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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Wallace Wade Stadium – Duke Blue Devils


Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Wallace Wade Stadium 110 Bassett Rd Durham, NC 27708



Year Opened: 1929

Capacity: 40,004

 

A Football School in Durham

The idea of sold-out crowds at Duke is not new. What is new is these crowds showing up en masse for football instead of basketball. Indeed, recent success has meant that Duke fans now have two major sports to cheer for, marking a new dawn for college football in Durham. Housed in a historic stadium on campus adjacent to other sports facilities, Wallace Wade Stadium features renovated and modernized touches on a football facility that has been around for nearly 100 years.


Food & Beverage 3

The food options here begin with your standard stadium fare. Hot dogs ($5), pizza ($12-$14), and burgers ($8) can be found, alongside other non-standard options like mozzarella sticks ($10), chicken wings ($12), and Bavarian pretzels ($5). North Carolina BBQ sandwiches run $8 and are a star of the food options. Some stands also feature Bojangles chicken, while drinks such as beer ($9-$11), soda ($4.50-$5.50), and water ($4) are available.


Atmosphere 4

The stadium itself is not new, having been constructed in 1929. Despite its age, multiple extensive renovations mean it now features more modern touches and has the look and feel of a new stadium. The nicest aspect is that most stadium entrances enter at the top of the stadium bowl – this means you walk down to your seats instead of up to your seats from the entrance.


Most sections in the middle have individual chairs, while the sections on the ends have basic bleachers. However, the sections with seats have had the chairs bolted onto the front side of the seating tiers, meaning the seats tend to lean forward more than usual, which results in most seats feeling like you’re always leaning slightly forward of normal.


The main tower features suites and boxes on one side of the stadium, while both sides have team stores, be they indoors or under outdoor tents.


Neighborhood 4

Durham and the area around Duke’s main campus are experiencing a revitalization, especially in downtown Durham. The campus itself is beautiful and easy to navigate, with Wallace Wade Stadium sitting next to the school’s soccer stadium and track & field facility. Hotels are plentiful nearby, as are shopping and dining. Raleigh-Durham Airport is also only a 15-minute drive away, meaning that a weekend trip to catch some college sports in town doesn’t involve a lengthy drive out to somewhere far away.


Fans 3

Recent success has led to Duke fans turning up in large numbers to football games, something rarely seen in the past. Higher rankings and consistent bowl appearances have meant Duke fans have reason to get excited when football season begins, and both the student section and regular seats are now hot tickets. However, while the physical seats may be filled, it is easy to see that fans here are new to football. Simple things like remaining quiet when Duke is on offense are lost, as fans roar and chant on critical plays.


Tailgating around the stadium is plentiful, but only in the lots immediately adjacent to the stadium. In the nearby streets and neighborhoods, it looks like another day in Durham, just with more cars parked. That college football gamely energy is sometimes lacking as well due to the stadium being so open in its construction, meaning the fans are not as loud as they would be in other stadiums.


Access 3

The parking at Wallace Wade Stadium is at times less than ideal – free parking is available but is not located near the football stadium, requiring a long hike back to the parking itself. Pay lots are available next to the stadium’s main entrance, but those all require parking passes and fill up quickly on even the quietest of game days, so make sure you purchase parking ahead of time if available. Several free lots are available in the area with shuttle buses to take you to the stadium and back as well.


To get to the stadium, you just need to follow the signs locally for the college itself. Located near I-85 and perfectly framed by the 501 and 147 Highways, Duke University is just west of Durham proper.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets to Duke football start at $42 and go up from there. Considering the difficulty of finding parking, and the potentially expensive prospect of parking in a paid lot nearby as opposed to hiking a bit of a walk to get to the stadium, your cost is relative for Duke games. Whether it is worth the cost and effort also would depend on how much you want to see a game here, as the atmosphere is still learning and growing with the team’s success.


Extras 3

The stadium is located near several of the school’s other sports stadiums, and with them, some memorial plaques and statues showcasing the school’s sports history can be seen. Additionally, the main concourse level underneath the suite tower also showcases Duke football’s history thanks to infographics wrapped onto support columns, explaining the team’s origins, the history of the Iron Dukes, and the team’s various bowl wins. Finally, there is a large kids' play zone at the field level beyond the scoreboard that is open to fans before kickoff.


Final Thoughts

Though they may still be in their growing phase of late, Duke football has a long history. This team is on an upward trajectory, and the fans are moving along with it. While the stadium has history and some updates thanks to recent renovations, it does remain in the simple and basic category of stadium layouts. Nonetheless, the great weather in North Carolina coupled with a stadium that features good views from practically all seats means there is a base level of quality to be expected when attending Duke football games.


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