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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Jacksonville University is a private school located on the banks of the St. Johns River just north of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Founded in 1934, it evolved from a two year school to a four year university, offering more than 70 majors through six colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Fine Arts, Education, Healthcare Sciences, and Aviation Management. It has a total student body of 3,741.
The home of Jacksonville University football is Milne Field, located on Jacksonville University’s beautiful campus along the St. Johns River, across from downtown Jacksonville. The University has more than 60 athletic teams, and all athletic teams are nicknamed the Dolphins. The football team competes within the FCS level of Division I with the Pioneer Football League, a football-only conference made up of Butler, Dayton, Marist College, San Diego, Valparaiso, Morehead State, Drake, and Davidson.
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".
The food selections are centered in a building that also houses the team store and restroom facilities in the entry plaza of Milne Field.
The beverage selections consist of Coca-Cola products (all $4 for a 32 oz. bottle), PowerAde ($3), and water ($2).
The food selections at the main concession stand are limited to pizza slices ($4) and popcorn ($3). I would highly suggest you patronize the food trucks parked behind the south end zone for a much more interesting selection and tasty food. The Up in Smoke BBQ truck is a fan favorite. Their Pork BBQ sandwich with a side and a drink is $9, and the serving size is huge. Mama's Food Wagon offers a wide variety of sandwiches and desserts guaranteed to fill your tummy. The food trucks really improve the overall food and beverage experience at Milne Field.
Milne Field was built in 1998 and opened in time to coincide with the inaugural season of the Dolphins football program. It seats 5,000 and features an artificial surface playing field, as the stadium is used by other sports such as lacrosse and field hockey throughout the year.
Seating on the west side of the stadium consists of bleacher seating for general admission and chair backs for season ticket holders. By having the bleachers facing east, you avoid having the sun in your eyes for a majority of the game.
Milne Field has a very unique set up in the southern end zone and on the east side of the field. The press box is on a hill overlooking the field rather than atop the main bleachers. All seating in the end zone or east side of the field is first come/first serve Adirondack style chairs. They line the top of the hill from the south end zone to the press box. They are extremely comfortable and are very popular with the fans.
The stadium underwent major upgrades to the field, press box, restroom facilities and entry areas prior to the 2014 season. The scoreboard in the end zone features replays of scoring plays, as well as updates on other scores from throughout the country.
Jacksonville University is located in the Arlington section of Jacksonville. The JU campus itself is quite scenic with views of downtown Jacksonville from the banks of the St. Johns River. Outside of the campus it is primarily convenience stores and fast food joints. I would suggest you make the 15 minute drive over the bridge to Jacksonville Landing for a wide selection of restaurants and nightlife. The nearest hotels to Jacksonville University are along the I-295 corridor which is about 5 miles east of campus.
All supporters of Jacksonville University athletics go by the title of Dolfans or Finatics, no matter what the sport. The most heated rivalries are with Stetson University, which is only 60 miles away in Deland, Florida, and the University for North Florida, which is a crosstown opponent. The night I attended was the Homecoming game against Stetson and a record crowd turned out. Outside of these two games, the Pioneer League games have a much lower attendance, as there are few regional teams in the conference, and the teams within the League come from Ohio, New York, California, Iowa, Kentucky and Illinois.
Jacksonville University also has to compete for fan attention with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the annual Georgia - Florida game and the Gator Bowl. Many of these games are just across the St. Johns River at Everbank Stadium and "The Swamp" in Gainesville which is an easy 70 miles from the Jacksonville campus.
Despite the competition, the Jacksonville fans are very vocal in their support of the team. In recent years the Dolphins have had very good teams and attendance has spiked up with this success. Jacksonville University has an excellent marching band which coordinates closely with the dance and spirit teams in keeping the fans into the game. Dunk N Dolphin, the school mascot is also a crowd pleaser.
The access to Jacksonville University is excellent from both I-295 via Merrill Road or from downtown Jacksonville via University Boulevard North, a major thoroughfare in the city. Parking is plentiful on campus and I would highly recommend parking on campus due to the neighborhood surrounding it. All parking lots are in close proximity to the athletic facilities and the school also provides golf cart shuttles from all major parking lots on the campus to the stadium.
Due to recent upgrades, the bleachers have excellent leg room and there are ramps for those who have mobility issues. The areas across from the grandstand are on top of a hill, but the walkway leading to these seating areas has a very gentle slope and is paved. The entry plaza is well lighted and spacious enough that you will able to meet up with friends at the game with little trouble.
Tickets to the football contests in Milne Field run from $20 for a reserved chair back seat to $15 for a general admission bleacher seat. Seats for children 13 and under and adults over the age of 62 go for $10. Parking is $5 on campus, with the exception of The Grove tailgating area located just outside the stadium for $60.
Jacksonville Beach is only seven miles east of the campus and the bright lights of Jacksonville and its entertainment offerings are a 15 minute drive from campus.
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