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Official Review by Justin Sutton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Having served as the “home away from home” for Mississippi’s “Big Three” football programs for many years, Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium has also served as the home of Jackson State Football since the university demolished its on-campus facility to build a science building.
In 2011, the Mississippi Legislature gave managing control (and the operating expenses that go along with it) to Jackson State, ending what many had seen as an unfair partnership where the State took a large percentage of the revenue from football games.
Now, even with the university in control of the facility, it may only be a matter of time before Jackson State builds an on-campus or near campus stadium in west Jackson and the outdated, 62,000 capacity stadium is razed to expand the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
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".
All in all, the concessions at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium are pretty much the same that are found at most sporting events. A few items on the menu that do stand out are chicken on a stick and turkey legs; both go for $8.
While the selection may not be as vast as other stadiums, the sheer number of concession stands makes standing in line a minimal hassle. No line in the stadium appears to be longer than a five-minute wait. Of note, many of the concession stands have signs saying that bills larger than $20 will not be accepted, so plan accordingly.
As far as drinks, alcoholic beverages are not sold at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, and the stadium has a contract with Pepsi.
Before the game, many Jackson State fans take the opportunity to tailgate and have a party before the contest. Once inside the gates, most fans keep up the lively atmosphere.
One thing that jumped out during the pre-game festivities on the day I visited in fall, 2013 was the hype video that played before the Tigers took the field. The video was on par with what is seen at the SEC schools around the state.
During the game, and especially at halftime, fans will be entertained by the Sonic Boom of the South, the Jackson State band.
The biggest detractor to the overall atmosphere of the game is the facility itself. The fact is a 62,000-seat stadium does not fit the needs of Jackson State football. While the Tigers regularly have upwards of 10,000 to 12,000 people at a home game, the stadium only sits 17% full. Secondly, the stadium does not have the thrills of most other football venues. It is nearly a 70-year old stadium, and it shows.
While the Jackson area does have many places to enjoy, few are within walking distance of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
A few places within a 10-minute walk are Sal and Mookie's, which serves New York-style pizza, and Walker's Drive-in. If you want to find a retro restaurant, visit Brent's Drugs, a former pharmacy that now serves burgers and shakes.
While a great meal can be had at all, none are necessarily what one would consider a game day venue.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center dominates most of the neighborhood.
Jackson State fans are a dedicated group of fans, and with a team that has historically been a top team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, they do have good reason to cheer.
Fans of all ages can be found at the game, and they stay into the game most of the time. Cheers and groans can be heard on most nearly every play, and the crowd has good football knowledge.
Most fans that you encounter will be friendly, and it almost has the feel of a family gathering when listening in on most of the conversations between fans before the game.
Unfortunately, there are just not enough fans to make the atmosphere feel like a bigger college football game.
Getting to a game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium is pretty easy. The stadium is located just off of State Street, a major corridor through Jackson. Fans can also take Interstate 55 to the Woodrow Wilson Drive exit to get to the stadium.
Jackson State does a good job of marking the path with signs, as well.
Parking can become a bit congested at the stadium, which will cost $10. Other lots are available and offer parking for a little bit lower of a price. Some fans park along the side of Woodrow Wilson Drive.
If the goal is to watch a college football game and be entertained at a fair price, Jackson State and Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium can deliver. General admission tickets start at $25 dollars, and box seats can be had for $45. Children under the age of five get into the game free.
In all, a family of four with a young child could get into a Jackson State game for $85. With the price of concessions tossed in, a family can expect to pay about $125 at a minimum for the game. This turns out to be a bit less than paying to attend a game at Mississippi State or Ole Miss, but the quality of the competition and the game itself is also less.
One star goes to the Sonic Boom of the South. They produce a show that is well worth watching during halftime.
A second star goes to the history of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. Though nothing to indicate it can be found there, Mississippi State and Ole Miss scored some of the biggest wins in their respective histories in Jackson. Ole Miss defeated eventual national champion Notre Dame in Jackson in 1977, and Mississippi State defeated defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Alabama there in 1980.
A third star goes to the venue for hosting the Mississippi High School Activities Association football championships each year. Over the course of two days, six football championships are decided. Fans of high school football should make it a point to come watch the games.
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565 Taylor St
Jackson, MS 39216
3016 N State St
Jackson, MS 39216
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