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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Between 1995 and 1996, it was a great time to be a football fan in the Carolinas. The Carolina Panthers debuted in the NFL in 1995, playing at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, and would move into their own home in Charlotte in 1996. When looking for a training camp home, the Panthers decided on Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Construction on the training camp facilities finished in 1995, while Gibbs Stadium opened the following year. Though they can thank the Panthers for their new facilities, Wofford has done well to make them their own. The overall campus is beautiful, and the stadium fits right in to make any Saturday a good one.
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The menu at Gibbs Stadium won't blow you away, but there are plenty of solid options for those in need of food or other refreshments. There are two main concession stands, one on either side of the venue. If you're hungry, you can choose between a chicken sandwich, a barbecue sandwich (pulled pork), hot dogs and pizza. Coca-Cola drinks are just $2, as well, and you'll probably need one for those hot, early-season games. Along with other standard snacks, everything on the menu is $5 or less, a welcomed change from the stadium norms. Aside from that, there are some "fair food" stands with sno-cones and several deep-fried foods.
As you approach Gibbs Stadium, you can't help but appreciate the beauty of Wofford College. The school has beautifully manicured landscapes that could pass as gardens at other schools. Driving through campus is a pleasure, just as watching a game at the football stadium. From the top of the stands, you can see for miles around. It's an amazing landscape, especially in the fall when the leaves change.
Wofford has two costumed mascots, and one live Terrier. Boss and Terri are the costumed ones, and make their way around the stadium and on the sidelines throughout the game. Meanwhile, Blitz III is the newest live Terrier to take the field. As the name implies, this is the third iteration of the Blitz mascot, and Blitz III has been on the field since 2014.
The seats are all metal bleachers, but some of the benches in the middle sections have backs. Every seat offers a good vantage point of the game, since there isn't a real "nosebleed" section. The other option is the grass seating in the end zone. This is a favorite spot for families at Wofford games. Lawn chairs are set up all around the perimeter, and kids bring sheets of cardboard to slide down the hills.
Overall, it's a great atmosphere for anyone from football fans to families. The smaller stadium makes the game feel more intimate, and families don't have to worry about their kids wandering around a massive stadium.
With all the beauty that is Wofford's campus, the city of Spartanburg never really matched. For years, downtown Spartanburg was a place to be avoided. However, recently the city has done a lot to change that, and it shows. Modern-day Spartanburg is a historic downtown, with many local shops and restaurants making it perfect for a Saturday afternoon stroll.
If you're looking for lunch before an afternoon game, check out Groucho's Deli. From its beginnings in nearby Columbia, Groucho's has expanded across the Carolinas and is known by locals for their sandwiches. It will likely be crowded on Saturdays, so make sure you budget your time (or take it to go).
If you're looking for something with a little more southern flair, you can't miss Beacon Drive-In. It's the classic southern food, people, and atmosphere. Beacon has been featured in the national media, and has become quite famous around the country. It's very easy to find, with the lighthouse sign and the arrow telling you where to go. Enjoy burgers, barbecue, or fish along with a "world-famous Beacon tea."
Attendance seems to fluctuate, depending on the game. For big night games against Southern Conference rivals, this huge stadium is packed. Other games, the attendance isn't quite as impressive. The amazing thing about this stadium is the attendance numbers. With an enrollment of just over 1,500, it's amazing that they drew around 7,000 per game in 2015. Even though Wofford is a small, FCS school, their fans certainly come out for these games.
As long as you have a decent GPS, getting to Wofford won't be any trouble. From I-85, you can exit onto I-585, which will take you right to downtown Spartanburg. From there, you take a couple turns and you'll be at Gibbs Stadium. For those flying in, Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) airport is a short drive, as well.
Parking is available for $10 in a number of lots around the stadium. Navigating Wofford's campus can be confusing, but don't worry. The staff are extremely nice and helpful, so ask for help if you need it.
Adult tickets are $27 for most games, which seems like a bit much. Don't get me wrong, Gibbs Stadium is one of the nicest stadiums I've seen in FCS. It's just tough to justify spending that much, especially considering the prices around the conference. Most comparable teams charge between $10-$20 for tickets, and while $27 isn't a huge jump, it can really add up, especially for those buying more than one ticket.
Concession prices are good, with everything costing less than $5. $10 parking isn't too bad either. But a $27 ticket with $10 parking and $10 of concessions adds up to $47 per person.
The one part of the stadium that doesn't quite fit with the rest is the giant video board. It's certainly a plus, though, as a luxury very few FCS teams enjoy. A 1,485 square-foot screen sits behind the end zone, and is utilized quite well. Fans can see replays and other videos, along with the usually scoreboard functions.
Tailgating goes hand in hand with football, and Wofford is no exception. Many fans arrive several hours early to cook up their favorite foods and simply enjoy a relaxing Saturday. It's the kind of atmosphere you just can't get anywhere other than a football game. Take a walk though the parking lot, or bring your own tailgate. It's a party well worth joining.
Be sure to visit the "Back of the College" plaque on your visit to Gibbs Stadium. It's a monument honoring the African-American neighborhood that used to be on what is now Wofford's campus. The Reverend A.W. Cumming donated the land to the school, and this landmark now commemorates his kind acts.
Finally, I have to give a shout out to the staff at Gibbs Stadium. As I drove in, I couldn't locate the lot I was supposed to park in. The staff member went out of his way to stop traffic, allow me to make a u-turn, and direct me to the correct lot. Inside the stadium is the same story. It's safe to say southern hospitality is in practice at Gibbs Stadium.
Few people know that today's Southern Conference is the very same one that once contained the likes of Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and many other current ACC and SEC teams. A game at Gibbs Stadium is reminiscent of what the SoCon once was. Modern-day ACC and SEC games take place in front of thousands, with millions more watching at home. Back in the day, things were simpler. Smaller stadiums like this one were the place to be. Everyone brought their tailgates, and enjoyed football at a small, hometown stadium. If you get the chance to attend a game at Wofford, be sure to kick back and enjoy yourself.
Member Review by brian on Oct 31, 2012
College campuses in the southeastern United States are often places of tremendous history and beauty. Many of these campuses have buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and their beginnings can be traced back for decades or centuries. Wofford College certainly fits this description, and then some.
Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the college was formed in 1854. The campus contains an entire historic area on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Roger Milliken Arboretum spans the Wofford grounds. Wofford has been a place of great academic success, holding down the number 58 spot on Forbes' 2010 list of America's Best Colleges. Though the school's enrollment is just over 1,500 undergraduates, the academic success at Wofford has been rivaled by their success in intercollegiate athletics.
Wofford fielded its first football team over 120 years ago, and the Terriers are one of several current FCS teams to have played in a bowl game (the Cigar Bowl in 1950, which it lost to Florida State by a 19-6 score). The school has also won three Southern Conference championships and gone to the FCS playoffs four times since moving up from NCAA Division II prior to the 1996 season.
That 1996 season also saw the opening of the Terriers' current home, Gibbs Stadium. The facility is one of the newer and larger stadiums in its classification, and just outside its gates rests the summer training camp home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Whether you travel to see the Terriers, the Panthers or just the campus, the surroundings are certainly impressive.
1000 North Pine Street
Spartanburg, SC 29303
255 John B White Sr Boulevard
Spartanburg, SC 29306
464 East Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302
464 East Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302
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