Photos by Matt Collins, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Hameline Field at Wagner College Stadium One Campus Road Staten Island, NY 10301
Year Opened: 1967
Football With A View
The Wagner College Seahawks football team plays their home games at Wagner College Stadium in Staten Island, New York. Wagner is a member of the Northeast Conference and competes at Division I FCS level. The NEC is a consortium of 10 small east coast colleges that also includes Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart in Connecticut, Bryant in Rhode Island, and Merrimack in Massachusetts to name a few. Wagner College was founded in 1883 and is affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Wagner is located on Staten Island atop Grymes Hill, which provides both sweeping vistas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, which are easily accessible for students and visitors alike.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stands at Wagner College Stadium are nothing spectacular, which can be expected at a small college facility. It isn’t even an established edifice like the stands at other colleges and professional stadiums. It is a tent and truck that were still being set up when Stadium Journey arrived a little over a half-hour before game time. The tent is equipped with tables that hold drinks and snacks and hot food is cooked in the truck.
Student-workers are dispatched to both truck and tent duty. A hamburger costs $4.25, a cheeseburger costs $4.75 and a hot dog is $3.25.
A veggie burger is offered for $5.50, a grilled chicken sandwich is $5 and cape cod chips cost $3. Numerous snacks are offered including pretzels and Doritos for $2.50, and M&M’s, Snickers, and Skittles for $1.50. There is no official soda brand at the Wagner concession stand but Coke and Sprite are offered for $3. Water and Powerade are also $3. No alcohol is sold at the stand. Both cash and credit cards are accepted. A recommended entree to try would be the cheeseburger, which is above average for stadium fare and cooked hot off the grill.
Wagner College Stadium has one main grandstand that extends the length of the field on only one side because the other side of the field is adjacent to Howard Avenue. Seats are mainly bleachers, with a limited amount of chair back seats that can be bought as part of the green and white season ticket packages. The area of the bleachers closest to the main entrance is reserved for the Wagner marching band and student section. Seating towards the middle is dominated by parents and alumni and the far end seating is typically where opposing fans and students sit.
The press box is located atop the stands at the fifty-yard line. An area next to the press box is cordoned off for opposing coaches to call plays. The scoreboard at Wagner is located behind the end zone near the main gate. It is an excellent small college scoreboard featuring the quarter, score, time, timeouts, down/to go (3rd and 8 for example), and the yard line that the ball is on.
Oddly enough there were two public address announcers (one for each half) at the game Stadium Journey attended so there is no way of telling which one is the regular one unless we went to another game there but both had clear voices and pronounced names correctly. No free Wi-Fi is available at the stadium.
Music is played over the public address system both before the game and at halftime. Musical selections vary from AC/DC to Doja Cat and Jay-Z. In a nice touch that makes the college game unique compared to the pros, there is a marching band. The band plays the national anthem on the field before the game, the school song at halftime in a coordinated routine with the cheerleading squad, and songs like “Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping up to Boston” from the stands throughout the game. The cheerleading squad leads cheers throughout the game and a separate dance team does a choreographed hip-hop routine at halftime. The team mascot, a Seahawk, tries to get the crowd hyped up but isn’t worshipped as much as other mascots are at games where more little kids attend.
Wagner College is located on Staten Island, the forgotten borough of New York City, often derided by residents of the city’s other boroughs as smelling like garbage and being populated by mafia members. Down the hill from the college is Stapleton, the run-down neighborhood immortalized in the music of the Wu-Tang Clan, who called it home growing up. However, the neighborhood adjacent to both Wagner and St John’s University’s Staten Island campus is leafy with picturesque views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Wagner College Stadium is located across Howard Avenue from the Wagner campus, although crossing the avenue is perilous because New Yorkers think a red light is a suggestion and don’t stop even when a light is red.
The must-see building on campus is the Main Hall, an imposing structure evocative of the campuses of Princeton and Yale or an English manor. The main allure to visiting a Wagner game is the proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn, which are a ferry and bridge away, respectively. There are some hotels, restaurants, and attractions on Staten Island that are recommended for visitors in this article that are less expensive and crowded than those in other boroughs, especially Manhattan.
A Wagner crowd is a lot less rowdy than other crowds in college football. Some of that may have to do with alcohol not being sold at the stadium, as alcohol and rowdiness go together like peanut butter and jelly. That doesn’t mean the crowd isn’t engaged, it just isn’t as bonkers as others in college sports. A packed contingent of student and parent fans alike cheer loudly when Seahawk players do anything well, and a surprisingly large opposing fan contingent also brings the noise to Grymes Hill.
Unlike other stadiums, there is nothing prompting fans to cheer like a hype man or a call and response from the P.A. system urging fans to yell “charge.” The natural intensity and passion for football amongst New York fans make the need for hype gimmicks null and void. An example of the intensity of New Yorkers is that the scoreboard malfunctioned before the half and fans were livid, yelling profanity at the refs and the clock operator to change the clock as their lives depended on it. Alas, these are the same people that run through red lights and employ the middle finger constantly whilst driving so it makes sense that their feverish intensity carries over to football fandom.
Wagner College Stadium is easily accessible from any surrounding area. A traveler from Brooklyn, Queens, or Long Island can take the Belt Parkway and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the stadium, someone from Jersey can access Staten Island from the Bayonne or Goethals Bridge, or the Outerbridge Crossing, and Manhattanites (if they knew football existed) can take the Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park and a shuttle bus from the ferry stop to campus. Wagner’s campus is almost equidistant from all three major area airports: Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK. Parking costs $10 but the large lot is conveniently located right next to the stadium. If the lot fills up, there is even more parking on campus across Howard Avenue.
Wagner has the unique distinction of still printing only hard copy tickets. Tickets can be ordered online but have to be picked up in person at the will call. In terms of the superiority of one gate over another, there is only one gate so therefore it is the top gate by default. Moving around isn’t a problem as people largely stay in their seats the entire game and the lines at the food truck/tent are never excessively long. The only restrooms are porta-potties that are shockingly clean and odor-free and there are numerous handicapped parking spaces and ramps that allow for easy access to seats.
Return on Investment 3
In terms of transportation costs, the Staten Island Ferry is free, and traversing a bridge by car in NYC costs $16 in tolls, but the system can be gamed because the tolls only go one way. This reporter took the Bayonne Bridge southbound and the Goethals westbound to Jersey and didn’t pay a toll either time. Visitors from Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island have only one bridge option though (Verrazano), and will have to pay the $16 at least once. The recommended cheeseburger entree cost a mere $4.75, and with a drink and chips a whole meal still barely exceeds $10, a steal compared to another college, minor league, and professional stadiums in the area.
Parking costs $10 but is conveniently located adjacent to the stadium and a program costs $10 (a bit overpriced honestly). A single game ticket costs $10 for an adult and $5 for a child. Folks with kids can save some money by buying a $20 Sammy’s Kids Club package, which covers one child ticket per home game. Buying five separate child tickets without the package would amount to $25, so $5 could be saved. A $65 white package and a $115 green package (named after the school colors) are more expensive than five single-game tickets but come with perks like free parking and team t-shirts and a reserved chair back in the stands.
-Statue dedicated to Nicholas Lia, Wagner Class of 1966, who died in the Vietnam War
-Exquisite view of Verrazano Narrows Bridge and Brooklyn from the top rows of the bleachers
-Friendly workers at the snack stand and ticket booth
For any New York or New Jersey resident looking to catch some college football action on a fall Saturday or any New York City tourist looking for something fun to do, head to Wagner College Stadium on Staten Island for a Wagner Seahawks football game.