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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Opened in 1972, Kelly/Shorts Stadium is home to the Central Michigan University Chippewas football team. The Chippewas compete in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), in the West Division where they battle against in-state rivals Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan, along with Toledo, Ball State, and Northern Illinois.
The team has had excellent success in the MAC, winning seven MAC championships (1979, 1980, 1990, 1994, 2006, 2007, and 2009). Central Michigan also won a Division II National Championship, back in 1974.
The original name of the stadium was Perry Shorts Stadium, named in honor of R. Perry Shorts, who was one of the major contributors to the original $2.2 million construction cost. In 1983, the stadium was given its current name of Kelly/Shorts Stadium, as the school honored long-time coach Bill Kelly, who led the football team from 1951-1966.
The current capacity of Kelly/Shorts Stadium is 30,255, making it the largest stadium in the conference (now that UMass is no longer temporarily utilizing Gillette Stadium).
Overall, Kelly/Shorts Stadium provides a good game day atmosphere. There is a strong tailgate scene, good marching band, reasonable prices, and usually a pretty good product on the field, making this one of the better game day experiences in the MAC.
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".
Food and beverages offered in Kelly/Shorts Stadium are pretty basic, with just a few interesting surprises as you walk the concourse.
Concession staples include Ballpark hot dogs ($4), pretzel bites ($4), nachos ($4), and popcorn ($3). Most of the more interesting food choices can be found on the west side of the stadium (the side where the press box is located). This includes a Buffalo Wild Wings outlet where you can get boneless wings with a variety of sauces ($1 per wing sold in six or 10 wings per order). Also on the west side you'll find the Fire Up Grill which serves entrees such as cheeseburgers ($5), and a variety of sausages and brats ($4.50).
The Embers "Signature," which is a dull pulled pork sandwich served with a side of their pea and peanut salad ($7) is worth skipping.
Beverages include Pepsi products served in a souvenir size cup ($6) or as a 32-ounce fountain drink ($3.50). Bottled beverages include water and Gatorade ($3). On the colder late season games, you'll want to go for a Tim Horton's 16-ounce coffee ($2.50) or 20-ounce hot chocolate.
On the east side of the stadium, you can find deli-style sandwiches from Erbert & Gerbert's ($6-$7). These are recommended as a consistently good concession item.
The overall atmosphere is pretty good, especially when there is a key conference battle against an in-state team.
The atmosphere begins as you exit your car in any of the parking lots. Tailgating will be well underway and there are some impressive set ups surrounding Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Tailgating is permitted beginning four hours before kickoff. On the north side of the stadium, you'll find the Tailgate Village where there will be live bands performing, a food truck, and beer tent. This may be a good place to stroll if you don't have your own tailgate set up.
The Chippewa Marching Band ("The Marching Chippewas") is very good, adding an enjoyable atmosphere for pre-game, halftime and from their seats near the 20 yard line throughout. The band takes the field about 18 minutes prior to kickoff, so try to find your seat by this juncture to enjoy the pre-game show.
The seating at Kelly/Shorts Stadium is comprised of silver metal bleacher seats, and not ideal for the long game time of a college football contest. It is worthwhile to sit as far back in the stands as possible, so you may be able to find a little extra room. Because of the stadium's small size, you will have a great view, even if you find yourself in the very back corner of the seating at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
If you like to sit at the 50 yard line, then you should be aiming to sit in section F, but one section over in either direction (E or G) would also work well. Consider bringing a seat cushion to make your experience more comfortable.
There are nine luxury suites available at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, and these include chair back seats in front of the suites, private restrooms, catering, VIP parking, and access to the club lounge.
It's a horseshoe shape design at Kelly/Shorts Stadium with the main scoreboard found in the end without seating. The scoreboard is fairly basic but does have a small video board, and displays down and distance, as well as the rushing yards, and passing yards for each team, giving fans some good additional information to analyze the game from their seats.
There's a cannon fired after each Central Michigan score, so prepare yourself if you're easily startled.
There are several nearby locations to have a meal or a drink, as well as plenty of nearby hotels if you are staying in the area for a night.
If you like to try local beers when you visit a stadium, then be sre to make a stop at Mt Pleasant Brewing Company. It is located a couple of miles away from Kelly/Shorts Stadium. If you are a fan of local microbrews, then this is the place for you. They generally have eight of their beers on tap. Mt Pleasant Brewing Company also has really good (and affordably priced) sandwiches, and very friendly staff.
If you want to stay in the area before or after the game, then Buffalo Wild Wings is a safe choice and has plenty of TVs to stay up on the action, especially on a Saturday. There are plenty of other options along Mission Street, including several chain restaurants. The original La Senorita (Mexican food) can be found here. Try a margarita and any of their entrees.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites is located directly across University Ave from Kelly/Shorts Stadium, making your game day experience especially easy if you're staying in Mt Pleasant overnight. Room rates start at around $139, and they can get busy for big games so consider booking in advance.
