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Official Review by Ed Pelle, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Marist College is a private institution located in Poughkeepsie, New York, roughly 75 miles north of New York City. The college is situated on the eastern shores of the Hudson River and its campus is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, running north to south along the waterway.
Marist football is one of two surviving members from the final season of the now defunct MAAC Football League, the other being Pittsburgh-based school Duquesne. In 1993 Marist football moved up from NCAA Division III to what is now known as the FCS (then known as NCAA Division I-AA). Along with Duquesne, Marist began competing in the MAAC Football League in 1994, one year after the conference's inaugural season. The program enjoyed success in this league winning or sharing three MAAC Football League titles, most importantly the one in 1994 which established the program during its first year in the league.
Unfortunately almost all of the member institutions ceased sponsoring football in the following years. These schools were St. John's, Canisius, Iona, St. Peter's, Siena, Fairfield, and LaSalle. Georgetown football left after the 1999 season to join the Patriot League. This led Marist to join the Pioneer Football League in 2009 after one year as an independent following the MAAC Football League suspending operations after the 2007 season. In 2013, the Red Foxes shared a Pioneer Football League title with Butler University.
Providing stability since competition began at the Division I level, Marist football has been guided by only one head football coach, Jim Parady.
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 is one concession stand located at the northeast corner of Tenney Stadium at the rear of the permanent stands. Here they offer several items including sausage and peppers ($4), hot dog ($2), grilled vegetable ($3), pretzel ($3), popcorn ($1), and chips ($1).
Pepsi products are served at this location as well as hot drinks such as coffee ($1) and hot chocolate ($2).
Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field is named after two benefactors of Marist athletics. It is home field to the football team, men's and women's soccer as well as men's and women's lacrosse. While Leonidoff Field has been at its present location since 1965, the surrounding structures were first unveiled to the public in 2007, after close to a year of renovations, and named Tenney Stadium.
The eastern side of the field has permanent chairback seating installed. These seats offer a great view of the field and are a vast improvement over the standard aluminum bench style seating that is so prevalent in modern football stadiums. The west side of the field features three stairs of rock, layered below the ground so as to give a natural seating surface with a view behind the visiting team area.
The band is located at the southwest corner of the field just adjacent to the hill seating. Directly behind the end zones is an area chained off just inches from the actual playing surface allowing fans to stand virtually in the middle of the action. Although there is staff assigned to help retrieve balls kicked thru the goal posts its not uncommon to see a fan catch a ball and help toss it back to an official.
The grounds surrounding the playing surface are slightly bowled so as to minimize wind which is a small, but appreciated touch. There are several trees that surround the outskirts of the stadium giving a more intimate feel to the setup not unlike War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming. At the northwest corner of the stadium is the main gate where tickets can be purchased and is the central location where fans enter and exit Leonidoff Field. There is also a small temporary souvenir table setup adjacent to the ticketing area.
The stadium is located across the street from the McCann Arena which is home to Marist men's and women's basketball as well as McCann Baseball Field. All three sports facilities share a common parking lot just west of Tenney Stadium.
Poughkeepsie is centrally located in what is commonly referred to as the Mid Hudson River Valley. Visitors from down state would probably call it quaint as the pace of life seems slower than in the New York City region. When combined with the other nearby towns and villages such as Newburgh that line the Hudson River, the metro area population is quite large.
There are several other NCAA institutions in close proximity so double headers may be possible if schedules line up favorably. The US Military Academy at West Point is the biggest draw in the region with a long and prestigious history. Nearby Vassar College, SUNY New Paltz, and Bard College all compete in NCAA Division III sports.
For those wanting to eat at a traditional restaurant before or after the game, I would suggest Cosimo's Trattoria which is a sponsor of Marist Athletics and located within walking distance of Tenney Stadium. This Italian style restaurant and bar serves both pizza and other Italian dishes such as; Carbonara ($16), grilled chicken penne ($16), chicken parmigiana ($17), ravioli con mozzarella ($15), and sausage and ricotta fusilli ($16) among many others.
I have attended several games at this location and on each visit I can say that the permanent stands were full or nearly full during football games and parking in the areas closest to the stadium was not available. This is a testament to the strong support Marist athletics receives from the local community. You will see some fans tailgating in the parking lots, making their way slowly over to the game area since it is possible to exit and reenter the stadium with a valid ticket.
Poughkeepsie is unfortunately not serviced by any major highway. Several interstates cross the region but are not close to the downtown area. This leaves the motorist with close to a ten mile drive on local roads on the way to Marist. From the west, Interstate 87, which is a toll road, is one option. After exiting the interstate, crossing the Mid-Hudson Bridge will cost ($1.50) cash, or ($1.25) EZ Pass in the eastbound direction. From the south, Interstate 84 is an option, but after leaving the highway you will be subjected to slowly trekking north on a road with many traffic signals. The same scenario is true if coming from the east on the Taconic State Parkway.
Traveling by rail is possible on the Hudson Line of the Metro North Railroad. The Poughkeepsie stop is one hour and fifty minutes from Grand Central Station in New York City. Many downstate students use this method of travel to commute back and forth when necessary.
Parking can be an issue here as the closest lots to the stadium fill up fast and late comers can be forced to drive to the outskirts of the campus to find parking.
The chairback seating area tickets cost $10, while general admission tickets cost $8. Fans using the general admission seating are allowed to bring chairs for use on the lawn. Concession prices are very reasonable and parking is free. FCS venues continue to consistently provide some of the best values per dollar in the sporting world, and Marist is no exception.
To the southeast of Tenney Stadium is a bridge that spans over the Hudson River that is visible from the campus area. This bridge is a former railroad bridge that has been repurposed into a pedestrian crossing as Walkway Over the Hudson State Park. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and is the longest footbridge in the world.
Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly is the most well known former member of the Marist football team, although he played for the Red Foxes when the squad was a club football team prior to competition in the NCAA.
Relative to its peer football schools at the FCS level of competition, Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field is a well designed, highly functional facility nestled against a beautiful backdrop. If you should find yourself in the northeast part of the United States, taking the time to visit this venue would be well worth the effort.
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