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  • Writer's pictureMatt Colville

Southern Miss Soccer Complex - Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles


Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Tori Bowe & Marshall Bell Soccer, Track and Field Complex 620 Meadowlane Drive

Hattiesburg, MS 39401



Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 1,500

 

Soccer at the Eagle's Nest

The Southern Miss Soccer Complex opened in 1997, which was the first year of soccer at Southern Miss. For the first 25 years the Lady Eagles competed in C-USA, but beginning in 2022 Southern Miss athletics began their transition to the Sun Belt Conference. After 27 years of soccer action the Lady Eagles have advanced to 7 C-USA Tournaments and 1 Sun Belt Conference Tournament as of the 2023 season, with the best season being the 2018 season when they advanced to semifinals of the C-USA Tournament.


Also located within the complex is the Marshall Bell Track, named after the former track and field coach at Southern Miss for 18 years. The track is home to the men's and women's track and field teams. In 2016 the entire facility was officially dedicated and renamed after Tori Bowie, the most decorated Olympic athlete from Southern Miss – the track and field star competed at Southern Miss from 2008-2012 and later won three Olympic Gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.


Food & Beverage 2

There is one food truck at the main entrance to the Complex and it just sells the basics. Sausage dogs, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, and candy round out the menu, and with prices ranging between $3 and $7 there is nothing that stands out or breaks the bank. Coca-Cola is the official soft drink provider of Southern Miss Athletics, and you can get bottled drinks for $5. However, my best advice for food options would be to instead get something to eat or drink next door at the Colludium Brewing Company, which is located in the parking lot probably 100 feet from the Soccer Complex.


Atmosphere 3

The Soccer Complex is kind of hidden on the back side of campus, in quite a peaceful setting away from the noisy campus and the busy highway that runs right by it. The pitch runs north and south with an 800-seat grandstand located on the west side; 20 rows of metal bleachers make up the seating on that side. A small press box with a cool spiral staircase is located at the top of the bleachers – nothing really stands out regarding the seating except that all the seats are painted in the Southern Miss colors of black and gold. There is one main entrance into the Complex located under the bleachers, as well as a small gathering area behind the bleachers at the main entrance. The main entrance has a small table with posters and magnet schedules, and you can also find a plaque dedicated to Olympian Tori Bowie there as well.


You can't beat the views from the bleachers – to the south you'll see the Long Leaf Trace bike trail that runs directly in front of the Complex. The Trace is a 44-mile paved trail that was once the site of a railroad that went into downtown Hattiesburg; the old looking building you can see to the south in the parking lot was once an old railroad storage warehouse. Today it has been renovated and is home to Colludium Brewing Company. To the north of the pitch you’ll see the locker rooms of the soccer and track teams.

Once the match starts the atmosphere is pretty laid back, typical of a soccer match. They only play music during halftime and pre-game, and the PA announcer only speaks when Southern Miss scores. Don't come expecting any promotions or any fan engagement; instead the focus is squarely on the soccer match.


Neighborhood 3

Hattiesburg (aka The Burg) is a decent-sized city of about 50,000 people, so it has everything you could want in a city and still retains that college town feel. The Burg has a wide selection of bars and restaurants, but unlike most college towns they are not located near each other – instead they are spread out throughout the city. Within walking distance of campus you'll find places like Patio 44, Brewsky's, and 4th Street Bar; if you’re looking for vintage Southern Miss memorabilia then 4th Street Bar is the place, located right on the Long Leaf Trace just down the street from the Soccer Complex in front of the Softball Complex.


Another popular spot on the Trace and in the Soccer Complex parking lot is Colludium Brewing Company, Hattiesburg's newest brewery. Here they have a nice outdoor patio overlooking the Trace and the Soccer Complex, which makes for a great spot to have a beer before a soccer match. Closer to downtown you'll also find popular spots like Keg & Barrel, The Porter, Hattiesburger, Fairley Wings, and Nostalgia.


In Hattiesburg there is also plenty to do for all ages – for families there's the Hattiesburg Zoo and Serenghetti Springs Water Park, while downtown has the popular Pocket Museum, Mississippi's tiniest museum. Located in an alleyway downtown, this popular museum has a different theme each month; we can't tell you where the alley is because that's part of the charm of the Pocket Museum, i.e. being able to find it. If coming to a match during October be sure to check out the Pocket Museum's Halloween display as well as Boo Zoo, located about a mile away from the Soccer Complex.


