Paulson Stadium – Georgia Southern Eagles
Where Eagles Soar
Georgia Southern is the largest institution within the Georgia University System in South Georgia. It was founded in 1906 and is in the small town of Statesboro, Georgia. GSU has a student body of more than 20,000 students and it offers over 100 major areas of study.
Football has a long, but interrupted, history at the school. It first fielded a football team in 1924, but then suspended play during World War II and did not field a team again until 1981. Its return was at the FCS level of NCAA competition, where it quickly became a national powerhouse under coach Erk Russell. The Eagles have won 6 FCS National Championships and taken part in 19 straight years of FCS Playoffs. In 2014 the school made the move up to the Division I level of football.
During the first three years of the resurrected football program, the school played at the local high school. In 1984 the school moved into the brand-new Allen Paulson Stadium at the southern end of the campus. Over the years the school has renovated and enlarged the stadium many times, with the present capacity set at 25,000 seats.
Food & Beverage 4
The concessions program at Paulson Stadium offers a good variety of food at very reasonable prices. Entrees include such stadium standards as hamburgers, chicken tenders, pizza and nachos and run from $4 – $7 in price. Additional items include popcorn, candy and chips for $3.
Beverages consist of Coca-Cola brand products at $4, with bottled water available at $3. Alcohol is not available at Paulson Stadium.
The decision to move to Division I status resulted in a massive upgrading of the stadium prior to the 2014 season. These upgrades included the addition of 26 sky boxes, the construction of the Bishop Fieldhouse behind the west end zone and the addition of the Football Operations Center in the east end zone. A new video board was also included in the 2014 renovations. These additions have greatly added to the fan experience, as they added a great deal of premium seating in the sky boxes and on the front of the Fieldhouse. The increased size of the stadium has also resulted in more concession areas and restroom facilities, resulting in greatly reduced lines.
Statesboro is a city of 30,000 people located 80 miles northwest of Savannah, Georgia. It offers the typical small town Southern charm with local shops, restaurants that are still going strong after more than 80 years and some great local attractions to check out. On the food front, a stop at Vandy’s Bar-B-Q is a must. It has been in business since 1929 and has one of the last open air BBQ pits in the country. A food related attraction is just a few miles away in Vidalia, Georgia. The Vidalia Onion Museum salutes the Vidalia Sweet Onion, an especially sweet onion that can only be grown in the soil in this area. You can end your day with a drink at the Eagle Creek Brewing Company, before heading for bed at the Hampton Inn near Paulson Stadium.
Coach Erk Russell was a master motivator in the early years of the program and many of his gimmicks have taken hold as tradition at Georgia Southern. The first tradition is the magical powers of the water in Eagle Creek, a drainage ditch that runs through the practice field. Each summer, freshman must be “baptized” in the creek to bring good luck to the team. In addition, a jug of the water from Eagle Creek is poured onto the playing field before the home games, which is a favorite pregame ritual the fans love. It must work. as the team has won more than 80% of its home games at Paulson Stadium. A cheer that goes up at every kickoff in a GSU game also has its roots with coach Russell. After winning one of several National Championships in a row, Coach Russell stirred up the crowd with the comment “let’s do it one more time.” Today that mantra goes “Go Blue…. One More Time.” One last tradition was started by Coach Russell’s butting of his bald head against his lineman’s helmets to fire them up before the game. Today’s players gently butt their head against the bust of Coach Russell, which is located on the path between the locker room and the field.
A newer tradition for the Eagles is “Freedom’s Flight.” Freedom is a rescue Bald Eagle who lives at the GSU Raptor Rehab Center. Before the games he takes flight from atop the press box and lands at midfield stirring the fans into a frenzy. Georgia Southern and Auburn University are the only schools in the country who feature this in their pregame ceremonies.
Adding to the pageantry are the sounds of the Southern Pride Marching Band and the antics of GUS, the human Eagle mascot.
Because of these great traditions and the resulting wins, it’s no wonder that the GSU fan base is one of the loudest and most loyal in the Sunbelt Conference.
Georgia Southern is not the easiest campus to access as it is more than 15 miles from the closest interstate, I-16. The closest airport to the campus is in Savannah, more than 80 miles away.
For those coming south on I-16 (Atlanta or Macon): Take I-16 exit #116. Turn left on Highway 301 and go 8 miles to Veterans Memorial Parkway. Turn right on Parkway, passing the main GSU entrance and turn left on Lanier Drive. For those coming north on I-16 from the Savannah area: Take I-16 exit 127. Turn north on Highway 67 and go 13 miles. Turn left on Veterans Memorial Parkway and stay on it until Lanier Drive.
The parking immediately surrounding Paulson Stadium is reserved for season ticket holders and major donors. All other fans can park for free on campus at the Russell Union, the Performing Arts Center or the Ceramic and Sculpture Building. Free shuttles run every 15 minutes between these campus locations and the stadium both before and after the game.
Once at the game, access is excellent, as the concourses flow well and there are sufficient number of gates, restrooms and concession areas to prevent any backlogs.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for fans who are not season ticket holders or contributors to the school’s athletic fund can expect tickets to fall within the $30-$35 range. Parking and the shuttle to the stadium are free of charge. Concessions are very well priced and of excellent quality. There are limited hotels in the Statesboro area and they fill quickly. They typically charge special event rates which can be $50 – $75 higher than the typical room rates. Hotels in nearby Dublin, Georgia are not a long drive and can save you considerable money.
The Football Operations Center features a miniaturized football field called the Field of Dreams for children to play on during the game.
Paulson Stadium hosted the NCAA I-AA Championship Games from 1989-1991. The Eagles won the 1989 National Championship playing on their home field.
The stadium has hosted concerts by Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry and Tim McGraw in recent years.
When GSU started their football program it was so underfunded that it had to borrow school busses from the local school system to transport the team. Thirty years later the team boards those same yellow busses to be transported the short distance between the campus and the stadium.
Both Georgia Southern University and Georgia State University in Atlanta are members of the SunBelt Conference. Each year they meet in the “GSU Game” which carries the bragging rights of being “The GSU” in the state for whoever wins the game.
The spirit of the founding father of Georgia Southern football is present at every Eagles game. Many of the traditions started by Coach Erk Russell are still honored today. These include the “One More Time” cheer, the mystique of the waters of Eagle Creek and the symbolic butting of the defensive linemen’s head against Coach Russell’s likeness. After winning six national championships… who’s going to tamper with success?
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Days Inn Statesboro
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Statesboro, GA 30458
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Paulson is a fun place to see a game – the fans do a lot of cheers unique to Georgia Southern, and the stadium has several fun amenities, including a mini football field in the east end zone where kids can play during the game.