Image: Screenshot from visitjmu.com.
Today marks nine weeks until JMU football starts its 2018 season. As the season approaches, I continue with my weekly countdown until the year kicks off on Sept. 1 with an exciting matchup against North Carolina State. This week’s countdown article shares the nine “best things” about Bridgeforth Stadium.
Disclaimer: This is subjective. If you hate my list, please send me (@BennettConlin) a strongly-worded tweet and we can discuss why you’re actually very, very wrong.
Let’s get to it.
9. Food Race Promotion
Yes, the glorious food race. On Saturdays we all root for lobster, and the poor crustacean almost always falls short. He was able to pull out a victory last year against Maine in a day that will go down as arguably the most important in-game JMU football promotion involving food in the history of the 2017 season.
For those that don’t know what the food races are, a bunch of people dressed up in culinary costumes race across the field. The winning food is then discounted in the fourth quarter. JMU doesn’t normally sell lobster at games (That’s UVA, which sells lobster, caviar and a collection of Vineyard Vines button-down shirts to all seven fans in attendance), so the race is normally rigged against lobster. If you haven’t seen the race, go to a game and witness the ninth-best part of a JMU football game.
8. The Press Box
This isn’t relatable at all, and I’m spoiled. I feel the need to bring it up regardless. Bridgeforth Stadium’s press box is among the best I’ve ever been to in my time at The Breeze. In a few other press boxes, I feared for my life. The wooden structure at Delaware appeared to be constructed by children in the 1920s. Walking into the press box requires you to get on all fours, get blasted by a shrink ray and then crawl into the wobbly building. The bathroom is a supply closet. How much did I dislike the press box? I would’ve rather stared into Danny Rocco’s horrifyingly bright blue eyes for two hours than go back.
OK, OK, I’m overreacting. Delaware’s press box isn’t that bad, and anyone complaining about covering a national championship-winning football team as a 20-year-old needs a reality check. The point of my overblown rant is that JMU’s press box is top notch. I’d argue it’s better, albeit smaller, than North Carolina’s. Every part of the press box is amazing. From the MadiZONE broadcast booth, to press row to the post-game press conference area, the press box is incredible. It’s an FBS caliber location. As a journalist covering CAA football, I felt incredibly lucky to be at Bridgeforth Stadium so frequently.
7. Duke Dog
Both the real dog and the mascot help add to the special atmosphere. The fun-loving mascot that got robbed out of winning the 2004 Capital One Mascot Challenge makes every JMU moment better. Grab a selfie with him before the end of your college career.
6. JMU Marching Royal Dukes
The Dukes boast a ridiculously talented band to add to the excitement of a fall Saturday in Bridgeforth. Nothing makes a game day better than an MRD rendition of “Start Wearing Purple.”
5. So. Many. Wins.
Under Mike Houston, JMU has yet to lose at home. Seventeen games. Seventeen wins. 17-0. Fun fact: That’s more home wins than Texas State has total wins (14) in the last four seasons.
4. “First Down, J-M-U Duuuuukes!”
When the Dukes earn a first down, which they frequently do, the sweet, sweet sounds of Curt Dudley echo across the stadium. “First down, J-M-U,” he says as JMU nation responds with a massive “Duuuuuukes!” It’s a great feeling, and one of the little parts of a JMU game that get taken for granted. My advice? Never take Curt Dudley’s voice for granted.
3. Intimate Stadium Atmosphere
Bridgeforth seats about 25,000 people, but sellout crowds feel like more. The student section on a crowded Saturday creates an atmosphere that few FCS venues can replicate. Now, the crowd when the Dukes play Morehead State isn’t quite as intimate, but when big games roll around, Bridgeforth is among the best in the FCS.
2. Staying Past Halftime
Yes, people do this. The wonders of staying past halftime include seeing the end of the game, knowing who wins and not quitting on your fellow students. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol still exists outside the stadium after the conclusion of games. Staying past halftime to see JMU trash teams by 50 is great. Oh, and sometimes this happens.
The second half of JMU football games is worth the wait. Stick around for the whole game.
This is an easy choice — unless you work for the NCAA. There’s no better tradition than throwing streamers at games. Whether you’re into football or not, there’s something satisfying about throwing a streamer across the sky. It’s fun for people of all ages, and it means the Dukes just did something well. Throwing streamers is peak JMU. It’s an incredible experience and very few people across the country are aware of it. Much like the school itself, streamers are a hidden gem.