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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
While some triangles are a mystery (see Bermuda Triangle) others are a bit easier to figure out. The Golden Triangle, which encompasses an area between the cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange in southeast Texas, is well known for two rich resources: petroleum and football talent. Until recently, the football talent had usually been discovered in high school athletes, but with the return of football to Lamar University, the Golden Triangle may be in store for another chance to strike it rich.
The Lamar Cardinals returned to the football field after a two decade hiatus in 2010. The return of football to the Lamar University campus is also a return to Provost Umphrey Stadium which was formerly the home to the Cardinal football team prior to dropping football at the conclusion of the 1989 season.
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".
Provost Umphrey Stadium presents you with a better than average selection of concession options. Those options range from jumbo hot dogs ($4.50), hot link ($4.50), and nachos ($4.75) as your basics. Other options include a soft pretzel ($2.75), pickle ($1.50), and candy ($2). Your drink options are bottled water ($3) and fountain sodas ($3-$4; Coca-Cola products).
Specialty options are also available from Chick-fil-A sandwiches to frozen lemonade. Major credit cards are accepted at some of the registers so don't worry about having to secure enough cash ahead of time. Also, as is the case in most college venues across the nation, alcohol is not sold and is strictly prohibited so get your fix while tailgating prior to entering the stadium. The prices are fairly reasonable and, in my opinion, there's not really a quality food option outside the stadium so I recommend grabbing either a hot link or Chick-fil-A sandwich at concessions.
Located northwest of the Lamar University Stadium, Provost Umphrey is just southeast of the Montagne Center (home to Lamar basketball, among other sports). Just to the northeast of the stadium is one of the more unique landscapes in college football with oil refinery structures in sight.
The Golden Triangle originally earned its name due to the rich strike of oil industry that spurred growth in the area. While some visitors find the oil structures as an eyesore, you can't deny that it is certainly a unique aspect of the experience.
Provost Umphrey Stadium was constructed in 1969 and remained relatively the same until the return of football in 2010. Thanks to generous donations, the stadium was upgraded with new bench/chair back seating, concourse, restrooms, concession facilities, lighting structures and Matrix field turf, as well as large video replay scoreboard (located in the south endzone).
The Montagne Center sits in the north endzone and is so close to the field that it is utilized for suite and box seating. Grassy berms close in the NW/NE sections between the stadium and Montagne Center. The Dauphin Athletic Complex is located in the south endzone and serves as the locker rooms for both the visiting and home teams. Grassy berms enclose the entire south endzone area in front of the complex and connecting to both sides of the stadium. The main seating sections are the east and west single-tiered grandstands. The concourses under both the east and west grandstands are spacious but can get a bit cramped during the rush into the stadium and to the concessions areas. The open concourse area in the south endzone is very spacious and allows easy access between the east and west sides.
If you're a visiting fan, you'll likely find fellow fans gathered on the east side in the southeast corner. This is snuggled in pretty close to the student section so buyer beware. If you don't mind sitting away from the visiting fan section, you might consider getting tickets on either the west side or bringing a blanket and sitting on the south endzone berm. The best seat in the house, as always, is the 50 yard line on the west side, but expect many of these seats to be reserved for season ticket holders.
The spirit groups and student section are located approximately between the 15 and 50 yard lines on the NE portion of the east grandstands. Though the marching band (The Showcase of Southeast Texas) isn't the largest, they stay in the game and are pretty entertaining. The student section is one of the better in the Southland Conference, depending on the matchup. There are several spirit groups at Lamar from the mascot 'Big Red' to cheer and dance teams, to the End Zone Angels which is a female football support student organization. The PA/music is clear and professional.
As previously mentioned, Beaumont is located in the Golden Triangle region (known for high school football and petroleum industry) in southeast Texas about 85 miles east of Houston. Beaumont's population is just short of 120,000 (2011 census) and the greater Beaumont area is 350,000+ (MSA). This region is anything but a tourism area, but depending on your interests, you can find some entertaining options in and around Beaumont.
My first recommendation will be that you schedule your visit so that you can take advantage of time spent in Houston (if you are coming in from the west) or at a casino in Lake Charles (if you are coming in from the east). If you are staying the weekend in Beaumont, the locals highly recommend staying at Elegante' Hotel and partaking in the following attractions/activities: salt water fishing in Lake Sabine, touring through the historical McFaddin-Ward House, hiking in the Big Thicket National Preserve, river fun via Neches River Adventures, a stop at Gladys City Boomtown (museum on the Spindletop Gusher) and a stroll through downtown's Crockett Street (bar/restaurant options).
