In 2007, Ball State's Scheumann Stadium reopened following a $13.7M renovation that included installation of Field Turf and the four-level Paul and Pat Kozel Media Center. It continues to be an intimate college football experience, with a seating capacity of only 25,400.
Even with the updates and the small venue, there just isn't the energy you would hope for when attending a Cardinals game at Ball State.
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".
There are plenty of options to choose from, but not a lot that will give you very much satisfaction. I tried the polish dog ($3.50) which looked and tasted a lot more like a hot dog (which I could have gotten for $2.50). Then I tried the Papa John's pizza ($4 a slice) which was barely warm, probably best described as room temperature, and pretty chincy.
Later I tried the "Giant Tenderloin." It was a pork tenderloin sandwich, breaded and pounded thin for $5. I'll give you this, it was definitely giant- it just wasn't very tasty. At the same stand in the southeast corner of the stadium, I tried the elephant ear. That was a nice carnival-like treat, and I would recommend.
Pepsi products are available with a souvenir cup (32 ounces) going for only $3.50.
When you don't even get close to filling a 22,000 seat stadium in a conference game on homecoming, then you know you are missing something.
Seats on the press box side (visitors side) are gray plastic bleachers, and relatively comfortable. The students, who you would expect to be standing, get the less comfortable metal bleachers on the opposite (home) side of the field. The south end zone features metal bleachers as well. While the north end zone offers an inviting grassy berm.
The marching band does a decent job of maintaining enthusiasm, whether on the field, or in the stands. Overall though, the atmosphere is pretty flat.
Tailgating is mild, with pockets of raucousness around the stadium both before and during the game. The good news is that there is plenty of room to spread out in your tailgating location of choice.
If tailgating isn't your scene, then take the drive through the heart of Ball State's campus, down McKinley Avenue. Take your time and get a good look at the centerpiece, Shaffer Tower.
Take a left on to University Avenue from there if you want to check out one of the campus hot spots. I like Scotty's Brewhouse, a chain that consistently delivers good food, with a deep menu and beer list. Having been to three different locations, I can attest that their service is consistently good, and the ribs are solid.
I also tried the Locker Room Grill & Pub, just down the street. If you like Locker Rooms, then you'll love this place. Stinky, sticky, and slutty all seem like apt descriptors to me. If you're looking for a place to do shots and generally get totally trashed, then this may be the place for you.
This was a difficult area for me to assess, as the particular game that I attended, Ball State trailed by 14 less than a minute into the game. I think any fan base would be feeling despair and quiet down a bit after that start by the home team.
That being said, the alumni section was pretty quiet, right from the beginning. The student section had a bit of swagger to get going, but really didn't maintain any kind of energy of note. As I mentioned earlier, I thought that the student marching band (The Pride of Mid-America) was really the star when it came to fan enthusiasm.
Getting to the stadium is a bit of a traffic jam. I spent 20 minutes stuck in traffic only 1/2 mile away from the stadium. The good news is that it cost only $5 to park in the lot right across the street from the stadium, a definite bargain.
Restrooms are fine, a little sparse, and there could be a few more urinals and stalls in each bathroom (seems like a lot of wasted space for a stadium).
There a few good values, but overall, the experience seems just slightly overpriced. I think parking (once you finally get there) is a good value, and the souvenir soda seems just a little under what I would expect based on other stadium experiences. The highest priced ticket for the stadium is only $20 face value, which is also a good value. That being said, for what you are paying for the experience, you will probably leave feeling slightly disappointed.
Charlie Cardinal is a pretty classic college mascot, and he does his share to keep fans, students, and various kids involved.
I visited Scheumann Stadium on a rainy Wednesday night on 11/18/2009 when they played Central Michigan. Attendance that day was a sad 5,736.
I will say this is the strangest visit I've ever had to a stadium. I was actually able to sneak into the stadium without a ticket by just walking right through gate 5, which had no staff but was just wide open. Anyone who brought a new blanket to donate to the local rotary club got a free ticket anyways, so I actually exited the stadium just to give them the blanket I brought and get an actual ticket. This was a nightmare because no one from the rotary club showed up so the gate and ticket staffs had no idea what I was talking about except the manager. It took me a good 20 minutes to finally get a ticket and donate the blanket.
It was a solid 8 hour drive for me so I was hungry by the time I finally did get inside with a ticket. I found a concession stand that didn't have any customers. They had a nice combo deal that got you a hotdog, a 32oz soda and a bag of chips for $6. It was an average hotdog and a nice sized bag of chips. They did offer some other things such as a giant tenderloin sandwich but the pattie was so much bigger than the bun that with the rain I thought it was be soggy before I could eat it all.
The atmosphere was weak. The big buzz among the fans who where there was about Colt's GM Bill Polian and other NFL scouts being there to watch CMU's QB Dan LeFevour. Other conversations I overhead involved the contract dispute with Coach Hoke and how the team fell from a 12-0 regular season to one of the worst teams in FBS in just 1 season. The band did a good job even with it raining and the game quickly getting out of hand. Better than most schools in that regard.
The road I came in on led me through a lot of commercial areas including a Menards and a Walmart (where I stopped and bought the blanket real quick). I also took a little drive around a few parts of campus and through a residential area where it looked like you could park for free. At the end of the residential area was a high school, which is where I parked for $5. It was about a 3-4 minute walk to the stadium from there. I will say compared to some other places I have been, I felt safe as I walked around the residential part.
The fans were just not there. Sure it was raining but there is a reason why Ball State consistently ranks as one of the bottom 5 teams in home attendance in the FBS. The fans just don't show up, even when the weather is good. The luxury boxes were full but the rest of the stadium was a ghost town. The students had a lot of energy at the beginning, but it disappeared as soon as CMU scored.
Access as I mentioned about was a little too good, at least through gate 5. Then when I went to get a ticket, it was a royal pain. It was like no one trained the staff or told them what was to go on. A real disappointment and probably a turn off to those who might want to follow the team. Also, I never did figure out where I was supposed to sit with my general admission ticket so I sat in the end zone bleachers by the scoreboard. One other thing I did notice is that there is a good bit of room to move around under the stands. Plenty of room for them to actually add more concessions and souvenir stands if the demand ever comes.
Because I got in for a $9 blanket and the meal was $2 off with the combo, I consider the return on investment to be fair. One thing missing was any sort of promotion to draw fans. Some sort of raffle to those in attendance or at least for the students who showed up would have been a way to try and draw a few more fans.
Not too much in the way of extras. Tailgating was very limited. Parking in the official lots was $5 but not many people selected that option. They were basically unlit and with the rain I don't think many people wanted to park in the grass fields.
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