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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

William B. Greene Jr. Stadium – East Tennessee State Buccaneers

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43

William B. Greene Jr. Stadium 1244 Jack Vest Dr Johnson City, TN 37614

Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 7,694


The Bucs Fans Stop Here

East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911. It is the 4th largest university in Tennessee with a student body of over 14,000 students. It primarily offers a liberal arts curriculum, although it does have a separate medical school and school for allied health (public health, nursing, pharmacy, and physiology).

The school’s football team is known as the Buccaneers, and they are members of the Southern Conference. The football program at the school first started in 1920, but there have been several interruptions in the program over the years. The school did not field a team during the years of World War II, and from 2003-2015 due to financial limitations. The team had to play the 2015-2016 while the new on campus stadium was being built. Over the years, the Bucs have won four conference championships (two in the Ohio Valley Conference and two in the Southern Conference).

The team finally moved into the William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium in time for the 2017 season. The stadium is horseshoe shaped with one end of the stadium built into a hillside. The north end of the stadium features a grass berm, where fans can bring a blanket or beach towel to sit on. The seating capacity for the stadium is 7,649 including 9 skyboxes. The field has artificial turf, as the area is subject to heavy winter storms late in the season.

Food & Beverage 4

The concession stands at Greene Stadium are found at the plaza level on both side of the stadium. They offer the typical stadium foods including pizza ($4) popcorn ($4), nachos with chili cheese and jalapenos ($6), pretzels ($4), hot dogs ($4), candy ($3), chips ($3), and peanuts ($3).

Drink selections include bottled water ($4), Pepsi brand fountain drinks ($4) and coffee/hot chocolate ($3). Beer is not sold at Greene Stadium.

Atmosphere 4

Even though the hiatus period from 2003-2015 was tragic for ETSU football, it allowed the school some time to plan and construct a very well-designed stadium. The location of the stadium is very dramatic, as Buffalo Mountain is stunning, especially when it is in full fall color. The designers also took advantage of the natural terrain, building the stadium into the side of a hill, allowing one end of the stadium to include a very popular berm seating area. They also could include two very important traditions in the stadium design, as the Bank of Tennessee Arch is a salute to the program’s past, while the Foundation Rocks are symbolic of the program’s future.

Bank of Tennessee Arch, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

The use of the terrain in the design is also important, as it brings the stands very close to the action on the field. All the auxiliary elements such as bathrooms, merchandise tables and restrooms can be located on the broad entry plazas.

It is very apparent to visiting fans that the William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium is a very well-designed venue.

Neighborhood 4

William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium is tucked into the southwestern corner of the ETSU campus at the base of Buffalo Mountain. The campus is adjacent to downtown Johnson City. The northern border of the ETSU campus is located along State of Franklin Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the city. The street features many restaurants, including Cootie Brown’s Campus, as well as hotels like the Carnegie Hotel.

Johnson City is the 8th largest city in Tennessee, and it features many attractions for visitors. These include the on-campus Carter Railroad Museum and the Museum of Ancient Brick, as well as off campus sites such as the Tipton-Haynes State Historical Site and the Bristol Motor Speedway in nearby Bristol, TN.

Fans 4

The fans at ETSU games play a huge difference in firing the team up. The stadium is nearly full for every event, as the student body and the alums at the game are also supplemented by the many Johnson City residents who either work for the school or have a family relationship with the program. The fans also want to make sure the program never goes on hiatus again.

Fans arrive early for games, as tailgating is very popular at ETSU. Many families head to the Food City Fan Fest, as there are games to play, inflatables, and face painting for the little ones. It also is along the route for the Buc Walk.

The athletic department and the spirit groups at the university have built some great traditions into the gameday activities. The first of these is the Buc Walk. It takes place two hours prior to kickoff, as the team makes its way from the athletics building to the stadium. They are accompanied by Bucky, the team’s pirate mascot, the ETSU cheerleaders and the Marching Bucs Band. Their route takes them through the campus via the alumni gathering tents and the Food City Fan Fest. It is a great way to fire up the fans and the team.

