Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium bills itself as a "memorial that happens to be a stadium." Opened in 1959, this intimate venue in Annapolis, MD should be on your to do list if you are in the Maryland state capital area. The experience will be better than you think.
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The permanent concession stands don't give a ton of variety, but the mobile stands throughout certainly do. All of your regular ballpark fare is available, in addition to pulled pork BBQ, pit beef, veggie chili, and, of course, crab cakes. It's in MARYLAND, for crying out loud, they sell crab cakes at 7-11 here.
As is the case with many on-campus (or, in this case, near campus) venues, no alcohol is sold in the stadium, but tailgating is vigorously encouraged. You can't bring alcohol into the stadium (they will check) so be sure to partake outside if you would like to.
The tradition and history of the Navy and its academy are on full display here. There are plaques dedicated to various classes and battles fought everywhere you look. There is a set of memorials detailing the history of the United States Navy in every battle from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War.
Finally, there are the battle names. On the front of the seating sections, in chronological order, are the names of every major battle fought by the Navy and Marine Corps. It is truly awe inspiring. If you look at the names Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Salerno and Normandy and don't get goose bumps, there is something wrong with you. Or you're not American. I got goose bumps just writing that.
Also, the general admission seating area includes a grassy knoll on which families are encouraged to spread out blankets and picnic. Another nice tradition is that after every Navy touchdown, a group of Midshipmen runs behind the north end zone (where the grassy knoll is) and does 20 pushups each. I got tired just watching them.
Another neat tradition is that there are no nets behind the goal posts behind the north end of the stadium to catch kicks. A group forms on the grassy knoll and when the ball is kicked, someone gets to catch it. You have to give it back, but still, it's pretty cool.
The neighborhood has a charming section called The Village of West Annapolis. Before you get to that, you'll pass a shopping center with a nice neighborhood type Italian restaurant called Bella Italia. There is no bar, but you can drink on premises, and they sell pizza by the slice, which carries a lot of weight with me.
There are a couple of other spots in The Village such as Regina's, a small place specializing in German and local cuisine. Bella Italia and Regina's were both packed with folks wearing Navy gear. There are even places to get massages. Like, real healing massages, not shady back room massages.
This is a different group of fans than your typical college crowd. For one, it skews more mature than your average university fanbase for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the student section. The Brigade of Midshipmen (as the student body is called) is required to be in uniform for every home game. Thus, while they may cheer and act rowdy, they still have to abide by the Naval Code of Conduct. They are every bit as passionate as other student bodies, but they comport themselves with more dignity and respect. This affects the rest of the crowd as well.
To a degree. They are all very, uh, enthusiastic. The biggest difference here is that they keep the chants clean. At least the ones I heard. The crowd is a good one on its own. The student section makes it great.
Parking is easy if you have a pass, not so much if you don't. Ask about parking when you get your ticket. If you cannot park at the stadium, you will need to use one of the garages on the campus of St. John's College, located at the intersection of Bladen and Calvert Streets. It is just over the bridge, on the left. DO NOT park in the shopping center or in a neighborhood, you will be towed. The garage is free, but it's nearly a mile away. Bathrooms are, well, there.
There is no food item over nine dollars. I was surprised by the relatively low cost of concessions here, even the jerseys are cheaper than average. Seats are priced well also. Kids 12 and under can find a ticket for $12, while adults can get in for standing room only or on the grass hill for $20. Reserved seats cost $33 for most games, $38 for homecoming weekend.
While not your typical college town, Annapolis is a beautiful place to visit. The harbor has tons of things to do, and, historically is the landing place of "Roots" author Alex Haley's ancestor, Kunta Kinte.
If you come to Annapolis, plan your trip around a Navy home game so you can experience this place for yourself. It is not glitzy. It is not fancy. It is simply great. The historical atmosphere and the Brigade of Midshipmen are what set it apart from most other places. It isn't the shiny new venue that a lot of places have. But like the U. S. Navy, it gets the job done.
Geoff Crawley is the Mid Atlantic Regional Correspondent and Voice of the Fan and is the host of a weekly podcast.
I'm not going to do a big review because Geoff covered it very accurately. If you can't understand the history and get goose bumps at a Navy game, then there is nothing I can say to encourage you to attend a game.
I personally enjoyed the town of Annapolis, although I was disappointed that you couldn't walk around the Naval Base like you can at an Army game in West Point.
I thought the fans and the atmosphere were amazing, loved the march into the stadium that the cadets do.
Access was fairly easy, although I parked where Geoff mentioned and it was just shy of a mile each way. However, it made leaving the game extremely easy as it puts you on a different road then the traffic leaving the stadium.
My return on Investment was really good, as I got in for $20 for a real seat. Apparently it was Boy Scout day and I found a troop who had extra tickets and got in for face value, which was below the normal price of $33.
I liked to food options. I ate a BBQ Pork sandwich that came with a 4 oz side of potato salad for $6. A great price and it was good. However, I really wish someone in the athletic office would have emailed me back about a few questions I had when I was looking for a ticket and parking. I know they got the email...
The extra points are just for the history and momuments set up both inside and outside the stadium. Really connected me to the history since I was not born when most of our past conflicts occured.
26 Annapolis St
Annapolis, MD 21401
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