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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Homer Bryce Stadium – Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Homer Bryce Stadium 2299 Jim Hayter Road Nacogdoches, TX 75961



Year Opened: 1973

Capacity: 14,575

 

Lumberjacks Bring the Axe in the Texas Piney Woods


Tucked away in the Piney Woods of East Texas is the city of Nacogdoches, home to the campus of Stephen F. Austin University and their athletics teams the Lumberjacks. One of the oldest cities in Texas, Nacogdoches is the largest city in the Ark-La-Tex area of Texas; Stephen F. Austin University, named for one of the founding fathers of the state, opened in 1923. This is also the same year they began playing organized football.


The Lumberjacks moved into Homer Bryce Stadium, named after a beloved former member of the school’s Board of Regents and an ardent supporter of SFA athletics, in 1973. Since then, the ‘Jacks have found tremendous success and become a power on the FCS level. They’ve accumulated 34 All-Americans and 33 NFL Draft Picks in their history. Such luminaries to have donned the purple and white are former NFL All-Pros Larry Centers and Jeremiah Trotter, and legendary future head coaches Bum Phillips and Spike Dykes.


NOTE: This review took place during the 2020 season; all ratings take into account the limited seating capacity and attendance due to COVID-19 precautions.


Food & Beverage 3

There are currently four concession stands, two on the home team’s side and two on the visiting team’s side, at Homer Bryce Stadium. These stands offer up all the traditional game day fare, such as hot dogs ($3), nachos ($5), popcorn ($2), and bottled water, sodas, and sports drinks ($3). There are also traditional offerings such as boxes of candy and soft pretzels.


The stands also offer some upscale spins on the traditional offerings such as a cheese dog ($4) and pork nachos ($8). In 2020 all of these stands are paperless, accepting only credit and debit cards. Each stand has multiple windows, so orders tend to move through very quickly.


Atmosphere 4

Nacogdoches is, in my opinion, the prettiest college town in all of Texas. Homer Bryce Stadium is situated right in the middle of the SFA campus and serves as a picture-perfect backdrop on game days. The south end zone – home of the student section and the largest video board in the Southland Conference – fronts an active pond (make some time to feed the ducks and geese, if you can) and a walking trail that is lined with pine and cypress trees.


From the home side stands you can look beyond the stadium and see the famed piney woods that give this region of Texas its name. The stadium itself sits low betwixt two hills, with the playing surface sunk down in the valley in the middle. The south end zone student section is a lush green hill that perfectly lends itself to some leisurely game watching. While built in 1973, the stadium has also seen numerous renovations, the last of which was completed in 2016 and was highlighted by the unveiling of the aforementioned video board. The stadium looks new and yet still retains its old school charm.


One of the more innovative features that the stadium has to offer is a series of refurbished shipping containers that sit in the north end zone – these end zone Suites offer a luxury viewing option for up to 20-plus fans per suite.


Neighborhood 4

Nacogdoches is the largest city in the Ark-La-Tex region of Texas. Tucked away in far east Texas, it is a bit of a drive from the major cities in the state. It is roughly two hours from Houston, but only an hour and forty-five minutes from Shreveport across the border in Louisiana. Once you get to town, though, Nacogdoches has everything you need.


In terms of attractions, Nacogdoches is a nature lover’s paradise. Not only is it situated just outside of the Angelina National Forest, but the city proper is home to no less than six parks and walking trails. Also, in the nearby city of Lufkin, the Ellen Trout Zoo is a beloved institution and is home to over 800 species for visitors to admire.


When it comes to food and lodging, you have more than enough options that you can choose from. I will highlight a couple of great options for you though. The Fredonia Hotel is not only one of the city’s main attractions, but it is also one of the nicest hotels in the region. Located right in the heart of downtown Nacogdoches, this old-school luxury hotel has lodging, dining, and shopping options all under one roof.

For food either before or after Lumberjacks games, I would recommend either Mike’s Barbecue House or the Bottlecap Alley Ice House Grill; you can’t go wrong with either.


Fans 3

For the 2020 season, attendance at Homer Bryce Stadium is currently limited to 50%. The Lumberjacks have a die-hard, devoted fan base, so even with 5,000-7,000 fans in the stands, it will not feel empty at all. In typical years, the Lumberjacks are one of the best attended teams in the Southland Conference.


It is a safe bet that once the world returns to a semblance of normalcy, this will be the case again and Homer Bryce Stadium will once again be filled with the purple and white on Saturdays in the fall.


Access 3

It takes a little effort to get to Nacogdoches, but once you get there, it could not be easier to find Homer Bryce Stadium. There is signage throughout the city marking the way to the campus and from there, even more signage to the stadium.


There is ample free parking on site, including street parking right across from Homer Bryce Stadium. This might not be the case after the pandemic, but for now it is a refreshing change of pace to not have to “hassle” with parking at games.


One more point of interest on this subject. As is the case for any consenting adult, alcoholic beverages (beer mainly) is sold on site at Lumberjacks games. If you were to find yourself in the position of having consumed too much, there is a free service that will take you from the game to your home/hotel destination – it is called Driving Jacks and its service is frequently mentioned throughout the game.


Return on Investment 4

Single-game tickets for Lumberjacks games start at $40 for general admission seating. This is a pretty good bargain considering the caliber of team that SFA not only puts out on the field, but also in their opposition. Couple this with the low cost in concessions and the potential for free parking, and you’re getting a bargain for your Division I college buck

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Extras 4

What I personally love about college football is how the action on the field is perfectly married to the sport’s history, and how all of it is wrapped up in the pomp and circumstance of tradition. All of that can be found at Lumberjacks games at Homer Bryce Stadium.


All of the tropes of college football are on hand: the cheerleaders, the dance team, the color guard, the band, and of course, the mascot. While in the reality of social distancing they do not venture beyond their designated areas of the stadium, they are still all present and add immensely to the overall game day experience.


Final Thoughts

I greatly enjoyed my visit to Nacogdoches; this has rapidly risen to the upper echelon of my favorite college football settings. The charm and beauty of the city are perfect compliments to the setting of the stadium and make for a great game-watching experience. If you can find your way to this part of the world, I feel confident you’ll fall in love with it too. While you’re there take in an SFA Lumberjacks game while you’re at it – Axe ‘Em Jacks!



Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.

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