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  • David Welch

Valhalla Stadium - Berry Vikings


Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Valhalla Stadium 2277 Martha Berry Hwy NW Mount Berry, GA 30149



Year Opened: 2015

Capacity: 1,500

 

Berry College Vikings – Valhalla Stadium, Williams Field

The excitement of college football is not only on display at its highest levels – Division III college football provides similar thrills as its more mainstream counterpart. Even though there are not the same bright lights, national broadcasters, and massive crowds, D3 football is still a highly enjoyable experience.

Football was first introduced at Berry College in 2013; from the big picture the program is still in its early stages of development. After going 0-9 in their inaugural season, Berry saw its first winning campaign in just its third year of existence. Since then the Vikings have captured five Southern Athletic Conference titles, all in succession from 2016 thru the COVID-shortened 2020 season.


Despite still being relatively young, Berry College football has proven itself a worthy adversary at the national level of D3 football.


Food & Beverage 3

Concessions at Valhalla Stadium do not feature items that could be considered unique to the area. Staples include hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and chicken sandwiches, while snacks include chips, candy, peanuts, and popcorn, with beverage choices consisting of bottled water, Powerade, and Coke products. Berry College chooses not to sell alcohol on campus.


A boost to concessions comes from food trucks that are available from time-to-time throughout the season. Given the space available, however, it would be a wonderful addition if they were featured on a regular basis here, to give fans a wider variety of options. This is not to say what is available is lacking, but that it would just add more to the experience.


Atmosphere 3

Berry College takes on many of the football traditions often seen at larger schools, and incorporates them into its own pre-game experience. From tailgating to the Viking Walk into the stadium, it all goes a long way in creating a big school college feel. Berry College is a dry campus, though, so alcoholic beverages are prohibited at tailgates.


Valhalla is the perfect size for Division 3 football – the stadium has a distinct brick-and-stone theme used throughout the seating on both sides of the stadium, plus gentle sloping walkways leading to bleachers on each side of the field.


The home stands run between the 25-yard lines, and consist of five sections of aluminum bench seating – the middle section runs between the 45-yard lines to make up the reserved seating. The visiting stands are modest in size, but are also a great fit for the stadium.

As with football at many smaller schools, there is not a stadium structure surrounding the field; rather there is mostly tall iron fencing with brick and stone pillars signifying the stadium boundaries. This creates some charming quirks. Much of the land surrounding the front of campus where Valhalla Stadium sits is surrounded by pastures; when the stadium was built, the neighbors just became a piece of the game’s backdrop. For example, a decent sized herd of cattle can often be seen roaming the area just behind the south end zone.


Berry does a fantastic job working the school’s Norse theme into much of what they do throughout the game. Aside from the stadium being named in reference to the Norse heaven for Viking warriors that die in battle, the Norse theme is used throughout the game – cheerleaders chant, “Row! Row! Row!” leading up to each kickoff, and Berry first downs are singled over the stadium speakers with the sounding of a Viking horn.


When it comes to entertainment during breaks in the action, following brief pieces by the Berry band, fans of the hair metal of the 80s and 90s will thoroughly enjoy playlists featuring the Scorpions, Ratt, Cinderella, and Mötley Crüe.


Also, in one of the greatest traditions of college sports, especially in football, following the game the Vikings gather in front of the home stands to sing the school’s alma mater with their fans.


All-in-all, the game day experience at Berry College is a hidden gem of small school college football.


Neighborhood 3

The Berry College campus is a town unto itself, literally. The unincorporated Mount Berry is on the northern outskirts of the city of Rome, Georgia, and is almost the dividing line of where neighborhoods meet sprawling countryside.


Neighborhood is a bit of a relative term when it comes to Berry College, as the campus is almost a city unto itself – at 27,000 acres, Berry’s campus is the largest in the world, including miles of walking trails, research environments, and endless beauty.


Mount Berry is a short drive to downtown Rome and several restaurants and shops. Just around the corner is AdventHealth Stadium, home of the Rome Emperors and a small development consisting of an Italian restaurant and coffee shop. Rome also has a scenic riverwalk made up of 13 miles of paved trails that meander along the Coosa, Oostanaula, and Etowah rivers.


Fans 4

Vikings fans are supportive of their team and do a good job filling the stands and surrounding grassy areas. With a seating capacity of 2,500, Valhalla Stadium’s attendance numbers reflect a nearly full stadium week in and week out, and the attendance figures are even more impressive given that Berry College’s enrollment only hovers around 2,000 students.


Berry College football seems to have a large following from both alumni as well as fans from the surrounding area. While there is a student contingent, it is the alumni and local community that make up a majority of the fan base.


In all, Berry football is well supported; fans tend to be a bit reactionary to the action on the field, but are highly supportive on the whole.


Access 3

Berry College is a bit off the beaten path. Fans arriving from the nearby metropolitan areas of Atlanta or Chattanooga will use I-75 and still have more than 30 minutes on state highways to reach the Mount Berry, Georgia campus.


On a GPS note, directions to Valhalla Stadium lead to an access road that is not open for arrival at the stadium. Instead, stadium access is actually through the second drive into campus along Martha Berry Boulevard, which also serves as the school’s main entrance.


Parking is easily accessible at the lot for the Cage Center, the school’s recreation center and home of Berry basketball. This is a relatively small lot, so parking behind Evans, McAllister, or Hermann Halls is also made available. These lots are only a short walk from the football facility, with Evans Hall being the closest of the secondary parking areas.


All fans will pass through a common entry point with a large, stone archway that reads “Valhalla” atop it. This walkway leads to massive ornate iron gates with “BC” worked into the design, which are sheltered by a wood and stone entry way. Those needing to buy tickets will find the ticket booth just to the right of the entrance.

Once inside the stadium, fans enter a small plaza with apparel tents, the concessions stand, and restrooms. Vikings fans will take the walkway to the right, which leads to a ramp to the home side seating area. The front row of bleachers is handicap accessible and has adjacent companion seating. The visiting bleachers are a short walk around to the opposite side of the field – that side also has a gradual ramp to the seating area, along with similar handicap seating in the front row of bleachers.


Overall, Valhalla Stadium is easily accessible from the parking areas and appears to be very handicap-friendly. The drawback is Berry’s location does not make the campus easy to get to.


Return on Investment 4

General admission ticket prices are in line with what would be expected at this level of football. General admission tickets go for $10, while reserved seating in the single section of chairback seats is available for $25. Unless a seatback is a must, the bleacher seating should suffice given the difference in price points. Online ticket sales only run to Wednesday the week of home games; otherwise tickets can be purchased in person at the box office.


With free parking available and reasonable concessions prices, an outing to a Berry football game is definitely an affordable experience.


Extras 3

The sprawling campus is absolutely beautiful in late October into November, when the fall colors of northwest Georgia are on full display.


Halftime pass outs are allowed for fans to leave the stadium to return to their tailgating encampments or vehicles, and later re-enter the stadium.


The fencing around the northern end of the field also recognizes the school’s conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances.


Final Thoughts

Berry College plays an exciting brand of football that is predicated around creating a lot of defensive pressure, forcing opposing teams into mistakes. Offensively the Vikings run an up-tempo, balanced offensive attack that puts a lot of points on the board.


The highly entertaining style the Vikings play, paired with the stunning surroundings of Berry’s campus, are a wonderful setting which creates an under-the-radar Saturday of college football fun.

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