Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium – East Carolina Pirates
Photos by Aaron S. Terry and Joseph Oakes, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium 100 Ficklen Dr Greenville, NC 27858
Year Opened: 1963
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium opened on September 7, 1963, as East Carolina defeated Wake Forest 21-10. The total cost of the stadium was $300,000 which included permanent stands on the south side, a small press box, and a lighting system. Several renovations since then have made Dowdy-Ficklen arguably the nicest non-power 5 college football stadium. Seating on the north side was completed in 1968, which bumped capacity up to 20,000. In 1978, the seating capacity increased to 35,000. An upper deck and club level expansion in 1998 and 1999 increased capacity to 43,000, and an endzone expansion project in 2010 pushed capacity to its current 50,000. Completed in 2019, TowneBank Tower rises over the south side of the stadium which added a new club level, loge boxes, suites, and a new press level. In 2022, a new video board and ribbon board were added around the stadium. These renovations make Dowdy-Ficklen a great place to be on a fall Saturday!
Food & Beverage 2
While Dowdy-Ficklen offers a fair selection of concession products, we strongly suggest that you eat before you arrive at the game. There are not many food options at Dowdy-Ficklen; however, the service is terrible and the line is extremely long. When we attended in 2022, there were folks sitting around us who waited over 45 minutes for concessions. Talking to fans, we found out that his had been a problem for a couple of years and was not just due to the capacity crowd. For games where the heat index is over 85, fans are allowed to bring in two unopened bottles of water.
Food options include Pizza Hut Pan Pizza ($8), all beef hot dog ($4), nachos ($4), peanuts ($4), popcorn box ($4), popcorn tub ($7), cotton candy ($5), cracker jacks ($4), and candy (M&M’s, Reese’s, Skittles – $4). Fountain Pepsi products are sold ($4 for a 22 oz. and $5 for a 32 oz.) including Pepsi, Pepsi Zero, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Tropicana Lemonade, and Dr. Pepper. Aquafina water is $3 for a 20 oz. bottle and $6 for a 1-liter bottle. Dowdy-Ficklen offers a good selection of alcoholic beverages as well.
There are also a few food trucks around the concourse as well, including local options Bill’s Hot Dogs and Simply Natural Creamery Ice Cream.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a horseshoe with the upper deck rising above the north side and the TowneBank Tower above the south side. The Pete and Lynn Murphy Center fill in the endzone where there are no seats. Chairback seating is available on the lower level between the 20-yard lines. The rest of the seating is bench seating, with the exception of the club and suite levels. The first row of seats is raised slightly above the field, which offers excellent sightlines, even for seats closer to the field. The playing surface is a beautiful natural grass surface. The midfield logo is the “Pirate State of Mind” which has the Pirate’s head in the Eastern part of North Carolina. It faces the south side of the stadium. There is a large videoboard above the endzone seats as well as ribbon boards on the facades of the tower, upper deck, and Murphy Center. The videoboard shows the score, replays, as well as a live look in’s to other games during the time outs, while the ribbon boards show the score, time remaining, time outs, etc.
The official mascot Pee-Dee the Pirate roams the field before and during the game. The team is led out of the tunnel by an actual pirate pre-game. After each 1st down the PA announcer says “first-down” and the crowd responds “Pirates!”. There is also a cannon that fires after each score. The ECU Marching Pirates sit in the endzone and play throughout the game, as well as pre-game and during halftime. ECU has a great tradition at the start of the 4th quarter. The No-Quarter flag is raised in the end zone as the Pirates declare “No-Quarter” on their opponents in the fourth quarter. This is in reference to Pirate battles of old as the No-Quarter flag would signify that would take no prisoners and give no quarter to the enemy.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is located on the southern edge of ECU’s campus, in the vicinity of Minges Coliseum and Clark-LeClair Stadium. Eastern North Carolina is famous for its barbecue. There are several great barbecue restaurants in Greenville, but be sure that you try one of the following: Parker’s, B’s, or Sam Jones. If barbecue is not your thing, check out Sup Dogs, a hot dog joint near campus that has won the Barstool Best Bar title for three out of the last four years. The Greenville Mapp is less than a mile from the stadium. In its vicinity are restaurants such as Mellow Mushroom and McAlister’s Deli. If you are looking for a place to spend the night, check out hotels near the Greenville Convention Center (Hilton, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn).
A decade ago this would have been an easy 5, but the Pirates fan support has waned in recent years due to a lack of success on the field in recent years. Even though the Pirates went to a bowl in 2022, the fans have been slow to return. Dowdy-Ficklen has a capacity of 50,000; average attendance was 36,104 in 2021 down from 44,785 in 2014. However, the Pirates posted their first winning season in several years in 2021 and the crowds are starting to return in 2022. When we attended the opening game of the 2022 season a stadium record crowd of 51,711 was announced, even though there was quite a bit of empty seats and a good number of visiting fans. Pirate fans are a passionate bunch and while they do not routinely sell out the stadium, they are loud and into the game. Don’t be surprised to hear loud “purple” and “gold” chants throughout the game. While the stadium may not always be full, you can expect a raucous atmosphere throughout the game.
Plan on arriving a couple of hours ahead of time as the city streets surrounding Dowdy-Ficklen can become crowded quickly. As in the case of most college stadiums, the majority of parking around the stadium is reserved for permit holders, however, there is one pay lot for $20 located near the stadium. For those needing handicapped parking, you can park at the Christenbury lot for $20 and a shuttle will take you to and from the game. The lines entering the stadium tend to back up fairly easily, so again arrive early, as the ticket scanners do not always work well. For games when the stadium is full, expect the concourse to be packed. Dowdy-Ficklen also has a clear bag policy. There are several handicap-accessible areas, including elevators to the upper deck for those who are unable to take the stairs or ramps.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to ECU games are fairly reasonable and range from $25-$55 for most games. For games against in-state rivals such as NC State, all tickets are $70, but for most other games, the University uses a tiered pricing system with upper deck tickets being $25-$35 and lower level tickets being $50-$55. Concession prices are not extremely outrageous, but we recommend eating before you arrive so as to not have to wait in long lines, etc. Nevertheless, $35 is not a bad deal to get into an FBS college football game.
One extra point for showing live look-ins of other games on the video board during time outs.
A second extra point for the No-Quarter tradition at the start of the 4th quarter.
A third extra point for the kid’s zone on the south side of the stadium.
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a great venue to take in a college football game. The fans are loud, passionate, and into the game and there is not a bad seat in the house. The Pirates have knocked off several big-name schools at Dowdy-Ficklen including West Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State, and UNC. When the Pirate faithful fill up “The Fick”, it is as tough of place as any to play in the country.