Walk or ride a bus on Alderman Road in Charlottesville, and you're liable to see a one-of-a-kind sight if you look past the sidewalk.
Nestled between one of the University's four gyms, some of the first-year dorms, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, concrete bleachers peek out deceptively close to street level. Just around the corner, a Jeffersonian colonnade draws your eye from the road down a long, grassy hill...
At the bottom, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, is a football field.
Welcome to Scott Stadium, home of the Virginia Cavaliers.
Expanded to its present capacity of 61,500 in 2000, the stadium fits Virginia's grounds like a glove. For all the nits to pick with the gameday experience there, there's nothing quite like walking into a fully-modern sports venue as casually as you'd enter a library or dining hall.
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The stadium's grub, in contrast, is utterly uninspiring. Luckily, that's just a small hiccup.
There's absolutely no reason to waste your money on the same minor-league crap at the same jacked-up prices as any third-rate stadium, which is all you'll find among Scott Stadium's concessions. A walk down Alderman and across Jefferson Park Avenue (less than a mile) will take you to Wayside Chicken, where the barbeque is good, the fried chicken is better, and the prices are less than what you'd spend at the Domino's stands in the stadium.
For noon kickoffs, they have unbeatable breakfast biscuits, and their two-dollar meringue pies put Dippin' Dots to shame in the dessert department.
Once upon a time, Virginia students showed up for football games in their Sunday best"" guys in ties, girls in pearls. When Al Groh (the Cavaliers' recently-fired head coach) took over, he asked for a "sea of orange" in the student section instead.
He's gone, but the mish-mash of those dressing up and those dressing down remains.
As described in the opening paragraphs, Scott Stadium's setting is remarkable. The Cavaliers' recent poor play hasn't driven away too many of their fans, though capacity crowds are a thing of the past, and videos of "Cav Man" defeating the opposing team's mascot are an exciting touch before kickoff.
Still, orange tee-shirts are a ho-hum replacement for what was a uniquely Southern tradition.
Standing in the parking lot, you're a stone's throw from Virginia's central grounds"" Thomas Jefferson's "academical village," chartered in 1819. The Lawn between the Rotunda and Old Cabell Hall is a World Heritage Site and as picturesque a photo-op, picnic site, and place to throw the football as exists anywhere.
Down the hill behind the Rotunda, the "Corner" district offers a mix of niche shops, local dives, and national chains (CVS, Subway, etc.) as well as an ATM.
For all their in-game griping, the Cavaliers' fans do at least show up.
Maybe it's the All-ACC precedent set by Matt Schaub's outstanding senior season in 2002. Maybe it's the memory of Marques Hagans keying Virginia's historic 2006 upset of fourth-ranked Florida State. Whatever the reason, watch a third-down pass fall incomplete"" or, God forbid, an interception"" and you'll hear a whiny chant for the backup quarterback as the offense leaves the field.
Outside the stadium, the alumni show out well. There's no alcohol available inside the gates, which only serves to inspire greater consumption of an impressive variety of beverages in the parking lot, and the food spreads on display are top-notch.
Regrettably, they're as insular as they are prolific. Like the University's social scene, the parties are great if (and only if) you know someone who's "in."
Cynical-minded readers may have already guessed at the downside of setting a 61,500-seat stadium on the corner of two-lane roads in the middle of a college campus. Unless you're the first one out of the lot and you're headed west on I-64, there's going to be an awfully long delay getting out.
If you weren't lucky enough to land a spot in the stadium lot or in an obliging student's front yard, be prepared for a two-mile walk up Alderman and across Ivy. Helpfully, it's as much scenic as arduous.
As a student or an alumnus, the price of a ticket ($30-45) is a small fee for the rush of seeing your old stomping grounds and cheering on the Cavaliers again. If you're tailgating with old friends (or you're in with someone who's having a tailgate) it's even better.
But members of the general public are in for a regrettably vanilla experience. The general admission entrance could pass for any other FBS stadium in the country, the football team isn't very good, and the setting, though nice, would have minimal nostalgic value.
One, because there isn't a bad seat in the house. The view from the lower-level seats is intimate, and those in the upper-level seats are treated to a slice of the University's grounds through the colonnade.
Another for the removal of the hedge and fence that used to separate the hill from the end zone. When several students were injured trying to rush the field after the aforementioned win against Florida State, the bushes got yanked out in short order.
One more, because it'd take a full phalanx of yellow-jacketed stadium security guards to stave off a crowd minded to rush the field now. Should Virginia pull off another upset, students will get to properly swarm the scene the way they didn't at Wisconsin and South Carolina in 2010.
*Special thanks to Matt Riley for the photographs used in this review.
The Scott Stadium has greatly improved by the presence of the Cavalier Marching Band which plays stand tunes with different moves that you can learn for each song. The CMB does a different half time show each week and gets the crowd fired up with the pregame show. Alumni and students mix in the general admission section. Even when the team does not win, it is a lot of fun. Food is bad. Wear comfortable shoes. Be ready to stand in you are going to hang near the band!!! I graduated from UVA in 1987 and am having more fun at football games now that my daughter is in the band than I did when I was a student.
Bought so much water I ought to own the stand. Other than having seats backed up against a concrete wall that reflected the heat on to our bodies making a hot day even hotter, it was a nice place to see a game. The locals were very nice and the place was clean. Needs more and better food, and it is kind of hidden at the end of a couple small roads. We were staying walking distance (about a mile) so it wasn't too bad. I would go back, but maybe not in September.
Scott Stadium was the first ever away game I went to way back in 2001. It was a decent stadium and the student section was great. The fans treated us well and I thought the campus was beautiful. I am excited to go back in a few years.
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