Duke University is a private school that has always prided itself on quality over quantity and that being bigger is not necessarily better. The school is the smallest in the ACC, with only 6,500 students, yet it ranks near the top in academic performance. This belief that bigger is not necessarily better transcends to its athletic facilities. Most visitors are amazed at how little Cameron Indoor Stadium is, yet the Blue Devils and Coach K manage to always be in the hunt for a National Championship, and it is regarded as the most intimidating place in the country for visiting teams to play. The small capacity description also applies to Wallace Wade Stadium, which was built in 1929 and, until recently, had a seating capacity of 31,000.
Things are changing quickly on the lovely Gothic campus in Durham, NC. The university is in the last stages of its $100 million campaign to make its athletic facilities more competitive with the other schools in the ACC, especially its rivals down the road in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. The Blue Devils have made massive strides on the field under Coach David Cutcliffe, who arrived in 2008. They are now making improvements around the field, as Wallace Wade has undergone its first major renovation in its 87 years. The renovations touch nearly every facet of the game experience, and we will address each of these changes in the appropriate section of this review.
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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".
Major improvements have been made to the concession areas, as many of the stands were previously very small and outdated. This situation has been addressed by placing multiple stands in a permanent home at the base of the Blue Devil Tower. The size of each concessionaire's space has been enlarged to better serve the larger number of people attending the games. Digital menu/price boards have been installed, and there are TV monitors at each stand, so that fans will not miss any game action. Duke also has a food vendor village at the top of the east stands featuring food from some of Durham's top restaurants. These include Highway 55 (burgers), Ben and Jerry's (ice cream), Hog Heaven (barbecue) and the Snack Shack. A sampling of the costs of various food items includes: hamburgers ($6), Devil dogs ($4), popcorn ($5), barbecue sandwiches ($6), 32-ounce sodas ($5), pizza ($8) and bottled water ($4).
One other change in the concession areas is the opening of a new 3,500 square-foot team store filled with Blue Devil merchandise.
If visitors have not been to Wallace Wade Stadium in the last two years, they will not recognize it. The capacity of the stadium has gone up 25 percent, from 31,000 to nearly 43,000. This was accomplished by bringing down the level of the field and eliminating the track that had encircled the field, keeping the stands a great distance from the playing surface. This also allowed for a brand-new LED video board that is twice as large as its predecessor to be erected much closer to the end zone and easier to see for fans in the stands. In addition, the seats have all been switched over to seatbacks with armrests.
The other major change in appearance is the brand-new Blue Devil Tower, a 100,000 square-foot multi-story facility at the top of the stadium. This building includes 21 luxury suites, the President's box, and club-level seating. It also includes several stadium function areas, including the press box, coach's offices and the sports medicine facilities.
All of these improvements, and others listed throughout this review, have greatly enhanced the fan experience at Wallace Wade Stadium. An early 20th century stadium has been transformed into a 21st century facility.
Wallace Wade Stadium is located within the Duke University campus. It is a beautiful Gothic campus, with numerous museums and points of interest. Two on-campus attractions you must check out are the soaring Duke Chapel and the lovely Duke Gardens.
Duke University falls within the Ninth Street District of Durham. Popular restaurants in this district include The Federal, Mateo Tapas, the Tobacco Road Sports Café and the Bull City Burger and Brewery. Lodging options near the Duke campus include the Millennium Hotel Durham, the Brookwood Inn and Comfort Inn at Medical Park.
While very supportive of the football team, Duke football fans will never be confused with Cameron Crazies. There is no need to camp out days early in order to guarantee a seat at Wallace Wade Stadium. The success of the team in recent years under Coach Cutcliffe has definitely raised the profile and interest in the football program, resulting in increased ticket sales. However, the only sellouts are typically the Homecoming game, and the neighborhood rivalry games with UNC and NC State.
The crowds at Wallace Wade tend to be more alumni-aged rather than present students. The student section is usually about 50 percent full up through halftime, then thins out in the second half, depending on the score and what social activities are going on around the campus.
