Photos by Eric Taylor, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Fortera Stadium 601 College St Clarksville, TN 37040
Year Opened: 1946
Let’s Go Peay!
Fortera Stadium, a multi-purpose facility — with football and track & field being the main tenants — resides smack dab in the heart of campus. The stadium is warm and welcoming, as it sits just above the banks of the picturesque Cumberland River and shaded by the charm and beauty of the nearby historic district.
The increasing charm of campus architecture and landscape spread to Fortera Stadium in 2014, when a massive renovation replaced the west side grandstands with a new structure that includes a state-of-the-art locker room and lounge area for student-athletes and coaches. The fans now have access to skyboxes, club seating and box seats (seats with a back, as opposed to unforgiving metal bleachers). Each skybox has a sports bar feel to it, with stadium seating that will accommodate 22 per room. For those who like the amenities, but want to smell the football, there are sliding glass windows that will allow an open-air experience, as well as a button to allow the public address sound to be piped into the box. Want to keep up with the day’s big games? No need to worry, as you can keep one eye on the field and another on the two high-definition televisions hanging on the wall.
Sports murals honoring former Austin Peay players and teams decorate the main concourses, and enhanced concessions provide a nice selection of food for the fans to sample.
The field is comprised of FieldTurf XT, which is a brand under the umbrella of products manufactured by FieldTurf. The track around the outside of the field was installed by Sessions Paving in Nashville using a state-of-the-art composition of materials, and is host to the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Sinkholes are as natural to the Clarksville, Tennessee area as a small tremor or earthquake is to Los Angeles residents. It’s a good thing Clarksville is familiar with handling such natural phenomena. A rather large portion of the renovation project was sucked into the ground of a sinkhole just feet from where the band and students sit in May of 2014, but the September kickoff and unveiling were not delayed one minute, as engineers (and other important folks way above my expertise required to correct and repair such an issue) made the necessary and timely adjustments.
Food & Beverage 2
The concessions have improved from years past with the 2014 renovations, but the selection is relatively standard. Nothing negative to keep you from ordering something from the menu, but you will not find anything overly amusing or spectacular, either.
Fortera Stadium is an absolute beautiful place to watch FCS football. The renovated west side stands are beautiful. APSU did not do what some schools do and build bigger than they can afford.
The sidelines have about three yards of turf before you are eating the track that runs around the field, if you are tackled running full-speed out of bounds.
Black Horse is a great restaurant option if you are in the area for a visit. Located in the historic downtown area, it’s a fine place to sit down and enjoy a pretty good pizza.
The neighborhood surrounding the campus is not brilliant, but downtown and the Cumberland River Walk are within a stone’s throw.
The upgraded facilities have enhanced the attendance for Governors football. With the improved facilities comes improved game experience. As are many fans in this region of the country, APSU fans are knowledgeable and passionate. You also are likely to sit beside someone who knows, is related to or has followed since high school one of the players on the field.
APSU supporters are not there to see and be seen. They are football fans that want to see college football on a Saturday afternoon or night. You are never alone when you sit next to a football fan at a football game.
Parking is surprisingly easy. This is not always the case with on-campus facilities, but OVC schools with stadiums of this size — APSU holds 7,000 — seem to fit the campus very well. In other words, the crowd will never be too much too handle, because APSU officials built the stadium to blend in and compliment the campus, not become the primary eye-catching landmark of the university.
Those of you that have visited SEC college towns the size of Clarksville understand that the crowd and traffic control struggle is real. Watching an SEC game from a city like Tuscaloosa on television is great. All the fans are loud and fantastic, but what the television doesn’t show is the ugly underbelly of getting to the game and leaving the game. The funny thing is that Tuscaloosa proper has about 40,000 fewer people than Clarksville, but there has been little — if any — change in city infrastructure to handle the increase in fans.
With Austin Peay, you will not get an SEC game televised on CBS with Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist or ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, but there are no pretenses from this campus to be anything but a great venue to watch football without destroying the integrity of the college campus.
Return on Investment 4
For the price of one ticket to an SEC game versus a cupcake, you can own season tickets for Austin Peay football ($50 for adults, $30 for youths and seniors). Single-game tickets are just a few more dollars than a high school game ($15 for adults, $10 for youths and seniors), and concessions are not out of hand. If football is what you are looking to see with a small amount of money to spend, it doesn’t get much better than a home game at APSU.
Austin Peay, like many smaller schools, will surprise you when you walk through the concourse and see familiar players and coaches that are part of Governors history. The new concourse on the inside of the stadium as well as the outside perimeter of the stadium allows you to see players and coaches that have contributed to Austin Peay’s football narrative and tradition. The souvenir shop is a nice touch that gives the stadium a finished look that resembles an NFL stadium.
Fortera Stadium is newly renovated as of 2014, but the entire campus has undergone a renovation that removes APSU from just another state school in the northern border of the state of Tennessee. From the moment you enter campus until you place your backside in your Fortera Stadium seat with as good a vantage point of campus as the view of the field, you’ll be surrounded by college life and surroundings. College football is as much a part of the southern college experience, and college football lives on proudly in Clarksville, Tennessee.