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Official Review by Steven Bieniek, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Youngstown State Penguins are one of the premier teams in the FCS division of college football. The proof is in the four National Championships that the Penguins own. Youngstown is another rust belt city that is truly defined by the people that call it home; and this shows at YSU football games. The stadium itself is also a reflection of the city; perhaps it’s a little worn, but it can still get the job done on game day.
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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".
Stambaugh Stadium concessions can be described in one simple word: standard. You won't have any unique options, maybe outside of the grill concession on one end of the stadium. The grill offers some appetizing menu items and is the most expensive concession stand, but it still won't kill your wallet. A chicken sandwich, bag of chips, and a drink will run you around $9.50. Other options include a personal UNO pizza ($4.50), Italian sausage ($5), bratwurst ($4), or a pulled pork sandwich ($5).
The quality of the food itself in the stadium leaves a little to be desired. The nachos and cheese menu item included a very small bag of nachos and a small amount of cheese, and all of the pizzas looked a little overdone. The concession stand workers are mostly students as well, so if you order a pizza and it looks pretty bad, expect for the attendant to go ahead and give it to you anyway. The best quality is going to come from the grill. Also, there are no alcohol sales in the stadium. These aren't the worst concessions ever seen, but there are much better aspects to this stadium.
Walking into Stambaugh Stadium gives you that "Saturday game day" feeling. Before you get to the stadium, you'll see the YSU band playing in a courtyard, fans tailgating in one parking lot, and crowds of people gathered all around the stadium. Once in the stadium, be sure to visit the Hall of Gridiron Glory to see some of the great moments in YSU athletic history. At the end of the Hall there is a small shrine to Jim Tressel, so that should give you a little perspective of the YSU success, if you're unfamiliar with the school's football history.
One unique feature at YSU games takes place as the band is playing. The announcer will actually start to rap over the microphone just before the team enters the stadium. If that doesn't get you ready to bring out the team, the great school band and cheerleaders will put the mood over the top.
Youngstown State is very much just a small scale version of an FBS game. In fact, the enthusiasm and atmosphere actually beats out some FBS schools in the region with ease. The one and only thing that may disrupt your personal atmosphere is that it seems as though a lot of people just sit wherever they want. Several different people could sit in front of and behind you throughout the game. If you go to the game with someone else, you may want to take separate turns going to and from the restroom or concession stand just to avoid any awkward moments with someone else taking your seats. I realize there are general admission sections, but it just seems as though the whole stadium acts as general admission.
The stadium sits right on the Youngstown State campus. You will more than likely park in a campus garage or parking lot. The walk to the stadium through the campus is a typical scenic and relaxing campus walk. Make sure to walk into the campus Rec Center to go through the great University Store, across from the Beeghley Physical Education Center. The store will definitely have any of the YSU gear that you desire. During game days there is one parking lot for tailgating; again giving you the feeling of a small scale FBS school. There is some tailgating, but not lines and lines of cars and tailgaters.
Stambaugh Stadium is a fairly big stadium, holding over 20,000 people. It's really great to see that the Penguins can fill up the stadium on a Saturday, even with Youngstown not being anything close to a big city, and big time college football only a few short hours away.
The fans will show up in droves, some early and some pretty late. There is a small student section on the visitors' side, which is inaccessible to fans on the home side. This is a typical small university crowd in that some fans seem very into the game, and some use it as simply a social event. One tip for the Youngstown faithful may be to make sure there are enough fans on the opposite side of the stadium before they start the "We Are......Youngstown" chant. Some students sit on the opposite side of the stadium, but not enough of them had shown up to carry the chant on their side when it started. As always, though, YSU deserves an A for effort.
There are several parking garages and lots around the campus. Most will have a $5 fee, and if you park too far away, a shuttle will be around to take you directly to the stadium. Even though the shuttle is available, it probably is not necessary. The one thing that is true for the parking garages, the stadium concession areas, and the stadium aisles is that everything seems to be shrunken by a few feet as compared to any other garage or stadium. The parking garages are small and if you sit on an aisle in the stadium, you're sure to get bumped several times during a game. Also, getting around during halftime is almost impossible. By comparison, the bathrooms are huge and will easily accommodate the crowds. Getting in and out of the stadium should be easy enough for everyone.
One very odd part of the stadium is the fact that you will either be on the home side or the visitors/student side and there is no possibility of walking over to the other side. It's just a little awkward, so just make sure you go in on the correct side. The student section is on the opposite side of the home fans, so perhaps moving this section would help hype up some emotions for the home team.
A general admission ticket will run you $12, which is a steal, especially to watch a team that can compete with a lot of FBS schools. The history of one of the great FCS football teams makes a trip to Youngstown an exciting experience. You're not going to get any extravagant amenities at Stambaugh Stadium, but good football is something that will be assured. There are a lot worse things you could do on a Saturday afternoon.
The championship history of the Youngstown State Penguins football teams is worth an extra point. The team won FCS Championships in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1997.
To say that Stambaugh Stadium could use some updating is an understatement, but the people and team of Youngstown pull this stadium through with flying colors. The Penguins will be sure to offer an entertaining game, and as a result, this stadium offers everything a hardcore or casual football fan could need.
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318 Elm St
Youngstown, OH 44503
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