Harold Alfond Sports Stadium – Maine Black Bears
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Harold Alfond Sports Stadium 50 Tunk Rd Orono, ME 04469
Year Opened: 1998
The Maine Event
Morse Field at Harold Alfond Stadium is a 10,000 seat stadium located on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono. Constructed and designed almost entirely by Maine companies and financed entirely by private donations, Alfond Stadium cost $6.1 million to complete in 1998. The field was named in honor of Phillip and Susan Morse, class of 1964 alumni, who donated over two million dollars for the playing surface, scoreboard, and lights. The grandstand was built as a result of a donation of over three million dollars by longtime Maine athletic booster Harold Alfond. In 2008 the Morses again made a million dollar donation to the university to install Field-Turf at the stadium.
The University of Maine hosted its first football team in 1892. The team has experienced their fair share of success over the years, winning twelve conference championships and appearing in the Tangerine Bowl in 1965. Longtime members of Division 1-AA/FCS, the Black Bears now compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. UMaine has appeared in the Division 1-AA/FCS playoffs seven times, advancing to the second round on three occasions. Their last appearance in the playoffs was their first ever post-season home game in 2013. Twenty-five Black Bear alumni have gone on to play in the National Football League.
Food & Beverage 3
The concessions at Alfond Stadium cover the basics, and little more. There is a small concession stand located under the main grandstand, which offers your stadium basics. Hungry Black Bear fans can select hot dogs, pizza or nachos. Assorted snacks, including popcorn, pretzels and candy are available.
A second portable stand by the main entrance offers hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken fingers along with french fries and onion rings.
Coca-Cola products are featured here. Fans looking for adult beverages should head over to the beer garden located beyond the south end zone. Coors Light, Blue Moon, and brews from local favorites Shipyard and Sea Dog Breweries can be found here. You can also purchase a pulled pork sandwich, chili or nachos while in the beer garden.
Hot chocolate and coffee are popular choices on chilly Maine fall days. Stadium Journey recommends the whoopie pies, which are made locally and will satisfy any sweet tooth.
College football in the northeast is generally not a big deal, featuring small crowds and a more laid-back atmosphere than what is generally found in other parts of the country. While Alfond Stadium attracts decent crowds, especially by New England standards, you will find a typical New England football experience here. The scene is laid-back and the fans are friendly and welcoming. It’s far from the life-and-death struggle that is big-time college football.
There is an active, if relaxed, tailgating scene here at Alfond Stadium. Season ticket holders are given prime real estate right next to the south end zone, and all the lots near the stadium are filled with flags, fans and UMaine’s black and blue colors.
Maine features a very large marching band and cheerleading squad, which are active throughout the game. The school’s mascot, Bananas the Bear, is entertaining but doesn’t leave the sideline. There is an excellent turnout by the student body, but their home is located on the opposite sideline from the main grandstand, which minimizes their effect on Alfond Stadium’s noise level.
The University of Maine campus is located in the small town of Orono, a town in central Maine about 15 miles north of Bangor. The campus is located on the banks of the Stillwater River, a couple of miles north of downtown. There isn’t much within walking distance of campus. Visiting fans can find a few chain restaurants out by Interstate 95, but if looking for dining or lodging options in town, you’ll want to head downtown by the confluence of the Stillwater and Penobscot Rivers.
For a small town with a population of just over 11,000, Orono has some good dining options. The original location of Pat’s Pizza, a Maine pizza institution, can be found on Mill Street. The Family Dog is a favorite spot of the student body. Fans looking for a more traditional pub experience can check out the Orono Brewing Company, Woodman’s Bar and Grill, or Bear Brew Pub.
Many visiting fans will choose to travel to nearby Bangor, Maine’s third largest city, where there are more options for dining, lodging and entertainment. Be sure to stop by the giant Paul Bunyan statue, right in front of the Cross Insurance Center, for a photo. Bangor’s most famous son, Stephen King, resides nearby, and his home is a popular spot for visitors and pictures.
UMaine’s attendance can vary from year to year. You can expect to see a crowd anywhere in the range of 5,000-9,000 fans on any given day. In 2017 the team averaged about 7,000 fans per game, which is a bit below the Colonial Athletic Association average, but not bad for this part of the country.
The fans that fill Alfond Stadium are a mix of alumni and locals, as this is truly the only game in town. The next closest Division One football team is over 200 miles away. As is typically the case in the northeast, fans are pretty reserved during the action. Even though the tailgating lots open three hours before kickoff, don’t expect a rowdy scene here at UMaine. Fans are certainly welcoming to visitors.
There is a good turnout from the student body, who fill much of the bleachers on the far side of Alfond Stadium. Unfortunately, since they sit away from most of the crowd here, their effect of the atmosphere is diminished.
Besides the fact that the University of Maine is located over 200 miles from any other Division One football program, it is very easy to get to Alfond Stadium. Simply take exit 193 (Stillwater Ave / Old Town) off of Interstate 95, cross the river and take a right onto College Avenue. Alfond Stadium and the rest of UMaine’s athletic facilities will be on your left hand side about a half mile up the road.
Alfond Stadium is located on the northern edge of the UMaine campus, in between Alfond Arena and Mahaney Diamond. Parking is available in several parking lots surrounding the facilities, as well as in lots throughout the campus.
Seating at Alfond Stadium is located on either side of the field, with no seats beyond either end zone. The main grandstand consists of individual stadium seats and aluminum benches without backs depending on the level of ticket you have purchased. On the far side of the facility are additional bleacher seats where the students and band sit.
Concessions and rest rooms are located underneath the main grandstand. Additional concessions are located near the southwest entrance, with the beer garden located adjacent to the south end zone. Lines form at halftime, so time your visits appropriately. Also, beware the giant stuffed black bear in the men’s room!
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to UMaine football games are sold at three price levels: individual stadium seats for $35, midfield bleacher seats for $25 and other bleacher seats for $15. Parking in the tailgating lots C and D adjacent to the stadium costs $20, while other nearby lots are free of charge. If heading up to UMaine for homecoming, more of the lots are opened for tailgating, but they will also incur a charge. Should you arrive late or if the lots are filled, free parking is available all over campus.
With inexpensive concessions, an afternoon at Alfond Stadium offers an affordable entertainment option for Maine sports fans.
If free swag is your thing, be sure to check out the local vendors who set up shop by the southwest entrance. UMaine branded gear, including rally towels, t-shirts, programs, posters and more are available to Black Bear fans in this area.
The Bear Necessities Shop is open next door to Alfond Stadium inside the Alfond Arena. The arena is stocked with all kinds of Black Bear gear. You can even check out the home of the Maineiacs while you’re here.
UMaine’s location in the far northeastern corner of the country makes it a destination only for the most ardent college football travelers. If you do find yourself in Orono on a beautiful fall afternoon, be prepared for friendly, passionate fans enjoying some college football in a relaxed manner in a solid facility. Pair a visit to Alfond Stadium with a game next door at Alfond Arena to see Maine’s favorite sport, hockey, and you have yourself the makings of a great day in central Maine.