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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Swenson Athletic Complex - Bridgewater State Bears

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Swenson Athletic Complex

325 Plymouth St.

Bridgewater, MA 02324

Year Opened: 1966

Capacity: 1,600

Bears of Bridgewater State

Bridgewater State University is the largest of the nine state universities in Massachusetts. Founded as the Bridgewater Normal School in 1840, the school is still known for its education programs. Today, BSU has the largest enrollment of teacher education programs in the state. Its 11,000 students study in 108 majors in 30 academic departments.

The Swenson Athletic Complex, home to the majority of Bridgewater State’s athletic teams, is named for Ed Swenson, who was the school’s athletic director from 1949 to 1977. He was instrumental in bringing football back to the school in 1960 after a 30-year absence. Mr. Swenson served as coach for the school’s football, soccer, and basketball teams at different times during his tenure.

In 2023 Bridgewater State dedicated the football field in honor of Peter Mezzoferro, who coached the Bears football team from 1968 to 2004. Mr. Mezzoferro, who also served as an associate professor at the school, won 195 games during his time coaching at Bridgewater State. He was inducted into the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

The Bears currently compete in the MASCAC conference alongside several other teams in and around Massachusetts. Since their return in 1960, football teams representing BSU have qualified for four NCAA postseason tournaments and have played in seven postseason bowl games.

Food & Beverage 2

The Bears Bites food truck is parked beyond the north end zone and provides food for hungry Bears fans during football games. A basic menu is offered, featuring hot dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, french fries, and nachos. If you need a snack during the game, they’ve got you covered. Long lines do form at halftime, so plan your visit wisely.

The food truck offers cans of Pepsi products and bottles of water for thirsty Bears fans. There is a water fountain in the north end zone, which was a popular spot for fans to refill their water bottles on a warm fall day during Stadium Journey’s visit. Fans can bring in their beverages during a Bears football game. No alcohol is allowed at this on-campus facility.

Atmosphere 3

The game day atmosphere at Bridgewater State University is pretty typical of the small schools throughout New England. It’s a laid-back way to spend a fall afternoon and take in some quality football with friends and family. BSU does its best to make the experience a positive one.

The school’s cheerleaders, pep band, and dance squads are present and perform throughout the game. The sound system is excellent if turned up a bit too loud. The PA announcer leans into his work with a stereotypical “announcer voice.” He may be a bit over the top but does a good job of providing game information and hyping up the home fans. The game day crew does a good job integrating music into the game day presentation. A small scoreboard in the south end zone provides basic game information.

For a small facility playing Division III football, there’s a nice tailgating scene here in Bridgewater. Many fans have setups in the parking lot adjacent to the football field, where they arrive early and fire up the grill before the game.

Neighborhood 3

The Swenson Athletic complex is located about a mile from Bridgewater Central Square, which is where you’ll find most of the action in this small town. Visitors looking for a place to eat before or after the game will notice most of the choices in the area are fast-food chains. Locals recommend a stop at Barret’s Ale House, Emma’s Pizza, or the local outpost of 99 Restaurant as the best choices near campus. Stadium Journey recommends Gonzalez House Mexican Restaurant as a hidden local gem worthy of a visit. There are no lodging options in the immediate area around campus. Visitors will have to check out the areas by Route 24 or Interstate 495 for places to stay.

Fans visiting Bridgewater from out of town will likely want to continue to Boston, located 30 miles to the north, or Cape Cod, about 30 miles to the southeast, for more points of interest, dining, and lodging options. Also located nearby are the coastal towns of Plymouth and New Bedford.

Fans 3

Bridgewater State enjoys good support from the locals at football games. The bleachers at the Swenson Complex seat 1,600 fans, and they are more than halfway filled for Bears games. Many of the fans in the stands have a personal connection with the players on the field and are knowledgeable about the game and vocal in their support of the home team.

With the compact geographic footprint of the MASCAC conference, it’s not unusual to see a lot of visiting fans in the stands as well. While the fans are passionate in their support of the home (and visiting) team, this is not a rowdy atmosphere or a place where you’d feel uncomfortable sporting the visiting team’s colors.

Access 3

Mezzoferro Field is part of the Swenson Athletic complex, located at the northern edge of the sprawling Bridgewater State University campus. Also located here is the Tinsley Center, home of the school’s basketball and volleyball teams, as well as the Alumni Field baseball and softball fields. Mezzoferro Field also serves as home to BSU’s soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams. It’s a busy place.

The town of Bridgewater has a population of about 29,000 residents. It’s located in southeastern Massachusetts about 30 miles south of Boston. It is accessible via Route 24, which runs north-south from Randolph to Fall River, and Interstate 495, which loops around Boston. The BSU campus is located approximately five miles from the interstate via busy local streets.

The Swenson Complex is located directly off Route 104 (Plymouth St.), about a mile from the Bridgewater Central Square. There is a small parking lot adjacent to the field as well as an ancillary lot a short walk from the stadium. On-street parking is not available in the area, but these two lots provide enough parking for all fans.

Seating is located on a single large grandstand located on the west side of the field. Metal bleachers provide general admission seating while reserved seating in the center sections consists of individual molded plastic seats. There is a track that surrounds the field and pushes the grandstand further from the action. Fans wanting to stand while taking in the action will find plenty of standing room around the facility. Restrooms are available in the field house beyond the north end zone. They are new and clean, just time your visit wisely, as lines form at halftime.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets to a Bridgewater State University football game are sold as general admission tickets for 8 dollars. Fans wishing a reserved seat in the midfield sections can purchase those seats for 11 dollars. Parking is free in the lots near the stadium and concessions are reasonably priced. An afternoon at Mezzoferro Field is an affordable entertainment option for local sports fans.

Extras 1

There’s very little going on at BSU that can be considered extra. The team does give out nice programs, which contain a lot of information about the program and its history. There’s an oversized Adirondack chair in the north end zone for photo ops.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a good way to spend a lovely fall Saturday afternoon in New England, you can do a lot worse than spending a few hours at one of the many small college football stadiums in the area. Mezzoferro Field at the Swenson Athletic Complex in Bridgewater is a fine example of how the dedicated people in these athletic departments put on an affordable, fun afternoon of quality football far from the limelight of big-time college sports.


Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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