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  • Matthew Collins

Powers Field at Princeton Stadium - Princeton Tigers

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Powers Field at Princeton Stadium

500 Ivy Lane

Princeton, NJ 08540

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 27,800

Tiger Football at Princeton Stadium

The Princeton Tigers football team plays their home games at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium in Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton is a member of the Ivy League in all sports and competes at the Division 1 FCS level for football.

The Ivy League is made up of 8 prestigious colleges located in the Northeast. The term Ivy League comes from 1930s sportswriter Caswell Adams, who complained that he had to cover a Columbia-UPenn game instead of a game at his alma mater Fordham. Adams called the two schools “Ivy-covered” because of how old they were and the name stuck. Adams was correct in saying that the Ivy League schools are old. Princeton University was founded so long ago, America was still ruled by a king. Princeton came about as The College of New Jersey in 1746 and was originally located in Elizabeth and Newark before moving to Princeton in 1756, long before football was even played.

But since football came about Princeton has always been competitive, claiming 28 national titles (all pre-1951) and winning 12 Ivy League championships since the conference officially formed in 1954. Their most recent Ivy League title was captured in 2018.

Food & Beverage 3

There are four concession kiosks at Princeton Stadium, two on the home sideline and two on the road team sideline. The concession stands offer a variety of food and drink options.

The stand menus are divided into three sections: Hot Plays for entrees, Grab and Go for snacks, and beverages. Hot Plays include bratwurst for $6.50, a hot dog for $5, a crafted burger for $6, and a crafted cheeseburger and grilled chicken sandwich for $6.50. Both crafted burgers were made with grass fed beef and a mushroom blend. The grab and go menu featured cotton candy for $4, chips for $2.50, and candy and a jumbo pretzel for $3.

Beverages included small sodas for $3 and large sodas for $4.50. There is no official soda brand at Princeton but sodas offered included Sprite, Coke Zero, Coke, and Diet Coke. No alcohol is served at the stadium and other beverage offerings include Powerade, Vitamin Water, Bottled Water, Coffee, Tea, and Hot Chocolate, all for $3.

Princeton also offers a souvenir mug bearing the athletics department logo for $5. Attendees who buy the cup are entitled to $1 refills on any beverage they bought. All concession stands at Princeton Stadium close after halftime, so get your food and drinks early.

This writer tried the crafted cheeseburger and it wasn’t very good. It tasted more like a veggie burger than a cheeseburger and seemed like a classic attempt to be health conscious with food while eschewing taste and flavor in the process.

Atmosphere 4

Princeton Stadium is cavernous. Seating wraps around the entire stadium, with two-tiered seating on both sidelines and in one end zone. The other end zone had only one tier seating and was roped off for some reason and no one was sitting there. Princeton’s sideline was to the right after entering the stadium and the opposing sideline was to the left. The Princeton band sits at the far side of the home sideline and the Tigers’ student section (The Jungle) was relatively indistinguishable from other fans because almost everyone was clad in orange.

Almost no seats at Princeton have chair backs or cushions of some sort so it is necessary for fans to stand up and stretch every once in a while for the sake of comfort. The press box at Princeton is located above the home sideline and offers sweeping views of not only the action on the field but buildings on Princeton’s campus and historic Jadwin Gymnasium in the distance behind the end zone.

Princeton’s scoreboard is diminutive in comparison to mammoth video boards popping up in stadiums nationwide, but still features the score, school names, down/to go, timeouts left, ball on, quarter, and replays of the action taking place on the field. The P.A. announcer had a clear, deep voice and made no crucial errors in mispronunciation. He also wasn’t overly showy like some in his line of work, adroitly playing the role of purveyor of information without falling into the realm of boisterous hype man.

Free WiFi was available at the stadium and fans who accessed the PU visitor network got free WiFi for a month in the event they returned to Princeton for any event, sporting or otherwise. Music was played throughout the game, both from the public address system and from the Princeton marching band. The Princeton marching band is small and goofy in the same vein as Stanford’s. That doesn’t mean they aren’t quality musicians; they just don’t carry themselves with the same seriousness as most collegiate marching bands do.

Case in point, a postgame concert knee deep in a fountain on campus. The band upholds the tradition of playing the school fight song after touchdowns and the alma mater postgame but also includes rock and pop songs like Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” and “The Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Their aquatic postgame concert featured Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” The B52’s “Rock Lobster” and Green Day’s “Basket Case,” all songs that most straight-laced marching bands wouldn’t dare to attempt.

The P.A. system blared the usual mix of songs to get people hype at a football game, including “YMCA”, the ubiquitous “Seven Nation Army” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.” A cheerleading squad performed at the end of the 1st quarter and the school mascot, a tiger wearing jersey number 42, roamed the sidelines hyping up the crowd throughout the game.

Neighborhood 4

Few stadiums can boast a more unique surrounding area than Princeton. Princeton has it all, a stunning campus of an elite school that has produced luminaries in numerous fields, colonial history, and both the quaint feel of a small town and the vibrancy of a college town. Walking through Princeton’s campus is jarring, each building carries the panache of an Ivy League school built in the 1700s, carrying the history of all those who walked its halls. You can’t help thinking as you walk around Princeton’s campus that this is where Michelle Obama walked, where Jeff Bezos walked, where F. Scott Fitzgerald walked, and the list goes on and on. Imposing gilded age mansions line Prospect Avenue and carry weighty names like the Colonial Club and the Charter Club. These clubs date back over a hundred years and are Princeton’s versions of fraternities and sororities.