Central Michigan University is consistently named as one of the top party schools in the United States, so if you are expecting to find a vibrant tailgating scene before a Chippewas game, then you will not be disappointed. Greater restrictions were put in place prior to the 2009 season for tailgating, specifically in the hopes of curbing the raucous behavior often found in the notorious Lot 63. It is worthwhile for fans to read up beforehand to ensure they meet the requirements. In any case, tailgating is still the way to go if you're going to see a game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Once inside, the student section will be full for whatever game you attend. They will be standing and they will be loud, you can count on it. The student section is at mid field, just behind the Chippewas bench. They provide tremendous energy for the entire stadium which the team clearly feeds off.
For most games, the stadium is about half full, as the Chippewas have averaged around 16,000 fans per game in recent history, so moving around in most parts of the stadium won't be an issue.
Parking for Central Michigan football will cost fans $15 for premium games (big non-conference opponents and games vs Western Michigan), and $10 for other games.
Inside Kelly/Shorts Stadium, the concourses are very wide to accommodate the flow of pedestrians, and restrooms are clean, warm, and ample in size. You shouldn't experience lines, even at halftime.
General admission seats are available starting at just $12 when purchased in advance. Reserved seats are only $22 with discounts available for youths and seniors ($15). In most cases, you can purchase general admission seats and still sit just about anywhere you like, but for big games, you may consider purchasing a reserved seat. It's a great value either way. The concession prices are just a tad on the high side, and parking prices are reasonable. All in all, you get what you pay for when you see a game at CMU's Kelly/Shorts Stadium, and the prices are very fair. If you take advantage of the tailgating and enjoy a full day in Mt Pleasant, then this is a great value.
The school has been able to find a balance between providing a safe environment for tailgating while still having that edge as a top notch party school. Compared to most tailgating scenes in the MAC, Central Michigan is top notch. Even if you don't plan on tailgating yourself, take a walk through the student tailgate area and let the excitement of the students prepare you for what awaits.
One additional extra point for the Chippewa Marching Band, one of the best squads in the MAC.
Another extra point for the decision in 2014 to move the student section to mid field, where they can have more impact on the game, as well as be in position to help encourage the team.
The Chippewas have attracted and developed a number of talented players in recent years including standout WR Antonio Brown, first overall draft pick LT Eric Fisher, and perennial All Pro LT Joe Staley. The combination of an outstanding tailgating environment, talented team, and better than average marching band make a Saturday in Mt Pleasant a worthwhile trip for any college football fan.
Member Review by trekbone87
Central Michigan University football has probably been the best kept secret in the Midwest College Football landscape over the past decade for two reasons: 1) Mike DeBord for his four years of caveman-like football regression and 2) the school's location (Mount Pleasant is exactly 60 minutes north of Michigan State on U.S. 127, but there is nothing for miles coming from the east, west and north!). So, how can a stadium in a town in the middle of nowhere (a good sized town, too) named after two major donors (no, not after Brian Kelly) be good for FBS college football?
Member Review by paul on Sep 13, 2012
The Chippewas of Central Michigan University are often overlooked in the scene of college football in the state of Michigan due to their Big Ten cousins in the southern part of the state. While Kelly/Shorts Stadium won’t be taking the title of best college football experience over Michigan Stadium or Spartan Stadium anytime soon, it would be a mistake to dismiss the Chips altogether.
Kelly/Shorts Stadium has a capacity of just over 30,000, which seems to be the right size for this university. For big games, they’ll fill the stadium and the rowdy student section packs enough energy to carry the day, and a better than average pep band keeps the crowd in the action regardless of the score.
As for the product on the field, Central Michigan has had a strong program over the years and they are typically in the running for a Mid American Conference title. The team has won 15 conference championships over the years (seven in the MAC), and have appeared in six bowl games. Their most recent bowl victory came in a thrilling three point win over Troy in 2009 in the GMAC Bowl (now the GoDaddy.com Bowl).
If you’re only willing to go to games in the Big Ten across the Midwest, then you’re missing out on some really good smaller venues, and Kelly/Shorts Stadium definitely fits that description.
Member Review by BargerD14 on Sep 17, 2013
I have always enjoyed watching football games at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The gameday atmosphere is electric, the food is top-notch, and the sightlines/views are great.
As a student, the tailgate activities were exactly what you'd expect from a college football game. Now that I'm an alum, employee of the university, and a parent, I also have come to appreciate the other side of the stadium's pregame festivities. There are always activities, games, and freebies for kids and the atmosphere is safe.
This is a nice looking stadium with close views of D1 College Football.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Oct 12, 2015
KellyShorts is a great stadium that has a lot of fun activities, and it is very easy to get around - you can park right outside for very little money even if you get there only 10 minutes before game time. I agree with the other reviewer that it is in a little off the beaten path, but I have never been afraid to drive an hour. I tend to like the smaller stadiums because it is much less of a hassle to see a game at one of these than at one of the really big venues, and KellyShorts is better than most.
1904 South Mission St
Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
614 W Pickard St
Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
2424 S Mission St
Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
2525 University Park Dr
Mt Pleasant, MI 48858