Arthur L. Williams Stadium – Liberty Flames
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Moving Up in Lynchburg
Arthur L. Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, VA is home to the Liberty Flames football team, and was built in 1989; its current capacity is 25,000. The facility started off with only 12,000 seats, but is in the middle of a 3-phase renovation which will eventually bring the capacity to 30,000. The first phase added a second deck to the home stands (as well as a five-story press box complete with 18 suites), while the second phase added a second deck to the student side; the third phase will complete the renovation by filling in the rest of a horseshoe around the south end zone.
The renovations coincide with Liberty football making the move from FBS to FCS; Liberty’s first football season was in 1973, and they joined FCS after spending 8 years as an NAIA team followed by 7 years in Division 2. After winning the Big South Conference Championship 8 out of the last 10 seasons, however, Liberty made the move to FBS in 2017, with full bowl eligibility coming in 2019.
Food & Beverage 4
Williams Stadium has a great selection of food and beverage options at its concessions stands, most of which offer the same items. However, there are a few free-standing kiosks which offer unique items, and the prices are on the low end for college football venues.
Food options include burgers (including a vegetarian selection), hot dogs, barbecued pork, chicken and waffle sliders, pizza, and chicken tenders, as well as nachos, French fries, onion rings, soft pretzels (including both sweet and savory options), popcorn and kettle corn, pork rinds, chips, packaged candy, ice cream, cotton candy, and fried Oreos. The most expensive thing on the menu is $7, unless you count the whole large Domino’s pizza for $22.50, but burgers for example are only $5, which is less expensive than you will see at similar venues.
Drink options at Williams Stadium include Coke products from the fountain or in bottles, bottled water, lemonade (original or flavored), coffee, and hot cocoa; drink prices run $2.50 (bottled water) to $5.25, with a bottomless soda cup available for $10. The $2.50 bottled water is a great deal as most sports venues will charge your $3 or $4 for the same thing. Note however that there is no alcohol sold at Williams Stadium, as Liberty is a Christian university (founded by none other than Jerry Falwell).
Williams Stadium is a great venue for college football, and it is no wonder the football program decided to make the move to FBS. The facility itself is a great venue with lots of great amenities, and the fans (particularly the student section) are very supportive of their team and their school.
The action on game day starts with the band marching in, and as with many teams there are fireworks, flag bearers, and spurts of fire (remember the team is called the “Flames”) when the team comes onto the field. The mascot is also really great, and you might even spot him playing rock-paper-scissors with the opposing team’s mascot in-between bouts of t-shirt tossing and otherwise revving up the fans in the stadium.
The Liberty Band may be the highlight of the day, however – before the game they do a ton of great formations on the field, for example the “L-U” (for Liberty University) which they actually do twice, spectacularly rotating themselves around so both sets of stands can see the formation right-side up. The band also spells out “U-S-A” during the National Anthem, as well as spelling out the word “Liberty.”
Phase 3 of the ongoing renovation at Williams Stadium will fill in the rest of the horseshoe around the south end zone, so for now you will see one set of stands along each sideline (the home side on the west and the student side on the east). The student-side stands are topped by a smaller press box (with no suites), and there is a large jumbotron behind the north end zone – that is the end of the field the team comes in from, and you can see the inflatable tunnel there complete with Liberty Flames logo. Right now the south end zone just has grass adorned with the Liberty logo behind it, but you can see the main entrance beyond with beautiful brickwork and nice arches, providing a very pleasing aesthetic all around.
Bordered on one side by a freeway and by campus building, athletic fields, and parking lots on the other three sides, there aren’t any restaurants within sight of Williams Stadium, but you can find plenty to eat little further out. The Ward Road area to the north of the stadium is a hotbed for fast food type joints, but there are some more upscale places around as well like Red Lobster and Olive Garden. However, if you want to take in some local flavor I would recommend either Vinny’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria (your classic campus pizza place) or Macado’s (a pop culture-themed local favorite offering great sandwiches).
The two closest hotels to Williams Stadium are a Super 8 and an Extended Stay America (both within walking distance), but these are a little on the low end, so you might want to look for something farther out like the nearby Residence Inn or Fairfield Inn & Suites. And if you plan to be in town for the weekend, there are a couple of great historical sites to visit near Lynchburg, such as the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, or the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum in Staunton.
Williams Stadium boasts a great crowd, especially in the student section. The fans are very loud, and deservedly so given how successful the Flames have been on the gridiron over the last ten years. Since moving to FBS, Williams Stadium can easily pull in over 20K fans at an average game. You will also see plenty of team gear, which is sold at the stadium in case you didn’t bring your own.
But by far the most impressive (and vocal) set of fans at Liberty football games is the student section – the students sit on the “visitors” side, are very loud, and really get into the game – you will see them making the first down signal en masse whenever the announcer gives that call, and all of them are decked out head to toe in Liberty red. And of course in the front row you will see that ubiquitous diehard group going shirtless with painted chests, which is always a great boost to the atmosphere at any sports venue.
Getting to Williams Stadium is fairly easy, given that there is a major freeway literally within sight of the venue (Highway 460 is just to the east). However, parking can be a bit of challenge – the cost is not unreasonable, but the lots (especially the pass ones) can take a while to get out of after the game, which is surprising given the relatively small size of the crowd compared to many other FBS stadiums. Also, most of the parking seems to be near the northwest corner of the facility, and that entrance is a little hard to use given the uphill climb to get there.
However, on the plus side once you get into Williams Stadium moving around is very easy – there is a walking path that connects the two grandstands, and it is raised above the field, so you never have to miss any of the action while you are walking to and fro. Also, there are plenty of bathrooms and concessions stands, so you shouldn’t have to spend much time in line during your visit.
Return on Investment 5
General admission tickets to Liberty Flames games at Williams Stadium start at just $15, which is a great deal for the highest level of college football. Also the concessions are on the low end, and parking is very reasonable, making your trip to Lynchburg a stellar value for your sports dollar. You could easily get by here for around $25 per person for a ticket, a snack, and a beverage.
The Liberty band is a great plus at Williams Stadium for all the different formations they do, and the mascot is a lot of fun as well. The staff also hands out free Pom-Poms to all the fans, and you will see bins full of them all around the venue.
The facility still has a little ways to go in terms of renovations, but it is already pretty close to top notch, so it should only get better with time. That said, Williams Stadium is definitely worth a look, so make time to take in a Flames game this season; you won’t regret it.
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