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Rynearson Stadium

Ypsilanti, MI

Home of the Eastern Michigan Eagles

3.7

3.5

Rynearson Stadium (map it)
799 N Hewitt Rd
Ypsilanti, MI 48197


Eastern Michigan Eagles website

Rynearson Stadium website

Year Opened: 1969

Capacity: 30,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Move over Smurf Turf, there's a Gray Field in Town!

Affectionately known as 'The Factory,' Rynearson Stadium opened in 1969, and currently has a capacity of 30,200 (incidentally the exact same capacity as Western Michigan's Waldo Stadium). The largest crowd ever to attend an event at Rynearson Stadium was in 2008, when 26K+ fans watched the Eastern Michigan football team triumph over Central Michigan, with a score of 56-52.

The stadium underwent a major renovation project back in 1991-92, during which time about 10K seats were added, as well as the scoreboard, new bathrooms and concessions, and the team building. The most recent round of renovations occurred in 2014, with the installation of the 'EMU Gray' FieldTurf surface, making this only the second FBS team to play on a non-green field. Rynearson Stadium originally had a natural grass field, but the team has been playing on artificial turf since 1991 (the playing surface here has actually been replaced four times since the facility was built).

The football field at Rynearson Stadium is surrounded by the track, so the venue is home to not only the Eastern Michigan football squad, but also the track and field teams. In addition, the Convocation Center, home of EMU basketball, sits on a slight rise behind the south end zone.

3.7

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

Food options at Rynearson Stadium are reasonably priced, and there is a good amount to choose from - perhaps not as many options as some other sports venues, but a very impressive list. The drink options, however, are where Rynearson Stadium really excels.

Food choices at the main stands include hot dogs, brats, and sandwiches with your choice of meat (BBQ pork, chicken, or beef), as well as nachos, pretzels, popcorn, chips, candy, beef jerky, ice cream, popsicles, Cracker Jack, and even hummus. In addition, the stadium brings in outside vendors such as Domino's and Bearclaw Coffee Company. Domino's adds pizza, boneless wings, and oven-baked sandwiches to the concessions mix, while Bearclaw offers bagels and pastries, in addition to their wide array of beverages (see below).

Rynearson Stadium offers a wide range of drink options, the highlight of which may be their beer truck from Arbor Brewing Company. This truck actually has taps built onto the sides, and is parked on the south side of the stadium, which is the only section where alcohol can be sold. Still, many college stadiums don't even sell alcohol at all, so this is definitely a plus.

Besides Arbor Brewing Company, Rynearson Stadium also has the aforementioned Bearclaw Coffee Company, which sells a wide variety of hot and cold coffees, as well as smoothies. In addition, the main stands sell bottled and fountain sodas, bottled water, lemonade, coffee, and hot cocoa.

Atmosphere    4

Even though attendance is usually very small, there is a decent bit of crowd noise at Rynearson Stadium, and the staff does lots of fun things to enhance the experience. To start off, a live eagle flies over the stadium as the final bars in the National Anthem are played, which is a neat thing to watch. In addition, when the team enters the field, they run through a wall of concrete bricks, which may not seem as cool as cones spurting fire, but it is unique. There is also cannon fire after every score, and continual activity during breaks in the action - including music blaring over the loudspeakers, accompanied by fans dancing, as well as performances by the band, dance team, and cheerleaders.

Rynearson Stadium is designed as a near-horseshoe, with stands on both the east and west sides that curve slightly toward the south end. The Convocation Center sits in the gap on that end, and looks impressive with its glass fronting and giant lettering that spells out the word E-A-S-T-E-R-N. The south end zone is called 'Touchdown Terrace,' and has standing room for fans, as well as a giant 'E' on the grass behind the goal post.

