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Official Review by Jim Folsom, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Bethune-Cookman University is one of the historically Black colleges and universities, and as such its sports teams, nicknamed the Wildcats, are part of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The school is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the football team plays its games at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach. The Wildcats have produced several NFL players, such as Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Little and Jacksonville Jaguar cornerback Rashean Mathis.
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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".
For your pregame and post game eating, there are no shortage of restaurants and sports bars within short driving distance of the stadium. The stadium is located about a half mile or so north of International Speedway Blvd (U.S. Route 92) on LPGA Blvd. On ISB, you have the Ale House, Ker's WingHouse, Halftime Sports Pub, Buffalo Wild Wings, all your fast food chains (Subway, McDonalds, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Wendy's, etc), Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, and many others all within a ten-minute drive to the stadium.
At the stadium, you have your typical ball park fare. The prices are pretty reasonable for an event such as college football. I got a burger, which they are cooking on the grill all game long, and a Gatorade for $7.00. That's not too bad. A hint for you if you decide to visit: Go to the concession stand on the visitor's side if you can, as there are no lines.
The stadium holds around 10,000 fans, but the stands are packed and the fans are into the game. That always makes for a fun day of college football. The B-CU band is one of the best you will ever get a chance to see, as evidenced in our review of their basketball team. Their rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" makes you want to go out and vote immediately. Awesome.
At this particular game, it was the school's "Hall of Fame" game. They inducted several new members into their Hall of Fame, where the team had them come out onto the field before the game and be introduced the crowd. That was pretty cool. The home fans sit on the south side and the north side is reserved for the visitors. However, some of the B-CU fans have to sit on the north side because they can't all fit on the south end. The visiting team brought a lot of fans with them too, so both stands were full. The people cheered loudly all game long.
Being in close proximity to International Speedway Blvd is a good thing, but being built next door to the sewage treatment plant is not so good. If the wind blows the wrong way, it can get downright unpleasant.
The fans were friendly and enthusiastic, and - most importantly - they filled the stands. I even got to talk to one of the Hall of Fame inductees while tailgating before the game. He was a very nice fellow and talking about football with him was a pleasure. There were many tailgate parties going on in the parking lot, which is very large with many trees for shade, making it a great tailgating atmosphere.
When the fans got to their seats, they cheered the home team loudly. Most had their B-CU gold and maroon clothing. Unfortunately, the team got down 21-0 to put a damper on the mood, but the Wildcats cut it to 21-14 just before halftime, which got the fans back into the game.
If you are coming from the Orlando area, the stadium is close to Interstate 4. It is also a short drive up LPGA Blvd to I-95 if you are coming from either the Space Coast area or Jacksonville. There is, however, only one way out of the stadium, so traffic can be tough to get through.
Tickets for the game were in the $20 range, parking was $10, and food was fairly cheap. Depending on how far you have to drive to get there, you can take a friend and probably spend under $100 at the stadium. If you stop at Ale House or WingHouse, you may need to take another $50. That's not too bad for an afternoon of college football. The team is pretty good, too. They started their 2012 campaign with a 2-2 start, but by that point had played the toughest part of their schedule.
There weren't really any "extras" to speak of. They didn't throw t-shirts in the stands or have any giveaways at the gate. However, the band is great, the cheerleaders are very good, the Hall of Fame ceremony was very cool, and they had a table set up so you could register to vote, which saved me a trip to wherever you go to register, so that worked out.
B-CU is never going to replace going to a big time college football FBS program with 60-90,000 people. But if you want to go to a game on the spur of the moment, you might want to consider getting tickets. It's better than going to high school football and won't break the bank.
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