Duke University does provide some very fan-friendly events for each game. The tailgating area for season ticket holders is known as Blue Devil Alley, and for a fee, the school will provide you with a tent, catering services and clean up, so you just show up, enjoy friends and the game and leave, with no worries about set up, cooking or cleanup. The other major pregame area for fans to gather is along Bassett Road. This is where the Blue Devil Walk is held. Other activities include performances by the Blue Devil cheerleaders and the Duke University Marching Band, visits and photos with the Blue Devil mascot and a pre-game pep rally.
The addition of 10,000 seats to the stadium obviously meant that ticketing and entry points into the stadium needed to be addressed. Six new ticket windows have been added at the adjoining Scott Family Athletic Performance Center, and several new gates have also been added. In addition, a fan plaza has been added outside the stadium to allow fans a meetup area prior to the games.
Restroom facilities have been greatly increased in size and number, and several family/gender-neutral restrooms have been added.
Accessibility for persons with a disability was a major consideration in the renovations, as the 87 year-old stadium formerly had some makeshift accommodations to be compliant with the ADA. The area formerly housing the President's Box has been transformed into a ramped and ADA -compliant seating area. All restroom, ticketing and concession facilities are now ADA-compliant, as well.
Parking remains a problem, as there are no large lots immediately in the vicinity of Wallace Wade Stadium, except for pre-reserved parking for season ticket holders and Iron Dukes (major donors to the university). There are numerous satellite parking areas around the university, with a set fee of $10 for game days. Complimentary shuttle buses will ferry fans to the stadium or you have the option of walking through the lovely campus and its many Gothic structures. If you have never visited Duke, it is well worth the walk. Visit GoDuke.com for parking maps and walking directions from the various lots.Traffic will be especially difficult for both the UNC and NC State games due to their close proximity to Durham and the Duke campus.
Ticket prices for a Duke football game fall within the $30-$50 range, with the exception of the UNC and NC State games, which carry a premium price. Parking is $10 on game day in any of the campus designated lots. The concession prices are very reasonable, and lodging runs $50-$140 on special events weekends. You may save money on lodging by staying at one of the many RDU Airport hotels, which are about 15 minutes from the campus.
Wallace Wade is the only stadium in the country to host the Rose Bowl outside of Pasadena. This occurred in 1942, when fears of a Japanese attack on the West Coast during World War II resulted in moving the game to the East Coast.
While you are on the campus, the Duke Gardens are well worth a visit. They are beautiful, no matter what season of the year it is.
Cameron Indoor Stadium is adjacent to Wallace Wade Stadium. Stop in and see where Coach K does his magic.
Wallace Wade Stadium was built in 1929 and lights were added in 1984. The stadium is built as a horseshoe design, with the scoreboard located at the open end of the stadium. The largest crowd ever was on November 19, 1949 when 57,500 watched Duke play North Carolina. The current configuration of the stadium holds 33,941.
If you are going to Duke with high expectations on the place for football, then this is not the place for you. The stadium is very small for a program which resides in a BCS Conference and for the longest time hasn't been very good. It seemed to me that the fans were just waiting to pass the time for the basketball season to arrive.
Food & Beverage: Overall it was a great variety of food for a small stadium as the official reviewer said. It wasn't the BEST food in the world and you could probably have the same quality at a high school game, but overall the selection is pretty varied.
Atmosphere: It was okay. But there was not a vibe of a football place like I've been to other college stadiums. It seemed like football was to pass the time for basketball.
Neighborhood: Probably overrating this but it is situated on the campus and while there aren't any major places to hang out after the game, you have Cameron Indoor Stadium (which they will allow you to tour for free after the game), the athletic complexes where you can check where the basketball teams practice, and the souvenir store (albeit limited). The campus area is very nice, clean, and one of the best scenic places I've ever been to.
Fans: Somewhat coincides with atmosphere. I will they they had knowledge of the sport when they talked about the teams of years' past, but most fans kept it to themselves. But I went when Duke was still pretty rough to watch so fans had a hard time cheering for the Blue Devils when they got behind. It was "oh, here we go again." And a large fraction of the fans were Florida State fans too.
