Bridgeforth Stadium Zane Showker Field – James Madison Dukes
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Wear Purple for Me
Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field opened in 1975, and has a capacity of 24,877. Originally a multi-sports venue that hosted JMU football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and track & field, the facility became football only in 2003, and underwent a major renovation in 2010 through 2011, which added permanent seating behind the north end zone, a jumbotron in the south end zone, and a club level with 16 suites and a press box. The stadium is named after William Bridgeforth and Zane Showker, both long-time JMU supporters.
James Madison University’s football team currently competes in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), and is one of the premier teams in the FCS, having been to the NCAA playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and having won the title in both 2004 and 2016.
Food & Beverage 3
Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field doesn’t have a huge variety of concessions options, given its moderate size, but there is more than enough to get you by for a couple of hours.
Main dishes include all of the stadium basics, such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and pizza, as well as BBQ pork and Italian sausage; all of these items come in at $5 or less. Other food items for sale include baked potatoes, nachos, fries, soft pretzels, chips, packaged candy, and popcorn, with prices ranging from $2.50 to $4.25 (or 50 cents for a blow pop). Interestingly, Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field also sells standalone hamburger and hot dog buns for $1 each, in case you need a cheap snack.
Drink options at the venue are extremely limited, and only include the 4 mainstays – coffee, hot cocoa, fountain soda, and bottled water – available for $2.50 to $5.25. There is no alcohol for sale inside Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field.
Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field provides a great atmosphere for college football, with lots of crowd noise, near sellout crowds, lively music that gets the fans dancing, and tailgating that starts at least three hours before kickoff. The James Madison Dukes also have a hugely successful program of late, bringing in lots of wins and four consecutive FCS playoff appearances, including a championship last season – all of this comes without having to deal with the gigantic crowds at some of the biggest FBS programs. JMU’s football program has been so successful of late that the stadium has even been chosen twice to host ESPN College GameDay, an honor shared by only one other FCS school (North Dakota State).
Undoubtedly, the most fun tradition at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field is when fans toss paper streamers around, launching the rolls high in the air with the crepe paper trailing behind. Fans bring in paper streamers in the team’s colors (purple, yellow, and white), and all game long you can see them flying through the air, before quickly being cleaned up by stadium staff as soon as they hit the ground. Technically the streamers are only thrown when the Dukes score, but with the team’s on-field performance of late, this is a constant occurrence.
Located in the middle of JMU’s campus, there is not much in the immediate vicinity of Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field except campus buildings such as dorms, but there are a couple of nice restaurants a couple of miles away, particularly where I-81 intersects with Highway 33 (I-81 goes right by the stadium). O’Charley’s can be found at the aforementioned intersection, but if you are in the mood for some local flair, check out Union Station, which is a mile or two north of the stadium – Union Station is a converted warehouse that offers nice Southern fare.
If you plan to be in town for the day or the weekend, Harrisonburg is not a metropolis by any means, but it does have several of the typical small-town attractions you have come to expect in places like this, for example the Virginia Quilt Museum. Alternatively, if you are a history buff (or aspire to be one), you can visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, which is located in Staunton (about half an hour southwest of Harrisonburg).
The closest hotel to of Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field is the Days Inn, but there are many more choices one exit further north on I-81, for example Candlewood Suites, DoubleTree, and Courtyard by Marriott.
JMU fans have a lot to cheer about of late, and they show up to of Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field in droves, most of them dressed in team gear and hauling in plenty of paper streamers. While the fans are loud and passionate about cheering on the Dukes, it is a little surprising to see that the venue does not quite sell out, even when College GameDay shows up on the day JMU is taking on its in-state rival. Nevertheless, the attendance and energy level are really impressive for an FCS team.
Fans will have absolutely no problem getting to or around Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, thanks in part to its small size. Admittedly, Harrisonburg is not that close to any major cities, so depending on where you are coming from you may be in for a drive. However, there is no traffic to speak of either, which makes it easy to get around.
Parking is available for $10 in lots a few blocks from the stadium, to the north on the other size of the Quad (next to the performing arts center, for example). There is plenty of it, and there is also great signage pointing you to it as you get off the freeway. You can also find free parking in the same area if you are willing to walk a little further.
Once you get to the Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field, the main entrances are on the south side, but if you already have your tickets, there is an entrance at the northeast corner as well. The concourses are very wide, and the stadium looks fairly modern. There are plenty of bathrooms, and in addition, there are a huge number of concessions stands, including some on the upper level, so you shouldn’t have to wait in line for any appreciable amount of time. Note that there is a train track on the north side as well, similar to football stadiums in other rural areas like this, such as Western Michigan’s Waldo Stadium.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to games at Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field are fairly cheap, starting around $20 each, and you can get even better deals on football weekends, or possibly from third-party sites like Ticket Monster. Combining that with low-cost concessions, and cheap or free parking, and seeing a Dukes football game is a very reasonably priced outing, even if you have a large group. The energy from the crowd, the likelihood of seeing the home team win, and the constant paper streamers sailing through the air help make the trip to Harrisonburg a worthwhile investment.
Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field offers some great views, especially from the upper level, with a beautiful fountain in sight of the stadium, and a gorgeous campus you can take a walk through. The tailgating scene is also pretty phenomenal, and stretches all around the stadium with colorful tents and banners showing support for the Dukes.
I have mentioned the paper streamers a couple of times, but JMU football also features a couple of mascots as well – a live bulldog named Duke has his own purple doghouse on the sideline, and is walked around on a leash periodically throughout the game, while the costumed mascot Duke Dog wears a crown and cape, and interacts with fans during the game. There is also a large bulldog statue outside the stadium, complete with crown, which might be fun to take a selfie with.
If you are in the area, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to visit Bridgeforth Stadium/Zane Showker Field. The Dukes are really on a roll of late, so it is very likely you can see an FCS Champion in action, and the venue itself is worth a look all on its own.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
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