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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Georgia Southern Eagles football program recently transitioned to the FBS, and they are now bowl-eligible. They play their home games at Paulson Stadium, which now seats 25,000, thanks to expansions made during the transition. Built in 1984, the stadium is known as both the "Prettiest Little Stadium in America" (coined by former coach Erk Russell), as well as "Our House" (due to the extreme home-field advantage the stadium enjoys).
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".
Paulson Stadium offers a good variety of food and beverage options, but the lines can be pretty long due to the placement and number of stands. There are a couple of main stands on each side (north and south), but no smaller satellite stands.
Food options include pretty much what you would expect at a stadium - main dishes from $4-$7, including hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and chicken tenders, and snacks from $2-$4, including candy, peanuts, popcorn, and nachos.
Beverages are $4, and include Coke products from the fountain, as well as bottled water and Powerade. There is no alcohol sold or allowed inside, except in the VIP sections on the north side (sections 105-109), and the alcohol is included in the ticket price.
Paulson is a fun place to see a game - the fans do a lot of cheers unique to Georgia Southern, and the stadium has several fun amenities, including a mini football field in the east end zone where kids can play during the game.
There are several different seating options at Paulson Stadium - most of the seats are metal bleachers without chair backs, some of which are covered (sections 101-113). There are a few sections with chair backs (top portions of sections B-F and west end zone), but these are mostly reserved for season ticket holders and donors. The athletics website has a great seating chart showing which sections have which type of seats.
The main seating areas are the north and south stands, and most of those sections are reserved for donors and students, so it may be hard to find tickets for certain games if you don't fall into one of those categories - the press box is on the south side. The east end zone holds the Ted Smith Family Football Center (coach's offices, locker rooms, etc.) and doesn't have seating, except for standing room on the balcony, or sitting on the grass. The west end zone only has a small section of seats reserved for donors.
The replay screen is located on the east side, so it won't be behind you, but it isn't very big. Also, it only has a video screen - it doesn't show the down and distance, game clock, scoreboard, or anything else (that is all shown on the west side's digital display). It is a weird set up, since you have to look in different directions to keep track of both.
There aren't a lot of tourist attractions in Statesboro besides the university, but there are several great restaurants right next to the stadium.
Bigshow's Burgers & Bar is right across the street from the Ted Smith Family Football Center on the east end of the stadium. Their menu is not huge, but they have wings, design your own burgers (pick your meat, cheese, toppings, etc.), and hot dog specials on Saturdays, as well as multiple TV screens to watch games or highlights, and a good alcohol selection.
If you are looking for something more, another option is Gata's Sports Bar and Grille a block away from the stadium, home of the coach's show and the official post game hangout of the Eagles. There is also Millhouse Steakhouse half a mile away on Veterans Memorial Parkway, which offers more traditional steaks and seafood.
There are plenty of hotels in Statesboro depending on your preferences and budget; La Quinta is the only one within sight of the stadium.
The fans are very supportive of their team, and do a lot of unique cheers throughout the game. The stands are mostly full, and most fans stay until the fouth quarter, even if the game is already decided.
Average attendance is over 20K, which is over 80-percent capacity, and the student section is right behind the visitor bench, which really helps Paulson's home field advantage.
The cheers the crowd does include shouting "Whose house? Our house!" on the way into the game, and then once inside, one side yells "Georgia!" while the other side responds "Southern!" at sundry times during the game. But the most fun cheer happens every time the ball is kicked off (at the beginning of each half or following a score), when all the fans wave their hats in the air and chant in unison, "Go big blue! One more time!". You will also see the phrase "GATA" all over the stadium, on shirts and on banners - this is a buzzword for GSU fans, and is an acronym for a (slightly) obscene phrase.
Check out the video to see the kickoff cheer live:
Paulson Stadium is easy to get to, and for those without a parking pass, you can park across the street for $20 at one of the nearby restaurants. There are also places you can park for free around campus a little further away, but be mindful of the signs so you don't get towed.
There are gates all around the stadium, but it is always a good idea to print your tickets at home, or have them mailed, because lines are very long at the ticket booths. Also, will call for most people is at gate 8 (across the street from the tailgating area), which could be a long walk from where you park.
There are plenty of bathrooms inside the stadium, and plenty of room to walk around, since the stadium isn't enclosed on either end, but the concession lines can be a bit long, especially during halftime.
Coming to a GSU football game is a fun experience, and provides a really great crowd to watch the game with. Concession prices are reasonable, and ticket prices are on par with other college football stadiums - tickets range from $25 to $60, plus a $3 fee per ticket if you buy online. Some sections are supposed to require a donation or be reserved for season ticket holders, but if the game is not sold out, you can still buy them without that.
