Louis Crews Stadium – Alabama A&M Bulldogs
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Louis Crews Stadium 4200 Memorial Pkwy NW Huntsville, AL 35210
Year Opened: 1996
The Dogs House
Alabama A&M University is an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) located just north of Huntsville, Alabama. It was founded in 1875 by former slaves as a land grant university. Today it offers more than 60 degree programs and has an enrollment of more than 6,100 students.
The athletic teams of the school are known as the Bulldogs and are members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at the FCS level of NCAA Division I competition. Until 1998 they played at the Division II level in the Southern Intercollegiate Conference (SIAC). Football has a long history at the school, as it has fielded a team since 1910. Over the years the Bulldogs have won 12 conference championships spanning both the SWAC and the SIAC.
Food & Beverage 2
One of the reasons that pregame tailgating is so popular is that locals realize there is very scarce offerings at the concession stands inside of the stadium. The menu includes hot dogs ($3), nachos ($4), popcorn ($3), peanuts ($2) and candy ($1). Beverages include Coca-Cola brand sodas ($3), coffee ($2) and bottled water ($3). One positive is that the charities that staff the concession stands receive a percentage of the profits.
The home field for the Bulldogs is the 21,000 seat Louis Crews Stadium located on the campus. It opened in 1996 and is the sixth largest stadium in the state of Alabama. The stadium is named for a longtime football coach at the school. The venue features 19 skyboxes and the George Hobson Field House in the end zone.
Louis Crews Stadium can be an intimidating place for opponents to play, as the visitor’s side of the field features 7,000 seats compared to the 14,000 seats on the home side of the field. The home side of the field is usually filled with the maroon clad of fans of A&M. The Bulldog band keeps the stadium rocking non-stop with its large repertoire of music.
The Alabama A&M campus sits in a beautiful valley in the rolling hills just north of Huntsville. There is very little in the way of a neighborhood surrounding the campus. It mostly features fast food locations to serve the students’ appetites and budget. Most of the lodging, dining and entertainment offerings are located four miles south of the campus at the I-565 interchange or in downtown Huntsville.
Huntsville is known as the brewing capital of Alabama. Yellowhammer Brewing Company is very convenient to the I-565/ North Memorial Parkway interchange. Another “must see” in the area is the US Rocket and Space Center. You can’t miss it… just look for the giant rockets rising siting by the side of I-565.
Every Alabama A&M home game feels like a family reunion/homecoming game for the A&M fans. They arrive hours before the game to set up some very impressive spreads in the tailgate area. The food and the decorations add up to a very inviting pregame ritual. Two hours before the game everyone lines up for the Bulldog Walk, where they cheer on the team as it walks from the Jones Tailgate Plaza to the Hobson Field House. Another pregame ritual is to visit the Bulldog statue and rub its head to bring the team good luck on the gridiron.
The fans at an A&M game fall into one of three main categories. Alumni make up a larger than normal percentage of the groups, as many alums stay in the area following their graduation. The student body constitutes the largest part of the crowd as having the stadium on campus makes it easy to get to from the surrounding dorms and fraternity/sorority houses. The university also does outreach to youth organizations in the area and you will see lots of youth football jerseys in the group areas of the seating bowl. The Marching Maroon and White Band keeps the stands motivated, along with Butch the Bulldog and the Bulldog Cheer Squad.
Even though the school campus is somewhat isolated from any major developments, it is easily reached via the North Memorial Parkway. From I-65: Take exit 340 onto I-565 East. Travel to exit 19-B (North Memorial Parkway) Go north for approximately four miles and Louis Crews Stadium will be on your right. All parking for the stadium is located on the Alabama A&M campus.
The stadium is easy to get into as there are 12 entry gates provided. Most of the seating is General Admission, with only the area between the 40-yard lines serving as Reserved Seating. The concourses are located beneath the stands are wide and easily handle the flow of traffic. The concession areas and restroom facilities are frequent enough that you should not encounter any lengthy lines.
Return on Investment 3
Planning ahead can save you lots of money if you are attending a Bulldogs game. Tickets purchased in advance are $30 for Reserved Seats or $25 for General Admission. On game day these same tickets will cost you $35 and $30 respectively. Children 17 and under are $5 at all times.
There are similar savings for the parking areas. General lots are $15 in advance of the game and Tailgate lots are $20. On game days these lots cost $5 more. The concession prices are very reasonable. Most of the fans in attendance commute to the games, but out of town visitors can find a variety of lodging options at the I-565 interchange in the $100/night range.
The Bulldogs have sent 16 players on to play football in the NFL. They include John Stallworth, Frank Kearse, Ronnie Coleman and Robert Mathis. The school has retired the numbers of both John Stallworth and Robert Mathis. The Bulldogs main rival is Alabama State University, based in Montgomery, Alabama. The teams compete each year in the Magic City Classic, held at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
As is the case at most HBCU’s, fans don’t leave their seats at halftime. The Marching Bulldogs of A&M always put on a great show, with terrific choreography and wonderful music. If you are lucky, the visitor’s band will also perform, setting up a competition as fierce as the football game itself.
One nice artistic touch in the stadium is the A&M logo built of colored rocks on the grass berm in one end zone.
Louis Crews Stadium certainly sets the standard high for other teams in the SWAC. The beautiful setting, the pregame tailgate experience, the energy in the stands, a competitive game and the marvelous halftime entertainment all add up to a very satisfying fall afternoon.