For shopping in town there are plenty of chain stores, as well as Turtle Creek Mall. Another popular spot is the Lucky Rabbit – located downtown, it's a two-story vintage store with tons of antiques and different vendors with all kinds of little displays; this is a one-of-a-kind store and a must visit if you are coming to Hattiesburg. It also has a ton of Southern Miss memorabilia, and Hattiesburg also has a really cool Halloween theme with scary movies being shown in the street, plus giant skeletons all around town.


If you are into the outdoors there is also Paul B. Johnson State Park, just south of Hattiesburg, which is an excellent spot for camping, while another popular pastime is rafting down the Okatoma River that runs right through Hattiesburg, all the way to the coast.


Fans 3

You can usually find a couple hundred fans at a Southern Miss Soccer match; the grandstand holds about 800 seats and fills up pretty quickly, especially for weekend games. If you can't get a seat in the bleachers, the grass along the fence line makes for a great place to watch the game. I saw many fans bring folding chairs and sit along the fence line – you can even get closer to the action this way. Many of the visiting fans sit in the grass as well, to the north of the bleachers.


The Southern Miss soccer team is pretty diverse, with the 2023 team having members from 7 different countries. A cool thing they do here is have flags of all those countries on display at the top of the bleachers, so as you enter the Soccer Complex you will be greeted by the flags of Hungary, Iceland, France, Ireland, England, Canada, and the U.S flying high above the bleachers. The Southern Miss student body also has many students from other countries who come out to support the soccer team – students from those countries are encouraged to bring their own flags as well, so you will see other flags flying such as Mexico or Sweden.


Access 3

Getting to Hattiesburg shouldn't be a problem, as it is one of the more accessible cities in the state, located about an hour and a half from the coast, New Orleans, Jackson, or Mobile. If coming from out of town the main road into The Burg is I-59; once in town the main two roads in Hattiesburg are Highway 49 and Hardy Street, with Southern Miss’ campus sitting at the intersection of the two. Depending on the time of day Hattiesburg is notorious for traffic, especially on Hardy Street, so plan accordingly, as many of the weekday soccer matches start in the mid-afternoon.


The Soccer Complex is tucked away on the back side of campus to the east of Highway 49. The best way to get to the venue is to take the 4th Street exit off Highway 49; when you see the softball field behind 4th Street Bar, go a little further east and you will see Colludium Brewing Company, with the Soccer Complex sitting behind it. For weekend matches parking is extremely limited – the Brewery shares a parking lot with the Soccer Complex, so when Colludium is packed it will be hard to find a parking spot. My recommendation would be to park at the Softball Complex and walk down the Long Leaf Trace to get to the Soccer Complex.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets are free, parking is free, and concessions are cheap – the only issue is the limited parking in the parking lot, especially for weekend games. However, I consider this a good return on investment, and the facility being named after an Olympic Gold Medalist is always a plus. There isn't a lot going on besides the soccer match either, so don't come expecting a lot of music or giveaways, but you will get to watch a soccer match in a beautiful setting.


Extras 3

One extra for the complex also housing the Southern Miss Men's and Women's track and field teams; the track also hosted the 1997 C-USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, as well High School State Championship meets.


Another extra for the facility being named after Tori Bowie – the Pisgah, MS native was a two-time NCAA long jump champion during her time here, followed up by winning three medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics (gold in the 4 x 100 m relay, silver in the 100 m, and bronze in the 200 m). She also took bronze and gold in the 100 m at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships. Sadly, Tori would pass away in April 2023 at the young age of 32; it is quite fitting that the most decorated athlete to come out of Southern Miss, and probably one of the most decorated Olympic athletes to come out of Mississippi, will forever have her legacy honored at the track where she had so many memorable runs en route to the Olympics.

One extra for the Long Leaf Trace and Brewery providing the backdrop to the Soccer Complex; it is possible to bike here from almost anywhere in Hattiesburg via The Trace, and almost all the Southern Miss athletic venues are located along the old railroad which is now a paved trail. The Trace provides a scenic way to bike to the Soccer Complex, especially on a crisp cool fall night for a soccer match.

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