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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in a wealthy Philadelphia suburb, Villanova University is part of “The Main Line.” That name refers to the unofficial historical and socio-cultural region of suburban Philadelphia. Villanova is a private university and is the oldest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The university is known primarily for its basketball success, but many sports have been quite successful here. They generally compete as a member of the Big East Conference. The football team competes as an associate member in the Colonial Athletic Association of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The football program has also been quite a success. In 2009, Villanova's football team won the national title in the FCS (formerly Division I-AA). In 2010, the team made it all the way to the Semifinal round, only to lose to the eventual champion Eastern Washington university. Andy Talley has been head coach of the program since 1985. The team had been disbanded by the school from 1981 to 1985.
PPL Park in Chester, PA (home of the MLS Philadelphia Union) has been used infrequently by the university as an alternate football field. That stadium was thought to be part of the overall plan if the team moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision, as part of the then Big East football conference (now known as the American Athletic Conference). Any such plan looks to be far off in the past.
The main reason another football location would be needed is that Villanova Stadium is much too small for an FBS level school. It is no more than a glorified high school football stadium.
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 just one single main permanent stand along the one end zone area. There is no real concourse for other food areas, as once you enter the stadium you are in the stands. The simple food stand offers good, basic food at nice and reasonable prices. Just expect it to be crowded and busy.
Luigi and Giovanni is a temporary food tent that offers Italian hoagies, meatballs, lasagna, cannolis and other Italian fare. The prices are good and the portions quite nice. Unfortunately they occupy nearly the same small amount of real estate as the main food stand.
The best bet is to eat before or after the game.
The stadium is quite small in size. I called it a "glorified high school football stadium" and that is even a bit of a stretch. In many places in the country, this facility would not even be good enough to hold those kind of events.
There is no concourse. Once you enter the stadium you are in the grandstands. Movement around the stadium is tight and tricky. There are 2 grandstands. The main one also has the press box and a few handicapped seating areas.
There is a small, fractured student section. The students seem to get lost in the mix of the small, crowded stadium. The stadium also has a track which distances the fans from the field itself.
The small stadium size can still make for some pretty large crowd noises, especially if a rival like Delaware is on the schedule.
There is a single, limited scoreboard that offers no video replay in the end zone. There really needs to be some more places to keep track of the game action.
Villanova is part of the Main Line in Philadelphia. This area has some of the wealthiest towns in the country, including Lower Merion, Radnor and Gladwyne.
There are many food options in and around the area. Peace a Pizza has good pizza by the slice, often with some unusual options. 333 Belrose Bar & Grille (333 Belrose, King Of Prussia, PA) is worth a bit of drive for high end dining. A good close option is Kelly's Taproom, which is the closest in walking distance and has many good food and drink options.
Of course, the city of Philadelphia is close by, so many options exist in that large city. Philip's Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue is a great suggestion for traditional Philly cheesesteaks.
Alumni seem to make up the bulk of the crowd. They can get lively dependent on the opponent. The small student sections seem to get lost in the crowd.
The fans do a good job of supporting their team and get excited and loud.
Villanova University is located on Route 30/Lancaster Avenue, not very far from I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway). Route 30 is busy, but is usually not a problem to drive on. Football game days it gets congested slightly.
Parking is plentiful across Lancaster Avenue from the Pavilion, as well as in other lots nearby. General Parking is available in lots B, C, and E at a cost of $10. Parking is also available at the Law School Garage (Lot F) and is free of charge. During Parents Weekend, the university offers free parking for the football games.
Public transportation is close by, as you can take a SEPTA train from 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia to the on-campus Villanova stop.
Tickets go from $15 to $20. In this wealthy and expensive area, that is an extremely reasonable ticket price range. Youth (12 & under) can get in for as cheap as $5.
Tickets can go fast on many games. There are not many seats so plan ahead.
Parking is reasonable and relatively convenient.
Check out the nearby Pavilion and its unique, hyperbolic paraboloid roof. The Pavilion arena was originally called the John Eleuthère du Pont Pavilion. When the building's namesake was convicted of the murder of Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dave Schultz, the current name came into usage. The Pavilion is the usual home of Villanova University basketball, although most bigger profile games are moved yearly to the larger, off-campus Wells Fargo Center.
I wanted to love Villanova Stadium. But the small size, lack of amenities and lack of warmth hampers the enthusiasm of the Villanova fan base.
Member Review by Jba0088 on Oct 14, 2012
Deep in a beautiful Philadelphia suburb, Villanova Stadium has played host to the Wildcats since 1927. Located on campus, the stadium fits in with the beautiful Gothic buildings and leafy pathways that weave their way through the picturesque setting.
As students file into the stadium in their Villanova sweatshirts and hats, you can imagine the scene hasn’t changed much since the 1920’s. There’s a love for the Villanova program from the current students and the alumni that is undeniable. With many alumni still residing within the Philadelphia area, there is no shortage of local support for the program.
The crowd almost feels like a high school football game, in the sense that the Villanova community has invested itself in the success of the team. Everyone seems to know each other in the home side of the stands.
While there are preliminary talks to move the home games to PP&L Field if the Wildcats move to the Big East, the team and fans would certainly lose the community atmosphere that makes Villanova Stadium unique in FCS football.
Member Review by Snakesmith on Oct 15, 2012
I especially liked the child play area the night that I went. The kids tired themselves out enough to enjoy the game. Fun game too, though they lost to Richmond the night that we went.
1107 East Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
1012 West Lancaster Ave
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
320 Lancaster Ave
Wayne, PA 19087
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2628 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146