The north end zone includes the practice facility, which is a large bubble-like structure reminiscent of the old Minnesota Vikings' stadium. The team building is also on that side, and features a very imposing photo of an angry eagle staring you down. The scoreboard is located in the north end as well, so it is in easy view of fans sitting anywhere in the stadium. The team enters on that end, and the band sits near there as well. See a video of the stadium here:

Neighborhood    3

Rynearson Stadium is located on the western edge of Eastern Michigan's campus, and there isn't much in the immediate vicinity except other athletic fields and some apartment complexes. The closest restaurant is probably the family friendly Big Boy, your classic American diner that does not serve alcohol - you could walk there from the stadium. Most of the other good restaurants in town are located near the center of campus, the best of which is The Wurst Bar, which specializes in bratwurst. The Wurst Bar is on Cross Street, and has plenty of different beers on tap, plus unique brats made from interesting, uncommon meats like elk and venison. They also offer different types of buns, such as pretzel, and they even have hard-to-find appetizers like scotch eggs.

Most of the hotels in town are located along Highway 23, which is on the west side of the stadium. Regent Hotel & Suites and Days Inn are over that way, and are probably the closest ones to Rynearson Stadium. However, a little further away you can also find more well-known brands such as Marriott.

There is not a ton to do in the small town of Ypsilanti, but there are a couple of local attractions. The Ypsilanti Water Tower on Summit Street is listed on the national register of historic places, and has some fascinating architectural features - a detailed sign in front will tell you more about it. Seeing the water tower will only take a few minutes, so if you are going to be in town for the day, you might also check out the Automotive Heritage Museum or the Michigan Firehouse Museum.

Fans    3

While the attendance tends to be very low at Rynearson Stadium (less than 5K per game on average), there is a surprising amount of crowd noise, especially from the student section, which is below the press box on the east side of the stadium, next to the band. The Eagle's mascot, Swoop, usually stands in front of the student section during the game, and keeps them revved up and on their feet the whole time. The students sing their fight song at the end of the game, and do their 'I believe we will win/we won' chant after a win - the students really make a lot of noise for such a small group.

Like the students, most of the other fans also sit on the east side of Rynearson Stadium, and altogether that side gets about one-quarter full. You'll see lots of green on that side, including hats, shirts, and also light-up plastic glasses, which are given away at the gates by local companies.

The stands on the west side, however, are almost completely deserted. Though not officially, that side seems reserved for visiting fans, of which there are very few. You will see lots of green on that side too, though, in the form of giant covers over most of the seats - this is done by the administration to reduce capacity, to make Rynearson Stadium appear fuller.

Access    4

Ypsilanti, MI is basically a suburb of Ann Arbor, and is also not far from Detroit, so getting there is fairly easy - most fans will use either I-94 or Highway 23. Once you get to the stadium, there isn't much traffic, so parking is a cinch, and is only $5 in any of the lots right outside Rynearson Stadium, so you will have only a short walk to the gate.

There are multiple gates all around the stadium, so getting in is no issue, and the concourses are wide and not at all crowded, thanks to the low attendance. Rynearson Stadium does have a clear bag policy, meaning no backpacks are allowed in, but they do sell approved bags at Gate 2 if you don't have one.

Ticket sales and will call are located inside the Convocation Center (next to Gate 1), and if you go inside take a look at the EMU Athletic Hall of Fame, which is a wall of photos and plaques that curves around the inside of the center. One other nice feature at Rynearson Stadium is that they do let you re-enter the venue if you need to leave for any reason, which is a rarity at sports stadiums nowadays.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets to Rynearson Stadium are only $15 if you buy in advance, but $20 at the door, so make sure you plan ahead. Group tickets are slightly cheaper, but buying from the box office is your only option (since the games aren't sellouts there aren't any re-sellers or scalpers).

Even at $20, seeing a game here is absolutely worth it. The small crowd doesn't seem like an issue because they bring so much energy, and unique features like the gray field make this a bucket list stadium in some ways. And since Eastern Michigan plays in the MAC, there is an opportunity to see games on weeknights, if your Saturdays happen to be booked.

Extras    4

The gray field is worth seeing, as is the eagle flying across before the game. There is also plenty of great Eagles-themed décor, including the seat covers, banners, and paint jobs on and around the field.

One interesting feature at Rynearson Stadium, which is starting to crop up at stadiums across the country by the way, are four-top tables in the stands. These new 'loge' sections are great for small businesses, or even groups of friends who can't afford (or fill) a full 'box,' and they also come with wait staff to take your order and bring your food.

