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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Pete Hanna Stadium – Samford Bulldogs


Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Pete Hanna Stadium 800 Lakeshore Dr Homewood, AL 35229



Year Opened: 1958

Capacity: 6,700

 

Bobby Bowden Field at Pete Hanna Stadium – Samford University Bulldogs

Note that the stadium name changed from Seibert Stadium to Pete Hanna Stadium in 2023.


Tucked away on the back side of Red Mountain in the Birmingham, Alabama suburb of Homewood is the campus of Samford University. The southern Baptist-based university with an enrollment of just under 6,000 students has been a member of the Football Championship Series (FCS) Southern Conference since 2008.


Despite the smaller setting, game days on Samford’s campus come with all the feel of college football game days in the south.


Food & Beverage 5

Pete Hanna Stadium has little in the way of in-house concessions stands except a couple of Coca-Cola trailers on each side of the stadium – rather they make use of several local food trucks from the surrounding area, which provide fans with a wide variety of choices. Cricket’s Sweets & Treats with different flavors of lemonade is a popular option on hot afternoons, and other food trucks serve many high-quality options.


Dog Nation specializes in combination hot dogs, sausages, and burgers, while another popular truck is Hollywood Grill, which serves Philly sandwiches, burgers, wings, and variations of fries. Taco Tuesdays serve to build your tacos and quesadillas, and Blacktop Bistro also has a well-rounded menu.


Overall, the food choices at Pete Hanna Stadium are wonderful. Not only do they give fans a great variety of options, but a high level of quality. Samford does not permit alcohol consumption on its campus, so needless to say, there are no sales of beer, wine, or other spirits.


Atmosphere 3

Pete Hanna Stadium blends seamlessly with the surrounding buildings. The use of brick archways at the entry points is consistent with the architecture that is a common theme around campus. The stadium itself is a bit on the small side but has a very cozy feel, right down to miniature hedges along the stands. The smallness of the stadium does help put fans on top of the action and provides great views of the play on the field.


Stadium seating is comprised of two main sections of bleacher seating, built into the hills surrounding the stadium. Seating runs between the 15-yard lines on each side of the field. The west, home side of the field has a small section of nine rows of individual seat backs between the 40-yard lines.


Throughout the game, most of the dead time during timeouts is filled by engaging fans in Samford football trivia, player-centered pieces, and advertisements. The marching band does play in response to big plays and scores, but for the most part, the scoreboard features play the bigger role in the game day entertainment.


With the eastern stands facing directly into the setting sun for most of the game, the best bet is to go with a seat in the western bleachers. This will not only eliminate the constant distraction of the blinding sun but will also drop the temperature considerably.

As of the 2023 season, the north end zone is amid major stadium upgrades which will see $65 million in renovation that will include a walkway that connects the east and west stands. Academic, student recreation and student-athlete services will also be part of the project.


Neighborhood 3

Samford’s hilly campus is directly off one of the major thoroughfares through Homewood – Samford serves as a buffer of sorts between State Route 149 and the surrounding residential areas. Homewood is also full of beautiful neighborhoods and seemingly endless miles of running and walking trails.


Samford is less than four miles from Homewood’s city center and has a well-rounded choice of restaurants and shops. Visitors looking for legendary Birmingham barbecue can find Dreamland BBQ just 5 miles away. A bit of what might be a controversial take: while Dreamland is a well-known, exceptionally good barbecue spot throughout the southeast, locals might point you to SAW’s Juke Joint for the best in Birmingham.


There are plenty of attractions within a 15-minute drive of the Samford campus. Along with the miles of trails in the area, the Vulcan Monument sits atop Red Mountain and overlooks Birmingham. The Birmingham Zoo is also conveniently located near the Samford campus.


Fans looking to make an overnight or extended stay near the Samford campus can find a Courtyard by Marriott less than 2 miles away. A bit further, but still in the area, is Aloft in the Homewood city center.


Fans 3

Game days on the Samford campus have the feeling that this is the only thing of interest for the entire university on those days.


As the morning moves on, the university’s quadrangle fills with what feels like the entire Samford student body. As game time gets closer, fans flock to the entrance of the University Center building in anticipation of the Bulldog Walk. The walk is the unofficial ending of tailgating on the quad, as fans begin picking up and the quadrangle's population begins migrating to Pete Hanna Stadium.


Samford fans do a great job packing the house. While they may not create an intimidating football environment for the visiting team, they are into the game and react accordingly to key moments throughout the game. It is typical for Samford to nearly fill the 6,700-seat Pete Hanna Stadium during each home game. This near-capacity crowd week in and week out helps create an atmosphere that makes college football game days such a special event.


Access 4

Getting to Homewood and Samford from the north or south on Interstate 65 is a relatively straight shot to campus. Those coming from the east or west on Interstate 20 must navigate a couple of bypasses before reaching Samford. It is not necessarily difficult; just a few extra off-highway miles to navigate.


Upon arriving at Samford, parking is free at any of the several parking lots around campus. These can fill up fast, so the best bet might be to head to the parking deck at the back of campus and look for a shuttle bus toward the stadium and tailgating area.


Pete Hanna Stadium has two entry points for general admission fans, with the third point of entry for students to easily access the student section. The eastern entry point past the statue of Bobby Bowden allows fans to access the seating behind the visiting bench, while Gate F allows fans to enter the western stands.


Given the current construction, fans are not able to access the opposite side of the stadium, so fans will need to enter through the gate where their seat is located. As the renovations are completed the two sides will be connected by an arched, brick walkway, allowing fans to go between the east and west sides of the field.

In all, getting to and around Samford is rather simple, but with a limited number of access points to campus, getting back on the road following the game can be a bit of a challenge. The inaccessibility of a whole side of the stadium is also a bit of a letdown, especially when it limits access to certain food trucks.


Return on Investment 3

General admission tickets run $15 to $30, depending on ticket availability for each game, with reserved seating going for between $30 and $40. Games with the $15 general admission tickets are a great deal, but ticket prices increasing by 100% for more sought-after games do seem to be a sizable hike.


Concessions prices at the handful of concessions trailers are inexpensive when compared to what most stadium concessions run. Food truck prices are a bit higher, but fans are getting a much better quality of food than they would at most other stadiums, so a couple of extra dollars is well worth it.


With free parking, the overall investment into a day of college football is worth the cost.


Extras 4

Samford has been the starting point for many successful FBS coaches. Jimbo Fisher, Terry Bowden, and Pat Sullivan, to name a few, but none has been more notable than the two-time National Championship coach Bobby Bowden. Not only has Bowden been honored with the field being named after him, but a statue outside of the main entry point welcomes fans to the stadium.


Hillside seating along the berm in the northeastern corner of the stadium is a nice option for fans looking for something different than typical bleacher/bench seating.

Three to four hours before the start of the game, the Bulldogs offense has a walkthrough in the quadrangle among fans; this draws the interest of a handful of attendees.


The second floor of the neighboring Pete Hanna Center is home to the Samford Sports Hall of Fame. The display honors the athletic heroes of Samford and the history of the teams that represent the Bulldogs.


Final Thoughts

Regardless of the size of the campus, football at southern schools has a different feel to it. While many schools of comparable size as Samford in different regions of the country may have the feel of “just a football game day”, the whole feel of game day at Samford is that a whole day is an event. From the pre-game tailgate setup in the campus quad to the Bulldog Walk, the overall experience is one of enjoyment, from the pre-game festivities to the final whistle of the game.


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