Hughes Stadium - Morgan State Bears
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Hughes Stadium Morgan State Campus Rd Baltimore, MD 21251
Year Opened: 1937 Capacity: 10,000
Old Line State Football
Home of the FCS’ Morgan State Bears of Baltimore, Maryland, Hughes Stadium opened in 1937 and seats 10,000 fans. Unlike many sports venues, the facility is not named after a sponsor nor a donor, but is named after a former student – William Hughes, Sr. was an 1897 MSU alumnus who introduced football to the university by organizing a team that played in a nearby vacant lot. Hughes later became a prominent Methodist minister while his son, William Hughes, Jr., negotiated the sale of the school from the Methodist church to the State of Maryland.
The Bears went 7-0 in their first season at Hughes Stadium, and have since won 21 conference championships, most of them in their CIAA days, but 3 since they moved to the MEAC. The Bears utilize an orange and blue color scheme, and their main rivalries are against two nearby schools, the Howard Bison and the Towson Tigers.
Food & Beverage 3
Hughes Stadium has two concessions stand on each side of the field, serving up pizza, nachos, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, pretzels, candy, and chips, as well as bottled soda, water, and Gatorade, plus cups of hot cocoa – prices range from $2 (chips, bottled water) to $8 (chicken tenders with fries, small whole pizzas). No alcohol is sold inside the stadium, and note that the concessions lines are shorter on the east end of the visiting side, and the west end of the home side if you want to use those stands instead.
While the stands may be a little empty here (more on this later), there is a ton of activity at Hughes Stadium during football Saturdays. Out on the quad (behind the west end zone), there are tons of inflatables set up for the kids, including jousting and football tosses, and Morgan State students can even get free burgers and hot dogs out in front of the food court (other fans are welcome to partake as well). There are also vendors on hand giving out freebies, such as popcorn and Pepsi, while inside the stadium there are additional giveaways of mugs, footballs, pencils, koozies, etc. from tents set up by the US Army, Morgan State ROTC, and other groups – you can even play cornhole with the Army recruiters. The school also hands out rally towels to fans in attendance, and the MSU mascot prowls the stands taking photos with the Bears faithful. There is also a DJ out on the quad playing music for the fans during the pregame.
Like many HBCUs, the highlight of the day just may be the halftime show – the Morgan State marching band puts on a great show with flag twirlers, dancers, and drum majors, and besides the halftime show it is a lot of fun to watch the band come onto the field before the game, swaggering in a long line as they make their way up to their seats in the stands.
Located in northeast Baltimore near a hospital and a cemetery, there is a slew of restaurants 2-3 miles to the southwest of the stadium, including Boz’s Burger Bistro with a huge range of burgers to choose from, with many unique options such as the Caesar, Kim Chi, or 3 Cheese Fondue burgers. Another interesting option in the same area is Busboys and Poets, known more for its coffee and lunch/brunch offerings, but which also has dinner options including lots of great seafood.
Also being in Baltimore, further to the southwest near the Harbor there are plenty of entertainment options, such as tours of historic ships, and the National Aquarium, or if you pick the right weekend, you may even be able to take in a Ravens game the day after you watch the Bears.
Unfortunately, Hughes Stadium is pretty empty of late, mostly due to the team’s record on the field, even on special occasions such as Senior Day or Military Appreciation Day – you may only see the facility one-quarter to one-third full during a typical game. I also didn’t see much of a student section on my most recent visit – at a lot of sports venues the student section is so loud and prominent you can’t miss it, but here I couldn’t even tell if there was a specific section assigned for them. The crowd does seem to get larger as the game progresses, however.
Hughes Stadium has a traditional layout for stadiums of its era, with grandstands only along the two sidelines and no seating behind the end zones. The home side has blue plastic chairback seats in the center with metal bleachers on the ends, while the visiting side has metal bleachers all the way through. There is a walking path around the stadium once you enter, so you can move from side to side during the game, but the staff outside the facility are sticklers for the right ticket type – meaning they won’t let you enter through the wrong gate (based on your seating assignment).
Depending on where you are coming from, traffic could be pretty hairy – certainly, if you are coming from the south thru Washington D. C. you will struggle with it, or when driving thru parts of Baltimore over the many bridges or via the several tunnels in the area. Note that a lot of the bridges and tunnels, and the roads, around here are toll only, so an E-Z Pass is a godsend. However, once you get inside the stadium itself it is pretty easy to move around; there are plenty of restrooms, the concessions lines are short, and there is plenty of room on the concourse.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to football games at Morgan State are $18 if you purchase online beforehand, or $20 at the gate. This may be a little higher than other FCS schools, but I chalk it down to big-city pricing – it seems like you will pay less in more rural settings. The concessions prices are typical (think $4 for a hot dog), while parking is $15 in the garage right behind the stadium, or you can park for free further away if you don’t mind walking – I would recommend paying the $15 and parking close; rarely have I been able to park this close at a football game.
That said it may cost a little to see a game here, especially if you are bringing a large group. While this gets you a lot of fun activity outside the stadium, and a good number of freebies, if you are looking for a high-energy experience this may not be it right now – however, it should get better over time as the Bears start to win more games and start drawing bigger crowds.
The Bears radio announcer, LG, is great – a laugh riot with all the colloquial phrases and (perhaps a little too) honest reporting on the game he throws out, throwing shade at both the home team and their opponent. They also play a lot of great music during the game, which gets some of the fans up and dancing, and you get a great view of the trees and the campus buildings (most notably the clock tower) during the game – from the rural feel inside the facility you can’t even tell you are smack dab in the middle of a large city.
Despite its age, Hughes Stadium looks great on the inside and offers a lot of entertainment for fans. While the Bears don’t have the best record of late, a day at the stadium could be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon if you are in the Baltimore area.