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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Beirne Stadium – Bryant Bulldogs Football


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Beirne Stadium 1150 Douglas Pike Smithfield, RI 02917



Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 4,400

 

Feel the Beirne


Built in 1999 as Bulldog Stadium to coincide with the debut of the school’s football team, the David M. ’85 and Terry Beirne Stadium was dedicated in honor of the Bryant University trustee and his wife, who are among the largest benefactors of the University. The facility serves as home to Bryant’s football and lacrosse teams. In 2023 it will also serve as home to the new Rhode Island FC club in the USL Championship league.


Football has been played at Bryant University since 1999. The school originally competed in Division II, moving up to the FCS level for the 2008 season. After over a decade of competition in the Northeast Conference, the school announced they were moving to the America East Conference starting in fall 2022. This left several teams, including football, without a home, as America East did not support competition in those sports.


Bryant football became a football-only member of the Big South Conference, which had just previously announced an alliance with the Ohio Valley Conference. After only two seasons in the Big South/Ohio Valley Association, Bryant will become a football-only member of CAA Football for the 2024 season.


The Bulldogs have yet to qualify for the FCS postseason tournament. One Bryant alumnus, Tom Kennedy, has played in the National Football League.


Food & Beverage 3


Beirne Stadium has a small concession stand on the south edge of the grandstand. The menu has been upgraded a bit in recent years. In addition to hot dogs and burgers, fans can pick up pulled pork and grilled chicken sandwiches along with sausage and peppers sandwiches and nachos. Prices are a bit on the high side for some items ($8 for a hot dog), but the quality looked good if you need a bite to eat.


A selection of snacks and Coca-Cola products are available at the snack bar. Fans looking for an adult beverage can head to the beer garden in the north end zone, where a selection of beer and wine are sold.



Atmosphere 3


If you haven’t visited Beirne Stadium in a while, this is where you will see the biggest difference in the game day experience. The parking lots adjacent to the stadium open four hours before kickoff, and the fans start showing up early. The tailgating scene is quite impressive, especially for a stadium that doesn’t even seat 5,000 fans.


Once inside Beirne Stadium you’ll experience your typical small-school football game day. The pep band plays, the cheerleaders and dance squad perform, and the fans do their thing cheering on the home team. The PA announcer goes about his work in an unobtrusive manner and a small video board in the north end zone provides game info, graphics and the occasional highlight.


This is a laid-back, friendly place to take in some quality football. Visiting fans and those with children can feel comfortable here. There’s a good turnout by the student body, but there’s no rowdy student section to create a lot of noise.


Neighborhood 3


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 a great deal to see or do near the Bryant campus.


There are a few dining options right near the Bryant campus on Route 7. Parente’s Restaurant, Blackies, and Laura’s Bar and Grill are a few of the better options. Stadium Journey recommends J’s Deli for their impressive variety of great grinders (that’s what we call sub sandwiches here in Rhode Island). Several national chain restaurants and shopping options are located about a 10-minute drive away on Route 44. Fans visiting from out of town may opt to take the 20-minute drive to Providence, which has no shortage of top-notch restaurants and lodging options.


Speaking of lodging options, the story here is similar if visiting Bryant. There is a Holiday Inn Express, a Hampton Inn and Suites and a SureStay Plus right near campus, but visitors may opt to stay in nearby Providence or even Boston, only an hour’s drive to the north. Twin Rivers Casino is in nearby Lincoln just a few minutes from Bryant. If spending time in a casino is on your agenda, the twin resorts of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located an hour away just over the Connecticut state line.


Fans 4


Beirne Stadium is a smaller facility, but it feels like it’s the right size for this program. The team generally draws between 3,000-4,000 fans for most games. If you plan to visit Smithfield on Parents Weekend, get here early, as Beirne Stadium’s parking lots are packed. You may find yourself parking in a distant overflow lot if you arrive late.


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 no organized student section to speak of.


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 making spectacles of themselves.


Bryant’s inclusion in the Big South Conference for the past couple of seasons has meant that you don’t see the number of visiting fans you used to see at Beirne Stadium. Bryant’s move to CAA football is a better geographic fit, meaning you should see an increase in visitors for Bulldog football games.



Access 4


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 I-295 on Route 7. Fans using public transportation will find a Rhode Island Public Transportation (RIPTA) bus station on the Bryant campus, offering service every 40 minutes to downtown Providence.


For much of its early history Bryant was a commuter school, so ample parking remains adjacent to Beirne Stadium. This is also an ideal setup for pregame tailgating. Many Bulldog fans take advantage of these lots to arrive early and enjoy a beautiful fall Rhode Island Saturday at the game. The parking lots fill up early, meaning latecomers will park in more distant lots which can be a good walk from the Stadium. The days of arriving 15 minutes before kickoff and getting a spot just steps from the front gate are long gone.


Beirne Stadium consists of two sets of stands highlighted by a 3,200-seat structure on the home (east) side, which houses the press box, locker rooms, and restrooms. Seating consists of metal bleachers without backs, 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.


There is plenty of handicapped seating available, and fans are able to easily walk around the field. Standing room is available in the north end zone and the west side of the field. The small restrooms underneath the grandstand are clean and large enough for a typical Bulldog football crowd. Lines do form here and at the concession stand at halftime, so plan your trips wisely.


Return on Investment 3


Premium seating at Beirne Stadium (Bucket seats between the 40-yard lines) costs $25, while all other seating costs $15. Parking in the lots adjacent to Beirne Stadium costs an additional $20. Concessions are comparably priced with other venues in the area.


Prices have risen significantly for both tickets and parking in recent years. A visit to Bryant’s website makes the actual prices unclear. While it is advertised on Bryant’s website that it is required to purchase parking passes, Stadium Journey did not have to pay to park for their recent visit. We hope to clarify this situation for our readers ASAP.


Extras 2

Twin bulldog statues guard both entrances to the facility and make a great spot for a photo opp.



A second extra point is awarded for the consistent improvements being made to the facility, 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 where the Patriots used to hold their training camp.


Final Thoughts


Bryant University is a small school with big ambitions when it comes to intercollegiate sports. They continue to grow and improve the game day experience for visiting fans, to the point where this may be the premier football experience in all of Rhode Island.


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

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