Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Goodman Stadium 124 Goodman Dr Bethlehem, PA 18015
Year Opened: 1988
Football Stars in Bethlehem
Nestled in the town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Goodman Stadium is home to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks football team. The Mountain Hawks compete in the Patriot League in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA. Lehigh's biggest rival is Lafayette, who plays 17 miles away in Easton. The game, known simply as The Rivalry, has been played 158 times going back to 1884 and has been played every season since 1897. It is both the most played and longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football.
Food & Beverage 5
While there are a couple of concession windows at Goodman Stadium that sell the basics - hot dogs, beverages, and little else, the real attraction here is the food trucks and tents set up on the concourse by local vendors. You will find numerous options here, including quesadillas, cheesesteaks, barbecue, pizza, and much more. Prices are a bit on the high end but you get what you pay for, as the food is quite good. Soft drinks and bottled water are also available at pretty much any stand. Keep in mind that although gates will open 90 minutes before the game, most concession stands do not start selling until an hour before. Plan accordingly.
There is seating along both sidelines at Goodman Stadium, as well as a hill behind the south end zone that some fans like to sit on. The inner concourse runs down the middle of the seating area, and fans can walk up or down depending on where they are sitting. There are a few chairbacks on the west side, but most seats are standard bleachers. Given how small the stadium is, anywhere you sit will have a decent view of the action.
Lehigh has a marching band called the Marching '97, about the number of members. They perform before the game and at halftime, concluding the latter show with the playing of the Lehigh alma mater, which fans are invited to sing along with. They also play sometimes during breaks in the action, although often recorded music will be played instead, or the team will honor alumni and members of the community during extended breaks in the action.
Bethlehem is not the largest town, but there is still plenty to do here. If you head north from campus, you will find many restaurants and other attractions along both sides of the Lehigh River. Seven Sirens and Bonn Place are two popular breweries on the south side of the river, and there are other options to choose from as well, ranging from Peruvian to Italian to typical American food. Bethlehem has the feel of a small college town, so while there is plenty to do here, it's far from the excitement of a major city.
Although Goodman Stadium seats 16,000, they will not come close to selling out most games, typically drawing only a few thousand fans. Even those who show up rarely get loud, to the point where you can hear the players shouting on the field from many rows back. Not only that, they take their time at their tailgates before heading in, so the stadium does not reach its eventual capacity until near the end of the first quarter. The one exception to this is The Rivalry against Lafayette, where boisterous, sellout crowds are a given. Lehigh fans are passionate about the game against Lafayette, but less so about the other games on the calendar.
Getting to the Lehigh campus will require some driving on back roads no matter where you are coming from, but at least you can enjoy the scenery as you drive through the country. Once on campus, parking is at the lots surrounding Stabler Arena, home to Lehigh basketball. From there, fans will walk across a grass field to get to the stadium - this will take about five to ten minutes depending on where precisely you parked. The stadium may not be visible from all spaces but just follow the crowd.
As mentioned above, Lehigh fans often don't make their way to the stadium until close to kickoff, so there can be long lines to get in at this time. If you want to be in your seat for the start of the game, don't wait until the last minute to head in. Getting around the stadium can be a challenge, as the concourses are narrow and crowded, particularly the inner one used to access the seating bowl itself.
Return on Investment 4
For most home games, tickets range from $10 to $19, depending on how close to midfield you want to sit. For the Lafayette game, all tickets are $28.50 due to significantly increased demand. Concessions from local vendors are fairly expensive, but worth the cost. Parking in the lots is free as well. In the end, a Lehigh football game is a pretty good value, and getting tickets to the Lafayette game may be worth the extra cost in years when Lehigh hosts.
There is a bell on the Lehigh sideline which is rung after every Mountain Hawks score, once for every point they have scored. There is a team store by the entrance selling Lehigh merchandise. A third and final star for the wide selection of food from local vendors, which is a nice touch.
The history of the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry is unmatched, and the passion of Mountain Hawk fans for that one game is nearly so. Unfortunately, the team failed to get nearly as much support the rest of the season. If you have a chance to check out The Rivalry, definitely do so, but if the schedule doesn't work for you, a Lehigh football game can still be a decent experience in a scenic setting.