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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Meade Stadium, home of the University of Rhode Island Rams football team, is located on the URI campus in Kingston, Rhode Island. It is named after class of 1915 alum, booster, and local politician John E. “Jack” Meade, who was rumored to never have missed a home game from the time he attended URI until his death in 1972.
Recent renovations of the area, including the building of the Thomas J. Ryan Center directly adjacent to Meade Stadium, have reduced seating capacity to 6,555. The grandstand on the western side of the field is built directly into the side of the Ryan Center, and the luxury boxes in the Ryan Center overlook both the event center inside and the football field on the outside.
These renovations, completed in 2006, have had the unintended and unfortunate consequence of making Meade Stadium a mismatch of old and new. The east grandstand, attached to the Ryan Center, has clean, modern, new facilities while the west grandstand appears much as it did in the 80’s. Fans wishing for shady seats, desirable during warm September games, should choose to sit on the east grandstand. As the season progresses and temperatures drop, fans wishing to bask in the sun flock to the western grandstand.
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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".
One thing is certain, you will not be going to Meade Stadium for the concessions. Not that there is anything wrong with the food served here, just that it doesn't stray too far from the basics. Hot dogs ($3.25), burgers ($5.50), and pizza ($6) are among the offerings, along with various snacks, such as pretzels, popcorn, candy, and drinks. Prices are reasonable, and quality is decent. Lines are not an issue, as the number of stands open are adequate to handle the size of the crowd.
Concession stands on the east sideline are located at the top of the grandstand, inside the Ryan Center. Stands on the west sideline are located underneath the bleachers. No souvenir stands were seen anywhere within the stadium.
Despite the small size of Meade Stadium, there can be no doubt when you are here that you are enjoying a college football game. The URI band plays throughout the game, the cheerleaders are vocal and active, Rhody the Ram is running around pumping up the crowd, and students are making their presence known. It makes for a festive and enjoyable atmosphere. Meade Stadium used to hold many more fans than its present capacity of 6,555. There was a paid attendance of about 5,100 at the game I attended in September 2013, and they filled up the stands. A crowd of 5,100 in a larger stadium would have felt sparse, and resulted in a quieter, more subdued crowd. It would seem that the smaller, cozier stadium works in URI's favor.
As with most college stadiums in New England, this is not the big time, and people enjoy that. The atmosphere is more laid-back than you would experience elsewhere, and the outcome of the game seems secondary to the enjoyment of the day.
Football fans looking for dining or recreational activities within walking distance may be disappointed with Meade Stadium's rural location. The URI campus is fairly self-contained, without a great deal of restaurants or places of interest nearby. Those willing to travel a short distance will be rewarded with many wonderful restaurants and sights. The Mews Tavern in nearby Wakefield boasts 69 beers on tap and an extensive bar menu. It is a favorite of the student body. In addition, Narragansett, located 8 miles to the south, Newport, 16 miles to the east, and Providence, 29 miles to the north, offer a wide variety of dining, lodging, and tourist options for the adventurous football fan.
There are no lodging options directly adjacent to the URI campus, so fans looking to stay near URI overnight will need to look elsewhere. There are some options in nearby South Kingstown (don't ask me why "Kingstown" has a "W" and "Kingston" doesn't, I couldn't find an answer) and beyond. Fans looking to make a weekend of their trip to URI would be advised to check out Newport or Providence, both short drives from campus.
While the student body seems to be underrepresented with Meade Stadium being literally steps from some of the dormitories on campus, URI still manages to put out a representative crowd. While walking around the stadium during a game, you will see alumni, youth football players in uniform along with cheerleaders, families out to enjoy a game on a wonderful Saturday afternoon, and the occasional military man or woman. Each group brings its own brand of energy and enthusiasm, making the atmosphere at Meade Stadium a very positive one.
Meade Stadium is located on the western side of the URI campus in Kingston, RI. The small town of Kingston is located 29 miles south of Providence and 20 minutes south of T.F. Green Airport. Driving to Kingston from Providence will take you about 40 minutes on a normal Saturday. The campus is located on Route 138, approximately a 10 mile drive from I-95 as it passes through southern Rhode Island. The URI campus is served by public transportation, as RIPTA buses have several routes that serve the campus from Providence. In addition, the Kingstown train station is about two miles away from campus, with Amtrak making regular stops at the station.
The seaside towns of Narragansett and Newport are nearby and worth a visit to any out-of-towners visiting Rhode Island. Newport is a well-known tourist attraction with many things to see and do, while Narragansett boasts many fine restaurants and beaches of its own.
Parking around Meade Stadium is plentiful and inexpensive. The lots directly adjacent to the stadium charge $10 and those further away are free. It is a short walk from these lots to the stadium, with the only drawback being that tailgating is prohibited in these lots.
As with most amenities at Meade Stadium, the quality and quantity of bathrooms vary depending on which side of the field you sit on. There are buildings underneath the west bleachers which house restrooms for both men and women, and would best be described as adequate. The restrooms on the east side are inside the Ryan Center, and are more plentiful and more modern.
There are two types of seats at Meade Stadium, individual seats costing $22 and general admission bleachers costing $15. The seats occupy only the three middle sections of the east grandstand, which is steeply sloped, making for great views of the action. General admission seats are sold based on which side of the field you wish to sit on, but ushers do not seem too concerned with making sure you are on the correct side of the field. There are plenty of standing room areas available on both the east side of the field and in the end zone, and some fans bring folding chairs to sit in the end zone and enjoy the game from there.
With parking maxing out at $10 and reasonably priced food items, you will definitely not break the bank at a URI football game.
Bonus points for the Rams' militia in the end zone firing their cannon after every Rhody score. They were certainly busy during my visit, as the home team came away with a 42-7 victory.
Also, an extra point is given for military appreciation day. Camouflage hats were handed out to the fans upon entering the stadium, and ceremonies honoring soldiers were held before kickoff.
Having grown up in Rhode Island, with many friends who attended URI, as well as having sent a daughter to URI, I can honestly say that I never heard many positive things said about Meade Stadium. After visiting, I don't know why it would have a negative reputation. Sure, Meade Stadium can never be confused with Notre Dame Stadium, but it is a nice place to spend a Saturday afternoon at a game. Basketball is the main sporting attraction at URI, but the people attending a football game show their pride in their team to the utmost. If you are looking for big-time college football, don't look here. But if you are looking for an affordable, enjoyable afternoon of football played at a high level, URI offers exactly what you are looking for.
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3009 Tower Hill Rd
South Kingstown, RI 02879
20 Hotel Dr
South Kingstown, RI 02879