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Official Review by Steven Bieniek, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In a big city, the small college and university sports team can easily be forgotten. Robert Morris fits the description of small sports in a big city. Despite its recent success, Robert Morris football can also be described as a team that has fallen through the cracks in a big city. If you take a trip to the campus to partake in a game though, you’ll be sure to forget that you’re at a small school, but you won’t forget about your experience.
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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".
There are no concession stands inside the stadium, but don't be fooled, because there are two stands outside of Joe Walton Stadium. Varying on the crowd at each game, you will either need to get stamped to go outside to purchase your snacks, or sometimes the security at the game will let fans come and go as they please. Don't expect much of anything at the stands though; there will be only the basics. The prices are pretty cheap with burgers at $3.50, nachos at $3, popcorn at $1.50 and hot dogs at $2. The quality is pretty average. Beer is not sold at Robert Morris football games.
Robert Morris is a bit of an odd combo when it comes to atmosphere. The parking lot and tailgating will give you the impression that you're at a big time college football game. There is a lot of beer pong and corn hole being played as you walk through the gravel lot. The game itself has a lot of good and bad to it.
Every time Robert Morris scores, a group of ROTC members fire off a cannon. Also, the student section seems very involved. The bad part of the atmosphere is the general admission seating (there seems to be a lot of moving around and people not paying attention to the game) and the fact that some elements to college football games that we've become accustomed to knowing are hidden; such as the band and the concession stands. The band is hidden at one end of the field and quite frankly, they're not very loud. Other than this, you can pretty much expect your standard FCS atmosphere at Joe Walton Stadium.
The campus is near the Moon Township area of Pittsburgh, which is actually not that far away from Pittsburgh International Airport. The campus is your common small school campus; all of the University buildings are within a small radius of each other. Directly around the campus is not exactly a hot bed of activity, but within a short drive is the Robinson Township, which has just about anything you might need for eating or drinking purposes.
A new restaurant called Burgatory just opened up in 2012 in Robinson Township. This is the same place that has a stand in CONSOL Energy Center. As long as traffic isn't too bad, which is not always the case in Pittsburgh, it won't take long to get from the campus to anywhere you'd like to eat or drink before or after the game.
Robert Morris fans and students will pack this stadium. The student section is usually very loud and large compared to the size of the stadium. The fans are usually lined up even behind the seats (most of the seating is general admission) because the bleachers are full. A lot of the crowd will exit the stadium during halftime however, to go to their respective tailgating spot for their choice of beverage. Usually, a lot of the fans will arrive back to the stadium late for the second half, so normally it seems as though the second half has a little bit of a slow start. Other than that, the fans are very knowledgeable about their team and really add to the atmosphere of the game.
To start, the stadium can get extremely crowded and as a result, it's very hard to move in the aisles behind the seats. If you get to the game too late though, be prepared to just stand behind the seats. Also, if games become too crowded, the ticket takers do not exactly check tickets from those who come back in during halftime, so the stadium can get more crowded than it even should.
There are bathrooms sprinkled throughout the stadium that are of decent size, but it's still hard to get in and out of them during halftime and in between quarters. The fans standing behind the seats make it very hard to maneuver though, through no fault of their own. Parking is spread out throughout the campus at no charge. As always, the earlier you get to the campus, the closer you'll end up to the stadium. It will be harder to get out of the campus after the game than into the campus before the game starts, but it's not the worst traffic you'll see. There are plenty of police to keep traffic moving after the game; but you probably will sit for a little bit since there is only one road in and out of the campus.
WARNING: If you are trying to find the stadium with a GPS, use the University's address; not what is shown on other websites for Joe Walton Stadium. The correct address is 6001 University Blvd., Moon Township, PA.
General admission tickets will cost just $7 and parking is free; so considering this is pretty equal to the price of a high school game, you can't really spend less for such quality football. Tack on the free parking and great atmosphere outside the stadium, Robert Morris is really a tough place to beat for a high quality game at such an affordable price. However, this is FCS football and not FBS; so don't go expecting all of the extras that come with high profile college games.
There are not a ton of extras that come along with the Joe Walton Stadium experience. The great crowd and tailgating as you walk in are the biggest extras that this stadium provides. The other is for RoMo, the Robert Morris mascot. RoMo adds to the great atmosphere and can be very entertaining.
Joe Walton Stadium is a little bit of a mixed bag. The tailgating and great fans and students will give you the impression that you're at a big time college game. But certain aspects such as the concession stands will put you back into the reality that you're at an FCS game. Robert Morris will give an enjoyable experience, just remember the level of football that you're going to see.
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