One point for the mini football field in front of the Ted Smith Family Football Center - appropriately named the "Field of Dreams;" kids 12 and under can play there all through the game.
A second point for the bounce house also near the Football Center - for some odd reason, kids don't have a long attention span sometimes, so having something to occupy them so you don't have to leave early is a plus.
A third point for all the cheers the fans do during the game - while it is mostly the student section, it is a fun way to stay engaged during the game, and provides a unique element specific to GSU.
A fourth point for the proximity to restaurants - a lot of stadiums have eateries "nearby," but having a couple literally across the street is awesome.
Paulson Stadium is definitely worth a visit for the fun crowd and unique amenities. You may not often see Top 25 teams there, since the Eagles play in the Sun Belt Conference, but you will definitely have a good time.
Member Review by Matt Yogus on Nov 22, 2013
Built in 1984, Georgia Southern University’s Allen E. Paulson Stadium is known for one thing above anything else -- winning.
The Eagles have won 84 percent of the games they’ve played at Paulson Stadium. Legendary coach Erk Russell, who resurrected Georgia Southern football in Statesboro, GA in 1981, coined the venue “The Prettiest Little Stadium in America.” When the NCAA Division I-AA national championship game was played there, Erk capped off a perfect 15-0 season with the program’s third national title (of six) in front of a record crowd of 25,725, though the stadium seated only 14,444 at the time.
In 2013, Georgia Southern announced it will join the Sun Belt conference of the FBS, and construction began on a 50,000 square-foot Football Operations Center in the stadium and an upper deck adding an additional 6,200 seats.
Member Review by csaxon6 on Feb 26, 2014
Best way to spend a saturday in the Fall--heat and gnats abound, football is great, and the experience of a lifetime awaits in the Prettiest Little Stadium in America.
Member Review by Brian L Jones on Nov 11, 2014
Georgia Southern has been one of the most successful FCS programs in the country. The Eagles have won six national titles and have won 10 Southern Conference championships from 1992 to 2013.
In 2014, the Eagles have made the jump to the FBS and now play in the Sun Belt Conference. And because of that, they had to make improvements to Paulson Stadium.
The most important thing Georgia Southern did is expand the stadium from 18,000 to 25,000 seats. They also created a football operations center on site which includes a weight room and the Georgia Southern Football Hall of Fame.
There is a lot of tradition at Paulson Stadium, which is why the place is always packed for each home game. It may not be the most well-known stadium in the country, but with the jump to the FBS, more college football fans will notice how much this stadium means to the Georgia Southern faithful.
Member Review by TrueBlueGS on Dec 26, 2014
Every football game in Paulson Stadium is a sight to behold. Fans flock to campus from near and far to see the Eagles play on Saturdays, and there's never a dull moment when you're taking part in the sacred tradition of Georgia Southern Gameday. Allen E. Paulson Stadium is hallowed ground to the Eagle faithful because it is the shining example of the hard work and dedication of a then-sleepy, little community in south Georgia coming together to support a common dream: building a beautiful stadium for a new football team that was to be the pride of Statesboro. That's why fans lovingly call the stadium "Our House," a house built by us for us. Erk Russell also coined the name "the Prettiest Little Stadium in America," and while the stadium might not be so little anymore, it's still the finest looking stadium in the land. From the moment the yellow school buses arrive in the tailgating lot until the last note of the alma mater is sung by the fans after victory, tradition has a firm grasp here in Statesboro. You won't find a better rags-to-riches story than the one that is told here at Georgia Southern and retold every Saturday through the yellow school buses and plain, navy blue uniforms. You also won't find a more passionate, friendly, and a louder fanbase than what you see storm through the gates on Saturdays in the fall. With chants of "WHOSE HOUSE? OUR HOUSE!" echoing across the county from Paulson, a kind of deafening thunder that makes the opposing team wish they had never gotten off the bus, "Our House" is one of the toughest venues to play at giving us a huge home field advantage. Our boisterous fans, winning tradition, and feared offense are enough to leave any team shaking in their cleats. The Boro is also a unique little town full of restaurants and bars right next to the stadium, and college students always willing to drink you under the table. Speaking a food and drink, there's always thousands of people barbecuing and tailgating on Saturdays. They are the epitome of Southern hospitality and are always willing to share even if you're an App State fan. With exciting football, heart-pounding atmosphere, amazing tradition, and a beautiful stadium nestled in the charmingly southern city of Statesboro, you can easily see why thousands of die-hard Eagles come each Saturday wanting to catch the Blues, the Statesboro Blues. Hail Southern.
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