Five Star Stadium – Mercer Bears
The Good News Bears
Mercer University is a private university located in Macon, Georgia. It was founded as a Baptist-affiliated institution in 1833. It is no longer affiliated formally with the Baptist church but does follow many of the principles of Baptist doctrine. It is primarily a liberal arts institution and has a student body of more than 8,600 students. It has produced more Georgia governors, members of Congress and US Cabinet members than any Georgia institution other than the University of Georgia.
The athletic teams at Mercer are known as the Bears and they play at the Division I FCS level of NCAA competition. They are members of the Southern Conference. Mercer first fielded a football team in 1892 but suspended the program during both World War I and II. The program did not revive after World War II due to lack of funds. This would begin a 72 year hiatus for the sport at the school. In 2013 the program was revived and began play in the privately funded Five Star Stadium on campus.
Food & Beverage 4
There are four concession stands in Five Star Stadium. They serve the typical stadium menu, including hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, candy and chips for less than $5 each. In addition, Papa John’s Pizza has its own location within the stadium. The stadium does not serve alcohol.
Fans are also free to utilize the adjacent University Center, which has a food court, which includes Panda Express, Chick-fil-A and Provisions on Demand. This option is only available before fans enter the stadium.
One of the good things about Five Star Stadium is that the food is relatively cheap. You can get a hot dog, chips, candy or soda for $3-$5 each. With the stadium seating only 10,000 fans, there are only four concession stands, and that could make for long lines.
There is also a place where you can get slices of Papa John’s Pizza, which cost $3. And if you really don’t want to eat what’s at the concession stands, fans can eat at the University Center before heading into the stadium. There is a Chick-fil-A and a Subway located in the University Center, which has all the favorite foods.
Five Star Stadium opened to rave reviews at the beginning of the 2013 season. Its red brick exterior fits in seamlessly with the surrounding architecture of the Mercer academic campus. The stadium has seating for 10,200 with the western side of the field serving as the home side of the stadium. The press box is located on the east side of the stadium, which provides seating for the student body, the band and the visiting team’s fans. There are several components to Five Star Stadium, including the AstroTurf William Anderson Family Field and the Homer and Ruth Drake Fieldhouse behind the south end zone. The fieldhouse provides the premium seating for big Bear donors.
Seating in the stadium is on aluminum bleachers with chairbacks.
Mercer University is located on a hill overlooking the city of Macon known as College Hill. It is surrounded by many historic homes in the Intown neighborhood. There are two districts filled with eating and retail establishments adjacent to the campus. Mercer Village is located at the front of the academic campus and includes the campus Barnes and Noble bookstore, NuWay Weiners (a Macon staple for more than 100 years) and Sauced Pizza. Mercer Landing is located across Mercer University Drive from Five Star Stadium and features Growler USA, Amici Pizza and Wings and the Towne Place Suites Marriott. It can be accessed via a skybridge across busy University Drive, which is a very nice feature as you can avoid the on-campus parking fee.
Two attractions located close to Mercer that you will want to check out are The Big House and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Macon is home to some of the greatest musical artists of the 20th century, including Little Richard, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band. The communal home used by the Allman Brothers has now been turned into a museum and features the world’s largest collection of memorabilia from the band. The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is the largest state-based Hall of Fame in the country. It highlights Peach State sports from the amateur to the professional level.
The closest lodging option for Five Star Stadium is literally just a few feet from the stadium entrance. The Hilton Garden Inn Mercer University is located on Stadium Drive.
Tailgating has become a very popular activity for Bears fans. Any grassy area near the parking areas or the stadium that is not roped off is available for pre-game festivities. If you do not want to truck in your own food, Mercer has on site vendors selling food the day of the game. Another popular meetup location is the Butler Family Plaza outside the western gate of the stadium. Make sure you get a selfie with the bear statue in this area.
Another tradition that has been created at Five Star Stadium is the ringing of the Elliott Bell in the south end zone following a Mercer score or win.
A feature not usually found in a football stadium that is popular with Bears fans are the berms located behind the end zones. Families with young children flock to these areas and spread out blankets to watch the games.
By far the loudest group in the stadium on game days are the Mercer Maniacs. This is a school spirit organization whose members are dedicated to supporting all the Bear athletic teams.
Macon is in the geographic center of Georgia. The town is primarily serviced by I-75, which runs from towns to the north of Macon (Atlanta is approximately 80 miles from the Mercer campus) as well as cities in south central / southwestern Georgia. I-16 originates just two exits east of University Drive and runs towards the coastal areas of Georgia (Savannah is 150 miles from Macon).
Five Star Stadium and the Mercer campus are easily accessed via the Mercer University Drive (exit 163) from I-75. The stadium will be on your left at Stadium Drive. Parking lots for the stadium are found on the east side of the facility.
Restrooms and concession stands are located on the concourse in sufficient number to avoid long lines.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Bears games come at three levels: West Stands (home team side) are $20, East Stands (visitors’ side and looking in the sun) are $15 and grass berm seating in the end zone is $8. Parking for the stadium is $10 per car. Most fans are within commuting distance of Macon, but a hotel near 5 Star Stadium will cost about $100 a night.
Mercer has been very ambitious in its scheduling since restarting its football program from scratch in 2013. In its first four years the Bears have played close games against the likes of Georgia Tech, the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
College Football Hall of Fame coach Wally Butts played football at Mercer from 1925-1928. He went on to coach the University of Georgia Bulldogs to four SEC Championships and two National Championships.
Mercer University is known for pulling off one of the greatest upsets ever in the NCAA basketball tournament. They entered the 2014 Tournament as a #14 seed and defeated the # 3 seeded Duke Blue Devils 78-71.
Mercer tends to schedule night games (7pm start times) through the end of September due to the heat in Middle Georgia. This gives you plant of time to either explore the many attractions around Macon before the game or you can catch many of the larger contests on TV in their entirety and still have plenty of time to reach Five Star Stadium for the kickoff.
Final Thoughts 4
The Mercer Bears have done a wonderful job in building their football program from scratch in just a short period of time. It is the only private school in Georgia with a Division I football program. Five Star Stadium provides a great experience with its great sight lines, berm seating and a very energized fan base from throughout Central Georgia.
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Ocmulgee National Monument
1207 Emery Hwy
Macon, GA 31217
Hilton Garden Inn Macon/Mercer University
1220 Stadium Dr
Macon, GA 31207
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Macon Mercer University
1550 Mercer University Dr
Macon, GA 31204
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