Final Thoughts

Rynearson Stadium is a superb place to watch a college football game. Sure, you could drive a few minutes further to The Big House in Ann Arbor, and see better teams, have more amenities, and enjoy a wider selection from the concessions stands, but then you will also have to deal with heavy traffic and fight a massive crowd. Why not give small-town college football a chance instead? At a cool venue like Rynearson Stadium it would be worth the trip.

Fans....

This place interestingly over the last couple of years has been dead last for average attendance for Division 1 football with an average attendance of just over 5,000 people. Hopefully Eastern Michigan can find a way to climb itself out off the gutter in this category.

by pderrick | Oct 11, 2011 04:00 PM

It was worse ...

Judging by the pics they have made some improvements. I was there just a year ago and all of those green murals were stone grey. Its good to see that there is at least a bit of effort going in to improve things.

by profan9 | Oct 11, 2011 07:54 PM

My take

They draw terrible for hoops too. The hoops arena which is right next door is not a bad structure, they just need to get some fans in the building, just like they need to for football.

by CigarBoy | Oct 11, 2011 11:12 PM

RE: My take

That's absolutely true about the hoops arena. It is a nice facility to see a game, but again it is really low energy and just not an exciting place to see a game. There seems to be efforts, but ultimately the fans and community need to get behind the EMU program. Winning certainly will help that as well...

by paul | Oct 12, 2011 10:33 AM

This stadium also hosted professional football

Rynearson Stadium was also home to the Detroit Wheels of the WFL before they folded during the 1974 inaugural season. The underfinanced team could not get a lease to play in Detroit. Obviously, they didn't draw well in Ypsilanti either.

by Ken Myers | Dec 10, 2015 11:47 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Rynearson Stadium, Home of the EMU Eagles

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

Heading to a football game at Eastern Michigan University feels a little like making a visit to the little brother of the University of Michigan. Located just over 6 miles from the Big House, Rynearson Stadium has been the home of the EMU Eagles since 1969.

The stadium has a capacity of just over 30,000. The Olds-Marshall track encircles the field and concrete stands run parallel to each sideline. There's little to make this a memorable experience, but the good news is that there are plenty of good seats available for this program with the team's struggles to rise to the top of the Mid-American Conference.

Overall Great experience

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

Spent $40 all day with 2 kids and the wife. Great value

EMU Football

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

EMU football games are fun to go to if you go with your family, friends, alumni, students etc. The stadium is a little outdated but still a great looking venue. The tickets are cheap and everything is easy to access.

Pros:
-Team store to buy from under the bleachers
-Promotions usually going on throughout the season.
-Free Parking
-Fun games to watch, quality teams playing.
-Big tail-gating lot, very fun lot with lot's of fans having fun
-You can go inside the convocation center and still watch the game out the windows if it's to cold outside.
-Location of the stadium is nice, near some cities, near a lot of restaurants, near highways.
-Most fans you sit by are really into the games.
-Field turf looks great
-You always have a good view. There isn't really a bad seat.

Cons:
-Depending on the game you go to, depends on crowd size. I suggest going on a rivalry game day.
-Bring a seat cushion. You get an average bench seat.
-No special scoreboard
-There's a track that goes around the field.

100 Yards of Gray

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

In July 2014, Eastern Michigan University replaced the turf for its football field. The previous surface was nine years old, and the administration decided that it was time for a change. This would not have been unusual except that EMU made the decision to place down the first ever gray surface in football history. This put Rynearson Stadium in the company of other non-traditional colored fields such as Albertsons Stadium (Boise State), Roos Field (Eastern Washington), and Estes Stadium (Central Arkansas) in Division I football.

The idea behind the choice of gray was to portray a toughness about the Eastern Michigan football program, a working class put-your-hard-hats on kind of vibe. You’ll find a sign dubbing Rynearson Stadium as “The Factory.”

The gray turf field is more appealing than you may expect. You almost feel like you’re watching an old black and white movie, where some of the colors have been touched up.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles have played at Rynearson Stadium since 1969. The stadium has a capacity of just over 30,000. The stadium has never reached that capacity, with its largest crowd coming in at 26,188 when Central Michigan visited in 2008. The Olds-Marshall track encircles the field and stands with bleacher seating run parallel to each sideline. This creates a little bit of distance which hurts the viewing experience slightly, but it’s also a reminder of the strong track & field program in Ypsilanti.

