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Official Review by Collin Wieder, Stadium Journey Guest Correspondent
Abilene Christian University (ACU) football has had multiple constants in its time as a West Texas power. Number one has been its football landmark, Shotwell Stadium. The Wildcats have won numerous conference titles and two NAIA national titles in their time at Shotwell.
The 15,000-seat, two-sided, high school stadium has seen its share of great football. However, the stadium has become outdated. It was built in 1959, and is 10 minutes off the ACU campus. The stadium also doesn’t even say Wildcats anywhere. The end zones say Cougars and Eagles, which is representative of Shotwells’ other two tenants, Abilene High and Cooper High.
In Division II, multiple schools played in either small stadiums or high school stadiums, but the time has come to move on. In 2017 ACU will be moving to a new on-campus stadium. So, I’ll preface this review by saying Shotwell isn’t ideal, but it holds a lot of rich history for a new FCS program.
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Food and beverage at Shotwell Stadium does not include anything that would be considered gourmet, but it is well within everyone's price range. Expect to drop around $25 for the whole family if you have to snack while there. Prices are similar to Moody Coliseum when it comes to food. The basics of nachos, popcorn, and sodas are available here. The people working the concession stands are nice, and the lines are short.
The student section produces some solid cheering along with the fraternities on campus. Student chants are usually clean and family friendly, which is somewhat surprising for a college football game.
On the other hand, attendance can be a little disappointing at Shotwell Stadium. Older alumni tend to sit during the games and are not raucous. Also, the attendance has seen a major drop-off during a rough 2015 season. ACU has not ever had a major following despite being a top-tier program in Division II and a competitive program in FCS Division I.
The stadium has no affiliation to ACU because it is a high school stadium, so don't expect a lot of school spirit.
The neighborhood surrounding the stadium isn't top of the line, but there isn't anything to worry about in terms of safety. Abilene is a safe city to visit, as is the university itself.
Shotwell Stadium is located on one of the busiest streets of Abilene, E. South 11th Street. Lytle Land and Cattle, the Abilene Zoo and Abilene's Expo center surround Shotwell. This makes the roads fairly busy but nothing like heavy traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth. The area around the stadium has nice places to eat like Lytle and Sharon's Barbeque.
Overall, the fans are a mixed bag. They have one section that isn't large but has some potential. Furthermore, the chants are mediocre, cheesy and lack a wow factor. I have no problem with clean chants, but it's also fun to step out and do some more competitive chants without stepping over the line. The usual chants seem fairly weak.
Shotwell Stadium is easy to find since there are signs for it off I-20 and it is right by the airport. Still, fans and students complain that the stadium is off campus. It hurts attendance dramatically.
Shotwell's parking lot has tons of open spots. ACU has half the typical attendance for an Abilene High game so spots are open everywhere. Expect no more than a five minute delay to leave the stadium since local police usually run traffic after the game.
ACU's ticket prices are not expensive at just $13 for one adult ticket. Students get in free so that helps as well.
The on-field play has been weak during the 2015 season. But, the young talent on ACU's roster is evident. The team has struggled, but that was expected with the move to Division I. In the next few years expect a better return on investment.
Shotwell is a basic stadium with not a lot of features, but the feel of old, West Texas football has a nice draw. I recommend going if you want to see small town football at its finest. Consider attending a high school game Friday night and an ACU Wildcats game on Saturday if the opportunity presents itself.
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849 E Hwy 80
Abilene, TX 79601
1641 Musgrave Blvd
Abilene, TX 79601