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  • Richard Smith

Shadek Stadium – Franklin & Marshall Diplomats

Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Shadek Stadium 423 W Liberty Street Lancaster, PA 17603

Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 2,500


A Diplomatic Field

Franklin & Marshall College (“F&M”) is a private college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1787. The school was originally named for Benjamin Franklin, but in 1836 it was merged with a college named for the fourth Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall.

Famous alumni include Roy Scheider, Treat Williams, and the late Commissioner of Baseball, Bowie Kuhn. The school worked out an agreement with Italian clothing manufacturer and retailer. The college’s sports teams are called the Diplomats and mainly compete in the Centennial Conference at the NCAA Division III level.

Franklin & Marshall, continue to sell merchandise in Europe with the college’s name, after originally having legal issues with the company doing business without their authority. The company pledges money annually to the college’s scholarship fund. For two years, starting in 2013, the company, was the main sponsor of Hellas Verona, a soccer team in the Italian Serie A.

This new stadium replaced 4,000 seat Sponaugle–Williamson Field in 2017. The former home was built in 1920 as Williamson Field, although the playing surface dates back to the 1890s. Sponaugle–Williamson Field was named after S. Woodrow Sponaugle, who coached football and basketball, in addition to being the athletic director at F&M for 15 years. He shares the stadium’s dedication with Henry S. Williamson, who was a trustee of the college from 1894-1917.

Shadek Stadium is named for Larry Shadek, class of 1972. The stadium is located on Franklin & Marshall’s North Campus, formerly the site of Armstrong World Industries, just north of Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Shadek seats about 2,500, about 1,500 fewer than the old field.

Food & Beverage 2

There is a simple concession stand located in the middle of the main grandstand. The food offerings are slim, but if you need a hot dog and/or hot chocolate during the game this will do just fine. Otherwise, you may want to wait until after the game for more food options. The stand is large enough that the food offerings could be easily enhanced.

Atmosphere 3

The new stadium doesn’t have the historical charm of the college’s old facility. But the setting is ideal and the design is very nice.

There is a large stand on the home side of the field, with a smaller one on the opposing side. You can walk easily from one side to the other on the south side of the stadium. There is also a nice grass berm for additional seating along that walkway.

The stadium also has lights, which allows night games, a feature not available at the old facility.

Neighborhood 3

The stadium is located just north of downtown, right near Clipper Magazine Stadium. So make sure to walk around downtown before the game.

There are many shops and restaurants right near the stadium. The Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, College Corner Cafe, and The Fridge are some great options within easy walking distance.

Besides downtown, the main commercial areas of the Lancaster area are the outlet’s area east on Route 30 and surrounding the Park City Center Shopping Mall north of downtown.

Fans 4

The stadium seemed very loud for its small size. I could not tell if the fans were just that loud, or if the design creates a louder environment. Either way, the stadium makes for a great atmosphere for fans.

Access 4

Lancaster is an easy area to navigate. Routes 30 and 222 are large roads that any tourist visit to the area will be more than familiar with. Even though the stadium is located in a busy town, you will seldom find traffic to be too bad. Lancaster is located about half an hour from the state capital Harrisburg. It is also about an hour and a half to Baltimore and the same distance to Philadelphia. There are many parking spaces around the college.

Return on Investment 4

There is no price to attend games at Franklin & Marshall. When it seems that even high schools games charge at least $5, the free admission seems like a steal. Coupled with the free parking and the low concession prices, it is such a steal.

Extras 3

Everyone may not like artificial playing surfaces, but the two-tone color of the artificial turf is nicely designed. There are some nice athletic history items on display within the center entrance to the stadium. Check out neighboring Clipper Magazine Stadium before or after the game to see a nice quality independent league baseball stadium.

Final Thoughts

Shadek Stadium is a simple stadium, located within a pleasant area of Lancaster. The low cost of attendance, as well as the fairly high quality of Diplomats football, makes this stadium a must-visit.

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