Delaware Stadium – Delaware Blue Hens
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Delaware Stadium 605 S College Ave Newark, DE 19716
Year Opened: 1952
Blue Hen Pride
When you travel down the busy I-95 corridor along the east coast, you may have driven close by to one of the most successful college football programs in history and didn’t even know it. Stop in to the University of Delaware, located in the small city of Newark and see some history in action.
The Delaware Blue Hens have won six national championships during their over 100-year history. These victories occurred in 1946, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1979, and 2003. The 2003 championship happened in Division I-AA, the forerunner to the current Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The other championships happened in Division II and various versions of the former College Division.
The Blue Hens currently play in the FCS Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The CAA began football play in 2007 and has seen member schools play in the FCS championship game five times (Delaware 2007 and 2010, Richmond 2008, Villanova 2009 and Towson 2013), with Richmond and Villanova winning during their appearances. If you also consider Delaware’s I-AA championship in 2003, the quality of play in this conference is at an extremely high caliber.
Delaware Stadium opened in 1952 and currently holds 18,500. That is in stark contrast to the 9,000 it had during its 1952 opening season, as well as a max of 22,000 between 1998 and 2018.
The stadium is part of the David M. Nelson Athletic Complex, which includes the Bob Carpenter Center, Bob Hannah Stadium, Fred P. Rullo Stadium, the Fred Rust Ice Arena and the Delaware Field House. The stadium’s field is known as Tubby Raymond Field. Recent renovations have added some needed improvements in the facility.
Food & Beverage 3
There are quite a few food stands scattered around the stadium with regular hot dogs, foot-long versions, as well as items such as Philly cheesesteaks and Italian sausage. Chick-fil-A sandwiches are for sale at certain stands. Seasons Pizza is a local pizza establishment also offering its slices in a few locations.
My favorite food stands here are the ones in the northeast corner. The staff there seems to be generally older than the college-aged employees of some of the other stands, and are extremely friendly. Stop in here for most available items, but most especially for the $4 funnel cake.
There are some specific liquor laws in Delaware that you may find unique. Alcohol can only be ordered at certain lines, and nobody under 21 can be in those lines even if they are just buying food or non-alcoholic beverages. They will need to use the food-only lines.
There are four sets of grandstands. The east and west stands are considered the main stands, with the west stand serving as the home set. A small general admission section is near the north end zone, with a slightly larger section near the south end zone that houses the student section and band. The general admission seats in the north end zone will have a hard time seeing the video board, as it sits askew behind those seats. The video board is new for 2022.
Delaware Stadium West Stands, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Once inside, you will notice how close to the field you will feel. Game action is very close, as there is no track and the sidelines are very close to the stands. Sitting in the general admission seats even allows you to celebrate with players after scoring plays.
Pretty much all seats in the stadium are bleacher-style, except for part of the renovated west stands. Prepare to be uncomfortable, unless you rent a seat cushion from the school or bring your own.
Newark (pronounced here as New-Ark) is a great college town. There are numerous food options on East Main Street that will fill you up before or after a game.
Parking on East Main Street is always a bit of a problem. There are many public lots, but note that they may be behind buildings and hard to find. Many restaurants offer validation for the public lots.
If you do not want to fight for parking, head the opposite way from downtown Newark and towards the gigantic Christiana Mall area. Right before getting there is Border Cafe, designated only with a large “EAT” sign. Their large and varied menu offers great Tex-Mex & Cajun options at a pretty cheap price. Try the catfish fajitas with a side of jambalaya.
Numerous dining and lodging options are prevalent around the Christiana Mall area, although if in search of lodging, one should look at the Embassy Suites located across from the baseball stadium.
Around the corner from the arena, behind Rust Arena, is the campus-run UDairy Creamery. Stopping for a pre or post-game ice cream cone is a must.
The team is having a resurgence and the fans have been packing Delaware Stadium, often to capacity. The fans at Delaware Stadium know their football and expect big things out of their program. The two main grandstands, as well as the small general admission stand, are generally filled to just under capacity for most games, especially Parents & Family Weekend, Band Day, and Homecoming.
The student section in the south end zone can be noisy, due to the band sitting there. But unfortunately, the students do not always show up in large numbers. They get into the games for free, but still don’t always attend. The stadium is far from most student housing, so attending a game must not be top of mind for most students.
The band keeps the crowd entertained throughout the game and even enters many seating sections for fan interactions. The crowd will also chant “BLUE!” “HENS!” at various parts of the game.
Delaware Stadium is easy to reach, and is only a couple miles off of Interstate 95. You may have to pay some tolls, although locals will know how to avoid them as much as possible. Coming from points south on I-95 getting off at Maryland Route 279 will avoid the toll pretty easily, and it is a short drive to the stadium. Parking is $20, and there are plenty of options. The best choice may be the large lot right off of Chestnut Hill Road near the track and field throwing pits. Use 190 E Chestnut Hill Rd in your GPS for reference.
Tailgating is a big-time event at Delaware. Up to four hours before games, you can expect to see the grills and cooking options spread out in all parking lots. The amount of tailgaters is more in line with much larger and recognized programs around the country. It is serious business here in Newark.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets start at $25 for general admission in the small north stands. $30 and up is what you will pay for sideline seats.
These are pretty expensive tickets to a lower-level football program. But then again, it is a championship-level program at that FCS level. So this is a tough call. The pretty expensive parking prices make it even more difficult. I am giving some credit because of the caliber of play you will see.
The north section’s general admission seats are the best value. Because of the closeness of the field, you will almost feel like you are part of the action during end zone plays. Just watch out for errant throws coming your way. It can be an intense environment for fans.
Former University of Michigan halfback David M. Nelson came to Delaware in 1950 as head coach. Nelson brought along the winged helmet design made famous by the Wolverines to every place he coached. The unique design is still in place today and is quite a sight, although it can be easy to confuse it with Michigan. In 15 years at Delaware, Nelson had a 84-42-2 record, with one National Championship in 1963 and a bowl win over Kent State in the Refrigerator Bowl.
The northwest corner of the stadium has three busts depicting Nelson, William “Bill” Murray, and Harold “Tubby” Raymond, three of the most iconic and famous coaches the program has ever had.
The University of Delaware Marching Band is one of the most engaging college bands around. Do not be surprised to see the tuba section running through your section, or the cymbals crew dancing around various parts of the field and stadium area.
Delaware Band Half Time Show, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Men may also experience a truly unique and bizarre “attraction” in one of the bathrooms, in the southeast corner of the stadium. Instead of urinals, men do their business against a large marble slabbed wall. Well, it certainly is convenient. Or horrifying. I’m not sure which. This writer had heard this attraction was gone, but we did witness this live and in action…
Delaware Stadium is a simple facility but offers the fans a close-to-action spectacle with one of the most successful college football programs around.