The Eagles compete in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The team has won only one MAC football championship, back in 1987.

Not that bad :D

Total Score: 4.86

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Good stuff: food, Awesome PA Announcer Dan York
Not so good stuff: the cannon blasting, speaker system fades in and out

Not really fun but good to take the kids

Total Score: 2.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 1
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 1
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 1

Rynearson Stadium is actually an okay facility. It is size comparable to other Mid-American Conference stadiums. The lack of a modern scoreboard and gray turf take away from it a little.

Food choices are standard issue and prices are decent. No problem with getting a good seat as attendance is low. There is a small student section but the atmosphere is stale but family friendly. The addition of banners to cover empty seats is disheartening.

There is easy access to the stadium and ample parking are positives. There is a EMU merchandise shop located in the stadium.

Overall, an EMU game is a good way to take your kid to a college football game and not spend much money but the fun atmosphere is lacking. A winning program would cure some of the lack of atmosphere.

The Factory: Little Green in the Shadow of Big Blue

Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

When you think football in Michigan, you usually think of The Big House. Over 110 thousand fans routing on their beloved Wolverines, one of the biggest, most highly decorated, traditionally powerful programs in the entire NCAA. The Michigan Wolverines cast a huge shadow … and right in the middle of that shadow are the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

The Eagles have been around since 1891 under various monikers, in various conferences. The majority of their duration they were the Eastern Michigan Hurons, which was eventually changed as part of the rash of name changes in the NCAA away from aboriginal team names. Since becoming the Eagles, Eastern Michigan has struggled mightily both on and off the field. The Eagles call Rynearson Stadium home and from door to door it is a mere 6 miles to Michigan Stadium. To say that Michigan controls the attention of the narrative would be an understatement. Eastern Michigan University has approximately 23,000 students and the city of Ypsilanti is around 20,000 people. Both statistics do not bode well for filling a 30,000 seat stadium.

Rynearson Stadium is named after former football coach Elton Rynearson who was coach for 26 seasons in the heyday of EMU, back in the twenties and thirties. Eastern Michigan does have a strong football tradition, however recent memory of Eastern Michigan football is flooded with futility. They have had numerous winless seasons and one or two wins is the norm for this squad. Since joining the Mid-American Conference in 1971, Eastern Michigan boasts only 1 MAC Championship, in 1987, which led to the school’s greatest victory, a shocking defeat of San Jose State in the 1987 California Bowl.

The reality is that the Eastern Michigan Eagles are doing just about everything right. The team has worked hard to put together the best possible football experience. They are in the right division. The biggest detractors are that there is nobody at the game and the product on the field is pretty bad. The Wolverine shadow is difficult to overcome, but the powers that be at EMU are continuing to do what they can to bring the fans to Rynearson.

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Local Food & Drink

The Wurst Bar  (map it!)

705 W. Cross St.

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

(734) 485-6720

http://www.wurstbarypsi.com

Aubree's Pizzeria & Grill  (map it!)

39 E. Cross St.

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

(734) 483-1870

http://www.aubrees.com

Sidetrack Bar & Grill  (map it!)

56 E. Cross St.

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

(734) 483-1035

http://www.sidetrackbarandgrill.com

Big Boy  (map it!)

2800 Washtenaw Ave

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

(734) 434-2255

http://www.bigboy.com/

Local Entertainment

Ypsilanti Water Tower  (map it!)

N Summit St

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum  (map it!)

100 E. Cross ST.

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

(734) 482-5200

http://www.ypsiautoheritage.org

Michigan Firehouse Museum  (map it!)

110 W. Cross St.

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

(734) 547-0663

http://www.michiganfirehousemuseum.org

Lodging

Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest  (map it!)

1275 S. Huron St.

Ypsilanti , MI 48197

(734) 487-2000

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dtwys-ann-arbor-marriott-ypsilanti-at-eagle-crest/

Ann Arbor Regent Hotel and Suites  (map it!)

2455 Carpenter Rd

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

(734) 973-6100

http://annarborregent.com/

Days Inn Ann Arbor  (map it!)

2380 Carpenter Rd

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

(734) 971-0700

http://www.daysinn.com/hotels/michigan/ann-arbor/days-inn-ann-arbor/hotel-overview

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