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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Tucked away in north Louisiana is one of the most historic small college football programs in America, the Grambling State Tigers. Led by the late Hall of Fame head coach Eddie Robinson, the Tigers were a perennial powerhouse program between 1941 and 1997 (with Robinson coaching a combined 57 years in total). The legendary coach racked up 408 wins during this time period, with only 165 losses (and 15 ties). Add to that impressive resume nine National Black College Championships and nineteen SWAC championships. Coach Robinson sits third all-time in NCAA head coaching wins, just behind Joe Paterno (409) and John Gagliardi (489). It’s safe to say that Eddie Robinson single-handedly built the Grambling State football program.
With his retirement in 1997 and recent passing in 2007, Grambling has sought to continue his legacy on the football field. The Tigers’ home field is named in his honor, Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. Just across campus, you’ll find the Eddie G. Robinson Museum, which is definitely worth a visit.
While the win column may not be as stacked as it once was, the city of Grambling still comes alive on select Saturdays in the fall for Tigers football. As is typical for many programs in the SWAC, Grambling plays multiple neutral site “classics,” so true home games can be in short supply (in 2015, only three games were played on campus). Depending on the opponent, the crowd can vary widely, however, homecoming is a truly special atmosphere, followed by SWAC match-ups.
A trip to Grambling, Louisiana not only provides an entertaining game day experience, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
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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".
Robinson Stadium delivers the classic stadium fare along with an assortment of specialty items at mobile stands scattered throughout the concourse.
On both the east and west side, you'll find permanent concession stands built into the back side of the grandstands. These locations offer up your expected stadium grub (nachos - $5, hot dogs - $4, popcorn - $4) as well as delicious turkey legs $7, which is definitely recommended.
The mobile stands around the concourse add a nice variety of options. Though offerings can vary from game to game, you'll likely find Johnny's Pizza, Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Kona Ice, Wing Stop, and some additional stands operated by local vendors. Whether you're hungry for chicken wings, fried chicken tenders, pizza, ribs, or something sweet, you'll likely find it somewhere around the stadium
Drink options are headlined by bottled Coca-Cola products for $3, which includes Dasani water. Alcoholic beverages are not sold, nor allowed, in Robinson Stadium.
Concessions at the stadium are cash only, so make sure you visit an ATM before arriving.
The atmosphere at Grambling State varies depending on the match-up. However, for games like homecoming or a SWAC match-up, you'll be pleased by the crowd and excitement level.
The field at Robinson stadium is dug-out into the ground, with grandstands and grass mounds surrounding the surface in a bowl style. Some refer to the stadium as "The Hole" due to this design. The west grandstand is where you'll find most Tiger fans, including the world famous Grambling State Tiger Marching Band and the Grambling dance team, the Orchesis Dance Company. Just below the band and dance team is the cheer squad, on the sidelines. Grambling has multiple costumed Tiger mascots roaming the stadium and interacting with fans.
There are multiple locations for the student section, with a small section adjacent to the band in the lower level (HH) and two sections reserved on the southeast side (XX, YY). The visiting team band and fans typically sit on the southeast side as well. There are two tiers of seats on both the west and east sides.
While the quality of the on-field action can vary from year to year, the Grambling State Tiger Marching Band and the Orchesis Dance Company never let you down and are a major part of the overall atmosphere. Halftime is one of the most exciting parts of the game day experience.
Robinson Stadium was originally constructed in 1983 and has a current capacity of 19,600. The playing surface is natural grass and can definitely show some signs of wear. The scoreboard is located in the north end zone. It features a simple display with no video capacity. This, plus a dated press box and suite structure are items that could use some TLC.
Despite some of the drawbacks, the atmosphere at Robinson Stadium has more highlights than low. If you've never been to a Grambling football game, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by how much you'll enjoy the experience.
Eddie G. Robinson Stadium is located in the small city of Grambling, Louisiana. Though Grambling doesn't have much to offer outside of the Grambling State University campus, there are a few local restaurants that you may want to give a try, plus the Eddie Robinson Museum. Just five miles east of town, you'll find the city of Ruston which will provide a wider variety of options. A couple of larger cities are within driving range, including Monroe to the east (about a 30 minute drive) and Shreveport to the west (about an hour drive).
If you are interested in eating while in Grambling, check out Ra'jo's Chicken & Waffles. This local joint offers its namesake in a friendly environment. Other options include Spivey's Fried Chicken and Cain Gang Chicken and Waffles. If you're not determined to eat at a Grambling restaurant, consider the wider variety of established restaurants down the road in Ruston.
