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Official Review by Josh Oakes, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Thompson Field at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a beautiful gem of a soccer stadium. With a grandstand capacity of 2,028 and additional standing room at field level for 1,500, the total capacity comes in at greater than 3,500. It was completed in 2003 and dedicated as the Sandra D. Thompson Field in 2008.
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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".
The concession stand at Thompson Field is nothing more than a trailer, out of which is sold the typical stadium fare such as hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, pizza, ice cream, popsicles and soft drinks. While the menu is somewhat limited, nothing, save the pizza, is over $5. This being said, the concession stand only takes cash -- no credit, debit, or personal check (people still write those, don't they?).
The lack of obstructed view adds to the experience. Not having to worry about an obstructed view or limited view is fantastic, especially in a 3,000-plus capacity stadium. The combination of breathtaking views, loud fans, and a soccer-specific stadium make for a terrific atmosphere. Soccer is not big enough at Tech to attract the large, drunk crowd one would expect to see at a college football or basketball game. This makes for a very family-friendly environment without detracting from the overall gameday experience. The metal grandstand on the east sideline works in conjunction with the Hokie Stone (more on that later), along the west sideline and behind the north goal to magnify the volume of the already raucous crowd.
Virginia Tech's campus is absolutely beautiful and is definitely worth exploring. The most distinguishing aspect of the campus is the buildings made of limestone mined from the institute's very own quarry. Everywhere you look, you will see Hokie Stone, as it is affectionately called. The Hokie Stone is a point of pride for everyone who calls himself a fan and most everyone is more than willing to tell you all about it. State law even dictates that no structure built with rock from any of the university's quarries can ever be torn down.
When visiting the campus, be prepared to walk a good bit, especially if you want something to eat. The nearest restaurants are about a mile away on North and South Main St., a place always crawling with students after a game. Here you will find such places as Boudreaux's, Blacksburg Tap House, and The Cellar.
Boudreaux's is an upscale restaurant serving up such Cajun classics as jambalaya and blackened catfish, along with a local Virginia treat: Chesapeake Bay crab cakes. Blacksburg Tap House is on the same road, and serves up a wide variety of local brews, as well as an eclectic selection of burgers and a cigar bar. If it's Mediterranean cuisine that you crave, look no further than The Cellar, a local landmark that has been around since 1921.
There is a distinct lack of pretentiousness among the fans at Thompson Field. This may be due in large part to the fact that VT is a football school, and their men's soccer team has seen little success over the years. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear, they love their Hokies and turn up in good numbers on a consistent basis to support their team. A few people may know what is going on, but most do not. They cheer whenever the ball goes more than 15 feet in the air and whenever a shot goes over the end line; the proximity of the shot to the goal really makes no difference. The fans here make up for their lack of knowledge with enthusiasm, however. They really do try, which is admirable.
Parking for non-students or faculty at Virginia Tech is an absolute nightmare. The spots assigned for visitors are few and far between, and none of them are remotely close to the athletic fields. To complicate matters even more, every car requires a parking pass, even visitors. The only place to obtain said pass is the visitor center or police station at the far end of campus from US 460, provided you get there before they close.
Aside from the parking atrocity, Thompson Field is a terrific place to catch a college soccer game. Be sure to bring a jacket, because it can get rather cold during afternoon/night games. The accommodating student body, stunning views, and local beer make a trip to Thompson Field well worth repeating.
All of the soccer games at Thompson field are free! Keep in mind that Virginia Tech is in the ACC, the soccer conference. The free admission is a terrific opportunity to see your favorite team in a beautiful stadium at no cost. You can pick up free gameday programs, posters, and pocket schedules at every home game. Most home games also come with some type of promotional giveaway, like t-shirts or scarves. The Virginia Tech soccer website has a list of what they will be giving away and when.
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