William I. Jacobs Recreational Complex - American Eagles
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
William I. Jacobs Recreational Complex 4400 Massachusetts Ave Washington, DC 20016
Year Opened: 2005
Fly, Eagles, Fly
The William I. Jacobs Recreational Complex is located on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. and is home to the Eagles’ field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams. The stadium opened in 2005 and was renovated over the summer of 2018. Although field hockey doesn’t get as much attention as sports like basketball and football, it does have its fans, and those fans may find the Jacobs Complex an enjoyable experience.
Food & Beverage 1
There is no food or beverage for sale at the Jacobs Complex. Officially, outside food and beverage are prohibited, but this is not generally enforced unless you are getting it on the turf. For those who desperately need something to eat or drink during the game, there are vending machines next door in the Watkins Building, but fans are best advised to eat before arriving or to bring something with them (just be neat if you choose the latter.)
The Jacobs Complex has four small sets of bleachers, all on one side of the stadium. The good news is you’re very close to the action – the stands are located right on the turf itself, separated from the players only by a barrier that stops balls from rolling into the seating area. The bad news is the bleachers are very uncomfortable. There are no backs, and not much legroom, especially for fans of above-average height. Many fans elect to stand on the turf area rather than sit in the bleachers.
There is one scoreboard which shows shots, saves, and penalty time in addition to the score and game clock. There is also a small video board above it which mainly shows graphics, but these can be hard to read due to the small size. A PA announcer announces substitutions, goals, and cards, but can be difficult to hear as the sound system is not the greatest.
Due to field hockey not being considered a major sport, there simply isn’t that much done to keep fans engaged. Music is played over the PA system before the game and at halftime, but beyond that, there simply isn’t much to offer other than the game itself.
American University is located in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. This is several miles from the center of the city, but don’t let that discourage you from visiting. There are several restaurants nearby, including local favorites Z Burger and District Taco, and several chain restaurants. Tenleytown is a safe neighborhood to walk in, but due to its distance from downtown, you may be better off driving.
Of course, this being the nation’s capital, plenty is going on elsewhere in the city as well, and the great thing is that most of it is free. The National Mall and all of its monuments and memorials are gorgeous on a November afternoon, and if you’re visiting later in the season and don’t want to deal with the cold, you can stop into one of the many museums. All government-run attractions are free of charge, though some privately-owned ones are not. Just keep in mind if you want to tour the Capitol or the White House, you will need to schedule that in advance.
Hotels are extremely expensive in DC itself, at least the ones of decent quality, so if you’re staying overnight, your best bet is to stay in the Virginia or Maryland suburbs and drive over.
As with many minor sports, the fans in attendance are mainly friends and family of the student-athletes as well as some former players. Although the crowds aren’t large, the fans who do come cheer their team and stay until the end regardless of the score. The small bleachers are mostly full and create a better atmosphere than you’d get by spreading the same number of fans out over a larger area like you see at some places.
Although the Jacobs Complex is located in a major city, it’s far enough away from downtown to make driving relatively easy. For games on weekends, free parking is available in the garage above Bender Arena, which is about a five minute walk away. On weekdays, this garage requires a permit, so your options will be significantly more limited. (This is only the case until 5:00 PM, but as the Jacobs Complex has no lights, few if any games will start after that time.) If space is available, your best bet is to park in the School of International Service Garage, but this will cost you $2 per hour and is a slightly longer walk. Keep in mind that under the “Good Neighbor Policy,” visitors to the American University campus are prohibited from parking on public streets in the area. The nearest station on the Washington Metro is the Tenleytown-AU station on the Red Line, but this is about a 30 minute walk away.
Restrooms are available in the Watkins Building and there is generally no line, even at halftime. After the game, you should have no issues getting out of either the stadium or the parking garage.
Return on Investment 3
Admission is free, so it’s hard to argue with that, but there simply isn’t that much to offer here unless you’re a field hockey fan or a fan of one of the two schools. If you do visit, come on a weekend if possible to avoid paying for parking.
One star for the free program. Although it’s basically just a sheet of paper containing rosters, standings, schedules, and game notes, it’s helpful to fans who may not be familiar with all the players. Just be sure to pick one up from the bin by the entrance, as there’s not always someone there to hand them out.
A second star for the helpful gameday staff, who were available to answer any questions anyone had in a friendly manner.
The reality is that college field hockey is just not very popular among most sports fans. However, if you’re a fan of the sport, are a supporter of American University, or are one of those true sports fans who will to go any sport, anywhere, anytime, a visit to the William I. Jacobs Complex is well worth your time.