Provost Umphrey Stadium – Lamar Cardinals
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Provost Umphrey Stadium 4400 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway Beaumont, TX 77705
Year Opened: 1964
Lamar Cardinals Rule the Roost
The Lamar Cardinals first began playing organized football in 1923, when the school was known as South Park Junior College. The school has had a few interruptions in the course of their athletic history, but formally brought the sport back in 2010, and are now members of the Southland Conference competing in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
With the return of the football team came the remodeling of their home stadium, renovated and rechristened Provost Umphrey Stadium (after a local law firm that was a benefactor of the remodeling). Since that time, the Cardinals have somewhat struggled to find their footing at the DI level. However, the fans have shown up for the home team, and have been rewarded with high-level competition at a great venue.
Food & Beverage 3
Food options abound at Provost Umphrey Stadium. There are four food concessions on the home side and two on the visiting team’s side. They parallel each other with the same options on each side. There are, of course, the standard options, such as hot dogs ($4), popcorn, nachos, fountain sodas ($5 for standard, $7 for souvenir cups), and Frito pies.
Papa John’s Pizza has slices for sale; a slice of pizza (cheese or pepperoni) is one of four combo meals you can purchase for $7 or $8 (sliced brisket, pulled pork, and fried chicken sandwiches are the others) – each combo meal comes with a regular non-souvenir drink. Despite not having that “wow factor” item as an offering, what Provost Umphrey Stadium does have is a good selection at reasonable prices.
I would not be doing my due diligence if I failed to mention one small “strike” if you will against the concessions at Provost Umphrey Stadium – it tends to get fairly frigid in East Texas the closer to winter that the calendar gets. With that said, to date, there are no hot beverages (e.g. hot chocolate or coffee) on the menu; it was the one complaint I audibly heard from several fans regarding the stadium.
The remodeling done to Provost Umphrey Stadium makes it truly one of the best looking in the FCS. It has a great overall look and feel; the over $4 million face lift brought in new benches and chair-back seating, new restrooms and concession facilities, a new concourse area, new lighting, and a new playing surface; all of this greatly adds to the overall atmosphere.
Also adding to the atmosphere is the actual layout. On one end of the field, up a sloping hill, is the brick facade of the field house. At the half, both the Lamar Cardinals and their opponents march up the hill on zigzagging walkways toward the locker rooms. This is a great visual, and is a treat for fans looking for photo ops.
On the other end of the field, up another sloping hill, are the Morgan Suites, which feature the luxury boxes and a 21-and-over only lounge. Finally, yet another unique feature which greatly adds to the overall atmosphere is the fact that both the home and visiting team’s bands are seated in the visiting side bleachers.
Beaumont is the largest city in East Texas that is close to the Louisiana border; Provost Umphrey Stadium is located in the heart of the Lamar University campus. As such, you get a great view of the school on your drive to Cardinals games. While Beaumont is not your typical college town, it still has a lot of the same look and feel in certain spots, especially as you get closer to the campus.
When looking for entertainment options before and after games, one of the region’s most popular is located right on campus – Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum celebrates the oil boomtown heritage of the region. If you come on the right day, you’ll get to see a reenactment of an actual oil gusher!
For some out-of-the-box fun, head on down Interstate 10 to Gator Country Adventure; this is exactly what it sounds like – an actual swamp that is home to dozens of rescued alligators. If you like up-close interaction with animals, this is for you.
When it comes to food, the Kampus Korner Bar & Grill is your closest bet to grab a bite either before or after games. For something a little more in line with the geography – you are in the bayou, after all – give Suga’s Deep South Cuisine a try. As for hotels, Beaumont has all of the usual chains; if you are looking for variety, try the MCM Elegante or the Book Nook Inn in nearby Lumberton, Texas.
The maximum capacity for seating at Provost Umphrey Stadium since its remodeling is 16,000; the largest attendance is 18,500. That took place way back in 1980 against a visiting Baylor team though. Last season, the average attendance for the Lamar Cardinals was 7,429, far below capacity, and on my most recent visit, this was the case as well. In all fairness though, it was one of those aforementioned chilly East Texas nights, so that could have been the factor behind the low turnout.
That being said, the fans that did brave the cold and turn out were engaged in what was happening on the field. They were decked out in their red and black gear, and cheered from beginning to end.
One more positive to mention is the area surrounding Provost Umphrey Stadium and how supportive the businesses appear to be of the Lamar Cardinals – there were numerous “Go Cards!” signs and banners throughout the neighborhood.
Beaumont and Provost Umphrey Stadium are easily accessible from both San Antonio and Houston (the two closest major cities in Texas) via Interstate 10. It’s a short jaunt off the highway to the facility, and the route is clearly marked. From Houston, Beaumont is about an hour and a half drive; San Antonio is just a 4 ½-mile drive. Coming from Louisiana, Lake Charles is about an hour away.
At Provost Umphrey Stadium itself, a good portion of the parking is for season ticket holders and is reserved. However, there is visitor parking at the stadium; there is a free area and a $10 parking area a little closer to the stadium. There is also ample free parking throughout the neighboring area; if you’re up for a walk, this might be the way to go, plus you get the chance to stroll the campus, which is nice.
As of now, there is no clear bag policy at Provost Umphrey Stadium, but security will search any large bags and/or backpacks.
Return on Investment 3
General admission seating for Lamar Cardinals games at Provost Umphrey Stadium start at $20 per person. These are your standard stadium/bench type seats. For $30, there are reserved chairback seats; if you’ve got some issues with sitting for long periods of time, like you would at a college football game, this might be the best bet for you.
The Lamar Cardinals play a great conference schedule; the Southland typically has some of the best competition at the FCS level, and the team also typically has at least a game or two in non-conference against a real powerhouse on the FBS level.
When you factor in the ticket cost, combined with the free parking, and the value you get at the concessions stands – especially when you look at the combo choices – you are getting a great bang for your buck in Beaumont.
All of the trappings of big-time college football are found at Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Cardinals marching band – known as The Showcase of Southeast Texas – has won numerous awards over the years. When you see them in action at halftime, you’ll understand why.
Also patrolling the sidelines and stands is Lamar’s mascot, Big Red. For kids, seeing a human-sized cardinal will be a highlight, as Big Red is known to seek out young Lamar Cardinals fans for photo ops.
One last bit of “extra” to mention, this one for all the ferroequinologists – aka train enthusiasts – out there – Amtrak’s rail line runs directly behind the visitors stands, and frequently you can see the trains these during game times. It’s a neat design feature that adds just a little more flavor to Lamar Cardinals games.
While I personally would have liked to see more of a turnout on the home side for the game I most recently attended, overall I can say I was heartily satisfied with my visit to Provost Umphrey Stadium. Beaumont itself is highly underrated as a city, and I look forward to visiting again.
The game experience for Lamar Cardinals football is one you should take in if you are in the area, if for nothing else than the bargain you get for the experience you receive. Pay a visit, you won’t be disappointed.