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Official Review by Ryan Bohannon, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The stadium we know today as Veterans Memorial Stadium at Larry Blakeney Field has had many names in its 60+ years of service to Troy University. Troy, AL is nestled between Montgomery and Dothan on U.S. 231, the same road many Spring Breakers take on their way to the white sands on Panama City Beach, FL. While the stadium was built in 1950, it has expanded and improved many times over the decades; most recently in 2004, as the Trojans were preparing for their move to Division I-A (FBS) football.
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".
The food is about what you'd expect at any stadium. At the main stands, they have the typical hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, etc. However, around the outer concourse, there are several vendors selling items from frozen lemonade to funnel cakes to Chick-fil-A sandwiches (which I understand is a recent addition). Those booths outside of the main seating areas will save you the time of missing half of a quarter standing in line at the main concession stands. This may be the only complaint I have. The crowd on this day was sparse at best, and the lines to get a drink were crazy long. I can't begin to think what it would look like if a big-name opponent came to town. This is definitely something they need to look at fixing.
Troy does a great job of generating an atmosphere around the game. About two hours before the game kicks off, the Troy University band (The Sound of the South) leads the team through the tailgate area for the Trojan Walk, as the fans send their final well-wishes to the team before the game. In addition to the tailgate area, the school sets up a kids play area on the baseball field for EVERY game. It is filled with bounce houses and games to entertain the little ones. In the game itself, one of the finest bands in the south strikes up again, filling the stadium with sounds to pump up the crowd and cheer the Trojans on to victory. Don't leave your seat at halftime - you'll want to stick around for the show then, too!
One of the things I was most impressed with is that there really isn't a bad seat in the house. My seats for the game were on the east side of the stadium in the General Admission section. I mention this, as at most stadiums, the GA seats are the pits, but this is not true here. The upper deck is situated almost directly on top of the lower level, putting you right on top of the action! I've never been so close to field in an upper section than I was at Veterans. The sight lines here prove to be true throughout the stadium, too. Whether your seat is where I was or in the end zone seating, you will be able to see the action on the field. I can only imagine what it looks like from the luxury boxes.
Troy is a quiet little town that loves their football. While there isn't much ON campus from which to choose on a Saturday, around town on Highway 231, there are great places for a pre or post-game snack. Choices are available from national chains to locally-owned establishments, such as the fried chicken place I stopped into called Crowe's. The food is great there!
I was a little disappointed by the crowd at the game I attended. Granted it was the Friday after Thanksgiving so many, if not ALL, of the students had vacated their school-time housing for their families back home. This was a conference game to get Troy bowl-eligible for the first time in a few years, so I was surprised there weren't more folks there. The ones who were there, though, know and love the game. The Troy supporters are passionate and a great help to guests who are just trying to figure out where to go and how to get around the stadium.
Veterans Memorial Stadium is a great place to see the game. There isn't a bad place to sit in the house. Whether you pay a little extra for a "reserved seat" or choose the "cheap seats", you won't be disappointed. Just about all areas of the stadium are easily accessible. Restrooms are located underneath both upper decks and by the main entrance. At big games, the restrooms by the main gate may be the best bet, as people forget they are there. Providing you don't mind a bit of a hike across Troy's beautiful campus, there is plenty of free parking on the north side of the campus. The school also runs trolleys on game days to and from many of the city's hotels. That is a great addition.
My afternoon in Troy, AL was fantastic. While the game was on the low side regarding attendance, the fans I encountered were great. The atmosphere outside of the stadium is festive, and the kids seem to love the Kids Zone. I hope to make it back to Troy when one of the "big boys" comes to town. By all accounts, Veterans Memorial Stadium is deafening with a packed house.
The concessions allow you to refill the stadium cup for a discounted price. The campus is very compact, so get there early and take a short stroll. The "southern style" architecture rings throughout the campus. Also, there is a plan to build a new building in the open end of the stadium. The building will house new coaches offices, locker rooms and luxury seating. The school hopes to have it in place by 2016.
Member Review by ZackDuarte
Veterans Memorial Stadium opened its doors in 1950 in honor of the Pike County residents who died in World War II. It began as a 5,000-seat grandstand and has since been renovated several times and expanded twice, once in 1998 and again in 2003, in order for the university to prepare the football program for Division I-A (today's FBS) play. Currently, the stadium seats 30,000 spectators and is formed in a "U" shape with the north end open. As part of the expansion in 2003, the surface of the field was changed from athletic turf to AstroPlay, an artificial surface that emulates the look and feel of grass.
Member Review by Drew4479 on Dec 25, 2013
A beautiful campus and a cool tailgate area with grass covered lots. The Trojan statue at the entry end of the stadium is a great touch and the band is spectacular. This stadium was a pleasant surprise.
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