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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex is built on the former site of Veterans Memorial Field House, which was home to Marshall's basketball squad until 1981, when they moved to Cam Henderson Center. The Field House was demolished in 2012, but the memorial panel to veterans was preserved, and now hangs at the entrance to the soccer complex, which opened in 2013. The soccer stadium holds 1,006 fans, and is expected to host other soccer games besides Marshall's, as well as help Marshall bring stronger non-conference opponents for home games.
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There is a small concessions stand inside the concourse right behind the grandstand, where fans can find hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, and candy. Drinks include bottled Pepsi products, bottled water, Gatorade, and coffee. All items cost between $2 and $4, and no alcohol is available, as the complex is located on campus.
Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex is a solid place to see a game, and plenty of great design elements went into its construction. For starters, there is a plaza on the east end designed with pentagonal and hexagonal sections, like you would find on a soccer ball. There is also a memorial panel to veterans at the main entrance, and plaques inside the main entrance honoring each branch of the armed forces. In addition, there is a large press box atop the grandstand, large enough to accommodate TV, radio, and print, as well as plenty of Marshall's Kelly green - the press box is green, the seats are green, the scoreboard is green, and even the soccer netting is done in green and white.
All of the seating is along the south sideline, with metal benches without chair backs on each end, and metal benches with chair backs in the middle. There is also a giant inflatable chair, Kelly green of course, right next to the sideline, which is reserved for best seats in the house contest winners. The large scoreboard faces the grandstand, so you will always have a good view of it, and there is a giant Marshall logo at midfield. Music is played before the game and during halftime, and as with most sports, if you arrive early you can watch the team warm up. Other than that there are no "activities" to speak of besides the soccer, but they do have free posters.
The most popular restaurant in Huntington is Fat Patty's, located a few blocks away from the soccer complex, next to the football field (Joan C. Edwards Stadium). Fat Patty's specializes in burgers, and includes a full bar, large TVs all over the restaurant, and two separate happy hours with drink specials and half price apps (4pm-7pm and 10pm-1am).
The main attraction in Huntington is the university, but there are some places around town that are worth a look if you have time before or after the game. The Marshall Memorial Fountain commemorates the victims of the 1970 plane crash that is the backdrop behind the movie, We Are Marshall. There is also a one-room schoolhouse near the basketball arena, and painted sculptures of locomotives dotted around the city, which are sponsored by local businesses and painted by local artists; these sculptures are meant to illustrate the importance of railroads in the area's history.
Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex may not draw a ton of fans, perhaps only one or two hundred for non-marquee games, but they do show up in team colors and are very supportive of their team.
Getting to Huntington, WV is simple enough, with most people taking I-64 either east or west, and then taking exit 11 or exit 15, respectively. The soccer complex is at the corner of 5th Avenue and 26th Street, which is a less crowded part of town than most of campus, so that is a plus. When driving around town, however, be aware that most of the streets near downtown are one-way.
As for parking, one great thing about a stadium that only holds a thousand fans is that there aren't very many people trying to park here, which can be tricky in Huntington. There is a very small lot next to the soccer complex, but it is reserved for disabled access, so most fans park in the Kroger parking lot across the street, or on nearby side streets. There are a few paid lots in town, but they are a few blocks away, closer to the football stadium, so if you use them you will have to walk a little further. The staff at Kroger doesn't seem to mind sharing their lot when there are only a few cars, but for a big game you might have to worry about towing.
Once you get inside the complex, everything is within easy reach - the concessions and bathrooms are just inside the main entrance, and the stands are a few feet in front of those. There are ramps into the stands in the center and on both ends if you need them.
Tickets to Marshall soccer games cost $7 per person, which is a little on the high side for college soccer, as many schools let you in for free. The facility itself is very well done, though, and is worth a look if you are in town. Parking will probably be free if you can find it, and concessions are reasonable - perhaps a tad higher than what you might pay at similarly-sized venues, but definitely cheaper than concessions at a football or basketball game.
The memorial panels to veterans is a nice touch, as are the plaques honoring each branch of the military. The amount of Kelly green incorporated into the design is also impressive, as many sports venues just have plain cement and aluminum. The soccer ball design plaza on the east end is also amazing, although you probably have to be a true soccer fan to appreciate it sans prompting.
Overall, Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex is a wonderful facility, and a lot more than you would expect from a college soccer venue. The limited concessions and potential trouble parking are the only drawbacks, which could both be remedied by the university; this would probably help draw more fans.
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Huntington, WV 25702
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