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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Brown Stadium - Brown Bears

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Brown Stadium

400 Elmgrove Ave

Providence, RI 02906

Year Opened: 1925

Capacity: 20,000

Brown Bears Den

Football has been played at Brown University since 1878. In the early years of the program, football games were played at Adelaide Park in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence or on a makeshift field on campus. The squad eventually moved to Andrews Field, a combination football/baseball/track stadium across the street from present-day Brown Stadium. The Bears played there from 1899 to 1925.

Brown Stadium is located on Elmgrove Avenue on Providence’s East Side about ¾ of a mile from the school’s other athletic facilities and over a mile from campus. The stadium was financed entirely through subscriptions and built to be expandable to a capacity of 32,000. The planned construction of a larger grandstand on the north side of the facility never occurred, and Brown Stadium’s capacity has remained at 20,000. For the 2021 season a new FieldTurf surface was installed and named for Richard I. Gouse, class of 1968, the field’s primary donor.

The Bears have won or shared four Ivy League championships over their long history, most recently in 2008. Perhaps their most noteworthy team played in 1926, when the “Iron Men”, a team that consisted of eleven players who played both ways for two entire games, finished with a 9-0-1 record. In 1914 Brown played in the Rose Bowl, losing to Washington 14-0. Five persons affiliated with Brown football have been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, including John Heisman.

Food and Beverage 4

There have been many changes in the concession offerings at Brown Stadium. In addition to the usual stadium fare sold in the stands underneath the concrete grandstand, there are a variety of food trucks ringing Brown Stadium. It’s a welcome improvement from the basic fare offered here for years.

Behind the north grandstand fans will find a lineup of food trucks. Among the offerings here are gourmet empanadas, gyros and falafels, chili dogs and Brazilian food. Additional food trucks located in other parts of the stadium sell coffee and hot beverages as well as frozen lemonade. It’s an eclectic mix with something for everyone.

Coca-Cola products are featured at Brown Stadium. Fans looking for an adult beverage can check out the Narragansett Beer Garden in the northeast corner of the stadium, where assorted brews from the local favorite are available.

Atmosphere 3

Let’s face it. Brown Stadium is way, way bigger than the Brown Bears need it to be. With a capacity of 20,000 and an average attendance of 4,000, There’s usually a ton of empty space that just swallows up any noise or excitement generated by a crowd here. But when you hit it right, a game at Brown Stadium can be a lot of fun.

During Stadium Journey’s most recent visit a crowd of 10,000 fans took in a game against Harvard on a beautiful fall afternoon. There was a buzz in the stands not normally seen here. The student body showed up in force and was loud throughout the first half, despite many of them arriving late and leaving early. Unfortunately, this experience is the exception and not the rule at Brown.

Brown, like all the other Ivy League schools, try their best to be wacky and irreverent, but their efforts generally fall flat. All the familiar pieces are here, including a pep band that performs throughout the game, a cheerleading squad and a (sometimes) active student section. With rivalries that go back over a century, there’s a fun give-and-take between fans from the opposing sides. During play stoppages field goal contests, t-shirt tosses and even chocolate tosses keep the energy going.

Neighborhood 5

Brown Stadium is located over a mile away from the main university campus in the affluent East Side neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The East Side is known for its old-school charm away from the bustle of the downtown area.

While there aren’t any restaurants directly adjacent to Brown Stadium, there are several spots nearby worth a look. The East Side is known for its quaint spots and bohemian vibe, and you won’t be disappointed as you explore the area. Hope Street, Thayer Street, Wayland Square and Wickenden Street all boast excellent shops and eateries not far from Brown Stadium. Of course, downtown Providence, known as one of the top mid-sized cities in the country for foodies, is only two miles away at the bottom of College Hill.

If looking for sporting options while visiting Providence, you have several options. Brown’s other sports facilities, including Meehan Auditorium, Pizzitola Sports Center and Murray Field are located about ¾ of a mile away near the main campus. The Amica Mutual Pavilion is located downtown, serving as home to the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins and Providence College basketball.

