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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium is the crown jewel of Nicholls State Athletics and serves as a home field for Thibodaux community pride.
Guidry Stadium was constructed in 1972 and has received a few upgrades over the years, including an enhanced exterior on the west side, a video enhanced scoreboard, and a new synthetic playing surface, named in honor of the Manning family. Guidry Stadium has a seating capacity of 10,500. Colonels football competes at the NCAA DI-FCS level in the Southland Conference.
Whether you’re following your favorite team down to Thibodaux to play the Colonels or find yourself in need of a getaway to the Louisiana bayou country, taking in a Colonels game at John L Guidry Stadium provides a cozy atmosphere and promises a weekend of family friendly entertainment.
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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".
Guidry Stadium offers the expected stadium fare along with a couple of extras.
There're two locations built into the concourse on both sides of the stadium, however, there's typically only one in operation on the east side due to smaller crowd sizes. The concessions stands stadium staple items like hot dogs ($3), nachos ($3), hamburgers ($4), and popcorn ($3), among other items.
Your best options here, however, are the jambalaya ($4) and bread pudding ($4). Both taste exceptional and are uniquely Louisiana.
Drink options are headlined by bottled Coca-Cola products for $3. Alcohol is sold at Guidry Stadium, but not at the concession stands. You'll notice a beer table near the northwest entrance gate with 16 ounce canned drinks including Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light for $6.
Concessions are operated by Sodexo. The stands are cash only and do not accept credit/debit cards.
Guidry Stadium offers a cozy atmosphere in a traditional college football environment.
Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium features two separate grandstands on the east and west sides. These grandstands are identical in size and are fairly close to the field. There is a section of chairbacks between the 40 yard lines on the west side. Outside of that, the remaining seats at Guidry Stadium consist of bleacher seating. If you're a fan of the visiting team, you'll want to locate yourself on the east side grandstand. Typically, visiting fans congregate towards the 50 yard line seats, however, keep in mind that you'll be flanked on both sides by the student section and recent graduates.
After undergoing some controversy about their civil war themed mascot, Nicholls State updated their logos and costumed mascot. Col. Tillou remains, but with an updated look and feel of a more modern-day soldier (though some point out that his red and black garb make him resemble a Soviet solider). Outside of Col. Tillou, Nicholls features the traditional spirit squads including the Colonelettes dance team, the Pride of Nicholls marching band, and the cheer squad.
Guidry Stadium's playing surface was upgraded from natural turf to synthetic turf thanks, in part, to a donation from the beloved Manning family (hence the name Manning Field). After using Guidry Stadium for many years to host the famous Manning Passing Academy, the Manning's have a close relationship with Thibodaux and the stadium. Guidry Stadium features a video enhanced scoreboard, though video capabilities seem to be reserved for advertisements more so than instant replay.
Music is played between each play, and depending your preference, this is either a nice addition to the game day atmosphere or an nuisance. You'll notice a few on-field promotions during stoppage time like a mid-field race or field goal kick contest. T-shirts are thrown into the stands after Colonels scores (though the amount thrown is fairly limited).
Guidry Stadium is located on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Thibodaux is a charming small college town with a population of about 14,500. Though the area immediately around the university is somewhat sparse in terms of restaurants and attractions, you'll find some great Cajun food to eat and a few interesting things to do while in town.
While almost every city in Louisiana claims the term "Cajun Country," the Bayou Lafourche region defines that term and delivers with authentic Cajun cuisine. Off the Hook is a great quick stop for some fried seafood. Though it's a quick service set-up, the flavors are legit. If you're looking for a more upscale experience in the heart of downtown Thibodaux, be sure to check out Fremin's. Bubba's II Poboys and Seafood offers a more traditional sit down atmosphere and a good poboy as well. And, as usual, it's hard to resist stopping in at Raising Cane's when in Small Town, Louisiana, and Thibodaux is no different.
