Beirne Stadium – Bryant Bulldogs Football
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Beirne Stadium 1150 Douglas Pike Smithfield, RI 02917
Year Opened: 1999
Feel the Beirne
Beirne Stadium, formally known as The David M. ’85 and Terry Beirne Stadium, was dedicated in honor of the Bryant alumnus, longtime University Trustee and his wife, who are among the largest benefactors of the University. Originally built in 1999 as Bulldog Stadium to coincide with the debut of the school’s football team, the facility holds 4,400 fans and serves as home to the Bulldog football and lacrosse teams.
Renovations to Beirne Stadium took place in 2018, which included the installation of permanent lighting (making this the first college stadium in Rhode Island with permanent lighting) and the same FieldTurf surface used by the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Speaking of the Patriots, the team used this site for their training camp from 1976-2002.
Bryant University has been competing at the Division One level since 2008 as a member of the Northeast Conference. Despite having success at many sports since moving up to Division One, the football team is still looking for its first conference title and playoff berth.
Food & Beverage 2
Beirne Stadium has a small concession stand on the south edge of the grandstand. This stand offers only the basics, with hamburgers and hot dogs comprising the entire menu. A decent array of snacks are sold here, including popcorn, candy, chips, bags of trail mix and fresh baked cookies and brownies.
Bottles of Coca-Cola products are available here. The New England Frozen Lemonade Company has a truck set up nearby. Alcohol is not sold at this on-campus facility.
The gameday atmosphere at a Bulldogs football game at Beirne Stadium is pleasant and relaxed. As is the case in most schools in the northeast, football is not the big deal that it is in other parts of the country. The gameday mood reflects this. Fans come to Beirne Stadium to enjoy an afternoon of football, not to make a spectacle of themselves.
There are giant parking lots adjacent to the athletic complex. These lots date back to the university’s beginnings as a commuter school. The lots remain and provide plenty of room for tailgating before, after and during the game. Since Beirne Stadium is small and close by, many fans head out at halftime to resume the party.
During the game, all the standard elements of a college football experience are present. There is the pep band, cheerleading squad, dance squad and two mascots, one a human in a furry suit and the other IronClad Tupper II, a live bulldog who spends his day prowling the stadium receiving head-scratches from passing Bulldog fans.
While there is a good turnout by the student body, they aren’t really into the game and don’t add a whole lot of noise to the gameday experience. Perhaps the lack of a dedicated student section has something to do with this. There is a simple scoreboard in the north end zone which lacks a video board and displays only basic game stats.
Bryant University is located in Smithfield, RI, about a twenty-minute drive from Providence. Although Smithfield is a very nice place to live, it’s certainly not a destination location, and there is not much to see or do near the Bryant campus.
Dining options near Bryant University are few. Parente’s restaurant is a favorite of students, as much for its location near campus as for its reasonably priced comfort food. J’s Deli serves up an impressive variety of submarine sandwiches and Blackie’s offers traditional neighborhood pub grub. Several national chain restaurants and shopping options are located about a 10-minute drive away on Route 44. Fans visiting from out of town should take the 20-minute drive to Providence, which has no shortage of top-notch restaurants.
The same can be said for lodging options in Smithfield. There are a few decent options on Douglas Pike near campus, but visitors may be better served to check out Providence or Boston for places to stay or things to do. Twin Rivers Casino is in nearby Lincoln. If spending time in a casino is on your agenda, the twin resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located an hour away over the Connecticut state line.
Bryant football has averaged between 3,500-4,000 fans in recent years. While on the surface this may not seem like a very impressive figure, note that this figure is well above the Northeast Conference average of 2,343.
Bryant fans travel well and are a fixture at stadiums around the conference. The close proximity of many Northeast Conference schools ensures that you will see a decent turnout by visiting fans at Beirne Stadium.
There is a good turnout by the student section for Bulldog football games. Unfortunately, many of them do not stick around for the entire game, and there is really no organized student section.
The crowd at Beirne Stadium is a good mix of students, locals, diehard football fanatics and families. It’s also not usual to see several four-legged fans present at a Bulldog game. Overall the crowd here is laid-back, enjoying a nice fall afternoon at the game rather than creating a rowdy scene.
Bryant University is located in suburban Smithfield, Rhode Island, 13 miles from Providence. The campus is most easily accessed by car. Visitors to Bryant will simply take exit 15B off Interstate 295. The campus is just over a mile away from the Interstate on Route 7. Located adjacent to Beirne Stadium are Conaty Field and the Track and Turf Complex.
Fans using public transportation to arrive at Bryant will find a Rhode Island Public Transportation (RIPTA) bus station on the Bryant campus, offering service every 40 minutes to downtown Providence. T.F. Green Airport is 20 miles away, with Boston’s Logan Airport an hour’s drive away. Train service to the area is provided by Amtrak, which has its downtown Providence station 20 minutes away.
Beirne Stadium consists of two sets of stands, a 3,200-seat structure on the home side, which houses the press box, locker rooms, and restrooms, and bleachers that can hold up to 1,200 on the visitor’s side. Most of the seats in the larger structure are metal bleachers, with three hundred individual bucket seats located in between the 40-yard lines. There is a walkway along the front edge of the grandstand, so choose seats a row or two up from the bottom.
For those fans requiring handicapped access, there is ample seating at the front of the grandstand, as well as some room fieldside to stand (or sit) and take in the game. Paved paths run around the exterior of the field. There are only two small restrooms underneath the stands to serve the entire stadium. Plan to avoid this area at halftime, as long lines can form.
Return on Investment 4
Premium seating at Beirne Stadium (Bucket seats between the 40-yard lines) costs $20, while all other seating costs $15. Seniors, youths and non-Bryant students are admitted for $8. Children and Bryant students are admitted free of charge.
Parking is free in the large lots adjacent to the football stadium. Concessions are inexpensive, making an afternoon at a Bulldog football game a most affordable option for Rhode Island sports fans.
An extra point is awarded for the Bulldog theme going on at Beirne Stadium. Twin bulldog statues guard both entrances to the facility. Throughout the game you are likely to bump into IronClad Tupper II, a live bulldog who can be seen roaming around Beirne Stadium all afternoon.
A second extra point is awarded for the consistent improvements being made to the facility, in ways both obvious and subtle. From the construction of the Beirne training complex in the south end zone to the installation of permanent lighting to the planting of fir trees on the west side of the stadium, Beirne Stadium now looks like a complete football stadium and less like a set of bleachers plopped into an open space.
Beirne Stadium is typical of many football stadiums in the northeast. It’s a nice, simple, comfortable place to spend a fall afternoon watching some quality football. This isn’t the place to find a big-time football atmosphere, and that’s exactly its allure.