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  • Writer's pictureAaron S. Terry

Durham County Memorial Stadium – Shaw Bears

Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43

Durham County Memorial Stadium 750 Stadium Dr Durham, NC 27704

Year Opened: 1958

Capacity: 8,500


Off Campus Football in Durham

Shaw University is in Raleigh, North Carolina, but doesn’t have much in the way of athletics facilities to call its own, so the school plays its home football, lacrosse, and soccer games at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Durham, NC, about 20-30 minutes from campus. The facility was built in 1958, has a capacity of 8,500, and besides Shaw is also currently home to Northern High School Football and Tobacco Road FC.

Though updated in 2010 with a new press box (named after Tommy Hunt) and improved team spaces, Durham County Memorial Stadium feels much like a high school venue, and is pretty empty during Shaw football games.

New Press Box at Durham County Memorial Stadium, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey

Food & Beverage 3

There aren’t many concessions options at Durham County Memorial Stadium, but you certainly won’t starve thanks to the ginormous portions offered, though some selections are accompanied by higher-than-average prices.

The main dishes offered inside the venue are fish sandwiches, chicken tenders, and fried fish, which each come in a combo for $15 with a pretty large portion of fries, as well as a hefty serving of chicken or fish. You can also get fries on their own ($5 or $7 with or without toppings), and a couple of things that are not listed in the menu, such as packaged candy. Bottled sodas are available for $3, and bottled water is $2.

Atmosphere 1

Unfortunately, the atmosphere at Durham County Memorial Stadium is pretty tame during Shaw football games, with very few fans in attendance at an average game. The Bears do okay in their conference lately, but don’t have a very good overall record, so this may account somewhat for the lackluster attendance.

Besides the action on the field, the main attractions during Shaw football are of course the band, which is a staple at pretty much any HBCU, and the cheerleaders, who here at Shaw tend to “grunt” their cheers, instead of delivering them in a more sing-song chant. There is a scoreboard in one end zone, but no video board to show replays, and not much in the way of entertainment during breaks in the action besides the cheerleaders and the band.

Neighborhood 4

Durham County Memorial Stadium is located next to Duke Regional Hospital (you can see it from the stands beyond one of the end zones), and there are plenty of restaurants and hotels in the area, as well as several attractions to take in if you plan to be in town for the day or weekend. Durham is a pretty big city, so you can pretty much find whatever you are looking for, including additional sporting events such as Duke Football or the Durham Bulls.

The closest nice restaurants to Durham County Memorial Stadium are Koumi Japanese restaurants and Rudino’s Bull City, but there are plenty of fast food chains as well. For hotels check out Holiday Inn or Super 8 by Wyndham, and for attractions check out the Museum of Life and Science and the Duke Homestead, which offers tours to show visitors how tobacco was harvested and cured.

Fans 1

Hardly any fans show up at Durham County Memorial Stadium for Shaw football games – at some games you might even see fewer than 100 people in the stands. A lot of the folks there do wear Shaw gear, but no matter how enthusiastic they might be, the small numbers just don’t provide much energy.

Access 4

Accessing Durham County Memorial Stadium could not be easier – fans can park in the gravel lot right outside for $5, and there are plenty of bathrooms to accommodate the very small crowd. The only downside is the single concessions stand, and the slow cooking time for chicken and fish since everything is cooked to order, so you might have to wait in line for a bit to get your food.

Return on Investment 2

Ticket prices to Shaw football games are a bit overpriced at $25 per person. Parking is okay, and concessions are reasonable for the portion sizes you get, but the football experience itself doesn’t provide much energy, and feels too much like a high school game to be worth the $25 price tag – there are other football experiences in the wider area that haver a lower cost for an equal, or even better, experience.

Extras 2

Shaw does have a mascot, which is not a given for D2 football, so the staff does deserve credit for that. The band also puts on a pretty good show at halftime.

Final Thoughts

Though not providing much energy for a football game, Durham County Memorial Stadium does offer easy access in and out, so if you are a fan of football it could be a good hassle-free option, especially if you are a Shaw fan or if your team is playing the Bears on the road.

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