City Stadium – Richmond Kickers
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Kicking it in Richmond
The Richmond Kickers were founded in 1993 as a member of what was then known as the United States Interregional Soccer League, or USISL. Although top-division soccer has enjoyed stability in the United States for the past 20-plus years with the success of MLS, the lower divisions have not. This has meant the Kickers have bounced from league to league and level to level in various incarnations of the USISL and its successor, the United Soccer League. As of 2018, the Kickers play in the USL’s only division, the second level of the American soccer pyramid, but change is on the horizon yet again as they will be moving down to USL’s newly-created second tier next year.
For most of their history, the Kickers have played at City Stadium in the Carytown neighborhood of Richmond. The stadium was originally built in 1929 as the home football stadium for the University of Richmond, and the Kickers moved there in 1995. It became a full-time soccer stadium when the Spiders moved on campus in 2010.
The official capacity of City Stadium is 22,611. However, this includes the east stands, which have not been in use for some time due to needed upgrades which have not been performed.
Food & Beverage 4
There is one main stand at City Stadium run by Papa John’s which sells the usual classics – cheeseburgers ($4), hot dogs ($3, or $4 with cheese or chili), popcorn ($3), and of course, pizza ($7). Soda and water are available for $2 each.
However, your best bet is to utilize the numerous food trucks from Richmond-area businesses parked throughout the stadium. Prices are somewhat higher than at the main stand, but the selection and quality is much better. Selections and prices vary by game, but at the one we attended, there were trucks from a burger place, a kebab place, and a shaved ice place.
Beer, both craft and regular, is available for $6 throughout the stadium and utilizes a ticket system. Fans can buy tickets for $6 each at a table in the southwest corner of the stadium, and exchange them for beer at various stands.
There is one entrance to City Stadium on the west side. Once you enter, you will find stands on both sidelines, but the one on the east (far) sideline is not in use due to needed repairs. On the near sideline, all seats are general admission bleachers without backs except one section of reserved chair backs bolted onto the bleachers at midfield. Interestingly, the reserved section alternates rows between chair backs and plain bleachers, but the latter do not appear to be in use as anything other than a footrest or a ledge to store food and beverage. There is one scoreboard available behind the north goal which shows the score, the clock, and the number of shots on goal for each team as well as two random zeroes which don’t seem to signify anything. Goals, cards, and substitutions are announced over the PA system, but it can be hard to hear at times.
Being a minor league team, the club tries to entertain fans, but since there are no breaks other than halftime, this is harder than it would be at a minor league baseball game. There is a crossbar challenge and a frisbee toss at halftime, and live music on the concourse prior to the match, but not much during the game itself. The Kickers have a named Kickeroo, a kangaroo who makes periodic appearances.
Although City Stadium is located in a residential neighborhood, it is a short walk from the Carytown section of Richmond, where one can find numerous businesses and restaurants. Carytown Burgers & Fries is one local favorite, as is the Galaxy Diner. Both are a short walk from the stadium. Fans looking for a drink before or after the game should have no trouble finding it near the stadium. Garden Grove Brewing is located on Cary St, and many other restaurants will serve alcohol as well. However, true bars (i.e., places which primarily serve alcohol) violate Virginia’s alcohol laws, so you will not find any of those here.
Those looking for other entertainment while in town can check out the Byrd Theatre, also in Carytown. History buffs might enjoy the numerous Civil War sites located in and around Richmond, which was of course the former capital of the Confederacy and played a major role in the war.
Like many soccer teams, the Kickers have a group of rowdy Supporters (yes, Supporters with a capital S) known as the Red Army, who sit in Section O for each game. But “sit” is not the right word here, because the Red Army will stand for 90 minutes, chanting, singing, waving flags, and banging drums. They also use smoke periodically, which makes for an impressive display, but fans who are sensitive to that sort of thing should try to avoid sitting near them.
However, although the Kickers tend to get a sizeable crowd, most of them other than the Supporters are just not that into the game. Like a Flying Squirrels game across town, it is seen as a social opportunity to meet up with friends rather than an opportunity to watch a live sporting event. The Supporters do redeem them somewhat, but they’re much smaller in number than in some USL venues like Cincinnati or Nashville.
City Stadium is located just off the Downtown Expressway (I-195) in Richmond. Simply exit the highway, drive a couple blocks, and you’re there. Free parking is available in a gravel lot and almost never fills up, but if worst comes to worst, ample street parking is available within walking distance of the stadium. Just make sure to obey all street signs.
There is just one entrance to the stadium on the west side, but security splits it up into four lines to make things move quicker. Mobile tickets are available if you buy online, otherwise you will be using a paper one.
Once you enter the stadium, there is ample space to move around the concourse. Lines at the concession stand and food truck don’t generally get too long, but to avoid waiting on line, it’s best if you arrive early. There are restrooms located in both corners of the west side concourse, and are of ample size to handle even the largest crowds.
One thing to keep in mind when traveling to City Stadium is that many GPS apps will take you to the wrong side when you are looking for the parking lot. The main entrance to the parking lot is off Freeman Road, and there is also a VIP entrance off Maplewood Avenue. McCloy Street puts you on the wrong side of the stadium, but some apps will take you there anyway.
Getting out of the lot after the game can take some time, especially if you don’t park near the entrance, but the highway is only a couple blocks away and once you get on, it should be smooth sailing.
Return on Investment 4
All tickets are $12, except the chair backs which are $20. Although not advertised to single-game buyers, the chair backs also come with free pizza, water, and soft drinks, making them a good deal if that’s what you plan to eat. Otherwise, the bleachers will still get you good seats, so stick with them unless having a seat back is important to you.
The low ticket prices, free parking, plus cheap (or free) concessions, make this a good value for fans looking to just see a soccer game who don’t particularly care about the level of play. Of course, an MLS game in DC or elsewhere will be a higher level of play, but you’ll also wind up paying a lot more.
One star for the free program. Although it’s basic, and includes the rosters, standings, and not much else, you can’t argue with free.
Another star to the Red Army and the energy they bring to the stadium.
Although City Stadium is showing its age, it’s still an exciting place to watch a match. The Kickers are moving down to the confusingly-named USL League One next year, so time will tell what impact that has on the atmosphere here. However, at least for now, a Kickers game is a good experience for anyone in the area.
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