DII football: A bucket list of 13 must-see stadiums for the die-hard fan
Gameday. It's one of the best days of the week. A large part of the craziness that makes Division II football what it is comes from the venue in which the games are played.
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Whether you like a good tailgate, an amazing view, or an atmosphere of hooting and howling faithful, there's a DII football stadium out there for you. Here are a few stadiums that should be on your bucket list.
The complete gameday experience
Redwood Bowl, Humboldt State
Like beautiful stadiums? The Lumberjacks home turf in Arcata, California is a sight to see. The field is surrounded by wooden bleachers on both sides, constructed by the students themselves. Pine trees engulf the entire stadium, seemingly hiding the Redwood Bowl in a forest. It's not hidden to the Jacks faithful, however, as they averaged roughly 4,000 a game last season.
Then of course are the fans. If you are amongst the select few, you get to rev up a chainsaw to get the crowd going. Must be pretty intimidating for a new opponent to walk through the doors and see a few chainsaws flying high.
"Getting to play home games at the Redwood Bowl," senior record-setting running back Ja'Quan Gardner told NCAA.com. "There's not too many places like it. We got the chainsaws firing up, the crazies, the band. Saturday's in the Redwood Bowl. It's the best."
Javelina Stadium, Texas A&M-Kingsville
As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. Javelina Stadium is just that, able to seat 12,500 loyal fans. The Javelinas annually rank amongst the best in attendance.
Historically speaking, it hasn't been a fun place to visit for opponents. Since 1960 the Javelinas are 230-62-2 on their home turf.
Kirkeby-Over Stadium, Augustana Vikings
The Sioux Falls, South Dakota home of the Vikings is one of the newer facilities in DII football. The doors opened in 2009, when Augustana defeated Emporia State 32-21. The Vikings were 12-1 in their first two seasons at their new home, compiling a 34-14 since.
It's the third stadium for Augustana, and this one was certainly done right, with state of the art suites and technology. There is seating for roughly 6,500 fans as well as space on the lawns behind the end zones for a few more. With University of Sioux Falls a few miles down the road, this South Dakota town is a football haven.
Harlen C. Hunter Stadium, Lindenwood Lions
Located in St. Charles, Missouri, Harlen C. Hunter Stadium was built in 1976. Its primary purpose wasn't Lions' football back then, however. It was the home for the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals training camp.
Since then, the stadium has played host to numerous NAIA postseason games, including football playoffs and soccer championships. Right in the heart of the Lindenwood campus, the stadium is home to not only football, but both men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, and men’s and women’s lacrosse programs as well.
Jack Miller Stadium, Ashland Eagles
If you're near Jack Miller Stadium this season, you've heard a lot of ringing.
Located in Ashland, Ohio, Jack Miller is home to the No. 11-ranked Eagles. It will also play host to the Ashland vs. Grand Valley State matchup Novemebr 4, a Top 25 showdown with enormous Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Association implications.
Per Ashland SID Dusty Sloan:
"Prior to the start of the 1996 Eagle football season, a large cast-iron bell was donated to the University anonymously. After some discussion, the bell was mounted on a pole and placed near the north end zone at Community Stadium. Following an incident with players from Westminster College during the 1998 season, the bell was then moved to the south end zone area. Following each Eagle home victory, it is tradition that senior players take turns ringing the bell while the team sings the fight song.
"The Victory Bell was moved to Jack Miller stadium in September 2009. A new post was made for the bell out of Redwood saved from old Redwood Stadium. The bell was rung for the first time on September 12, 2009 when the Eagles beat Michigan Tech. 34-28."
John A. Farrell Stadium, West Chester Golden Rams
There is plenty of tradition to be found at John A. Farrell Stadium. It is the Golden Rams home turf as well as the home for track and field. You can find 7,500 WCU fans at a huge Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference showdown every other weekend in the fall. It even was the home of the Philadelphia Eagles training camp from 1980 to 1995.
But it is the statue of Michael Horrocks that is the most historic tradition at John A. Farrell. Horrocks was a quarterback for the Golden Rams back in the mid-1980s. More importantly, he was a co-pilot during the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. Every game before the Golden Rams take the field the student-athletes walk past the statue, and everyone of them touches it.
Bearcat Stadium, Northwest Missouri State Bearcats
According to the team's athletic department, the home of DII football's current dynasty has been coined "the crown jewel of the MIAA" for its gameday experience. That's not what makes it historical, however.
While Colorado Mines' Campbell Field is the oldest playing field in DII football, no other home stadium has hosted the same team longer in DII football lore. It officially changed in 2004 from Rickenbrode Stadium to Bearcat Stadium, but is"the longest-running continuous site for football in all of NCAA Division II."
'The Pitt' or 'The Jungle', Pittsburg State Gorillas
While the moniker is not the official name of the Gorillas home, it certainly emphasizes the point. Carnie Smith Stadium is no easy place to play. Over the past 33 seasons, the Gorillas are 148-24-1 on Bradenburg Field, posting over a 70 percent winning percentage throughout its entire history. There is just about 8,000 seats in the stadium, but they pack even more around the field, averaging well over 8,000 fans a year.
Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, Colorado State-Pueblo ThunderWolves
Imagine being a coach and telling your team you have to head to the ThunderBowl for your next game. The name alone invokes fear. Relatively new, the stadium opened its doors in 2008 and has some of the most up-to-date features in any DII football stadium. The ThunderBowl has hosted NCAA playoff games, as well as Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and NCAA DII track and field championships. Stay tuned. The ultimate goal is to make the ThunderBowl the focal point of ThunderVillage. Boom.
Horace McCool Stadium, Delta State Statesmen
The Statesmen renamed their home after former head coach Horace McCool. It's one of the oldest stadiums in the Gulf South Conference and is home to the FIghing Okra. There was no way to omit this (Mc)Cool stadium from the bucket list.
Ratliff Stadium, UT Permian Basin
Ratliff is a relatively new stadium to the DII football scene. UT Permian Basin is completing just its second full season, but that doesn't mean you don't recognize the field. Ratliff Stadium is also home to the Permian High School football team, subject of the book Friday Night Lights. Most of the film adaptation was filmed at the Odessa, Texas field.
Mountaineer Bowl, Western State Colorado
Bring your oxygen masks. The Gunnison, Colorado home of the Mountaineers is the highest college football stadium in the world. Sitting at an elevation of 7,750 feet, the Mountaineer Bowl seats 4,000 inside its gates with hillside seating for plenty more. Opened in 1947, it has played host to a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference record 19 conference titles.
Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem State
Come for the football, stay for the car race. Plenty of DII football stadiums also host the track and field teams, encircling the playing field with a state of the art track. But how about a NASCAR track?
That's what you'll see when taking in a Rams game at Bowman Gray Stadium. A NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile track surrounds the playing field. Don't worry, both events have yet to happen at the same time.
Another fun fact about Bowman Gray Stadium is that it once was the home field for Wake Forest from 1956 to 1968. This historic venue is full of interest.