Brown Field – Valparaiso Crusaders
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Valpo Football at Brown Field, Steadily Improving
Brown Field is the home of the Valparaiso University Crusaders who compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Pioneer Football League. The 5,000 seat stadium opened in 1919 and was named after Henry Baker Brown who served as the school president from 1873-1917.
Valparaiso Football has struggled recently on the field only winning league championships twice in 2000 and 2003 during the past 46 years. In addition, Valpo has experienced three winless seasons in 1988, 1989, and 2010 and is typically found at the bottom of the non-scholarship Pioneer League.
Prior to the 2008 season, a new artificial surface was installed at Brown Field as part of numerous renovations under the fund-raising campaign known as FITT (Football, Intramurals, Track and Tennis). The first phase of the multi-million dollar project included the installation of the ProGrass, as well as moving the grandstands and adding handicap accessibility. Lights were added as well in 2010.
The concessions are rather simple, but inexpensive. A hot dog, nachos with cheese, and pretzel with cheese all cost $2.00, while hot dogs with chili and cheese, and the loaded variety of nachos ccost $3.00. They also offer popcorn, chips, Slim Jims, cookies, and candy for $1.00 at the concession stand.. The nachos are highly recommended.
All beverage options are $2.00 featuring bottled water, Gatorade, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate took 15 minutes to serve and it still burned my tongue. Valparaiso University is a dry campus, so there is no alcohol served at Brown Field.
The stadium features bleachers along both sidelines of the field. The larger bleachers closest to the ARC (Valparaiso’s basketball Arena) is where the home crowd sits while the visiting team’s fans occupy the opposite side of the field. The Valpo side was at about 70% capacity along with a 10 person pep band, an unusually large turnout on the account it was Senior Day for the Crusaders.
On the other hand, the visitors side was almost empty. Valpo must not attract many opposing visitors to games as they cover up a large portion of the visitor’s bleachers with a tarp. The 5,000 seat stadium does not usually sell out for football games.
The team enters the field through an inflatable tunnel, a small cannon is fired when the Crusaders enter the field or score, and the team mascot and lively cheerleaders keep the crowd involved during the game.
The best seats are located in section C directly below the press box providing a nice view of the 50-yard line. The entire stadium is metal bleachers and many fans bring their own seat cushions for added comfort.
Valparaiso University is a beautiful campus especially in the fall; Brown Field is on the edge of campus near the ARC. The best places to eat in town would be the Round the Clock Restaurant downtown off of Lincolnway, a family-style restaurant that offers ample parking and plentiful menu choices. Another fabulous option is the Tomato Bar off of La Port Avenue, two minutes from campus serving many varieties of pizza, calzones, oven-baked sandwiches, and a full-service bar.
Chapel of the Resurrection is a landmark of northwest Indiana and can be seen from just about anywhere on the campus. The town is a stereotypical small Midwest college town featuring quaint shops and restaurants in a picturesque downtown setting.
There are many hotels around the university. The best place to stay is Hampton Inn and Suites – a 4 minute drive from campus offering plenty of spacious, comfortable rooms.
Valpo fans care noticeably more about their basketball than football. They rarely pull in big crowds, especially when the weather is poor. The crowd is generally on the quieter side apart from a few individual fans and a very small student section; however, it does perk up for big plays in the half-filled stadium.
The stadium is easy to get around and park at, but it does lack many comforts of a modern stadium. There are port-a-potties just outside the gates and bathrooms inside the ARC, but none inside the stadium itself. All seats are bleacher style, stairs are slightly rusted, and there are ramps to accommodate handicap fans. .
Most people drive to Brown Field, but the V-line (Valparaiso’s bus line) runs to the university. Brown Field is not well advertised, but signs for the Fitness Center and ARC will lead fans to the buildings adjacent to the field.
There is parking for $5 at lots around the stadium and at the ARC. However, if you’re looking to save a few bucks there is street parking about half a mile further down Lincolnway. There are two ways to enter the stadium: on the home or on the visitor’s side.
Return on Investment 2
The facility does not actually house a box office, but a set of folding tables to take tickets.
General Admission tickets are $10 which allow you to sit anywhere in the stadium. Children 10 and under are free. Valparaiso University students, faculty, and staff get in free with their One Card (Valpo ID). The team has not had a winning record since 2003, but seems to be improving based off the games this 2016 season. This could help get fans in the seats.
Brown Field has flags displayed along the top of the stands of fellow Pioneer League members’ teams and their primary color. The victory bell, which was unveiled in 1956, is rung after every win.
Valparaiso Football has been making strides on the field to improve as a team, but the stadium and game day experience need to start catching up to the team in order for attending a game to be worthwhile.
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