Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 1.86
William Patrick McPherson Memorial Stadium Campus Dr Xenia, OH 45385
Year Opened: 1949
Invincible Band in Wilberforce
William Patrick McPherson Memorial Stadium is the home field of Central State football, as well as the stomping grounds of Central State’s Invincible Marching Marauders band. Located in Wilberforce, OH, the facility opened in 1949 – the team had a great deal of success on the field during the 1980s and 1990s, winning 3 NAIA championships between 1990 and 1995. However, due to financial difficulties and lack of enrollment, football was shuttered at the school in 1997 but was brought back in 2005. McPherson Memorial Stadium is named after a Central State graduate who was killed in World War II.
The facility is currently beginning some pretty hefty renovations, thanks in part to a $917,000 donation from a former player, so the facilities should see a little bit of a facelift in the next couple of years.
Food & Beverage 1
There is only one concessions option at McPherson Memorial Stadium, which is a temporary tent/smoker setup from Mack Daddy’s, a local area barbecue joint. For $15 you can get a combo with BBQ pork or brisket (either a sandwich or just the meat with your choice of sauce) plus two sides (collard greens, mac, and cheese, or baked potato salad). The lines are long and they sometimes run out of certain items, and the price is probably a little on the high side, but the baked potato salad is pretty good (think potato salad with bacon pieces and chives mixed in). Mack Daddy’s also sells bottled water and canned sodas for $1 each.
You can tell there isn’t a lot of money for football at Central State – there is no mascot, and the players don’t have any tent or any fanfare at all when they come onto the field at the start of the game; they just run on without much warning. There are cheerleaders, however, and like almost all HBCUs there is a pretty solid marching band that performs during the game and at halftime – the Central State band is named the Invincible Marching Marauders. On my most recent visit, the band left after halftime, but I am not sure if this is normal or only b/c it started raining at halftime on this particular day.
Marauders Cheerleaders, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
There is a lot of construction going on right now at McPherson Memorial Stadium, which is obvious from the temporary fencing/police tape in certain areas, as well as the construction debris littering the ground near the grandstand. The facilities are also a little dated, which I will touch more on in the Access section.
Central State University is in a very rural area – not quite in the middle of nowhere but close – with lots of farmland and empty fields in the vicinity. There is a post office and a gas station right across the street from the general parking lot, but nothing in the way of restaurants unless you drive about 5 miles west toward Xenia proper. The campus itself has several attractions, such as the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center and the botanical gardens, while the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is not far away. There is also another college, Wilberforce University, right across the street from CSU.
There are also several hotels in nearby Xenia, about 5-10 minutes from the stadium if you plan to be here overnight, but they are all of the low-price local variety, instead of the more upscale national chains you may be used to.
The fans at McPherson Memorial Stadium are 100% friendly, and I had a blast chatting and laughing with them during the game in what turned out to be a losing effort for a team with a losing record so far this season. Unfortunately, even on my most recent visit, which was Homecoming, the home stands were only half full, and the much larger visiting stands were practically deserted.
There is VIP parking right next to the stadium, but for the rest of us, there is free parking on the other side of the (small) campus, on the other side of the roundabout at the campus’ main entrance. Most of the entrances/streets are blocked off on the game day, so there is only one way in, which is from Brush Row Road turning onto Galloway Drive, and into the parking lot from there. The main entrance on US 42 West (intersecting with Wilberforce Switch Road) is technically open, but unless you have a VIP parking pass they will turn you around and send you back out again when you get to the stadium. All of that said it is about a 5 to 10-minute walk from the free parking lot on Galloway Drive to McPherson Memorial Stadium.
Once you get to the stadium there is plenty of room to move around, but if you are sitting on the visiting side (metal bleachers with no backs) you will have to go out onto the track to walk around. The main stands have chairback seats in the middle with backless bleachers on the ends – the stadium should not be very crowded, however, so even if you have general admission seats you can usually sit wherever you want – note that the main stands are better from a sun perspective, as there is more shade on that side. I did notice, however, that many fans just stood behind the fence around the field and watched from there, instead of watching from their seats in the stands.
The major downside is the pretty dated bathrooms – the men’s bathroom is labeled with a cardboard sign, for example – and there is only one bathroom for each gender; the men’s bathroom is on the far side of the main stands and the women’s bathroom is on the near side. There are no bathrooms on the visiting side.
Return on Investment 2
Tickets to Central State games are $21 general admission including fees, and tickets can only be purchased online – there is no ticket booth at the stadium. You can park for free if you are willing to walk a little (or can’t get VIP access), and the concessions seem a tad overpriced, although drinks are a bargain at $1 each.
There is a table set up where you can buy Central State team gear, but the only options are t-shirts for $15 and face masks for $10. They did have a promotional tent there on the day I last visited, although it may have only been for Homecoming, where Walmart gave away free bottles of water, lens wipes, fidget spinners, plastic cups, stress balls, and other tchotchkes.
Merchandise Table, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
I love football, but McPherson Memorial Stadium is, unfortunately, a tough venue for me to recommend, with its lack of concessions options, dated facilities, limited fanfare, and unsightly debris from the imminent construction. I believe it will get better with time, as the updates are put in, but for now, I would only recommend a visit if your favorite team is playing here, or if you happen to be a diehard CSU fan.