The interesting aspect of Beaumont is that due to its location near the border of Louisiana and Texas, there is unique blend of Cajun food and Texas BBQ/Tex-Mex. Unfortunately, I haven't had the best of luck with restaurant options, but that doesn't take away from the availability of options in the area. If you're looking for quality eats in Beaumont, you really need to plan ahead otherwise you'll be stuck with chain stores off I-10. Locals will be quick to tell you that the real Beaumont is found off the beaten path. When considering restaurant options, give a few of these local recommended options a try: Sugas Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar, The Schooner (Nederland, TX), Larry's French Market and Willy Burger.
Expect a very knowledgeable and interactive crowd for Lamar Cardinal football games. As mentioned, the Golden Triangle is well known for their high school football passion and that bleeds over for the Cardinals, though the fan base still needs some time to grow. Whether it's football, basketball, or baseball, my experience has been that Lamar fans are not too fond of referees. When a call doesn't go their way, don't expect them to take it in stride. I've attended a few basketball games in the Montagne Center (the sport Lamar is a little better known for over the years) where 50% of the crowd reaction throughout the game was negative towards the officials. Lamar has one of the more interactive fan bases in the Southland Conference, which as a conference isn't exactly known for large or loud crowds, but regardless Cardinals fans are close to the top.
Beaumont is located about 80 miles east of Houston. Your most cost efficient bet will be to fly into Houston and drive an hour east on I-10 to Beaumont. If you don't mind paying to park, you'll find a large lot just north of the stadium behind the Montagne Center. This will be your closest parking option.
MLK Pkwy passes just to the west of the stadium. On the other side of that highway is the Lamar University campus where plenty of free parking is available, but expect a little bit of a hike finding your way back to the stadium after you park. Crossing MLK Pkwy isn't the safest option, but there is usually an officer assigned to the major crossing to direct traffic. Depending on where you approach MLK Pkwy, there are also passenger ramps which extend above the parkway, allowing fans to avoid the Frogger-style street crossing below.
Once you arrive at the stadium gates, you'll have no trouble picking up your tickets and making it through the gates. The best gate to enter is whichever you approach because none of them will have lines. Your options are the NW, SW, and SE corners of the stadium. Ticket booths are located next to the gates on the NW and SW corners. Spacious and clean restrooms are available under the west and east sides.
Tickets for the 2012 season range from $15-$25 and the concessions are pretty reasonable as well. The value is definitely high per dollar spent here. If you're coming in just for the Lamar football experience, time your visit with a home matchup against heated rival McNeese State to increase the value even more. If you spend some time in Houston and take advantage of the tips on free parking, concession items, and etc. the overall experience is definitely a good return on your investment.
If you've read one of my reviews before, you know I'm a pretty big fan of grassy berm seating. Though the berms in Provost Umphrey aren't top quality, they still allow the opportunity to toss a blanket and relax with the family.
Being an hour away from Houston, Texas is a plus, if you budget time accordingly. You're also less than an hour away from Lake Charles, Louisiana which is home to some pretty good Cajun food and casinos.
The rivalry between McNeese and Lamar is one of the better in the region. Though it's still taking a little time to return to the level before Lamar dropped football, catching this matchup is a pretty unique Southland Conference event.
So is it worth it? Depends on what your goal is here. If you have a favorite team traveling to Lamar and you have a couple of days to spend in Houston, I'd definitely say so; very affordable, quality atmosphere, and just an hour away from Houston. If you're putting together a bucket list of Division I (FBS and FCS) college football stadiums to visit, maybe not.
Member Review by jdcurran235 on Oct 25, 2012
I would have rated the neighborhood higher but the surrounding area directly around the school is less than desirable. The region is great though. I think a couple of days in Beaumont could be a lot of fun. Spend a day at village creek and then off to the museums the next day. Spend one night at the Julie Rogers, one of Texas's oldest and most historic theaters. I am not necessarily a big fan of doing stuff in Houston. It is very expensive and overcrowded. You can do the same stuff in Beaumont at a lower cost. And then off to Lake Charles after that to spend time at the casinos.
I think one of the biggest draws is the Cardinal fans themselves. They are very loyal to the Cards and they absolutely love to feed visitors (some of the best home cooking you can get anywhere). They are truly Texas friendly.
461 Bowie St
Beaumont, TX 77701
1507 S Highway 69
Nederland, TX 77627
1906 Calder Ave
Beaumont, TX 77701
6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625
Beaumont, TX 77701