Ernest W. Spangler Stadium – Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs

by | Sep 20, 2018 | Aaron S Terry, NCAA Football | 0 comments

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Scenic Football at Spangler

Home of the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, Ernest W. Spangler Stadium opened in 1969 and currently has a capacity of 9,000.  The facility has been renovated multiple times since it opened, most recently in 2014 when state-of-the-art artificial turf was installed, and again in 2015 when new concessions and bathrooms were built on the east side of the stadium.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs currently compete in the Big South division of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS); the football program has been in existence since 1970.  Gardner-Webb’s arguably most notable former football player is Gabe Wilkins, who played defensive tackle for both the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Food & Beverage   3

Spangler Stadium does not have a ton of food and beverage options, but there is plenty to get you by for a few hours while you enjoy the game.  There are concessions stands on both the east and west sides, so you won’t have to walk around the facility to get something to eat.

Food options include hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, burgers, calabash, nachos, popcorn, chips, packaged candy, Dippin’ Dots ice cream, caramel or candy apples, cotton candy, shaved ice, fried oreos, and funnel cake – the last six items are only available at standalone booths near the west side, but the rest of the selections are available at the main stands on either side.

Drink options are a little less numerous, with choices including only Pepsi products, lemonade or orange-ade, and sweet tea (this being North Carolina).  But the concessions prices are very affordable, with the most expensive item (funnel cake) costing just $6, while burgers and chicken sandwiches can be had for $4.50, and drinks cost only $2.

Atmosphere   4

Surrounded by deciduous trees and offering a fabulous view of Lake Hollifield behind the north end zone, Spangler Stadium offers one of the most picturesque settings in all of college football, especially in September and October before the leaves have begun to fall. The weather in North Carolina is also hard to beat, as you won’t have to deal with snow here like at some games up north, or face the blazing hot sun like at some games further south.

The facility is surrounded by the track and features two grandstands, one on each sideline.  The west stands include the Gardner-Webb Football Center, which is home to the weight room, player locker rooms, coaches’ offices, press box, and box seats.  The west stands are used mainly by the home fans, and consist mostly of metal bleachers, but there is a small selection of red chair backs in the upper center.  The east stands are quite a bit smaller and only have metal bleachers; the east side houses the visiting fans, which can be numerous depending on the opponent.

Neighborhood   3

Spangler Stadium is located on Gardner-Webb’s campus in Boiling Springs, NC, and is next to several other Runnin’ Bulldogs athletic facilities, most notably Greene-Harbison Stadium (soccer), Moss Stadium (baseball), Paul Porter Arena (basketball), and Brinkley Stadium (softball).  The observatory is within sight of the football stadium (recognizable by the dome on top), and there are a couple of fast food restaurants a couple blocks away along Main Street.

If you are planning to be in town for the day or for the weekend, there are plenty of things to do in the area before or after the game.  About 45 minutes away, North Carolina’s Queen City of Charlotte offers plenty of attractions (and lodging), but closer to Spangler Stadium is the nearby town of Shelby, about 5-10 minutes away from Spangler Stadium.  In Shelby you can visit the Earl Scruggs Center and learn more about the roots of bluegrass music, or take in a movie at the Sunset Drive-In.  Or if you are feeling adventurous, you can also view the stadium from a hot air balloon high above, courtesy of Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides.

If you need a place to stay while in the area, the closest hotel to Spangler Stadium is AmericInn by Wyndham, or there are plenty of options in Shelby, such as Days Inn or WoodSpring Suites.

Fans   4

Depending on the weather or the opponent, Spangler Stadium can draw crowds of up to 5,000 people on a good night, and you will see plenty of Runnin’ Bulldogs gear in the stands.  The fans are proud of their team and you will hear them cheering all night long, including giving grief to the referees after a bad call.

Because many of their opponents are only a couple hours away, at some games you will see a large number of visiting fans on the east side.  However, the home fans will almost always outnumber and outcheer them, which is a great thing to see as it really adds to the atmosphere.

Access   5

Spangler Stadium is a few miles away from the closest major freeway, but otherwise is very easy to get to, and is very easy to move around once you arrive.  Free parking is available in parking lots all around the stadium, but for big games just make sure you arrive early so you don’t have to park too far away.

Boiling Springs is located on US Route 74, which can be accessed from I-85 on the east or I-26 on the west.  Once you arrive at Spangler Stadium, there are entrances all around the facility, and there is a walking path around the field which you can use to move between the two grandstands.  There are also plenty of bathrooms to accommodate the crowd size, and no lines to speak of at the concessions.

Return on Investment   5

Tickets to Runnin’ Bulldogs football games start at just $15 for adults, which is a great deal for college football these days; discounts are offered for seniors, children, students, and active duty military.

Given the low-cost for concessions and no cost for parking, this is about as cheap as you will find for college football in these parts, so a day (or night) out at Spangler Stadium represents a great value for your entertainment dollar.

Extras   3

Besides the pleasant scenery, at Spangler Stadium you will see plenty of Gardner-Webb signage, from the flag bearers who celebrate each touchdown to the flags flying above the scoreboard.  The staff also plays some really great music (both classic and modern) which really helps keep fans in the game, and adds to the already enjoyable experience.

Final Thoughts

You may never have considered Boiling Springs, NC as a football destination, playing in the shadow of the NFL team nearby.  However, if you make the trek you are in for a pleasant surprise, with some great football on the gridiron, and a modern facility from which to take it all in.


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Food and Drink Recommendations

Campus Pizzeria

101 S Main St

Shelby, NC 28152

(704) 313-7380


100 S Main St

Boiling Springs, NC 28017

(704) 406-4326

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!


Entertainment Recommendations

Earl Scruggs Center

103 S Lafayette St

Shelby, NC 28150

(704) 487-6233

Sunset Drive-In

3935 Sunset Boulevard

Shelby, NC 28152

(704) 434-7782

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!


Lodging Recommendations


AmericInn Boiling Springs

428 E College Ave

Boiling Springs, NC 28017

(704) 434-9996


Days Inn Shelby

1431 W Dixon Blvd

Shelby, NC 28152

(704) 751-9178

Do you want to add your listing on  Here’s how!

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Stadium Info

Ernest W. Spangler Stadium
150 Stadium Drive
Boiling Springs, NC 28152

Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs website

Ernest W. Spangler Stadium website

Year Opened: 1969

Capacity: 9,000

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