Photo Courtesy of TexasBob.com
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57
Bernard Birkelbach Field 2275 N Austin Ave Georgetown, TX 78626
Year Opened: 2008
Pirates Hoist the Flag at Birkelbach Field
Located less than 30 minutes north of the capital city of Austin lies one of its most picturesque suburban towns, Georgetown. The rapidly growing “village” of 55,000 – whose motto “Sincerely Yours” gives visitors a glimpse at its charm – has become a popular commuter town for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Austin. However, since 1840, students at Southwestern University have known all about what Georgetown has to offer.
The school first fielded a football team – the Pirates – as early as 1908. They earned a reputation as a “little program that could” by often tangling with and beating some of the biggest and best programs in the country. They won the Sun Bowl twice in the 1940s, but the war took a toll on the program and the school shut it down in 1951.
The Pirates returned to the field in 2013 as part of the Division III American Southwest Conference. They have set up home at Bernard Birkelbach Field at the Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex, one of the best high school stadiums in the area. Both good and bad, that is the key thing to remember about attending a Pirates game.
Food & Beverage 2
First things first, the food and drink amenities are what you could expect to find at any upper-level high school football stadium. For those who generally expect more from their college athletics experiences, this is going to be a significant drawback. There are just two concession stands (one under the home bleachers and one under the visitors) open during games and no vendors hawking in the stands.
The food and drink options are pretty basic and bare bones. You’ll find your $2 hot dogs and $3 bottled sodas, sports drinks, and water; there is popcorn and candy and that omnipresent specialty of Central and South Texas Friday nights, Frito pie (for the uninitiated, think corn chips, chili, and shredded cheese; it’s a delicacy).
You can however get a Chick-fil-A sandwich (one of the school’s local sponsors) and cheese and pepperoni pizza by the slice; both are $5 options. This is a nice option if you are looking to get something just a bit “extra” for the game. Also, I personally was delighted to see another drink option at the game and that would be sweet and unsweet iced tea from local favorite, Bush’s Chicken.
If, for some reason, you simply cannot find anything you would like at a game, you are allowed to bring in your own fare – within reason.
In spite of playing football at the level that they do, the Southwestern Pirates have a lot of buy in from their fan base. Tailgaters show up several hours before the game – the lot opens three hours before kickoff – and the student section does show up in droves and fills the lower sections of the stands.
However, there are still some elements missing from the game experience. Namely a mascot and student band. These staples of college football are noticeable at times, but they do not take away from the on-field action.
Also, fair warning, seating is all on bleachers – e.g. there are no seats. Bring cushions if you have access to them.
Georgetown is truly a beautiful example of small-town Texas. Its downtown is famous for its architecture and tourist sites, namely restaurants and boutique shops. Speaking of restaurants, when you are in the area, you have to visit the Monument Café. The restaurant has been a favorite of locals for over 20 years – including one of the area’s favorite sons, Matthew McConaughey.
For culture, check out the Williamson Museum, the official county museum, which tells the story of the area and is located in an historic building on the square. If you’re there overnight, the Palace Theatre offers performances of all kinds throughout the year. If you’re looking for outdoor fun, Blue Hole Park has everything you’re looking for – kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, etc.
And, if you’re still looking for more, Austin is less than 30 minutes away.
The fans come out in droves for Pirates games. You’ll see most wearing black and gold. Trailers and RVs dot the parking lot and you can see Pirate flags from the road as you make the drive toward the stadium. In the stands they cheer boisterously for the home team from the opening whistle to the final seconds. It is in this area that games at Birkelbach Field truly feel like a college game as opposed to a high school one.
Getting to Georgetown is really as simple as it gets in Central Texas. It is located just under 30 minutes from Austin, north along Interstate 35. That puts it just a hair under two hours from San Antonio and around five hours from Dallas/Fort Worth.
Once you get into Georgetown proper, it does get a little tricky to get to the games. Signs clearly mark where the Southwestern University campus is, however, that is not where the stadium is. The athletic complex is located right behind Georgetown High School. You need to pay extra close attention for signage for that.
Return on Investment 3
If you’re looking an affordable college football experience, Southwestern is the way to go. Parking is free; you can eat your fill for a very affordable price at the concession stands (seriously, try the iced tea), and single game tickets can be had for as little as $10.
If you’re going by yourself, with a buddy, a date or the family, you won’t break your wallet. You’ll get the chance to experience some quality college football action in a decent venue for an affordable price at Birkelbach Field.
There aren’t many frills, bells or whistles at Southwestern University Pirates games. As mentioned, there is no marching band or mascot, nor are there a high-tech jumbotron or activities during the timeouts. The cheerleaders and pom squad (traditionally the halftime entertainment) can be seen on the sidelines and do add to the atmosphere.
Birkelbach Field is a top-notch facility for high school games. While it does somewhat detract from the atmosphere of the typical college experience, there is enough to keep attendees entertained. Georgetown itself is a great place to visit and is great venue for football. If you’re in the area, plan to attend a Pirates game. You’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.
Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.