Outside of the campus, you won't find many attractions or entertainment options. The Grambling State campus is quite beautiful. Take a pit stop next to the water fountain on campus and check out the Greek trees which feature colors of the campus fraternities and sororities. The Eddie G. Robinson Museum memorializes one of the winningest college football coaches of all time. It's a must visit while in town. Admittedly, Ruston has a few more options for entertainment, but not great variety. Monroe or Shreveport offer a little more.
There really isn't a lodging option in the city of Grambling. The preferred hotel for Tiger fans seems to be the Hampton Inn (1315 N Trenton St) just off I-20 in Ruston.
Though the Tigers have experienced some struggles in recent years, the Grambling State fan base is still alive and well. The little city of Grambling is home to some big Tiger hearts that burst with pride for their alma mater. Grambling State and Southern provide the state of Louisiana with a historic rivalry. Many in Louisiana choose a side, whether or not they've attended one of these universities. With that said, there are many Grambling fans across the state, outside of the immediate Grambling area.
Though Tigers fans don't produce a lot of noise in support of their defense throughout the game, they do get loud for big plays and scores. There's really no fan generated traditions or chants to speak of, outside of the alma mater and fight song.
The average attendance for a Grambling home game is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000, which is strong for a DI-FCS program, but it can vary widely from game to game. Average attendance in the SWAC has a history of being at the top of the FCS in regards to overall conference attendance.
Your best bet for a strong crowd at Robinson Stadium is when a regionally located SWAC rival comes to town. Grambling fans definitely get excited for the three "Classics" the Tigers participate in. Each year, GSU takes on Prairie View at the State Fair Classic in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl, Texas Southern in the Red River Classic at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, and the famous Bayou Classic showdown at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans against arch-rival Southern.
Access to Eddie Robinson Stadium has both highs and lows, but overall the stadium is fairly accessible.
Grambling is conveniently located off of a major interstate in I-20. However, it's fairly far away from any major city, which can make traveling in somewhat inconvenient. Once you exit I-20, however, the university is just a couple of miles away. If you are parking in the lots around the stadium, traffic can get a little backed up, so you may want to budget for some additional time.
Paid parking is available immediately around the stadium. Some other on-campus lots adjacent to the stadium charge for parking as well. There are some on-campus lots which are free further out away from the stadium and these may be worth looking for despite requiring a short walk.
There are a couple different locations where you can purchase tickets. For visitors and fans planning to sit on the east side, there is a ticket both just outside the east grandstand. On the west side, the ticket booth and will call window is located across the street in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center. Lines are short and service is fairly quick. For the east grandstand, look for Gates 4 and 6 and on the west side look for Gates 1 and 2.
The concourse on the west side can get a little congested directly underneath the stadium, but there is plenty of room outside of that to get around. You can cross over between the east and west grandstands via the sidewalk on the north side. Getting to the seats in the lower level can be a bit of a hassle. You either have to take the stairs in the seating area all the way down, or you can take the long stairs/ramp which descend from the side. Since the concourse is at the top of the stadium, there is no direct entrance to the lower level. Aisles are adequate for foot traffic and restrooms are adequate, though dated.
Overall, the cost to attend a Grambling State game at Robinson Stadium is a little on the expensive side.
Tickets are available starting at $20 for general admission and $25 for reserved seating. While that's not entirely outrageous, it is a little high for the overall experience. Comparatively speaking, it's cheaper to attend an FBS game down the street in Ruston, with general admission to a Louisiana Tech game running as low as $18.
Parking is available, at cost, around the stadium. Concessions are fair, considering the variety of options.
Though the cost is a little high, that in no way means a game at Robinson Stadium isn't worth it. You'll enjoy your overall experience, but would appreciate it more if general admission was a few dollars less.
Robinson Stadium provides a few "extra" components which complement the overall game day experience.
The halftime show is worth an extra mention. While most college football programs run out a band and spirit squad during halftime, few garner the attention of the Grambling State Tiger Marching Band and the Orchesis Dance Company. It truly is a sight to see and almost worth the price of admission alone.
Grambling provides a small apparel shop on the west side near the main concessions.
Tailgating in the lots around the stadium is a sight to see during the right games, and especially for Homecoming.
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302 College Ave Ste D
Grambling, LA 71245
243 Main St
Grambling, LA 71245
329 Main St
Grambling, LA 71245
1315 N Trenton St
Ruston, LA 71270