Buc Walk, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

The second tradition takes place when the team arrives at the stadium. The Bank of Tennessee Arch sits atop the seating bowl and looks out over the field. The Arch is a nod to the arches at Memorial Stadium, football’s home long ago. The team understands that it is critical to walk through the arch on the way to the locker room. Even the fans practice this tradition.

The third tradition features a pair of boulders that were unearthed during stadium construction. They are known as the Foundation Rocks and represent the strong foundation the football program is now built on. The players rub the rock in the end zone on the playing field just before the game kicks off, Fans can rub a companion rock up near the entry plaza to ensure good luck in the game.

The color gold is very important to ETSU fans and faithful. The team has always had the color somehow incorporated into their uniforms. Special games (homecoming/ championship games/rivalry games) always bring the “Gold Out” uniforms. The school has also planted gingko trees around the perimeter of the stadium, as they turn a brilliant gold color in the fall… just in time for football season.

Access 5

Getting to a Bucs game is easy, and William B Greene, Jr Stadium is also very easy to navigate.

Directions to parking for ETSU home games:

FROM I-26: Exit at Exit 23 (East Market Street) Head West on East Market Street (Hwy 91). Turn left onto Colonial Way. Turn right onto East State of Franklin Street and go 1.7 miles. Street will become West State of Franklin Road. East Tennessee State University will be on your left. Turn into campus at John Robert Bell Drive. Turn right into Parking Garage. Directional signs will guide you to pregame activities and William B Greene, Jr Stadium.

Once you have parked and spent some time at the Food City Fans Funfest, it is a short walk over to the stadium. The stadium opens two hours prior to kickoff, so you have plenty of time to settle in. You will enter through a plaza which sits atop the seating bowl. Make sure you pass through the Bank of Tennessee Arch and rub the Foundation Rock before you go in, as these are considered good luck actions for the Buccaneers football team.

Along the plaza you will find the concession stands, a very well stocked team store and the restrooms. After you’ve loaded up and made a pit stop it’s time to settle into your seat. For the most part, the stadium seating is aluminum bench seating. It is a good idea to bring a seat cushion. If you are interested in visiting the other side of the stadium, that is not a problem, as there is a paved walkway at the plaza level that takes you around the top of the seating bowl to the other side.

Return on Investment 5

Going to a Bucs game will not break the bank, as the cost of tickets, concession prices and parking are very reasonable.

Tickets run from $10 General Admission tickets (berm seating in the end zone) up to $50 (individual stadium seats at the 50-yard line) All other seats are $30 -$40 for bleacher seating with tickets closer to the 50-yard line costing more than ticket closer to the goal line to the 20-yard line.

The prices at the concession stands are very reasonable. Parking is available in the parking deck just off State of Franklin Road for $10.

Hotels can be pricier on gameday weekends due the limited supply of rooms in Johnson City. You can expect to find hotel/motel rooms for $130 on game weekends.

Extras 5

The Bucs played in the on campus Memorial Stadium from 1977 – 2003. It was a domed structure with an artificial turf field. The students jokingly called the building the “mini dome” It was not considered for a return to use by the football team when the program restarted due to its small size. The building has been retrofitted and is used by the sports medicine department, a few of the indoor sports, and some departments within the athletic administration.

While the new stadium was being built, the Bucs played one of their games at the nearby Bristol Motor Speedway. It attracted the largest crowd in ETSU history. Unfortunately, it has an * in the record books, as the game was played at an off-campus venue.

Mountain Dew was invented in Johnson City and is available at all Buccaneer athletic events.

East Tennessee State’s rivalry game each year is against the Western Carolina University Catamounts. It is known as the Blue Ridge Border War due to each school’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The ETSU Marching Bucs, the ETSU Dance Squad and Flag Squad and the ETSU Cheerleading Squads deserve their own Extra for working seamlessly together to keep the energy level high throughout the Bucs football games.

Final Thoughts

William B Greene, Jr Stadium is a terrific venue in which to enjoy a Bucs football game. The natural beauty of the setting, the great traditions ETSU has built into the program, the berm seating behind the end zone and ETSU Marching Band’s non-stop involvement in the game all add up to a very enjoyable day for the fans.

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