The University of Maryland has traditionally been known as a basketball school. As a longtime member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the university has seen a great deal of basketball success under coaches such as Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams, even winning a national championship in 2002. But the university has been playing football with some success since 1892, and even won one official national championship in 1953. The 1951 team, generally seen as even better than the 1953 squad, has also retroactively been considered the national champions by various systems such as the Sagarin Ranking System.
Maryland has also been the home of many well-known coaches and players. Well-known coaches include Jim Tatum, Lou Saban, Jerry Claiborne, Bobby Ross, Ralph Friedgen, Randy Edsall and the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant. Famous players include Erin & E.J. Henderson, Stan Jones, Randy White, Dick Modzelewski, Torrey Smith, Vernon Davis and Boomer Esiason.
Now playing in the Big Ten Conference, The Maryland Terrapins play at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The stadium opened in 1953 as a horseshoe-shaped bowl with a capacity of 34,680. In 1991, the five-story Tyser Tower added luxury suites and a larger press box. In 1995, an upper deck on the north side of the stadium was added. Various changes since have topped the seating capacity at 51,500.
Primarily the home to Terps football and lacrosse, Byrd Stadium has been the scene of a few other events. In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II was on hand to watch the team upset North Carolina, while the USFL Baltimore Stars called the stadium home during their 1985 championship season. From the upper deck of Byrd Stadium, the Washington Monument, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Old Post Office Pavilion, the Washington National Cathedral, and the United States Capitol can all be seen.
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Byrd Stadium has a mediocre food selection. There are many concession stands found around all parts of the complex, but variety is not a strong feature.
Crab fries, found behind sections 14 and 205, are the best nod to local culture, although the addition of the "The Chessie," a large 24-ounce hot soft pretzel smothered in back fin crab dip and melted cheddar cheese, then topped with a dusting of Old Bay, is a pretty unique offering. The price is also quite large, at $17.50. It is designed to be shared between four people.
Chick-fil-A offerings can be found behind the Tyser Tower, while Season's Pizza ($6) can be found behind sections 13, 20 and 205.
Otherwise, traditional food offerings of hot dogs ($5), fries ($5), hamburgers ($6) and pit beef ($7.50) are generally seen around the stadium. Soda prices are $3.75 and $4.75.
The best food option at Byrd Stadium is the Maryland Dairy Ice Cream behind sections 3, 20 and 208. The ice cream is made on campus.
The stadium is very much an old school football stadium. This can be bad in terms of the aging infrastructure, but it also provides a nice platform for fan interaction.
The stadium is still at heart the horseshoe-shaped stadium that opened in 1953. The large press and luxury suite tower looks tacked on awkwardly, as do the massive upper decks on the north side of the stadium.
The closed-end part of the horseshoe is where the band and student section sits. Too bad they are not closer to the field action, as they both provide a great deal of sound and excitement. Behind them the large open-air concourse is a great pre and post game meeting spot.
The neighborhood is a mixed bag. Byrd Stadium is in the middle of the campus, so no businesses are directly nearby. The Terp Town area to the west of the stadium gives the fans entertainment and festivities to enjoy pre-game. Also located nearby is the Stamp Union, where you will see many a fan enjoying a pre-game meal or buying shirts at the campus bookstore. The Maryland Dairy Ice Cream store here is a nice place to go ahead of the game.
The town of College Park is located directly south of the campus along U.S. Route 1. RJ Bentley's Filling Station, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Jimmy John's, Ledo Pizza, and Five Guys are all good options in this "downtown" area. Looney's Pub and Bobby's Burger Palace are two other great options, and are located in The Varsity building (8150 Baltimore Ave) north of the downtown area, and may be even closer to the stadium if walking.
The Sheraton College Park North Hotel at 4095 Powder Mill Road in nearby Beltsville is the best lodging choice, but it is not within walking distance of the campus.
You will always have the dizzying array of Washington, DC options to choose from. The College Park Station of the Washington Metro is close by, and is your best bet for getting to DC, as the traffic and parking situation is not ideal.
The student section at Maryland is noted for being loud and occasionally rude. Expect to hear a few curse words during their chants. But they enjoy the game and provide a festive atmosphere.
Other fans throughout the stadium do not always go to the same level as the students do. Fans in and near the Tyser Tower are pretty quiet. Overall, the fans are passionate, but may tend to be more the "clap politely" types.
The University of Maryland is not far from the Washington Beltway. But it is just far enough away that getting to the stadium is not too easy, either. U.S. 1 and University Boulevard are full of traffic lights, and will be very full of traffic, even on non-game days.
The best bet is to pre-pay for a parking space through the University. The $17 price tag is way too high, but at least you will know where you are going ahead of time. A map to your space will be provided when you pre-purchase. The Terrapin Trail Garage is a personal favorite, as it is relatively close to Byrd Stadium, but still allows a quick way out of the area.
You will see some fans park for free on the sides of nearby University Boulevard, but this is not recommended. To do this, you would need to get there very early, and frankly, the road is too busy and dangerous to park there.
If travelling to the game via the Washington Metro, get off at the College Park Station and take the shuttle directly to the stadium.
Tickets can be had for a good value, depending on the opponent. Expect to pay more for the larger, more well-known opponents of the Big Ten. Parking prices weigh down the rating, as they are far too high for the location.
Look for the "cemetery" of highly-ranked teams to lose to Maryland. It is located outside of the stadium, near the southeast corner where the opposing team buses often park.
It has been mentioned a couple of times, but one should go to the Maryland Dairy Ice Cream, whether inside the stadium or at the Stamp Union, during your visit. Look for their special offerings, as they rotate and change frequently.
The main scoreboard that sits behind the closed end of the horseshoe is pretty interesting. It is the standard scoreboard seen in many places. but since it sits in an open area, it is a good meeting spot. We also saw kids who were quite amused seeing the staff who work out the open top part of the scoreboard providing camera and other staff support.
Byrd Stadium is a pretty basic college football stadium. The long-standing horseshoe seating bowl does not always mesh with the rest of the stadium, but a fan will find a game enjoyable, albeit in a pretty ordinary environment.
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.
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.
Checked out Byrd Stadium last season as the 2nd part of my ACC stadium doubleheader. While the campus itself wasn't as scenic as UVA's, the tailgating was a different story. Major lots were entirely filleed with Alumni, Boosters and current students way before the 12:00 pm kickoff.
I was fortunate in that I talked an attendant into allowing me to park in a reserved section for a "fee". Although the tailgate itself was crowded, Florida State took the fans out of the action almost immediatley. They scored often to pretty much seal up the game by the half and clinch the ACC's coastal division title.
I'm sure I'll visit Byrd Stadium again on another Maryland/DC/VA loop.
The stadium is a pretty weird shape with three decks on one side and one on the other with a tower of suites. The fans are cheer mainly only near the end of the game. The first 3 quarters they were kind of out of it. The game I went to there was a constant slight drizzle. The student section was packed at the beginning, but it WAS EMPTY BY THE END OF THE 3RD QUARTER! And it was a close game and their last against rival Virginia.
Kind of a weird atmosphere, the fans were not really into the game. Not the nicest stadium but it's okay.
8150 Baltimore Ave
College Park, MD 20740
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1917 Bladensburg Rd NE
Washington, DC 20002