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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Akron, Ohio was once the rubber capital of the world. Much has changed. Now Akron is known more for being the hometown of LeBron James than anything else. Changes in the city of Akron have also been met with changes at the University of Akron. The Akron Zips once played their games off-campus at the Rubber Bowl. In 2009, the Zips christened their brand new, on-campus stadium. A sign of the times was the selling of the naming rights to InfoCision Management Corporation and Summa Health Systems and InfoCision Stadium - Summa Field was born.
The Zips fielded their first football team in 1891. The team name came was originally the Zippers, which came from a popular rubber overshoe of the same name that was made by B.F. Goodrich, which was founded in Akron. The name was later shortened to Zips. Spending the majority of their existence playing other small colleges, Akron football has changed quickly. In 1973, Akron received Division II status and became Division I-AA in 1980. In 1987 the Zips moved to Division I-A and moved into the Mid-American Conference in 1992. The MAC is the perfect conference for Akron and the Zips have seen their most successful season in the conference with their 2005 conference championship.
The Zips have had difficulty putting a consistent, competitive team on the field. However, Akron does offer a decent college atmosphere and have made some strides, but there is still much work to do and improvements to be made.
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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".
The concession selection at InfoCision Stadium is fairly average. There is nothing really that will blow you away, but you will find an average selection at decent prices. All of the usual suspects can be found at the concession stands including hot dogs, sausages, burgers, fries, pizza, popcorn, nachos, and soda. Coca-Cola products are the soda of choice and unlike many NCAA venues, alcohol sales are permitted in InfoCision Stadium. You don't have to go hungry at InfoCision Stadium, but if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, you will have to look elsewhere.
InfoCision Stadium - Summa Field is the newest stadium in the MAC. Not being a program that draws 80,000 to 100,000 fans, InfoCision Stadium is fairly simple and not overly massive. The field is a north-south alignment with two main grandstands. The east grandstand features two decks of aluminium bench seating, while the west grandstand features two decks along with a luxury box and press box tower. The south end zone features a grassy knoll, where patrons may sit along with the videoboard above.
The Zips enter the playing field from the north, through the athletic facility. On the facade of the facility is the honoring of Akron Zip greats. The Ring of Honor includes former coach Jim Dennison, Chris Angeloff, Gordon Larson, the 1968 and 1976 teams, and former Miami Dolphin great Jason Taylor.
The Zips have retired only one number and that is Chris Angeloff's number 89. Angeloff died on the Akron sidelines in 1975.
Summa Field is sunken and for the most part, the stadium is not overbearing. Sightlines are all good and the stadium has a kind of cozy feel to it. The concourse features collages of key moments in Akron Zips history as well as the honoring of great players. Specifically of interest is the tracking of Akron's victories in the Wagon Wheel Game against their biggest rival, the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Before the game, Ohio's Pride Band performs on campus. Eventually the band makes their way to the stadium and plays before the game, as most college bands do. Zippy the mascot does his thing on the field and in the stands. Upon a Zips score, be prepared for cannon fire and a loud train whistle to mark the occasion.
The city of Akron has changed greatly along with the industry in the city. The campus of the University of Akron is located east of downtown Akron. InfoCision Stadium is located at the southeastern edge of campus. Campus is nice, green, and expansive. At that edge of campus there are a couple of options. There is a Buffalo Wild Wings just across the street on Exchange Street.
Other options include EuroGyro, Brubakers Pub, Paolo's, and 69 Taps. Akron Zips basketball is played just north of InfoCision Stadium at James A. Rhodes Arena. A football-basketball doubleheader may be possible in November. If you are heading downtown, then you may catch some Akron RubberDucks baseball at Canal Park early in the football season.
You can't help but notice that there are a ton of empty seats at Akron Zips games. The product on the field has been mediocre at best. The attendance has followed suit. During the 2013 season the Zips averaged over 17,000 fans, which was one of their better years, and 5th best in the conference. However, in 2012 they averaged just over 9,000 fans which was second last in the MAC and the entire NCAA FBS. The 2014 season they once again averaged under 10,000 fans per game.
If you happen to see a team that travels well against the Zips there is a distinct possibility that the away fans will drown out the home fans. There isn't much of a student section to speak of. Overall this leaves the fans that are in attendance a bit taken back and feeling that there is something missing.
The University of Akron is located just west of Highway 8 and north of I-77/I-76. Getting on campus is not difficult and traffic should not be an issue if you give yourself enough time. If you are interested in public transit, the #2 bus travels Exchange Street and stops just steps from the stadium. With newer amenities and a crowd that is far below capacity, concourses and washrooms are not a problem at all.
The investment in an Akron Zips football game is pretty reasonable. Tickets are a great price at $20 a piece. Concession and parking prices are very good as well. This adds up to an excellent investment and a pretty decent return. If you choose your game well, then the return on the field will be pretty good as well. The return would be better if better fan support was present
An extra mark for Ohio's Pride Marching Band, which puts on a great show and is as good as any band in the MAC.
An extra mark for the Wagon Wheel rivalry with Kent State.
Akron football could be so much more if they could just get some traction and attract a bigger and better audience. Stronger support by the students at Akron would go a long way to creating a more interesting atmosphere and something that would be what seasoned college football fans would expect. It is not a terrible experience and you should leave having enjoyed yourself.
Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9
Member Review by collegiatestdms
In 2009, the University of Akron opened their new home football stadium- InfoCision Stadium. The stadium replaced the long-time home of the Akron Zips, The Rubber Bowl, but moved home games on to the campus. While there is nothing that will blow you away about InfoCision Stadium, it is a pleasant little venue to see some FBS college football on a fall Saturday.
Member Review by hwktrn on Feb 16, 2012
2939 S Arlington Rd
Akron, OH 44312