Fans 2

There can be a great deal of fluctuation in attendance from game to game depending on who is in town, but over the years the average yearly attendance at Brown football games settles in at about 4,000 fans per game. You can imagine that in a facility the size of Brown Stadium that a smaller crowd can get swallowed up by the size of the place.

Likewise, there’s not a significant turnout by the student body for Brown football games. Even when there is a big turnout, as there was during Stadium Journey’s 2022 visit, many of the students arrived late and left early.

Most of the fans in attendance are locals who have been coming to the East Side for years. With the Ivy League’s compact footprint, it’s not unusual to see a good turnout from the visiting side.

Access 4

Brown Stadium is located in Providence’s East Side neighborhood, about ¾ of a mile from the university’s other athletic facilities and about a mile from campus. Getting to the stadium requires navigating the crooked streets of the East Side no matter from which direction you are coming. The most straightforward way to get to Brown Stadium is to take the Gano Street exit (Exit 3) off of Interstate 195. Detailed directions can be found here. Traffic can slow down on these side streets, but it’s generally pretty simple for fans to navigate the area. For fans utilizing public transportation, RIPTA’s number 40 bus stops right at the stadium on Elmgrove Avenue.

There’s a decent sized parking lot adjacent to Brown Stadium where fans are allowed to tailgate, but many fans will forego the $25 price tag and find free parking on the neighborhood streets surrounding the stadium. Spots can usually be found within a few blocks of the facility.

Strangely enough, the main entrance at Brown Stadium is not located in the giant grandstand, but on the opposite (visiting) side of the stadium. The majority of the seating at Brown Stadium is contained in the large trapezoid-shaped concrete grandstand on the southwest side of the facility. At its apex there are 72 rows of aluminum bleachers, so there is plenty of room to spread out. Additional seating is located on the northeast side of the field, where a smaller structure consists of more aluminum bleachers. A paved walkway connects the Elmgrove Street entrance with seating areas on both sides of the field.

Rest rooms are located underneath both grandstands. They are decidedly small and dated (you don’t see the old-school troughs in many places anymore), but are large enough to handle a typical Brown football crowd. Likewise, lines form at the concession stands at halftime, but are generally not an issue.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Brown football games are reasonably priced, with all seats priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youth and seniors. Ticket prices are the same whether purchasing reserved seats or general admission. Waiting until game day to buy your tickets will increase the price by five dollars.

For visiting fans who wish to tailgate before the game, Lot 88 is located next to the main entrance on Elmgrove Ave. Parking in this lot will cost you $25. For those balking at that price, there is ample free parking on the streets surrounding the stadium. Since Brown doesn’t usually attract huge crowds for football, you should be able to find a spot a short walk from the game.

All fans are given a free program upon entrance to Brown Stadium. Concessions are reasonably priced, making Brown an affordable entertainment option for Rhode Island sports fans.

Extras 2

Brown Stadium’s unique seating area earns an extra point. You would be hard pressed to find another seating bowl like this trapezoidal structure. Consisting of a lung-splitting 72 rows at its apex (and nary an elevator in sight), this concrete behemoth contains the university seal, several ornate “B” logos and a pair of bear heads on its façade.

Brown displays their long and illustrious history throughout Brown Stadium. Banners honoring championship teams, record setting accomplishments and noteworthy players are hung throughout the facility.

Final Thoughts

Brown Stadium is quickly approaching its 100th season of use. Despite its long history, Brown Stadium just doesn’t seem to get the love that some of the Ivy League’s other facilities get. Perhaps it’s due to Brown’s lack of consistent success on the gridiron, but Brown football seems to be little more than an afterthought, even in Providence. Still, college football fans could do a lot worse than taking in a game in a laid-back atmosphere on a gorgeous fall afternoon in Rhode Island’s capital city.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.


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