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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Hummel Bowl - Alexandria Reds



Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Hummel Bowl 4250 W Braddock Rd Alexandria, VA 22304



Year Opened: Capacity: 2,800

 

Soccer Reds of Alexandria

The Alexandria Reds are a lower-division semi-professional soccer team based out of Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. As is common at this level of soccer, there are several teams fielded under the Reds' banner. The United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) plays in Spring and Fall, the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) plays in summer, beginning before the Spring UPSL season ends, and the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is a lower-division women's league. This review will focus on the NPSL experience, although there are often doubleheaders involving multiple Reds' teams.


The NPSL, together with the UPSL and the confusingly named USL League Two, comprise the fourth division of American soccer. They are the highest level that is not fully professional, and consist mostly of current college soccer players and recent graduates. The pay is structured in a way that allows current athletes to retain their amateur eligibility if they are competing in the NPSL over the summer.


The NPSL Reds split their time between the Hummel Bowl, on the campus of Episcopal High School, and Limerick Field, in eastern Alexandria. This review will focus on the experience at the Hummel Bowl.


Food & Beverage 1

There was no food or drink available for sale at the Alexandria Reds game when Stadium Journey attended. However, their website indicates that food trucks may be available at select home games, so we will give them one star here for that. Fans are free to bring in their own food or drink as well.


Atmosphere 3

The Hummel Bowl is a 2,800-seat stadium used for Episcopal High School's football, soccer, and lacrosse games in addition to hosting the Reds. This means that there are several sets of lines on the field, and it can be confusing which are for soccer. Just remember that the soccer lines are the yellow lines and try to ignore everything else.


Seating is available on both sidelines. Generally, Reds fans will sit on the sideline nearest the entrance, while fans of the visitor are directed to the far side, and neutrals can sit anywhere. However, this is not enforced except perhaps when a large number of visiting fans are expected. There is a marked "Quiet Zone" behind the Alexandria bench, where fans are asked to not be as loud as they otherwise would be so bench personnel can be heard. However, in practice, nobody sites here.


Views can be obstructed by the tents covering the benches and officials' area, especially in the lower rows, but most fans choose to sit in the top few rows to avoid this. All seats are bleachers without backs, but there are a few seats in the top row that enable you to lean back on the press box wall.


This is a pretty basic matchday experience. The PA announcer will announce goals, cards, etc. but other than that there is not much going on. You will be able to hear all the shouting between players on the field, conversations with the referees, etc. Some soccer purists will enjoy this, while other people may find it incredibly boring.


Although the stadium is far larger than it needs to be for the crowds the Reds draw, the sidelines are very close to the front of the bleachers, making it feel smaller than it is. You will be close to the action, wherever you sit.


A scoreboard is located behind one goal and only shows the clock and score. There is room for other information, but this is for football and is extraneous for soccer.





Neighborhood 4

The Hummel Bowl is located on the grounds of Episcopal High School. Although it is in a mainly residential neighborhood, the Bradlee Shopping Center is just down West Braddock Road at the intersection with King Street (Route 7). There are several options here, including the Beeliner Diner, &Pizza, and Duck Donuts.


The Old Town neighborhood a few miles east is one of the nicest parts of the entire metropolitan area. Visitors will find riverfront views and streets lined with restaurants, shops, and more. As Alexandria is a very diverse area, you will find ethnic food of just about every nationality, whether it’s Bolivian, Salvadoran, or Italian. Il Porto Ristorante has fantastic Italian food and is conveniently located just up King Street from Pop’s Old Fashion Ice Cream, where you can finish off your meal with homemade ice cream.


Hotels are ample in supply as well – check out the Old Town or Crystal City areas.


Fans 2

A few dozen fans attended the Reds game that Stadium Journey visited, and considering this is the fourth division of American soccer, these are typical crowds. The fans are almost exclusively local Alexandrians or others from the surrounding area, though there will be a few visiting fans as well. While most of the Reds' opponents do not have large fan bases at home, yet alone on the roads, the Annapolis Blues are known for their large fan base, so if the Reds are playing them, expect a good number of away supporters to make the trip. Otherwise, you will probably be able to count the number of away fans on one hand.


Access 3

The Hummel Bowl is located at Episcopal High School off West Braddock Road, a short distance from the intersection of Route 7 and I-395. Make sure you punch 4250 West Braddock Road into your GPS - if you simply enter the Hummel Bowl it may take you to the wrong side of the stadium, where only players and staff can park. Once you are on the right side of the stadium, there is a small lot, part paved and part grass, although it almost never fills up. Additional parking is available down the road at Minnie Howard High School if necessary. Keep in mind the lot is gated (as is the rest of the school) and when Stadium Journey visited, the gate was initially closed and did not open until shortly before the stadium did (an hour before game time.) Plan accordingly.


Once you park, signage will direct you to the stadium. You will walk down a path, then across a soccer field to the ticket tent, where you can buy tickets if you don't already have them. The soccer field you will walk across is a practice field. Although there is a small set of bleachers, this is not where the game is played. Do not sit in these bleachers or you will miss the game and just watch nothing for several hours.


Restrooms are available behind one goal and are of a sufficient size for the crowds. Keep in mind it takes a couple of minutes to walk here from the seating area.


As mentioned above, when the Reds are playing Annapolis, the Blues will bring many fans with them, so parking and restrooms will likely be more difficult to access.





Return on Investment 4

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youth, with kids under five getting in free. This is a relatively high price for this level of play and basic matchday experience, but certainly won't break the bank. You can purchase tickets online in advance or at the ticket tent on gameday, but cash is not accepted. For doubleheaders with the WPSL or UPSL, your ticket gets you into both matches.


Extras 1

One star here for the chance to see two soccer games on one ticket - the NPSL game plus either the UPSL or NPSL game.


Final Thoughts

If coming to a Reds game, keep in mind this is fourth-division soccer and set your expectations accordingly. This is, as you would expect, a fairly simple experience. You get to watch soccer up close and have an enjoyable summer afternoon, and it's hard to argue with that. It may not be the premier soccer venue in the region, but stadium chasers, soccer groundhoppers, NPSL fans, and local Alexandrians will certainly enjoy taking in a Reds game at the Hummel Bowl.


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