Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Fifth Third Bank Stadium 3200 George Busbee Pkwy Kennesaw, GA 30144
Year Opened: 2010
Hoo’s Playing In Fifth Third Bank Stadium?
Kennesaw State University is the third largest institution in the Georgia University System, with a student body of more than 43,000 students. It is in the northwestern suburbs of Atlanta, Ga. Even though the school has existed since 1963, it did not field a football team until 2015. That all changed with the building of the KSU Sports and Entertainment Park in 2010.
The centerpiece of the Sports and Entertainment Park opened as KSU Stadium. Initially, it served as the home of both the KSU soccer and lacrosse programs, as well as the Atlanta Beat women’s professional soccer team. The KSU football program did not get underway until 2015. At that time the stadium was renamed Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
The football Owls got off to a terrific start with their high-scoring offense, as they won the Big South Conference Championship in only their third season of competition. They have gone on to win two more Big South titles since then. The team has been a juggernaut at the FCS level of football, as it has been to the FCS playoffs four times and finished in the top 25 rankings of the FCS four times. It has achieved a .778 winning percentage in its history, with a .860 winning percentage in its own stadium.
Food & Beverage 4
The concessions offerings at Fifth Third Bank Stadium are a pleasant surprise as they offer a wide variety of items at reasonable prices. These items include hot dogs ($4), burgers ($8.50), popcorn ($8), pizza ($6), pretzels ($5), cotton candy ($5), peanuts ($5), chips ($2) and candy ($3).
The drink selection includes Coca-Cola brand sodas ($5), bottled water ($4), and Powerade ($5). Because the Sports and Entertainment Complex is not located on the academic campus, alcoholic beverages are allowed to be sold. Prices are Bud Light ($7), Wild Heaven ($8), Dry County Vodka ($11), and Truly ($8).
In early 2015 KSU Stadium became Fifth Third Bank Stadium as a part of a multi-year naming rights agreement. The stadium features a very contemporary design and a color palette of gold, black and white… the colors of the KSU athletic program. The main entrances of the stadium bring you in at the concourse level of the facility, with only 20 rows of seating between you and the field. This assures everyone on the home side of the field that they will always have an up-close view of the action. The stadium features all individual seating, as there are no bleacher seats. The bright gold seats are wider than you find in most stadiums, providing you with an extra layer of comfort as you enjoy the game.
Other features of the stadium include 8,300 seats, 14 suites, and 7 outdoor suites atop the concourse. A 1,350 square foot videoboard/scoreboard is located at the north end of the field, assuring you of a great look at scoring plays or questionable calls on the field. The bands from both schools are seated behind the end zone on the south end of the field, close enough to where you can enjoy their music, but far enough away that they are not blasting away at your eardrums!
The immediate area surrounding Fifth Third Bank Stadium is known as the KSU Sports and Entertainment Complex. It is located across I-75 from the KSU academic campus and is designed to serve the intercollegiate and intramural needs of Kennesaw State University. The complex includes seven athletic fields, a track, a walking trail, and a nine-acre lake.
The broader neighborhood is known as Town Lake and it includes a wide array of restaurants, lodging options, and other shopping activities. The 175-store Town Center Mall is just down the street from the stadium. Two restaurants within close walking distance of the stadium are Tin Lizzy’s Cantina and Miller’s Ale House, while the Comfort Inn and Suites and the Hampton Inn offer lodging nearby.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is located about five miles from the stadium. The battlefield played a major role in the Union army’s taking of Atlanta during Sherman’s march to the sea.
The athletic department staff and the staff at the Sports and Entertainment Complex work together to ensure that KSU home games offer a terrific fan experience. Activities get underway three hours prior to the kickoff when Owl Town opens. This family fun zone is just outside the stadium and offers a wide variety of family-friendly activities, including music from the KSU Marching Owls, games, face painting, and photo ops with Sturgis, the real Owl mascot. The activities then shift to the area in front of the stadium two hours prior to kickoff for the Owl Walk by the team, which is accompanied by the KSU cheerleaders and the Marching Owls.
As the kickoffs draw closer everyone moves to the stadium for the main event. The Marching Owls form a corridor for the Owls football team to take the field as the KSU fight song is played.
The student body is seated next to the band in the area behind the end zone so that they can coordinate cheers with the band and the cheerleaders. They are all proudly wearing the gold and black colors of the team. Scrappy the Owl and the cheerleaders do a great job in keeping the crowd both entertained and fired up throughout the game.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium is easily accessed via I-75 just north of the Atlanta perimeter highway. The academic campus is just west of the exit, while the stadium is just east of the highway. Fans have the option of paying $12.50-$20 for parking across the street from the stadium. You can save money by parking for free at the KSU academic campus and taking the free 5-minute ride to the stadium on one of the school’s BOB (Big Owl Bus) shuttles.
Stadium gates open 60 minutes before kickoff, so you have plenty of time to enter through one of the five entrances around the stadium. There is no enclosed concourse at the top of the seating bowl, so you have the entire open plaza above the seats to navigate to your seats. The number of bathrooms and concession areas available to you is more than adequate to keep any lines that may form short.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for KSU Owl games typically range from $15-$75 depending on where you sit in the stadium. The end zone seats, and the visitor’s side seating are the least expensive.
Parking for events at Fifth Third Stadium is located across the street from the venue. Parking is $12.50 when purchased in advance or $20 the day of the game. Fans can also park for free at the Kennesaw State campus and take the B.O.B. (Big Owl Bus) shuttle to the stadium. This can save you money and considerable time in beating the traffic after a game. Shuttles pick up at the Student Recreation Center on campus beginning three hours before the game and returning fans for two hours after the game’s end.
Most home fans for KSU games are locals, as historically the school was a commuter college. The Comfort Suites Kennesaw and the Hampton Inn Kennesaw are both within walking distance of the stadium and have weekend rates in the $100-$125 range.
Concessions are very reasonably priced compared to the usual markup you see at sports stadiums.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium has hosted a wide variety of events in addition to football. It has served as the home pitch for both the Atlanta Beat of the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL) and Atlanta United 2 of the USL. The Atlanta Blaze of the Major League Lacrosse League also called the stadium home for several years. Other sports events that have taken place at Fifth Third Bank Stadium are the MLL National Championship Games in 2014 and 2015 and the 2022 USA Rugby Sevens National Collegiate Championships.
Several national organizations have recognized Fifth Third Bank Stadium for its design and features. NCAA.com called it a “must-see” top five college stadium in the country at the FCS level and the Sports Turf Managers Association has recognized the stadium as having the best playing surface in the country on two occasions.
The stadium stays in heavy use throughout the year. It hosts the Shaky Knees Country Music Festival each summer and the Owl O’Ween Hot Air Balloon Festival each fall.
The stadium was built to be expandable as the football program grows. The visitor’s side of the stadium can be double-decked, and the end zones have plenty of space for expansion needs. This can all be accomplished without losing the intimate nature of the stadium.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium was the first major athletic facility built in the Atlanta suburbs. Its successful launch was closely studied by the Atlanta Braves as they began construction on the Truist Park/Battery complex just a few exits south on I-75 from Fifth Third Bank Stadium. Nobody is asking whooo? anymore!