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Official Review by Jason Bullock, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Bison of Howard University, located in Washington D.C., play their home games on-campus at William H. Greene Stadium. The Bison are members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and play in the Football Championship Subdivision. Greene Stadium is a multi-purpose facility that plays home to not only the football team, but also to men's and women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse. The stadium opened in 1986 and currently has both a capacity of just over 7,000 and an artificial grass surface. Howard University is a private university that opened in 1867 and boasts many notable alumni, including Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, and David Dinkins.
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 best advice I can give you here is this: Eat before you go. There is no concession stand at Greene Stadium, only a food truck from a local caterer stationed behind the stands on the visitor's side of the field after you enter through the main gate. Fried chicken, fried fish, or a burger are your choices for your meal, all served with a side of fries in a take-out style styrofoam container. I ordered the chicken platter and received 5 buffalo wings...without the sauce. At least they were still warm, unlike my soggy french fries. The most disappointing part of my meal was that it cost $12. I didn't know this until I ordered, as there is no menu board or pricing list to be found. Bottled sodas are $2 and is the only part of my meal I felt I received value for.
That's it; those are your options. No outside food or drink is permitted in. There is no ATM on-site, but you won't need that since you will be eating before you go. Seriously, don't come hungry.
Upon entering the main gate of the stadium, it had the feel of a large high school football game. There is a track that surrounds the field, so even fans in the front row are a good distance from the action. I recommend sitting at least halfway up in the stands to enhance your view. The stadium faces north/south, so there is no recommended place to sit to avoid the sun. Sideline seating benches are made of metal, while end zone seats are wooden. The home team sits on the east side of the field, which is opposite the main gate.
One thing that really stood out for me was the lack of fans in the reserved section between the 40's on the home side. This is prime territory for a fan, but it is pretty obvious most don't want to fork out the extra $5 to sit there. Even after halftime, when it was obvious those seats weren't going to be used, the ushers would not allow me to sit there without a reserved ticket. Understandable, but it appeared that there were two separate sections on the home side. However, on the visitor's side, the entire seating area is General Admission.
If you want to see the players enter and exit the field, the northeast corner of the field is where the action is. The marching band sits in the south end zone, so if you want to be close to the music, there is seating available in the section next to them. Also, there are no nets behind either goal, so if the opportunity to catch an extra point or a field goal is your thing, end zone seating will suit you fine.
Scoreboards are located in each end zone. The southern board has score, time remaining, and quarter. The northern board has that plus down, to go information, and timeouts. One note that affected the atmosphere of the game for me was the volume and the method of the PA announcer. While I appreciate being able to hear clearly, the loudness of the announcer was overbearing at times. In my opinion, the best PA announcers blend in with the action, not overpower it. In addition, the silly overemphasis on announcing first downs for the home team and the sound bites played throughout the game that really had nothing to do with was going on with the game were an annoyance and detracted from the sounds of the band playing and the sounds on the field.
In the immediate neighborhood, there's not much to do here. However, there is never a shortage of things to do in the nation's capital. The stadium is located on campus in northwest Washington D.C. A five minute drive south down 7th Street will bring you to the Chinatown district, where you can find plenty of bars, restaurants, and shopping. A short walk from there will get you to the heart of D.C., with museums, monuments, and the Capitol building. I recommend getting something to eat in the Chinatown area at Rocket Bar, Hooters, or any of the neighborhood Chinese restaurants before or after the game.
As far as the fan base is concerned, they cheer for the home team at the proper times, but that's about the extent of their involvement in the game. The most recent game I attended had about 60% of capacity attendance, and this was the first home game of the year. The attendance was boosted by it being 'Youth Day', where all kids were admitted free. There were no chants or school cheers that stood out or that I noted. I didn't get that 'buzz' from the crowd that you typically feel at college games, especially when their school is dominating the opponent.
The Metro (D.C.'s subway system) is the best way to go here. The closest stop is Shaw-Howard U on the Green Line. Prepare to walk some, as it is about one mile to the stadium from here. Depending where you are coming from, this will cost you anywhere from $3.40 to $7 a person, round trip. Chinatown/Gallery Place, mentioned above, is also on the Green Line a few stops away, so very easy access if you are in that area.
If you prefer to try your luck at driving in, you may be a while trying to find a space. I found no signs or guidance directing me to parking for football, so the options are street or garage parking. Garage parking can run from $15-$40, depending on what is going on in the city that day. If you're fortunate enough to find a metered space and you have a smartphone, download the Parkmobile app and pay for your parking that way. Otherwise, bring lots of quarters.
Restrooms - well, porta potties - are located behind each end zone bleacher section. They were about as clean as you would expect a typically portable toilet to be, and lines were never an issue.
If you are buying tickets or picking them up at will-call, you have to go to Cramton Auditorium, which is located right next to the stadium's main gate. When entering the stadium through the main gate, you actually come in behind the visitor side. To get to the home team stands, you have to walk around the back of either end zone. Follow the crowd as their are no signs to direct you on how to get to the other side of the field.
For $20, you get a General Admission ticket that seats you anywhere in the stadium, with the exception of the home side between the 40's; they will cost $5 more. Stick with the GA ticket and get there before kickoff and you will not have a problem getting a decent seat.
If you are only going to watch the game and expect nothing else for your money, you may feel you are getting value for your entertainment dollar. The cost and lack of variety of food and beverage along with the missing energy I get from college football crowds drives this rating down for me, however.
There was nothing extra here of note; it is simply a college football game and nothing more.
If you go to games for the stadium experience, this is one that you might want to skip.
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