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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

The Proving Grounds - Villanova Wildcats


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43

The Proving Grounds 725 Conshohocken Rd

Conshohocken, PA 19428


Year Opened: 2016 Capacity: 300

 

The Proving Grounds of Champions

Although most people only know Villanova for its men’s basketball team, the school plays numerous other sports as well. One of the lesser-known teams is the field hockey program, which plays about five miles off campus at a facility at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The Proving Grounds is a multi-sport complex which includes a turf field that is home to the Wildcats’ field hockey program. Prior to the field opening in 2016, the Wildcats played their home games at Villanova Stadium, also home of the football program. However, playing a sport with such small crowds in a stadium so large was not ideal, nor was the bladed turf surface (unlike almost every other sport nowadays, field hockey still uses old-style, unbladed artificial turf as it helps the ball roll better.)


Food & Beverage 1

There is no concession stand at The Proving Grounds. However, a vending machine next to the bleachers sells water, Pepsi, Gatorade, and lemonade for the usual vending machine prices (typically between $2 and $2.50). Only coins, $1 bills, and $5 bills are accepted. If you pay with a $5, expect to receive a lot of quarters back as change. According to The Proving Grounds website, outside food and drink are not permitted, but this rule was not enforced when we visited.


Atmosphere 2

As mentioned above, The Proving Grounds is a multi-sport complex which includes several athletic fields. The turf field that hosts Villanova field hockey has a very basic layout with a few rows of bleachers on one side of the field. All seats will have a great view of the action, but like at the vast majority of schools, field hockey simply isn’t a huge production here. You go for the game and that’s it. The PA announcer will announce goal scorers, cards, video reviews, etc. but sometimes won’t even do that. There is music played over the sound system pregame but it seems to be mostly sped-up remixes of well-known songs which is a little bit strange. As mentioned above, The Proving Grounds is a multi-sport complex which includes several athletic fields. The turf field that hosts Villanova field hockey has a very basic layout with a few rows of bleachers on one side of the field. All seats will have a great view of the action, but like at the vast majority of schools, field hockey simply isn’t a huge production here. You go for the game and that’s it. The PA announcer will announce goal scorers, cards, video reviews, etc. but sometimes won’t even do that. There is music played over the sound system pregame but it seems to be mostly sped-up remixes of well-known songs which is a little bit strange.


Neighborhood 2

There is very little in the immediate vicinity of The Proving Grounds. A steel distributor is located across Conshohocken Road, and other corporate offices are nearby as well. If you head back to Ridge Pike, you will find several places to eat, although this is several miles away. Andy’s Diner and Pub is open 24 hours and there are several pizza places including Franzone’s and Tony Roni’s. Primo Hoagies is a regional chain that serves hoagies (or subs, or grinders, or whatever you call them in your region) on sesame seed buns. You will have to drive a bit to find something, but it’s all on the way to or from the highway anyway.


Fans 4

Although The Proving Grounds is a pretty basic stadium, the Wildcats do draw decent crowds, at least considering what they are for field hockey at most places across the country. The team routinely draws 200-300 fans if not more, which may not seem like much, but it puts them in the Top 25 in the nation. Most of these are friends or family of the players or people with some other connection to the program, but you do get a good number of locals as well, especially families with young girls who play field hockey themselves and dream of someday playing collegiately. Given the small size of the bleachers, they are mostly full for a Wildcats home game and the fans can get quite into it.


Although you don’t often think of field hockey as a major spectator sport, these things are all relative. Villanova field hockey will never draw anywhere near the same crowds as football or basketball, but now that they play in an appropriately-sized stadium rather than a cavernous football field, the crowds do feel pretty large.


Access 3

The Proving Grounds is located a few miles off I-276. There are parking lots on each side of the stadium which will provide you with easy access. The lot on the north side is smaller and may fill up, especially if there are other events at the complex, but you should have no problem parking on the south side. There is a road connecting the two lots in case the one you go to first is full. Restrooms are available in a building in the north lot.


Return on Investment 4

Like pretty much every college field hockey game in the country, admission is free. Note that there may be a charge for admission for Big East or NCAA Tournament games if Villanova hosts. However, there isn’t enough here to earn the top score.


Extras 1

The crowds here are worthy of an extra star, as despite not being elite at the sport, the Wildcats still have one of the highest attendances in the nation.


Final Thoughts

There are very few schools in the country that make a huge deal out of college field hockey, and Villanova is not one of them. If you make the trip to The Proving Grounds, you can expect to see a game and not much else. However, you will get to experience one of the top field hockey fan bases in the country. While those unfamiliar with the sport may not find this worthwhile, if you’re into field hockey and are in the area, you will definitely want to stop by The Proving Grounds for a Villanova game.




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