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  • Matthew Collins

Kessler Stadium – Monmouth Hawks

Photos by Matt Collins, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Kessler Stadium 107 Larchwood Ave West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Monmouth Hawks website

Kessler Stadium website

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 4,200


Jersey Boys

Monmouth University was founded in 1933 as Monmouth Junior College and was officially designated as a university in 1995.

The Monmouth Hawks football team plays their home games at Kessler Stadium in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Monmouth is a member of the Big South Conference for football and competes at the Division 1 FCS level. The Big South is made up of 9 teams for football, most of which are located in the South but the conference also includes Monmouth and Robert Morris north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Monmouth football has captured the Big South conference championship the past two full seasons the Big South has competed (2019 and spring 2021).

Food & Beverage 2

The facade of the concession stand is well above average for a small college stadium. Large blue letters bear the name of the Brockriedes, the family that donated some of its fortune to sate the taste buds of Hawks fans.

The Brockriede concession stand at Monmouth offers a variety of food and drink options. A hamburger, grilled chicken sandwich, and a large fry cup cost $5. A hot dog, popcorn, and nachos with cheese are offered for $3.50 and chicken tenders with fries are $7.50. The stand also sells snacks like chips and cookies for $2 and candy for $2.50.

In terms of drinks, the stand offers coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for $2, Dasani bottled water for $3, and Powerade, Gold Peak iced tea, and Smartwater for $3.50. There is no official soda brand at the Monmouth concession stand, but Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Sprite are each offered for $3. No alcohol is sold at the stadium.

This writer tried the chicken fingers with fries entree and I can’t sugar coat it, it was awful. Normally in these columns, we recommend an entree but I wouldn’t wish this chicken and fries on anyone; the chicken wasn’t crispy at all and the fries were completely tasteless.

Atmosphere 3

Kessler Stadium has one main grandstand extending the length of the field. There is no grandstand on the opposite side of the field due to its proximity to a field hockey pitch. Home fans sit in the middle and the far right side of the grandstand. Monmouth’s student section and marching band sit at the farthest right side and opposing team fans sit at the far left end. A good percentage of seats have chair backs and the ones that don’t are specially designed to keep people’s tushes comfortable. The press box is located above the stands at the fifty-yard line.

The scoreboard is quite large; with a big portion of it dedicated to showing replays and gimmicks like the Jersey Mike’s Jersey Cam. The scoreboard features spaces for down, to go, ball on, quarter, and timeouts. It also features more comprehensive stats like 1st downs, penalties, time of possession, and total yards but that feature wasn’t working at the game Stadium Journey attended. The public address announcer has a clear voice and makes no crucial errors in mispronunciation. No free WiFi is available at the stadium.

Music is played throughout the game from both the public address system and the marching band. Music selection is mostly classics like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Almost no rap is played, a departure from most college and professional stadiums nowadays. The marching band plays the school fight song after touchdowns and the alma mater at the end of the game. During the game, they play musical staples like Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train” and Kool and the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.” A dance team performs at halftime and a cheerleading squad and hawk mascot (Shadow) try to keep the crowd hyped up throughout the game.

Neighborhood 3

Monmouth University is located in West Long Branch and gets its name from the county it is located in, Monmouth County. The campus of Monmouth is located a mere five minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean and an hour and a half train ride (or drive) from New York City. West Long Branch is a sedate suburban town that grudgingly puts up with the party atmosphere of a college within its borders.

Monmouth’s campus is gated and spacious homes lie just beyond the gate, making the divide between town and college quite apparent. However, Long Branch, Red Bank, and Asbury Park are all nearby and provide the attractions and entertainment sought by visitors and students alike. The three towns have nightlife and attractions but also have dangerous neighborhoods that visitors from out of county and out of state should avoid.

Nearby PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel hosts concerts throughout the summer and fall seasons. Notable acts that played PNC this year included Hall and Oates and Pitbull. The Monmouth campus itself is small but has the Great Hall and Guggenheim Library, both of which are jaw dropping buildings that are must-sees for any campus tourists.

Fans 4

A crowd at Monmouth is unusually loud for a small college game. Kessler is nothing like Death Valley at LSU or a white out at Penn State but the fans get loud at big moments in the game, including when the Hawks attempt a comeback in the second half. The stands are packed at the start of the game although some of the sellout crowd leave at halftime if there is a lopsided score in favor of the visitors. There was a large contingent of visiting team fans at the game we visited.

There are no special chants from Monmouth fans except a voracious cry of “defense” that is followed by feet smacking the bleachers and clapping. A tradition at Monmouth that is basically the same for every college team big or small is the playing of the school fight song after a touchdown and the school alma mater after the game has ended.

Access 4

Kessler Stadium is accessible by numerous modes of transportation. It is located about 15 minutes from exit 105 on the Garden State Parkway which means convenient access for travelers from both north and south Jersey and New York City. The stadium is about an hour and a half train ride from the City and both the Long Branch and Elberon train stops are a half-hour walk from the stadium and campus. Additionally, all three major metro area airports (Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia) are a little over an hour away. There is a vast amount of parking on campus and parking costs $10. Tailgating is allowed in the parking lot and was quite rampant at the game Stadium Journey attended.

Both hard copy and mobile tickets are accepted at Monmouth. Tickets could be ordered online and either printed out or picked up at will-call at the box office on game day. No one gate is superior to others because like other small college stadiums, only one gate exists. Even with a packed crowd, moving around on the concourse or in the stands isn’t a problem and lines move fast at the concessions stand. Bathrooms at Monmouth are veritable palaces, odor free and spacious with no lines outside. There is plenty of handicap access, including plenty of parking closest to the stadium and ramps to aid the handicapped with getting to seats.

Return on Investment 3

A train ride from New York City to Monmouth costs $32.50 round trip and a trip down the Garden State Parkway or New Jersey Turnpike costs about $5 to $10 in tolls, depending on where in New Jersey you’re traveling from. The unrecommended entree of chicken tenders with fries costs $7.50, far less than other stadiums, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality and taste. That being said, everything on the menu at the Monmouth concessions stand is affordable and less than larger college and professional stadiums. Parking cost $10 but unless you get there over an hour before game time and get a spot close to the stadium, parking spaces are quite far away.

A game program at Monmouth is free which is refreshing because a program usually costs $10 or more at most sporting events. For those of you thinking that because the program is free it is three pages and filled with errors and shoddy printing, think again. The program is incredibly detailed, featuring a Monmouth football record book, season by season scores since the program’s inception in 1993, and a team roster.

Tickets, however, are expensive for an FCS team. Reserved tickets cost $20 each for a single game and premium box seats cost $25. Fans can save money by buying season ticket packages. A five game season ticket package for premium seating is $115, meaning fans save $10 compared to buying single game premium tickets. A five game package for reserved tickets is only $65. Five single game tickets are $100, meaning fans save $35 if they get a season ticket package instead.

Extras 5

  • Prominent NFL alumni that attended Monmouth include former Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin and former Patriots WR Chris Hogan

  • The Great Hall on campus was once the home of President Woodrow Wilson

  • Friendly staff at the front gate and concessions stand

  • Hawk shop selling team gear and memorabilia

  • House located at 7 ½ West End Court in nearby Long Branch where Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run

Final Thoughts

Any New York and New Jersey resident taking a trip down the shore on a fall day can catch high level football at Kessler Stadium at Monmouth University.

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