The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is an interesting stop for insights into the Acadian heritage (and it's free admission). The Bayou Country Children's Museum is a nice stop for traveling families who need a break in the sports action. If you want to truly experience the bayou, consider taking a ride with Zam's Swamp Tours.
The Carmel Inn and Suites offers a comfortable stay while in town and there are several other hotel chains to check out, as well as a good assortment of bed and breakfast locations.
Fan support for the Colonels has traditionally been strong, however, the Colonels have gone through several rough seasons which has led to reduced attendance.
Saying the Colonels have gone through a period of down years on the field is putting it kindly. In fact, since winning the Southland Conference championship in 2005, the Colonels are just 26-73, not counting the 2015 season. When the Colonels field a competitive program, there is relatively strong fan support. However, the years of losing records have been exacerbated by massive budget cuts to higher education in Louisiana and constant rumors that Nicholls State will drop out of NCAA Division I play or even drop football altogether. Needless to say, the Thibodaux community and Nicholls State faithful are in desperate need of a winning season and a reason to get behind their beloved Colonels.
Average attendance over the past few years ranges from about 3,000 to 6,000. The annual homecoming game has great attendance, as well as match ups against in-state rivals Southeastern Louisiana and McNeese State. The game against SLU has traditionally been held on Thursday nights and is coined the "River Bell Classic.. The two institutions are separated by about 70 miles.
There's not much going on in terms of traditions or fan chants. When the Colonels score or make a big play, the fans make some noise in support of their team. However, in defense of Colonel fans, they haven't had a whole lot to cheer about recently.
Access around and inside Guidry Stadium is a mixed bag. With reduced crowds, many of the headaches are avoided. However, when the stadium features a strong crowd, expect to encounter a few difficulties along the way.
Thibodaux is literally on the bayou in Cajun country. The severe southwestern Louisiana location delivers some great Cajun experiences, but isn't the most accessible. If you're flying in for the game, you can do so via the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. From there, the stadium is about an hour's drive to the southwest. You can take I-310 south to Hwy 90 South, then jump on Highway 1 over to the Thibodaux region. If you're coming from the west, be sure to have a GPS with you as you'll likely want to take several backroad highways to get to Thibodaux.
Parking is one of the highlights here, as there are two lots on both the east and west sides of the grandstands which typically offer plenty of space for $5. However, for well attended games, you may want to check out other free on-campus lots within a short walk to the stadium.
Ticket booths are located on both the northeast and northwest corners of the grandstands. For well attended games, you may encounter a sizable line and wait. Entrance gates are located on the northwest and northeast corners as well and you shouldn't encounter any problems here.
The concourses are fairly spacious, though lines for concessions can clog your walking paths. There really isn't a concourse in the seating areas. The seats on the first row are right up against the railing, which can create some real frustrations as fans try to find their seats. The restrooms are adequate, though certainly dated and due for a facelift.
Attending a Nicholls State football game at Guidry Stadium provides an average return on investment.
General admission ticket prices are $15, with reserved bleacher seating in sections C and G being $20 and reserved chairbacks available at $25.
Parking is available immediately outside the stadium for $5, though on-campus parking can be found for free if you don't mind a short walk. Nicholls offers a free game day magazine, which is a nice bonus. A small apparel shop is located under the grandstand on the west side, with typical campus bookstore prices. Concessions are a bit inflated, but somewhat more affordable than other similar venues.
There are few extra components to the game day experience at Guidry Stadium which help enhance the overall experience.
The free game day magazine is a smart move by Nicholls Athletics. It's nice to be able to grab a program with important game related information without shelling out an additional $5 or more, like at other venues.
Bread pudding? At a football game concession stand? And it tastes good? Now that's uniquely Louisiana.
While there are a couple of things to highlight as "extras," this is certainly an area that could use a boost. There's very little in terms of remembering past accomplishments and great players around the stadium (outside of occasional on-field promotions).
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