Independence Stadium – Independence Bowl
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Independence Stadium 3900-3934 Fisk St Shreveport, LA 71109
Year Opened: 1924
Bowling in Shreveport
Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana, opened in 1924 and has a capacity of 65,000. The facility is owned by the City of Shreveport, and is most well-known for hosting the annual FBS Independence Bowl – this is the only college football game you will probably see in the venue, in fact, as there are no college teams who use it regularly, though the facility does host some high school football games. The stadium was also used a long-time ago as the home stadium for the Shreveport Steamers of the short-lied and now defunct World Football League.
The Independence Bowl itself is sort of a mixed bag in terms of its participants and conference tie-ins; while most bowl games have deals with certain conferences, the Independence Bowl has gone a step further and made deals with specific teams – for 2021 thru 2025 for example, the game has contracted to alternate between BYU and Army as one of its participants, while the other will come from either the American conference, the PAC-12, or Conference USA depending on the year. It remains to be seen how the deal with BYU will go given the Cougars pending move to the Big 12.
Food & Beverage 5
The food and beverage options at Independence Stadium start long before you enter the stadium gates – given that this bowl game is the biggest sporting event in northern Louisiana every year, it shouldn’t surprise you that there are plenty of options surrounding the stadium. Ranging from the fan fests sponsored by each participating team and by the various bowl sponsors, to the restaurants and bars only a block or two from the venue, to the food trucks brought in for the day, you will have no problem finding a bite to eat, and some it will even be free – at the most recent Independence Bowl, for example, the BYU fan fest offered free Brunswick Stew to all fans (although they did run out quickly), and one of the event sponsors had a tent with free barbecue, sides, and bowl-branded souvenirs such as mugs, mini footballs, and lanyards. The food trucks on-site offered items such as corn dogs and hot dogs, and the on-site bars offered a slew of alcohol selections.
And if you don’t get your fill outside, you can of course eat once you enter the stadium as well – Independence Stadium has concession stands both on the main level and at the top of the grandstand (the ones on top have shorter lines but may require a longer walk up the stairs, depending on how far up you are sitting). Some of the stands offer pretty basic fare like hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, and nachos, but there are also some more interesting options such as pizza from Johnny’s, ice cream from Counter Culture, barbecue from Real, and of course, Cajun cuisine from Marilyn’s Place, which is a must given that the stadium is located in Louisiana. The specialty items will of course cost more, but there are plenty of lower cost options for fans on a tighter budget.
It is best to get to the game early if you want to take in the full experience, including the aforementioned fan fests and seeing the participating schools’ bands march in. There is also a flyover before kickoff (assuming the weather isn’t bad, which unfortunately happens from time to time), and you can buy game swag either outside the stadium, or inside after you enter.
Independence Stadium is laid out in a bowl design with grandstands along the sidelines and in the south end zone, and some tents set up at field level on the west side. The best seats in the house are actually in the suite area at the top of the south side, which has covered seating, so if you are worried about inclement weather or too much sun that is your best bet, although these cost a little more. The press box and box seats are on the west side, while the main scoreboard is located above the north end zone, although there is another smaller one on the south side. While most of the seats are regular metal bleachers, there are some chairbacks seats in some areas if you prefer those.
Cajun cuisine, seafood, and gambling are the order of the day when you visit Shreveport; there are a couple of great restaurants about 5 or 6 blocks from the stadium, with a few more closer to the airport, plus several casinos across the Red River in Bossier City.
John’s Seafood is within walking distance of the stadium and serves calabash-style fresh seafood. However, if you are looking for something more in the Cajun line, try Monkhouse Seafood Diner near the airport (about 2 miles west of the stadium) – Monkhouse is best known for its catfish and stuffed shrimp.
If you are going to be in town overnight, most of the hotels are near the airport, but there are additional options in Bossier City. If you want something near the airport, Residence Inn on Monkhouse Drive a is a great choice, with well-appointed rooms and rates starting at under $100. Some of the options in Bossier City have even cheaper rates, however, since they are subsidized by the casinos, and offer more of a resort-type feel, such as the Horseshoe Casino Hotel. In addition, Bossier City is not that much further away from Independence Stadium than the airport.
Like many bowl games, the stands can seem pretty empty at Independence Stadium during the Independence Bowl, given how far away the participating teams usually come from, and the fact that the game usually happens during the holiday season when many fans are spending time with family. That said, however, at this game you will get some of the most diehard fans of the two schools that exist anywhere, namely those willing to make the long trek to this faraway game, so you will get some great energy and some pretty decent crowd noise, including the ubiquitous fans with no shirts and chests painted in their team’s colors.
Independence Stadium is probably one of the easiest stadiums in the country to get in and out of for a bowl game. Located just 2 miles from the Shreveport Regional Airport, which being a small airport has light traffic, short lines, and rental cars right outside the terminal, the stadium is easy to get to even if you live several states away. You can also park right outside the stadium for $20, and there are more than enough concessions stands and bathrooms to accommodate the crowd size. The only potential downside is that the traffic is all routed one way after the game, in an attempt to empty the stadium as quickly as possible, so you may end up having to circle back once you get a few miles from the venue – however, this is a small price to pay in order to get out quickly.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to the Independence Bowl run about $40 for lower-level seats, but you can usually get them cheaper from 3rd party re-sellers. The parking and food and drink prices are also reasonable, especially when you consider the specialty options available from the food trucks and some of the vendors inside the facility. The festivities outside the stadium before the game also help make the visit worthwhile.
Although it didn’t happen during my most recent visit due to poor weather, the jet flyover was very impressive when I was able to see it, and goes well with the patriotic bent of this particular bowl game. This is also the only college football game you will probably see in this particular stadium, so if you are interested in visiting different stadiums like I am, you should see a game here at least once.
Independence Stadium itself is a little dated, though it has had some recent upgrades, and of course the Independence Bowl is not the highest profile bowl matchup you can find in the area. However, Shreveport is a great town to visit, and the Independence Bowl staff does a wonderful job setting up a great event with fans fests before the game, free souvenirs from the vendors, a jet flyover to boot, and a stadium that is easy to get to and move around. All in all, you can’t go wrong taking in the bowl game here at Independence Stadium, especially if you are lucky enough to have your team here for the game.