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Official Review by Chris Bengel, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
While the Lehigh Valley isn't exactly a hotbed for athletics, there are a few hidden gems in the area between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Tucked beneath Interstate 78 in Bethlehem, PA is Goodman Stadium, which is the home of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks football team. When it comes to notable sports alumni, there aren't a ton of huge names. However, guys like Portland Trail Blazer guard C.J. McCollum and Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Will Rackley were selected in the NBA and NFL drafts respectively.
The Mountain Hawks play on the Murray H. Goodman campus, which is one of four different campuses located throughout Bethlehem. It's an area of campus that is surrounded by mountains and hills. There are trees everywhere, which make the campus absolutely beautiful during the fall football season.
The stadium is named after Murray H. Goodman, who played on the Lehigh University men's basketball team from 1946-1948. He is a businessman that formed the Goodman Company, which is a commercial and real estate development firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 1988, Goodman helped to make Goodman Stadium possible with his place on the Board of Trustees at Lehigh from 1979-2000. With a background in real estate, he helped transform a 550-acre piece of land into a beautiful football stadium. Goodman also helped to build other buildings on campus, including the Zoellner Arts Center and the Rauch Business Center.
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Most stadiums have a concourse, which has every concession stand and little carts throughout. That is not the case at Goodman Stadium. You can walk around the majority of the stadium and there are several food trucks and areas where vendors are set up. You can get your traditional fare of hot dogs, French fries, and soft pretzels. However, there are also some more interesting options that Lehigh offers. There is a Dietz and Watson stand behind one of the end zones, where you can get a turkey and bacon wrap. If you're familiar with the northeast region, you know that Dietz and Watson is a prominent meat supplier and their products are simply delicious.
Goodman Stadium is located among many of the other athletic fields and arenas on the Goodman campus. It is located just down the road from Stabler Arena, where the Mountain Hawks men's basketball team plays their home games. The stands are only one level, but seat 16,000 fans. Over the course of recent history, Lehigh has had success on the football field and there is usually a loud atmosphere. On the particular game that I attended, Lehigh faced local Patriot League rival Lafayette. These teams generally don't like each other, so it's always a fun afternoon at Goodman Stadium when the Leopards make the short trip to Bethlehem. If you're coming to a game later in the season, be prepared to dress in layers.
Goodman Stadium is located just under the South Mountain, which extends from the Lehigh Valley to the Lebanon Valley in the state of Pennsylvania. Lehigh is divided into several different campuses that are located on and around South Mountain. If you travel onto the Mountaintop Campus, you're in for a very scenic drive. You can get a great view of the Lehigh Valley and travel along the many winding roads leading to the Mountaintop Campus. Just a few minutes from the Lehigh campuses, you can check out many local sights such as the Sands Casino and several dining spots.
My personal recommendation is Bruno Scipioni's Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria on Easton Avenue in Bethlehem Township. While it's about an eight mile trip from Lehigh, it's worth your gas. As the name implies, it's a pizzeria, and they have some of the best white pizza that you will ever taste. They also have traditional Italian dinners that are extremely delicious.
Lehigh fans are some of the most loyal that you will find around the Patriot League. No matter who the opponent is, they will be out in full force to support their favorite team. They are generally very knowledgeable fans that know a lot about the current team and also have a strong sense of history with their respective sports programs. They are very loud and usually are in their seats right before kickoff.
Accessibility is extremely easy if you're attending any sporting event at Lehigh. There's plenty of parking around the athletic complexes. Even if you arrive right before kickoff, you can park in grass lots behind the stadium. The campus security lines do tend to get long entering the stadium, but that's something you can encounter at many sports venues.
The ticket prices at Lehigh are very affordable for Patriot League football. You'll pay $15 for an adult reserved bench ticket ($12 for general admission) and $7 for a youth ticket (under 12). It's a solid product that you're seeing and most people that enjoy Lehigh football are alumni or fans that live close to the area. It's a great price because you're seeing players that truly love the game.
There isn't much extra around Goodman Stadium. Stabler Arena is a stone's throw from the football stadium and is worth going to a game if you're in town for a November football game. There are great views all around with the South Mountain being the backdrop for Goodman Stadium.
Just like many of their Patriot League counterparts, Lehigh showcases a strong product when it comes to seeing a football game at Goodman Stadium. You may not be seeing the cream of the crop when it comes to future NFL players. However, you're seeing guys that truly love the game and that's the type of players that many parents want their kids to watch as they learn about the game of football. It's a great product for the money and is something that the whole family can enjoy. If you're in the area on a Saturday afternoon and in need of something to do, Goodman Stadium is a great place to spend the day.
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