, though. More on that later.
And before you ask, I define "neighborhood" as "something you can see when you leave the stadium in any direction." So, no, the bars and restaurants just off campus, as great as they are, don't count here. But they will count later, don't worry.
Wow. These fans BRING IT. I saw lots of faces painted. I saw kids dressed up as Terrapins. I saw loud, drunk (how do they stay drunk without alcohol?), chanting Terps fans who never sat down. I heard cleverly unrepeatable add ons to songs. (They REALLY don't like Duke here. We'll just leave it at that. I laughed and laughed.) The students, during key defensive situations, take their keys out and shake them at the opposition. The crowd was loud.
It was really, really loud. Really loud.
Did I mention it was loud?
Passionate, loud and real, genuine hatred for the opposition. What more could you ask for in a fan base? Nothing, that's what. The fans alone are worth the price of admission.
Make your life simple and get a parking pass before you arrive on campus. If you don't, you may be shuttled to a garage which is a bear to get out of after a game. With a properly colored pass, you can pay $15 to park and leave in a relatively normal fashion.
Better yet, park off campus for a bit of a hike (not too bad, maybe 15 minutes or so) so you can go to all of the awesome places downtown. I use the word downtown loosely. But not the word awesome. More on that later. (Literary device: foreshadowing.)
Bathrooms are big, clean and plentiful.
This is a terrific venue and everything is well priced. They sell a lot of tickets here, but there are always some available from, uh, independent street brokers. Not that we necessarily endorse that sort of thing.
Bonus points here for the fans. Also, while not in a neighborhood per se, there are lots of bars to visit (it's a college town, duh), including a hookah bar, if that sort of thing is your bag.
Check these places out:
RJ Bentley's Filling Station - Ever heard ESPN's Scott Van Pelt (a Maryland grad) say "Let's go to Bentley's?" This is the place he's talking about. A terrific sports bar just off campus, full of history, tradition, good American food and lots and lots of beer, do not miss this place. Seriously. A must stop.
Prince Cafe - Just off campus is Prince Cafe, the aforementioned hookah bar. They also sell decent Middle Eastern food. There is a $10.00 per person charge, again, the main draw (no pun intended) is the hookah smoking.
There are more places, conveniently located within stumbling distance from each other. Check em all out, which may take multiple trips. Well worth it.
Tons of fun to be had just outside of our nation's capital. Park off campus and prepare for a bit of a hike so you can properly enjoy the pre and post game festivities of your choice. Should you come before you die? I wouldn't say that. But if you are in DC (or even Baltimore, that's close enough), I would make it a point to come.
FEAR THE TURTLE!!!
Geoff Crawley is the Mid Atlantic Regional Correspondent and Voice of the Fan and is the host of a weekly podcast.
I've been to Byrd Stadium twice. Both experiences have been very similar which is a good thing.
The food & beverage if fairly good with a couple nice options like BBQ. I have to admit that I've tailgated both times so I haven't tried too much of the food but it always looks real good. The prices are a bit high, but the school is located between Baltimore and DC so that is expected.
The atmosphere is very good. The tailgating is some of the best I have experienced. The older alumni and big boosters are located in a small lot right outside the stadium while the regular lots are a little further way on the other side of the Comcast Center.
I am not a big fan of the Neighborhood. Outside of campus you can get into some not so nice areas in a hurry so make sure you know where you are going.
The fans are ok, and can really be into the games at key points, but as soon as Maryland falls behind a few TD's, they pretty much bail. Overall a fan base that a large number of college teams would love to have, but they do have their moments where they are uninterested in the game.
For example, on my last visit they were fighting FSU for a share of the ACC title and they had over 1,000 unsold seats. After talking to some fans it was due to the disinterest in keeping Ralph Friedgen as coach. I was really surprised because just a few years earlier he was their saviour for beating the same FSU team.
That said, the up moments for the fans outweigh the down moments and it makes for a fun gameday experience.
Access isn't too hard, but at Geoff said, you need to have a pass ahead of time or parking is going to be a nightmare.
The return on Investment is real good. Tickets start at $30, a great price for good college football with a loud crowd.
Extras for the t-shirts they were giving out the last time, the private tour of the Comcast Center I was given where I got to meet head basketball coach Gary Williams. I Under Armour Wounded warrior uniforms were real nice too, and as a Penn State fan, I hate "loud" uniforms normally.
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1917 Bladensburg Rd NE
Washington, DC 20002