A short walk from campus is a thriving and trendy downtown with a diverse array of restaurants, including PJ’s Pancake House, Mamoun’s Falafel, and Hoagie Haven (yes Princeton isn’t immune to Philly slang due to its Central Jersey location). A five minute trip to nearby Route 1 features big name hotels like Courtyard by Marriott but the Nassau Inn in town is a more historic, yet pricier option. Princeton also brings unique attractions like the McCarter Theatre on campus and the stately New Jersey Governor’s Mansion, Drumthwacket, which lies a few minutes down Route 206.

Fans 4

Someone who has never attended a Princeton football game would surmise that the crowd there would be typical of a gathering of the bourgeoisie, featuring little rowdiness and talk of academic journals and sailing trips off Martha’s Vineyard. But a Princeton crowd is packed, loud, and engaged on every play. Fans stayed in their seats throughout the game and stayed the entire game but that may change if a game was a blowout. The game Stadium Journey attended was close and tense throughout however.

Traditions include the playing of the fight song after a touchdown, the singing of the alma mater after the game with players and students locked arm in arm, and the fifth quarter, which provides fans with the opportunity to hang out on the field after the game. Chants were germane to football games, with fans yelling “defense” and “let’s go Tigers.”

Access 3

Princeton Stadium is accessible by numerous modes of transportation. It is located near the major thoroughfares of Route 1 and the New Jersey Turnpike and is almost equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. The stadium is about an hour and a half train ride from Manhattan and North Jersey and the Princeton Junction stop on the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor line from Penn Station is five minutes from campus. Visitors can then take the oddly named Dinky shuttle from the Princeton Junction station to campus. The dinky drops passengers near Hobey Baker Rink, the school’s hockey arena, about a five minute walk across campus from Princeton Stadium.

Four major airports are less than an hour and a half drive/train ride from Princeton’s campus: Philadelphia International Airport, Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia. Parking at Princeton costs $10 unless you have a parking pass that allows for free parking. If you don’t have one of the passes and don’t arrive in town early on gameday, finding parking is an arduous task. Lots close to campus fill up quickly and late arriving visitors have to park in a field a few blocks away or on the street where parking is available.

Princeton accepts both hard copy and printed tickets. Tickets could be ordered online and either printed out, scanned from a phone, or picked up at will call on gameday. Superiority of one gate versus another depended on where your tickets are within the stadium. If you’re on the Princeton side it’s better to enter at the gate closest to there but if you’re a fan of a visiting team it’s better to enter at the gate closest to that sideline. There was no bag check at Princeton Stadium and concourse traffic flowed well despite the large crowd, even at the concession stands where lines formed due to their early closing at halftime but the lines moved quickly.

Bathrooms at Princeton Stadium were clean, odor free and featured paper towels for hand drying as opposed to newfangled machines with names like turbo dryer or xlerator.

Return on Investment 4

A train ride from New York City to Princeton costs $38 round trip ($32 to get from Penn Station to Princeton Junction, and $6 more to use the dinky to get to campus). A trip down or up the New Jersey Turnpike can cost anywhere from $3 to $15, depending on where you’re traveling from. The low end would cover travelers from Central Jersey but $15 is a possibility if you’re coming from Bergen and Hudson county because turnpike tolls increase the closer you live to New York City. The recommended entree of a crafted cheeseburger cost $6.50 and with a drink for $3 and chips for $2.50 a whole meal barely exceeds $10. Parking costs $10, which is about the average for any sporting event and programs weren’t sold at the stadium and could be accessed online for free.

Tickets bought in advance cost $15 for adults and $12 for children and tickets bought on gameday cost $20 for adults and $15 for children, so definitely buy tickets in advance if you are planning to attend a Princeton football game, because you can save at least $8 and every little bit of saved money counts. Special ticket packages include group tickets and a birthday package. Group tickets can be purchased for $8 each if the group is between 20 and 49 people (60% savings) and for $6 each if the group exceeds 50 (70% savings). A $120 birthday package includes 12 game day tickets for $10, video board recognition, a P.A. announcement, a picture with the Tiger mascot, and a gift bag/team poster, so fans with birthdays can save money and additionally make special memories at a Princeton game.

Extras 5

-Nassau Hall, located on Princeton’s campus, was built in 1756 and served as the U.S. Capitol building for four months in 1783

-Albert Einstein’s house at 112 Mercer Street. Einstein lived in Princeton from 1935 to 1955 while he worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in town.

-A merchandise tent at the stadium selling hats, shirts, and Princeton Tiger plushes.

-Friendly and helpful concessions staff

-Notable Princeton alumni include basketball legend Bill Bradley, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Final Thoughts

Anyone looking for a fun fall Saturday in New Jersey can look no further than a Princeton Tigers football game at Princeton Stadium.

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