Access: The problem with this is, the stadium is so small you cannot see it until you get to the stadium itself. It is on a low level where you walk in and you walk down to the bleachers. The only real architecture is the press box/luxury boxes. So you won't see anything until you get up and you really have to follow the masses to figure out where you were going.
ROI: Just a small football stadium. Nothing out of the ordinary and it isn't going to ever be mistaken for Michigan, Alabama, or Clemson for the stadium itself. They had a nice scoreboard though.
Extras: Prices to watch a Duke game are very cheap regardless of who comes to town. The scenic view around the stadium is one of the best around however and I really liked how they made it nice all over.
Overall it was definitely not the worst experience I had. It was nice and cozy, but just not really a place that screamed college football.
18,000 fans doesn't make me think D-1 football. The restrooms are the worst I've seen and the fans are waiting for basketball. Even their rowdy basketball fans are mostly students in a gym that holds about 8000. Wallace Wade is a storied old stadium but little has been done to improve it since it was built. It makes a nice outdoor track venue but for football you'd be better off at some high school games. Durham isn't an easy city to drive around either, especially off the beaten path.
When you hear “Duke Blue Devils”, your thoughts probably drift to Cameron Indoor Stadium, the basketball team, and its famous fan base, the Cameron Crazies. Duke football doesn’t have all the fame that its basketball program has, but with David Cutcliffe at the helm, the program is taking huge strides in the way of national relevance. While Wallace Wade Stadium may not be on par with other ACC stadiums, it is an inexpensive way to watch some of the nation’s top collegiate football.
Wallace Wade Stadium feels like a high school stadium, is rarely very full, but does have some interesting food items, like what you might find at the fair. The Blue Devils do occasionally show flashes of greatness, like a couple great years in a row when they were invited to real bowl games (which they subsequently lost). But the program does not have enough success (consistently) to justify a new stadium, or even major renovations. Nice neighborhood though, some cool sights to see around campus.
To say the culture of Duke football has changed in the last few years would be an understatement. Prior to David Cutcliffe’s tenure, the Blue Devils hadn't had a winning season since 1994 and hadn’t enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons since the late '80s. With the recent resurgence, Duke fans find themselves with a competitive football team, but a subpar football stadium. 2015 was the first of a two-year renovation project, and the reaction has been great. Wallace Wade Stadium looks promising with the new renovations, but hasn't seen many improvements yet.
Went to Wallace Wade in 2015 to see Duke take on Boston College. The game turned out to be a 9-7 sleeper, but there seemed to be things going on around the area that could make Duke football find respect.
They have totally taken out the track that use to run around the field and replaced it with more seating. They are also building, what appears to be, a colossal press/suite building on the west side that will bring the stadium more in line with Division 1 football. The new building will also enhance the visitor's eye in finding the reclusive stadium that sits in a hole on the south side of the campus.
Things that could be improved- The game-day experience at Duke is very lackluster. Not much excitement and a feel like a ladies luncheon rather than a football game. I know that Boston College and Duke are not bitter rivals but perhaps some rival talk is better than none.
For such a beautiful campus and a relative small crowd, you would think parking would be plentiful. However, parking is hard to find and nearly all general parking lots have someone demanding money to park. We parked on DU road which was said to be close to the stadium. My definition of 'close to' must be different then others because it was a long walk.
Walking to the stadium, one can find people selling tickets at a very discounted rate. You will pass by tailgaters that are quiet as they sip on their bloody mary's and frolic over their finger sandwiches but little else is seen or heard.
Nearly everyone that enters the stadium, enters at the top of the seating. So finding your seat is a walk down steps. There was just not much going-on the entire day at Duke. Neither side was excited and it showed on the field. The stadium was more than half filled until half when people got bored with the game and went back out to their tailgate area. Fifty percent never returned for the second half.
Perhaps parking is better in a different area of the campus but where we parked there is absolutely nothing as far as food and drinks unless you bring them yourself. Don't think your going to grab lunch and a beer and then walk to the game because that is not happening. Nothing we found was in walking distance.
I did not have a dog in this fight since I was just there to experience the game-day experience than to root for either team. But it was just not an experience I would try again.
280 S Mangum St
Durham, NC 27701
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2800 Campus Walk Ave
Durham, NC 27705