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Official Review by Jason Bullock, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When William ‘Dick’ Price was leading the Norfolk State University football team to three CIAA championships, little did he know he was creating a legacy for himself that would one day result in his name adorning the home of the Spartans. Price coached the team for 10 seasons (1974-83) and had more success than any other, past or present. He was also the Athletic Director from 1989 until his retirement 10 years later.
During his time as AD, he was able to see the stadium named after him open in 1997. The inaugural game was played against Virginia State and drew 34,000 - a record that still stands today and is 4,000 over typical capacity.
Price Stadium may not be on your bucket list, but it is a nice stadium in which to catch an FCS game.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
While there isn't an abundance of food options at Price Stadium, you definitely won't leave hungry. The are four main concession stands, and one thing I appreciate is the fact they are all open and have plenty of staff to serve fans quickly.
You will find half of the stands selling hot dogs, hamburgers and nachos - all for $3 each - as their main fare. The others are where you will find the real treat - fried fish and wings. For $10, you can purchase either two pieces of fish or six wings, and each comes with a side of fries. I thought the price was a little high until I bought a plate of wings - they were delicious! If you go to a Spartans game, they are a must-have, and don't forget to stop by the condiment station and slather some hot sauce on your wings.
If you're looking for something that will last you a little longer than a plate of wings, head over behind the east end zone, and you will find the item that pushed this category up a point - a gigantic smoked turkey leg. For $8, you will get a caveman club-sized treat provided by Shakey's, a local caterer who also provides the wings and fish mentioned above, and have something to snack on throughout the football game. One is big enough for two or three fans to share, and is a great value.
Bottled sodas and water are served at concessions, and are $3 each. I noted both Coca-Cola and Pepsi products available at different stands. For a sweet treat, you will find funnel cakes behind each end zone for $5, and the main concession stands sell candy bars for $2. Most stands take cash only, although some do have 'cash or credit' signs. I would recommend bringing cash, as I did not see an ATM on site.
While the home of the Spartans is not necessarily a fancy stadium with a ton of amenities, there are a few notable items that help to enhance the overall fan experience and create a fun atmosphere.
First, get there early and you will see fans out tailgating early on Presidential Parkway, which leads into the west entrance of the stadium. About 30 minutes before kickoff, the Spartan Legion Marching Band walks through the tailgaters with plenty of percussion to get the blood going.
Once inside, you have to decide where to sit. At the east end of the stadium you will find an 800 square foot scoreboard that shows all of the typical information, along with live and replay video. There are also enhanced stats, such as first downs, rush and pass yards and penalties. If numbers are your thing, you will appreciate this. Sit in Section 1 behind the home bench to get the best view of this scoreboard and the field of play. There is an additional smaller scoreboard in the west end of the stadium, but it does not contain the detailed stats.
One thought about seating is if you like seats with a higher pitch, you may be better off sitting on the side behind the visitor bench. The sections behind the home bench do not go up as high or as much of an angle. There is a track that runs around the field, so sitting in the lower seats may not give you as great a vantage point as sitting a little higher up.
If your typical ritual is to get up at halftime to get something to eat or use the restroom, plan a different time. If you don't, you will miss a great show by the band. They bring a great energy to the field, and you can tell the crowd enjoys them. Many fans stayed in their seats throughout the entire performance on the day I attended in fall 2013, and then went to get something to eat. This is one of the most entertaining halftime bands that I have had the pleasure of seeing.
Lastly, the tailgaters are back out in full force after the game. Even though the home team lost when I attended, food was cooking, music was playing and fans looked like they were having fun. While I didn't ask, I felt as though I could have walked up to any of these gatherings and joined right in and no one would have minded.
Since the stadium is located on the NSU campus, there is not a lot to do in the immediate area. Head a mile east (drive, don't walk) and you will find the downtown area of Norfolk, with a shopping mall and plenty of places to eat. You can park at the MacArthur Center mall for $2 on weekends and see what Norfolk has to offer.
There is plenty of history in the Hampton Roads area to visit, including Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown, about a hour away. If you're on an extended visit to the area, these are great places to visit for the entire family.
If you are just down for the day, head down to Waterside and take the ferry boat over to downtown Portsmouth. There you will find shops and restaurants, along with a nice place to take a stroll before the game. If you have youngsters, there is a Children's Museum, and if you're looking for a decent sports bar, try Roger Brown's. They have great food (get the she-crab soup!), a good beer selection and, if the weather is nice, outdoor seating.
The Spartan fan base appears to be pretty interested in the action that happens on the field. The game I most recently attended was a close contest throughout, and the majority of the fans in attendance stayed until the end.
The game I recently attended was against a conference and regional rival, and I found the fans to be very respectful of those cheering for the visitors. They were appreciative of the visiting team's band performance at halftime.
You won't find any special chants or cheers from this fan base, but you will see a group of supporters that love their Spartans.
Price Stadium is located on the south side of campus in downtown Norfolk. As with most campus stadiums, parking can be a bit limited. The majority of the public parking available is on the north side of campus and is accessible off of Corprew Avenue. There is also a satellite parking lot that provide shuttle service before and after the games, but it is not the same every game, so check the team's parking information site for specific game details.
If you have tickets at Will Call or need to purchase tickets with debit or credit, you will need to head over to the east entrance. If you're coming from the west, it is not a direct walk from one side of the stadium to the other. You will need to follow the signs and navigate around some buildings on the north side of the stadium to get to your destination. This could be a minor annoyance if you are running late for opening kickoff, so be aware to allot extra time for this. If you are paying cash or already have your ticket in hand, you can enter through the west gate.
Once inside, you will find plenty of room to navigate around the concourse, and while all seating is above street level, you will find ramps to get to the lower row of the seating area. Bathrooms are plentiful and located throughout the main concourse. I never noticed a long line, even during the normally busy times.
If you are looking to get the most for your money, my recommendation is to purchase a General Admission ticket for $20. This gives you plenty of seating choices, and while a Reserved ticket is only $5 more, there are only really two reserved sections, right at midfield on both sides of the stadium. Military tickets are $10 with proper ID, and youth tickets (17 and under) are on sale the day of the game for $5. With free parking and the fair food prices mentioned earlier, a game at Price Stadium is a solid investment of your entertainment budget.
The staff is great - anyone I came into contact with was helpful and always responded with a smile (especially the ladies at the turkey leg stand!). It is a very welcoming atmosphere.
You can pick up a program for $5 and it is current to the game being played, not just a generic book handed out at each game.
Recent success has been fleeting for the Spartans. They were MEAC champions in 2011, but have not returned to that winning form. While they might not be the most dominant team in the conference, they do have a dedicated base of fans that support them, and play in a stadium that is worth a visit if you are in the Hampton Roads area.
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