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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Sports Backers Stadium – VCU Rams


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Sports Backers Stadium 100 Avenue of Champions Richmond, VA 23230



Year Opened: 1999 Capacity: 3,250

 

The Ram’s Backers

Although sports fans in Richmond, Virginia may not have heard of Sports Backers Stadium or been inside, many of them have seen it even if they do not realize it. This is because the stadium is located across the parking lot from The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team. Many fans have seen the exterior of the stadium while at a Squirrels game. However, Sports Backers Stadium is more than just that “other” stadium in the parking lot – it is home to the college soccer team of Virginia Commonwealth University, also known as VCU.


The Rams men’s soccer program has enjoyed some success, making the tournament six times between 1997 and 2004, culminating with a quarterfinal appearance in the latter year. In the middle of this winning streak, the Rams moved into Sports Backers Stadium in 1999. Located about three miles from VCU’s campus, the stadium has been their home ever since.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand at Sports Backers Stadium to the left of the main entrance, which serves a decent range of food. Hot dogs, candy, popcorn, kettle corn, hot pretzels, and more snacks are available, and, extremely unusually for college soccer, alcohol is as well. There will typically be a concession special which will vary by game and may include items not normally available – when Stadium Journey visited, fans could purchase taquitos and a margarita for $12.


Outside food and beverage cannot be brought into the stadium. Bizarrely, there was a food truck parked in the parking lot when we visited, but food purchased there could not be brought in.


Atmosphere 4

Sports Backers Stadium is a nicely built stadium compared to many used for college soccer. Walking through the main gates will put you on a concourse, and you then walk through a portal into the bleachers and your seat. Most of the seats are bleachers, but there are some chairbacks near midfield. Seating is all general admission, but you should have no problem getting a chairback for most games no matter when you arrive. The stands are separated from the field by a running track, which makes the sightlines worse than they would be at many places, but you can still see the action well. A scoreboard with video capabilities is located at one end, but the actual score graphic only takes up a small portion of the screen and can be hard to read.


The Rams’ mascot, Rodney, hangs out with fans in the stands during games and tries to get the crowd involved. As at many soccer stadiums, the energy here is really created by the fans. Rams fans are rowdy, and when they get involved, the atmosphere here can be phenomenal.


Neighborhood 3

There is not much to do in the immediate vicinity of The Diamond, but your best bet is to head to the Carytown neighborhood a couple of miles away. There is where one can find numerous businesses and restaurants.


Carytown Burges & Fries is one local favorite, as is the Galaxy Diner. Those looking for other entertainment while in town can check out the Byrd Theatre, also in Carytown. History buffs might enjoy the numerous Civil War sites located in and around Richmond, which was of course the former capital of the Confederacy and played a major role in the war.


Fans 4

VCU fans may not fill up the rather spacious stadium, but they are a rowdy bunch. From the start of the game when the Rams are introduced, they will be loudly cheering their teams. During big moments in the game and after VCU goals, the fans will stomp on the metal bleachers, clap, and shout, and it can get quite loud here. The large size means Sports Backers Stadium almost never fills up all the way, but the fans here can still make it quite an intimidating place for visiting teams to play.


Access 4

Sports Backers Stadium is located conveniently just off I-95 via Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Parking is available in the lots of The Diamond and is normally free, but there may be a charge for early season games when the Flying Squirrels play the same day. Getting into and around the stadium is easy via the spacious concourses. Restrooms are under the bleachers and are of a more than sufficient size for the crowds. Getting out of Sports Backers Stadium after the game is easy enough as well, as the traffic flow of the lot was designed for much larger crowds at Flying Squirrels games.


Although the VCU campus is located three miles away, there is a free shuttle bus taking students to and from the game. However, this is not available to members of the public coming from Downtown Richmond.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets are $7 for adults, with discounts for children and seniors. VCU students get in free. This is a bit on the high end for college soccer, where many venues are free, but the price isn’t outrageous and this is a pretty nice stadium. Ultimately, the $7 is still a good deal.


Extras 2

There is a marketing table on the concourse which gives away programs, posters, and other items.

A second star for all the promotional nights and giveaways VCU offers throughout the season, such as Ted Lasso Night and Trick or Treat.


Final Thoughts

Although most fans in Richmond just know Sports Backers Stadium as that soccer field next to The Diamond, it is a very nice stadium in its own right as well. Although college soccer will never be as big here as the Rams’ legendary basketball team, a VCU soccer game can still be a great experience on a fall evening.

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