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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
East Carolina University, the third-largest university in the state of North Carolina, isn't very well-known outside the region. That’s all changing, however, as their football team climbs the national ranks. The ECU Pirates have been a competitive C-USA team for many years, and expect greater success as they join the American. All this success has started to create a competitive culture around the team. Fans frequently sell out the stadium, and the recent stadium upgrades create an experience much like the ones you find at other football schools. While it isn't quite on the level of major football schools, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is well worth a visit for anyone looking for some true southern college football.
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's a wide variety of food stands located throughout the concourse. Most offer standard stadium food like hot dogs, pizza, or Chick-fil-A. Specialty foods like BBQ sandwiches and gyros are sold in various stands surrounding the stadium. All together, the list is quite expansive, and you should have no problem finding good food at the stadium.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a simple facility. There are no spectacular skylines or picturesque views. The stadium is not ugly, by any means, but don't come expecting something stunning.
Similar to many other stadiums, most of the seats are metal benches. The only exception is the center section, which are purple stadium seats. I attended a noon game, during which the only seats in the shade were directly below the press tower. I would assume that seats on the west side of the stadium would become shadier for a later game. The seating bowl is the traditional horseshoe design that has been enclosed by a football center.
The student section, or "Boneyard," takes up most of the south end zone, and for good reason. The students show up in full force for almost every game and can always be heard. For this reason, much of the stadium's atmosphere is centered around the Boneyard. While certainly not a bad thing, the average spectator should be prepared to hear several announcements for the Boneyard to get up or to be louder.
Greenville, NC, is unmistakably a college town. Every restaurant, shop, and business caters to ECU. The main road to the stadium is Greenville Blvd., which is home to many different chain restaurants. You would be remiss in a college town, though, if you don't check out the local favorites.
B's Barbecue is a little off the beaten path (about 10 minutes from campus), but is well worth the trip. They serve eastern NC barbecue, which is vinegar-based. What makes B's unique is the way they cook it. The barbecue is cooked once a day, fresh from an outside smoke house, and once the day's supply is out, then the shop closes. The supply usually runs out around lunch time, so make sure to come early.
If barbecue isn't your thing (or if you just want something else), try Cubbie's. This is an ECU favorite for its good and inexpensive food. Plates come with your choice of sandwich, side, and drink for $6.25.
As you can infer from the title, ECU fans are a rowdy bunch. They are an extremely passionate fan base, and are absolutely ecstatic about their team's recent success. If you come as a neutral fan or in support of the home team, you shouldn't have a problem. On the other hand, visiting fans may have a bit of an issue. To no fault of the school itself, visiting fans don't receive the warmest of welcomes from local fans. Obviously, out-of-state competition will not be treated as bad as in-state teams, but if you wear another school's shirt, you will probably hear some heckling.
Rarely will you see Dowdy-Ficklen less than full. The Pirates draw very well, mostly due to the loyal fan base. In fact, the Pirates drew a record crowd of over 51,000 in 2014 against UNC. Additionally, ECU had the highest attendance in C-USA six times before moving to the American. In short, you will probably not be alone in the stadium.
You'll hear plenty of unique chants and songs at ECU. Every first down is followed by the announcer saying "first down..." with crowd responding "Pirates, arrrrggg." The fourth quarter of every game is greeted with the raising of the "no quarter" flag. This is a reference to a situation in a pirate battle where the other ship would not surrender, and the pirates declared that there would be no mercy shown to the opposing side.
US 264 is a road built mainly to service Greenville and ECU. It comes from Raleigh, but intersects I-95 on its way to Greenville. Once in Greenville, you are only about 5-10 minutes away from the athletic complex. There is plenty of parking available, since most of ECU's athletic venues are in the same area.
Tickets are $54 for adults and $41 for those ages 3-12. This is a little above average as far as cost goes, but it isn't outrageous. Parking can be found near the stadium for about $10-$20. Being on a college campus, you may be tempted to seek out free parking, but beware. You may find what you think is free parking, only to return to find your car has been towed.
Perhaps the greatest value is that student guest tickets are only $5. If you know of anyone who attends the university, you should definitely attempt to get your tickets from them.
PeeDee the Pirate, who is probably the only purple pirate you will ever meet, also happens to be the school's mascot.
A recently-added video board towers over the student section. The recently-added screen includes all the modern amenities and is well-used throughout the game for everything from replays to contests.
There are several traditions for ECU fans to take part in during games. I find this interesting, since there is not a long history of ECU football. While the program has been around for a long time, the team has never seen success like it has in recent years. Most of the traditions are relatively new, making ECU unique.
The merchandise stand, the Dowdy student store, is quite expansive for an in-stadium store. It includes just about any merchandise you would expect to find at a regular fan shop, but it is located inside the stadium.
ECU has stepped up their game over the last few years, and it shows. The fans and players have worked hard to bring the team to a whole new level. With renovation plans in the future, Dowdy-Ficklen promises to stay full and stay loud. If any college football fan should find themselves in eastern NC, an ECU football game is a can't-miss.
Member Review by Martin
East Carolina University football owns the coast of North Carolina. Pirate Nation is a big one; purple and yellow are everywhere, and the closer you get to Greenville, the more evident that is. Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium embodies this mentality. It has a clean, no-frills design; modern improvements with a classic feel; and is packed on Saturdays.
Originally opened in 1963, the venue has been built up through a variety of drives and initiatives, including a new video board, a large press box and a better-than-average playing surface.
Member Review by Pirateman on Feb 16, 2013
mid major school with big time atmosphere.
Member Review by Lj09 on Oct 29, 2014
Food and Beverage: 5/5. A wide range of food from hot dogs, to eastern North Carolina barbecue, chic-fil-a, Pizza, brisket, and more.
Atmosphere: Top notch atmosphere. Loud fans who really get into the game. Seats are comfortable, scoreboard is loud and highly visible, band is good.
Neighborhood: Lots and lots of tailgating at ECU. The tailgate lots are spread all over, but it's nice not to be in one giant parking lot. Thousands of tents, flags, many RVs and decked out vehicles. Probably the best tailgating in North Carolina.
Fans: 5/5: Great that they support ECU. Attendance ranges from 45k-50k.
Access: 3/5: Greenville gets very congested on gameday. It wasn't designed for 50k+ fans and tailgaters.
ROI 5/5: A great value for the entertainment you get.
213 E 5th St
Greenville, NC 27858
2020 Greenville Blvd SE
Greenville, NC 27858
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