Joan C. Edwards Stadium – Marshall Thundering Herd
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Joan C. Edwards Stadium 2001 3rd Ave Huntington, WV 25755
Year Opened: 1991
Fear The HERD!
Joan C. Edwards Stadium was built in 1991, and is one of only two FBS stadiums named after women (the other is South Carolina's Williams-Brice). Originally constructed with a capacity of around 28K, several renovations later the venue now holds over 38K. Marshall's winning percentage at "The Joan" is well over 80 percent, one of the highest in the FBS.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stands at Joan C. Edwards Stadium offer lots of different snack items, including some unique fare, but only a couple of main dishes (hot dogs for $4 and grilled chicken sandwiches for $6).
Snack options include nachos, peanuts, candy, popcorn, kettle corn, and several varieties of pretzels (regular, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate caramel). You can also find caramel apple chips - prices for these items range from $2.50 to $5.
Drink options are almost as numerous, and include fresh-squeezed lemonade, frozen lemonade, coffee, cappuccino, hot cocoa, Gatorade, and Pepsi products in bottles or from the fountain ($3-$6 per item). No alcohol is served inside Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
One interesting plus is that JCES allows re-entry during the game, unlike most venues, so you can grab something outside the stadium to eat (or drink) at halftime. The places right outside tend to get very crowded, though, so you may prefer to just stay inside.
The atmosphere at Marshall football games is great - the fans are very passionate about their team, and honor the memory of those lost in the 1970 tragedy. For those who don't know the story (chronicled in the movie "We are Marshall"), a plane crash that year led to the loss of 75 football players and coaches. There is a memorial to these individuals on the outside of the stadium, and a fountain dedicated to them is located behind the student center - the fountain is turned off for games after November 14th, the anniversary of the tragedy.
Like many mid-sized venues, Joan C. Edwards Stadium does not have a grandstand in the north end zone - the Shewey Athletic Building located there houses locker rooms and offices. There is continuous seating on the other three sides, most of which is metal bleachers, except for a few sections in the middle of the west side, which have chair backs. The stadium is compact enough that there isn't really a bad seat in the house.
The most impressive entertainment at Joan C. Edwards Stadium is definitely the marching band - the white plumes on their hats contrast beautifully with their green uniforms, and the band does a lot of great formations, including a bison head, spelling out H-E-R-D, and the block "M." There is tons of green to be seen, and lots of tailgating before the game, and not just in front of the stadium, either - tents and fanatics spill out for blocks.
There isn't much in Huntington except for the university, but there are plenty of restaurants near the stadium, and the Marshall Memorial Fountain is definitely worth a visit.
There is an Arby's and a McDonald's right behind the south end zone, and a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant right across the street from the north end zone. However, the best place to hang out before or after the game is at Fat Patty's on 3rd Avenue - Fat Patty's is a Huntington original that specializes in burgers, and is very popular with the locals, thanks to its casual dining experience, full bar, and large, flat-screen TVs. Fat Patty's has two happy hours (4-7pm and 10pm-1am), both of which feature drink specials and half-price apps.
Marshall fans are proud supporters of their team - they show up well before the game, cheer with zeal, and stay until the end. The fans have adopted "We are Marshall" as their theme, and that spirit of unity is the driving force behind their loyalty.
At a typical game, attendance ranges from 25K-27K, or about three-fourths capacity. The west stands (underneath the press box) tend to be the most full, and hence the loudest.
Fans are loudest during opposing third downs, which is pretty typical, but the impressive thing is that here at Marshall, EVERYONE is on their feet for these downs, even the alums. And throughout the game, you will hear the fans on one side chanting "We are...," and being answered with a resounding "MARSHALL!" by fans on the other side.
Joan C. Edwards Stadium is easy to get to, only about 10 minutes from I-64, and near US Highway 60. Getting into the stadium is super easy, because they have gates all the way around, spaced only about 50-100 feet apart.
Parking on stadium grounds requires a pass (which are hard to get), but you can park 3-5 blocks away for $5-$10.
The concourses are plenty wide, and there are numerous bathrooms on the east and west side, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting around. And because they allow re-entry, a lot of fans leave during half-time, so the lines aren't too bad for the concessions or bathrooms.
Return on Investment 4
Attending a Marshall football game is a great value - tickets start at $15 for end zone seats, and $35 for the sidelines. Parking is cheaper than most other venues, and concessions are reasonable.
$15 is likely as cheap as you will ever see for a college football game, but since Joan C. Edwards Stadium rarely sells out, you may be able to find them cheaper on the secondary market. Also, if you really want to sit on the sideline, you could try buying the $15 tickets, and sneaking over the low wall that divides the east and west stands from the south side.
Being able to leave and re-enter the stadium is a plus.
A second point for the fountain and other displays commemorating the 1970 tragedy, which serves as a rallying point for fans.
The bison-cycle ridden by the mascot, Marco, is also fun - it is trendy nowadays for mascots to ride motorcycles, but few of them are decked out to resemble the mascot.
Even though Marshall currently plays in Conference USA, possibly limiting the opportunities for top-tier teams to come to town, Joan C. Edwards Stadium is still worth a visit. Marshall is arguably one of the most well-known mid-major football programs in the country, thanks to the Hollywood connection, and "The Joan" is solid, thanks to its atmosphere, ease of access, and value for the experience.