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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
In between Johnstown and Altoona, you will find the small town of Loretto, Pennsylvania. With a population of about 1,200 residents, this may not be a place that you have waited your whole life to visit. However, if you are in the area on an autumn Saturday, it is a worthwhile stop to see the Red Flash of St. Francis University play football.
The Red Flash are members of the Northeast Conference (NEC) and have been playing football at DeGol Field since 2006. The playing surface, which is encircled by a red track, is also home to the track & field team, as well as the field hockey team.
The team nickname dates back to 1927 and originated with the football program. The student newspaper, the Loretto, dubbed the quick running game the “red flash” and the name stuck. However, this nickname was not officially adopted by the school until 1972.
DeGol Field is a modest complex with bleachers on each side of the field. The official capacity is 3,450. The running track creates some distance from the field, which decreases the overall intimacy, but overall, this is a good place to see FCS college football.
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There's nothing unusual about the concession items at DeGol Field. Hot dogs are served with chili or cheese ($2, or both for $3). Also on the menu are hamburgers and cheeseburgers ($3), nachos ($3), popcorn ($1), candy ($1), and chips ($1).
Soft drinks (Pepsi products) and water are available in 20 ounce bottles ($2), and you can also grab a coffee or hot chocolate ($1) on those colder fall days. Like many NCAA on-campus venues, no alcohol is served. The selection may not be exciting, but at least the prices are low.
There are very few amenities that add to the overall experience of attending a St. Francis football game. Bleachers on both sides are metal with average leg room. Behind the Red Flash side the stands extend from end zone to end zone. If it is a sunny day, then these seats will be in the direct sunlight, so bring a hat, sun glasses, or sunscreen as needed. The opponent's side of the field has bleachers that stretch between the 25 yard lines, and have nice shade provided by a hill and a line of pine trees.
The cheerleading team occupies the area on the red track between the home team and the stands. They are largely quiet during the game, although they offer the occasional cheer. The marching band doubles as the student section and does its part to play short ditties in between possessions. They also play briefly during pregame (beginning about 10 minutes prior to kickoff), as well as halftime.
The one scoreboard is in the south end zone and provides only the most basic information. It can be somewhat hard to read depending on your angle as the sun shines down directly on the scoreboard.
Frankie the Friar, one of the iconic mascots of college athletics, does a great job of remaining active both on the sideline and in the stands throughout the contest, entertaining young and old fans alike.
There is no mistaking the town of Loretto as a hotbed of nightlife or social activity. However, there are some very convenient spots immediately within the vicinity of the stadium.
Missy's Village Pizza is located directly across the street from DeGol Field. They have pizza by the pie or the slice, and really fantastic pepperoni rolls, which I would highly recommend. Prices are reasonable. I had a slice and a pepperoni roll for $3. With the limited selection inside the stadium, this is the place to go before the game (they open at 11am, and most Red Flash games start at 12pm). Missy's also has a couple of outdoor tables if it is a nice day, and a TV inside if you want to stay on top of the other college football games of the day.
Not far from the field, up on St Mary Street, you can find the Loretto Pub & Grill. They've been around since 1999 and offer really great wings, and a selection of beers.
If you are staying in the area and need a hotel, your best bet is to drive 20 miles in the direction of your choice (west towards Johnstown or east towards Altoona). Pittsburgh is about an hour and a half drive to the west.
You can expect the home side to be pretty close to full for most home games. For a Catholic university, I was somewhat surprised by some of the language that I heard from the fans, but there is no doubting that these fans have a passion for their Red Flash. Generally attendance hovers around 50% of the stadium's capacity.
Parking is free, so that's always a plus. When you come in via Manor Drive, just take a right on Evergreen Drive and you'll find a spot to your left. The first parking entrance allows alcohol and tailgating, while other spots are for parking only. There are limited spaces for tailgating, so you'll want to arrive a few hours before kickoff to claim a spot.
From the parking lot, just take a walk down the hill and you'll find DeGol Field, behind the John F Kennedy Student Center. The stadium is very easy to navigate and fans have general seating, so you can choose the spot where you would like to sit. Concessions are offered on either end of the home stand.
Adult tickets are just $10, with youth (18 and under) cost $5 per ticket. A family of four can park the car, get their tickets, something to eat and drink, and only spend a total of $50. This is not a once in a lifetime experience by any means, but it is a very comfortable place to see some college football. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see DeGol Field, but if you're in the area, or following your team into Loretto, then you should have a good time here.
I'm a big fan of Frankie the Friar. The work of a college mascot, especially in a large costume like what Frankie inhabits, is difficult, and Frankie does a fantastic job.
Another extra point for the lovely campus of St. Francis University. It is hilly and tree-lined, and if the weather is nice, it is worth your time to meander a bit.
One interesting site worth visiting while you're in town is the tomb of Demetrius Gallitzin. The tomb is located under a statue of Gallitzin in front of St. Michael's church. The monument was built after a donation by Charles Schwab, probably the most famous resident of Loretto. Gallitzin, known as the Apostle of the Alleghenies, founded the settlement that is now the town of Loretto, Pennsylvania.
This is not a bucket list stadium, or a tourist attraction by any means. This is FCS college football is a casual, low-frills environment. If you are in the area, then you'll be happy you made a visit to DeGol Field.
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175 St Catherine St
Loretto, PA 15940
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