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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (better known as UMass Dartmouth) is one of five campuses in the University of Massachusetts system. It is located on the South Coast of Massachusetts, in between the cities of Fall River and New Bedford. The university has an enrollment of over 9,000 students, about half of whom live on campus. The school offers 61 undergraduate programs and 32 graduate programs.
While the majority of UMass Dartmouth's athletic teams compete in the Little East Conference, the football team (as well as the hockey team) is a member of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, which is made up of ten small colleges and universities from the state of Massachusetts. The Corsairs have qualified for the NCAA Division Three tournament once in their history.
The home field of the UMass Dartmouth football team, Cressy Field, is named in honor of Peter H. Cressy, Chancellor of UMass Dartmouth from 1993 to 1999. In addition to the football team, Cressy Field serves as home to the women's hockey, soccer and lacrosse teams as well as the men's lacrosse team.
Beginning in 2015, UMass Dartmouth undertook great strides to upgrade their athletic facilities. Recent improvements to Cressy Field include new turf, shock pad and drainage system, with new bleachers and a press box to be installed for the 2017 season. In addition, the baseball and softball fields were completely redone.
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 small concession stand at Cressy Field operated by the school's catering service, Chartwells. A very limited menu is served. Hot dogs, burgers, chips, bottled water and cans of Coca-Cola products are available here. On the plus side, no item on the menu costs more than four dollars.
You wouldn't really expect an elaborate game day presentation at a small school like UMass Dartmouth, and you don't get one here at Cressy Field. The experience is simple and understated. There is no pep band at Corsairs games, and only a small cheerleading squad that performs over in the corner of the field, far out of view of most of the fans.
Basic game information is presented over a fuzzy PA system. Music does not blare over the system throughout the game, which is a good thing, as the system really cannot handle it.
Fans who enjoy their football without the extraneous noise present at so many college football games today will enjoy the laid back atmosphere here at Cressy Field.
UMass Dartmouth is a self-contained campus in a rural area, with nothing within easy walking distance from campus. However, fans who drive to Corsairs games will have no problem finding places to eat or things to do on nearby Route 6, which runs right by the UMass Dartmouth campus.
The section of Route 6 near campus is loaded with national chain restaurants, shopping plazas and entertainment options. A complete guide to restaurants and hotels within 5 miles of campus can be found here.
The cities of Fall River and New Bedford are a short 10 minute drive from the UMass campus. Providence is located about a half hour away, with Boston an hour to the north. If visiting early in the fall, the attractions of Cape Cod, located a half hour's drive to the east, will still be open. If visiting later in the fall, New England is a popular destination for tourists coming to see the spectacular foliage of the season.
UMass Dartmouth averaged a respectable 1,280 fans per game in the 2015 season. Crowds of over 2,000 are not unusual here. There is a decent turnout by the student body, who add energy to the crowd.
One of the nicer things about attending a Division Three game is the connection that the fans in attendance have with the players on the field. With many players on the field coming from local areas, a great percentage of the fans in the stands consist of families and friends.
Cressy Field is located on the southern end of the UMass Dartmouth campus, alongside the university's other athletic facilities.
The town of Dartmouth is located in southeastern Massachusetts, in between the cities of Fall River and New Bedford. Located about an hour's drive south of Boston, the campus is easily accessed by car, as it is located just a few miles from Interstate 195. Fans driving to Dartmouth will take exit 11 (Reed Road) if traveling from the west, or exit 12B (Faunce Corner Road) if traveling from the east.
Fans utilizing public transportation will take SRTA's number 14 bus that runs hourly between Fall River and New Bedford. Schedules can be found here.
The UMass Dartmouth has a unique layout, with the majority of the buildings on campus located within a single ringed road that circles the campus. Visitors to UMD will enter on the north side of campus and drive around to the athletic complex on the south side of campus. Parking is available in one of several lots located near the complex a short walk from Cressy Field.
Several paved paths will guide fans through a grove of trees to the football field. Seating is comprised of a pair of metal bleachers on either side of the field. There is plenty of room around the field for fans who wish to stand and take in the action. There are no permanent rest room facilities at Cressy Field, just a row of port a johns for use by Corsair fans.
Admission to Corsair games costs only five dollars, with students, children and seniors admitted free of charge. With free parking and cheap concessions, taking in a game at Cressy Field is an inexpensive option for southeastern Massachusetts football fans.
An extra point is awarded for the unique setup and architecture of the UMass Dartmouth campus. The school was named in 2013 by Travel and Leisure as one of the ugliest campuses in the nation. The campus was designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph in the early 1960s in the Brutalist style. To contrast the school's buildings from the outside world in an attempt to create a social utopian environment, most of the buildings on campus are made entirely of concrete (beton brut), and feature irregular features which attempt to create a more communal atmosphere. To someone who has never visited this campus, imagine that a bunch of gray concrete spaceships landed in a giant open field, and you have the basic design of the UMass Dartmouth campus.
The game day experience at UMass Dartmouth is typical of so many small schools that dot the landscape in the northeast. While there is nothing fancy or elaborate to the game day experience here, remember that even Division One football is not really a big deal in this part of the country. Taking in a game on a Saturday afternoon at Cressy Field gives local fans a chance to connect with friends and family while taking in some football without breaking the bank.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
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493 State Rd.
Dartmouth, MA 02747
737 State Rd
Dartmouth, MA 02747
53 Old Bedford Rd
Westport, MA 02790
181 Faunce Corner Rd
North Dartmouth, MA 02747