Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
George Williams Athletic Complex 1315 Oakwood Ave Raleigh, NC 27610
Year Opened: 2011
HBCU Football in Raleigh
In 2011 Saint Augustine’s University hosted its first ever on-campus football game at the then newly constructed George Williams Athletic Complex in Raleigh, NC – the venue holds 2,500 fans and cost $10M to build. The complex includes a field turf playing surface surrounded by a track, a scoreboard, and two main grandstands, plus a couple of much smaller grandstands behind the end zone. The press area is located in the top row on the home side, and is recognizable by the white tent above it.
Food & Beverage 3
George Williams Athletic Complex offers pretty standard fare at its concessions stands for this level of football. The most popular items here come from a food truck near the scoreboard, and their specialty is fried fish, which comes in a really large portion for the money. You can choose either the fish basket with fries and hush puppies for $10, or the smaller-sized fish sandwich (which also includes fries and hush puppies) for $8. Other items available from the food truck are hot dogs, wings, canned soda, and bottled water – the wings are only available in a combo with fries, but hot dogs can be purchased either way.
There is also a concessions table next to the home grandstand, which offers some of the same items as the food truck, namely wings, hot dogs, soda, and water, but also offers Polish sausage, candy, chips, and Gatorade, all at similar prices to the food truck. Between these two stands, you should find plenty to get you by for a couple hours while you take in the game.
George Williams Athletic Complex doesn’t pull in much of a crowd during St. Augustine football games, but the facility does provide a very intimate atmosphere – the fans who are there really enjoy it, and the band is very entertaining to watch, especially the drum majors.
The stadium includes two main grandstands, one along each sideline, and also has a few very small grandstands underneath the scoreboard if you would rather watch from there. The home side has a mix of bucket-style chair back seats and metal benches, while the visitor’s side only has metal benches. However, all the tickets cost the same price, so you may as well sit in the chair backs, unless you want to be closer to the field (the chair backs start a few rows up from the bottom).
George Williams Athletic Complex is located near downtown Raleigh, and there are a ton of restaurants about a mile to the west (along Capital Boulevard). A few great options to mention are Brewery Bhavana, which features brews plus dim sum, or Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, which specializes in country-style breakfasts.
And of course, what trip to North Carolina would be complete without barbecue? The Pit Authentic Barbecue is a few blocks west of Big Ed’s, and is definitely worth a look if you want to grab a bite before or after the game.
If you plan to be in town for the day or weekend, Raleigh offers plenty to do. A few good options downtown include the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Museum of Art, but there is also a kids’ museum (Marbles) as well as a couple of parks to visit. There are also plenty of hotels in the area depending on your preference and budget.
Very few fans show up at Saint Augustine football games, perhaps only 1,000 or fewer at a typical contest. However, there is a surprising amount of crowd noise for the number of fans in attendance – the folks who are there really get into it. Given that the student population of the school is only about 1,500, it is not surprising there aren’t more fans at game.
Parking at George Williams Athletic Complex only costs $10, but the parking lot is literally right next to the grandstand, so you don’t have to walk very far. Unfortunately, however, the bathroom situation is not very good here, as only port-a-johns are available, and there is also no ticket office at the grandstand – for that you need to walk to the next building over (about a hundred yards away), which isn’t bad but is just not very convenient.
Also, the lines at the ticket office are very slow, so it would be a good idea to arrive early to make sure you can get squared away in time for kickoff.
Return on Investment 4
All tickets to Saint Augustine football games at George Williams Athletic Complex cost $16, regardless of whether you sit on the home or visiting side. This is about average for D2 football – some venues will be a little cheap, while others will charge a lot more. In addition, parking is reasonable and concessions are on the cheaper side as sports venues go, so you can find a pretty good return on your entertainment dollar watching a game here. Furthermore, you will spend a LOT less to see a football game here than at nearby Carter-Finley Stadium.
Besides the football and the band, George Williams Athletic Complex doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment during your visit (for example there is no mascot in sight). But the stadium is currently undergoing some construction, as evidenced by the fencing on the back side of the home stands, so the facility may feature some nice improvements in the near future.
While there aren’t too many frills here, George Williams Athletic Complex offers an intimate experience for fans of college football, without the high prices and traffic of other football stadiums nearby. Be aware that the lower cost comes with some tradeoffs, however, such as having to use port-a-johns instead of regular bathrooms. Nevertheless, if you can get past those you should have a perfectly fine time seeing a Saint Augustine Mighty Falcons game here.