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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
H.A. Chapman Stadium was originally built in 1930 as Skelly Field, named for Oklahoma oil man William Skelly. In addition to housing the Golden Hurricanes for 80 years, it has also hosted a USFL team (Oklahoma Outlaws) and a North American Soccer League team (Tulsa Roughnecks).
Since 2008, it has had a maximum capacity of 30,000, tying it with Tulane’s Yulman Stadium for the smallest football venue in the American Athletic Conference.
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".
Inside the actual stadium itself, there are only four concession stands. These stands, which are the most accessible, carry the basic concession food items like popcorn, hot dogs, pizza and peanuts. These are pretty fairly priced, but one certainly will not find anything all that unique.
To find something a bit more eclectic, one has to travel outside the actual stadium itself to the vendors and alternate concession stands that are still inside the stadium grounds. These specialty stands offer wraps and specialty sandwiches. This is the place to go for food at this venue. In particular, the hamburger on pretzel bun is delicious and relatively cheap.
In between these stands and the stadium itself are also a variety of other food vendors. These include Chick-fil-A, Lemon Chill, and a kettle corn tent that serves cherry limeades, shaved ice and hot chocolate and coffee in addition to its titular offering. There is also a food truck that serves bratwurst and pulled pork. Oddly, these options outside the stadium have much shorter lines than the stands inside the stadium.
The food at H.A. Chapman Stadium is not outstanding either in its variety or pricing, but it will be good enough for most fans. Be sure to check out the stands and vendors outside the main stadium, unless you crave more traditional ballgame food.
The atmosphere in general at H.A. Chapman is pretty calm, which not typically what one wants when attending a college football game. The fans are hit and miss as far as being loud, and the PA announcer's attempts to get the atmosphere to be a bit more raucous has little affect.
The stadium itself is an open air stadium, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Although it is a great place to watch a game when it is warm, it can be brutal during colder months, particularly when it is as windy as Oklahoma weather usually is. The open air quality also makes it difficult to generate noise, which is such an important part of the atmosphere of a stadium. The cheerleaders and marching band do their best to liven things up. However, the band is placed in a poor spot and can hardly be heard unless one is sitting fairly close by.
However, there are some positives with the overall stadium atmosphere. Banners of famous past TU footballers adorn the concourse that goes around the stadium. The stadium also has a lot of room around the stadium, but still within the stadium grounds, which allows for a large area for kids to play. They also play a short video clip of an actual TU player on the jumbotron during certain moments (third down) to get the crowd pumped up which is a nice touch.
The University of Tulsa has a very nice campus, but it doesn't seem to have much that a non-student can interact with. There also is not much nearby. The city of Tulsa itself has a lot of neat things to do, especially when one moves closer to downtown. However, if you are looking for restaurants and other fun things to do within walking distance of the stadium, there isn't much besides a few fast food restaurants.
The stadium is rarely full, despite the low capacity. The fans themselves are not particularly loud, though they do pipe up at certain times in the game. The crowd is made up mostly of older alumni and season ticket holders and some families with young children. Oddly, one will have a tough time finding very many people who look like students. Unfortunately, unless a really big play is in progress, this crowd simply isn't big enough to generate much noise or excitement. In fact, there is a high probability that the small visiting section of fans will be louder than the rest of the stadium.
If you aren't a student or a season ticket holder, prepare to search a while for parking. That's especially true if you want to find free parking. Choices basically come down to parking really far away, taking the chance of getting towed, or paying exorbitant parking fees. Parking farther away is probably the best option if you're willing to walk a bit.
However, once you actually get inside the stadium, this part of the experience improves greatly. H.A. Chapman Stadium is set up differently than other venues in that the stadium only takes up about 2/3 of the stadium grounds. So, there is plenty of room to walk around, including on the concourse and in the aisles and walkways. There is bleacher seating pretty much everywhere, except for the middle of the home side of the stadium, and the stadium has elevators that lead to box seats.
The bathrooms are a big negative for this venue. They are not particularly clean and are in dire need of an update. Communal urinals should be a thing of the past. There is also a shuttle that takes fans from the stadium to parking areas, but this appears to be only for season ticket holder parking.
The return for the investment here isn't great. In fact, there are actually a lot of better sporting experiences to be had nearby for similar ticket prices. However, H.A. Chapman Stadium is the only college football venue in the Tulsa area, so if that's what you're looking for this is your only choice. Tickets are very inexpensive, but the experience should be better, especially considering this is Division I college football.
This venue gets one extra point for honoring veterans between quarters, which is always a nice thing to do. It gets another for having a mobile ATM for those of us who never remember to bring cash to the stadium.
Member Review by BradleeRoss
Tulsa, Oklahoma might just be one of the most underrated cities in the United States. The University of Tulsa's football stadium, H.A. Chapman Stadium, fits in nicely with that perception.
Built in 1930 as Skelly Field, the stadium originally held a capacity of 14,500 and was named for William Skelly, an Oklahoma oil man. Along with being a college football stadium, it has also been home for a USFL team (Oklahoma Outlaws) and a North American Soccer league team (Tulsa Roughnecks). Since 2007, the official name of the stadium has been Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Its current capacity is 30,000, making it the smallest stadium in Conference USA.
Member Review by Hurricane Mickey on Oct 25, 2012
Beautiful campus, huge digital Hi-Def board, classy sandstone architecture, sharp acoustics. Tailgate on 8th Street right on the campus for an intimate time on a clean campus with fans that are truly the salt of the earth. Fireworks, sirens, and marching band add to it all. Stroll down 8th Street and check out activities, tents, and fans on Chapman Commons. Stroll along the stadium to 11th Street and visit a number of college bars. Laid back with no excessive rules and regulations. Wonderful time to be had here!
Member Review by pwdonaldson on Jan 30, 2013
Though certainly not the largest stadium in Division I, Skelly is very unique and blends in with the campus about as well as any college football stadium does.
Member Review by bamasooner on Feb 13, 2013
I live in Tulsa and attend 2-3 home games per year. I think that TU games are great for an afternoon of just watching college football with a group of friends or family. While not a hostile atmosphere to visitors, the home crowd does do a great job of supporting the home team.
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