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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In 2015, Strawberry Stadium will serve as the primary home for the Southeastern women’s soccer program. Typically, the team plays at the Southeastern Soccer Complex, but due to field complications, will play a full slate of games at historic Strawberry Stadium, which primarily served as home field for Lions football.
While playing games at Strawberry Stadium has some disadvantages, such as permanent football field logos and yardlines, it does offer the Lions soccer an opportunity to host night games which wouldn’t otherwise be possible at the soccer complex due to a lack of field lighting.
The Lady Lions have strong history of success since Head Coach Blake Hornbuckle took over the program. If you’re free on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon, check the Lions soccer schedule to see if you can fit in a visit to cheer on one of the most successful sports programs in SLU athletics history.
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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".
Strawberry Stadium offers a limited menu for Lions soccer games. Typically, there is one stand on the south side under the west grandstand concourse.
On some game nights, you might be able to pick up some mini corn dogs for $1. Other snacks are available including popcorn and nachos. Drinks are available and are headlined by Coca-Cola products and bottled Dasani Water.
As expected for a small women's college soccer program, the atmosphere isn't quite what you'd usually expect at Strawberry Stadium for football games. The permanent football field lines make it hard to follow the on-field action along the sidelines and endlines. However, it's definitely a bonus to be able to take a game in at an historic facility and under the lights.
The video scoreboard used for Lions football isn't typically on for soccer games, but there Daktronics board is active to record game time and score.
Only the west side of the stadium is open to fans during the game. This allows plenty of space to pick your own seat and enjoy the game from the chairbacks at centerfield. Seating is general admission. If you're a fan of the opponent, there really isn't a particular place visiting fans sit, so grab a seat where you like. SLU Soccer fans are friendly so don't expect to experience any hostility, regardless of where you sit.
Strawberry Stadium is located on the south side of the Southeastern Louisiana University campus near a residential area in Hammond, Louisiana. 'Hammond, America' (as the locals like to call it), is a classic small college town which thrives off the local university. While Hammond isn't overflowing with attractions, there are several great restaurants to try out while in town, including Brady's, Tommy's on Thomas, and Mariner's Inn, among others.
The Louisiana Children's Discovery Center is a nice little "children's museum" of sorts that can help keep little one's entertained while in town. There's a nice outdoor mall area at the corner of US-51 and I-12, and the historic downtown area offers a few nice restaurants as well as a college-town bar scene. About 25 minutes outside of town, you'll find Global Wildlife, a safari-style adventure that's great for family entertainment.
If you're staying overnight, check-out the Best Western University Inn.
The typical crowd for Southeastern soccer ranges from 50 to 150 in attendance. Most of the crowd includes family and friends of the players, plus a few students or long-time fans of the soccer program.
Though small in number, the fans are supportive of the team and can generate some noise on big plays and scores.
Playing at a college football facility definitely creates an advantage in terms of access. There is plenty of free parking space located just outside the stadium on the west side and an open garage connected to the stadium. Considering that attendance is free and not ticketed, you can walk right through the gate on the northwest side without any lines or wait. Restrooms are clean and spacious. There's plenty of room to get around the stadium.
The university area can be access by two different major interstates, I-12 or I-55. In 2015, there's some construction going on at the US-51 exit off I-12, so you may want to opt for the University Ave exit off I-55 instead.
SLU soccer games are free to all attendees and are not ticketed. You can just walk right in the gate and sit wherever you'd like on the west side grandstand (not including the suite and pressbox areas, of course. Parking is free and concessions are very inexpensive. Considering there's very little investment which must be made, and that the Lions soccer program traditionally features a strong on-field product, taking in a game at Strawberry Stadium is a great value.
Lions soccer has a storied history of success over the last decade plus. Though the team is playing in a facility designed for football, you'll notice a few photo displays of soccer greats in the concourse.
Though playing in Strawberry Stadium is likely temporary for 2015, Lions soccer will typically play a game or two each season here and it's a great opportunity to support one of the most successful programs in SLU history in an historic venue.
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