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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Richmond Coliseum in downtown Richmond, Virginia, is used for indoor football, concerts, and other events, such as political rallies. Opened in 1971, the facility is outdated and in need of some repairs, but the city has been unable to acquire sufficient funds to build a new venue. The arena is laid out across six levels, and has been the home of the Richmond Raiders since 2010. The Raiders are currently members of the Professional Indoor Football League.
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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".
Richmond Coliseum offers a wide variety of concession options, including stadium staples, such as chicken tenders, hot dogs, and pizza, as well as marquee items, such as Johnny Rockets hamburgers. The lines can get a little long due to the layout of the venue, but move pretty quickly, since many of the items are pre-made.
There are several large concessions stands, and a number of smaller ones, dotted around the arena. The large stands include Johnny Rockets, a barbecue place, two Papa John's locations, and two generic stands. The generic stands sell typical fare, such as chicken tenders, corn dogs, and pretzels, while the specialty shops sell barbecue, pizza, and hamburgers. The two Papa John's stands actually offer different items; one has only typical fare, such as pizza and chicken poppers, while the other adds sandwiches, corn dogs, and desserts. Concession prices at Richmond Coliseum are on the high side compared to college venues, but are pretty typical of pro stadiums.
Depending on which stand you choose, Pepsi products are available from the fountain or in bottles, and you can also find coffee, Gatorade, and bottled water, as well as beer. Only three types of beer are offered (Bud Light, Legend Brown Ale, and Shock Top); most stands only sell two of the three, but a few stands sell all of them.
If you come to a Raiders game here, you can never go wrong with a Johnny Rockets burger.
A Raiders game offers a very fun atmosphere with good crowd noise and lots of loud music.
The stadium has good sight lines, which is typical for indoor football, where you are a lot closer to the action than you would be at an outdoor venue. The crowd really gets into it, and cheers loudly throughout the game, and the cheerleaders, mascots, and music only add to the excitement. The Lady Raiders perform at both ends of the field throughout the game, and the two mascots (Risky the horse and another unnamed "Raider" who is dressed sort of like Zorro) pump up the crowd from the field, and also wander around the stadium interacting with fans. All of the seats have soft plastic cushions, and the four-sided scoreboard hanging from the roof can be seen from anywhere.
The Raiders partner with local charities such as Parrots of Paradise, a Richmond-based organization which rescues and finds new homes for abused birds. In addition, the team partners with local businesses, such as McDonald's, to provide giveaways such as towels and t-shirts to fans at each game.
Probably the best place to sit in the arena is in one of the end zones, as close to the field as you can get. This is because fans are allowed to keep balls that leave the field of play, and since the field is so short in indoor football (only 50 yards) most of these balls come to the end zones. However, you shouldn't bother to pay full price for these seats; the arena never fills up for Raiders games, so just buy the $8 tickets and sit wherever you want (the staff doesn't bother to check).
Located in downtown Richmond, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of the coliseum, although the area is a little run-down, and certain parts are not as safe as others. Stick to the southeast side, though, and you should be fine - this is along E Broad St, the area they call "City Center." This is where most of the good restaurants are anyway.
If you are looking for some good Southern comfort food, Mama J's is a great place located on N 1st Street, not far from the arena. A little heavy on the fried options, it may not be the healthiest place, but the food is really good. They don't serve alcohol here, though, so for that try Capital Ale House on N 6th and E Main, a local chain that specializes in seafood and classic German fare like Jagerschnitzel. Capital has loads of craft beers on tap, and a good atmosphere.
Richmond was the capital city of the Confederacy during the Civil War, so the most logical attractions to take in while you are here are the Museum of the Confederacy and Monument Avenue. If military history is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other options, including historic homes, the Virginia Aviation Museum, an antique tractor museum, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, and many others. You can even find other sporting events, such as NASCAR at the Richmond International Raceway.
There are plenty of hotels in Richmond; the Marriott and the Hilton Garden Inn on N 5th Street are the closest ones to the coliseum. However, since these are located downtown, they tend to be on the pricey side, so if you are looking to save some money, you may want to stay a few miles away up or down I-95, like maybe in Chester, VA. Days Inn, Red Roof Inn, and Knights Inn, for example, are all outside of Richmond proper, so they are cheaper, but are still close enough to make an easy drive to the game.
The fans at Raiders games are pretty loud, although there are not a ton of them and not many wear gear.
The arena can hold well over 10,000 fans, but at a typical game, you might only see two or three thousand in attendance, so the stands look pretty empty. There is some good crowd noise, however, and you will find groups of fans who all wear Raider blue, loudly and proudly cheering on their team.
There is a lot of traffic at the concession stands throughout the game, not just during breaks in the action.
The coliseum is easy enough to get to, with parking right next door, and plenty of bathrooms to accommodate the crowd.
There are no great mass transit options near downtown Richmond, so driving in is probably your best bet. If you are flying in, Richmond International Airport is located a few miles east of the city, along I-64.
Parking in the deck next to the arena costs $7, and is a very short walk. The entrance is located on N 7th Street, which is one-way, so you will need to drive down 8th, and cut across Clay to get to it. There are plenty of entrances in and out of the stadium, but the 6th Street entrance has the shortest lines - it is on the other side of the stadium from the parking deck, so not as many people notice it. The other good thing about this entrance is the ticket booth is indoors, which is nice in case of rain.
The venue is a little difficult to get around, because there are interior walls that divide the concourse into two "aisles." The outer aisle has all the concession stands, so that is where most of the traffic is. You cannot see the game from the concourse, so you have to go into the arena proper to see the field, but there are plenty of entrances along the concourse. The brickwork throughout the concourse provides a pleasing aesthetic.
A Raiders game is a good value for the money, since tickets are cheap and parking is not terrible. The concessions are a little on the high side, however.
If you buy the cheap tickets ($8 each), you can still sit wherever you want, since the venue doesn't fill up. Parking is only $7, and the atmosphere is a lot of fun with good crowd noise, giveaways, music, and entertainment from the mascots and cheerleaders. That said, attending a Raiders game is well worth it, and a group of 4 can have a really enjoyable evening for under $40 (plus concessions).
One point for the Raiders Kids Zone, which offers corn hole, a football toss, and cut-outs of players and cheerleaders for picture taking (the kind with holes where the faces are, so you can pretend to be them).
A second point for the random bar tables around the concourse (sponsored by Pepsi) - it is nice to be able to sit down and eat, instead of trying to eat sitting down in a folding chair that is probably on the small side.
A third point for having two mascots - double the fun, even though one of them doesn't actually have a name.
Indoor football is always a lot of fun, especially if you are a die-hard football fan who is suffering withdrawal during the pro and college off-seasons. Attending a Raiders game is a perfect way to experience the indoor game - while the venue itself might be a little run-down, the atmosphere and value for the money more than makes up for it.
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623 E Main St
Richmond, VA 23219
2410 W Hundred Rd
Chester, VA 23831