Alumni Memorial Stadium – Livingstone Blue Bears
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Alumni Memorial Stadium 420 Institute St Salisbury, NC 28144
Blue Bears of the Gridiron
Founded in 1879, Livingstone College first fielded a college football team in 1892. The Blue Bears play their home games at Alumni Memorial Stadium in Salisbury, NC, and currently compete in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the NCAA’s Division II. The stadium holds 6,000 fans in grandstands on either side of the field and has a running track around the outside – like many college athletics tracks in the state of North Carolina, the track itself is named after philanthropist Irwin Belk, founder of the department store chain. Livingstone College is a Historically Black College (HBCU).
Food & Beverage 4
Alumni Memorial Stadium has multiple food and beverage options available from its concessions stands, and the prices are very reasonable. Outside the stadium proper there is a stand run by a local church which offers chicken tenders, Polish sausage, hot dogs, and fries, as well as bottled soda and bottled water – the combos of chicken tenders with fries or Polish sausage with fries are a great deal at $5.
In addition to the stand outside, inside the facility you can find an Italian ice stand, which is a great choice on those hot days early in the season, as well as a traditional stand that sells fish sandwiches, burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken wings, hot dogs, sausage links, popcorn, nachos, fries, chips, cookies, and packaged candy, as well as 12 or 20 oz sodas. Nothing is over $5, and they also have a combo option which will save fans $1. Note that no alcohol is permitted inside Alumni Memorial Stadium.
At HBCUs one of the biggest draws at a football game is the band and the cheerleaders, and at Livingstone these do not disappoint. The Blue Bears’ Blue Thunder Marching Band takes the field with authority and passion to perform during pregame, and following that actually takes quite a long time to get to their seats at the far end of the home stands, moving and swaying in unison as one by one small groups march across from the field to the stands, until finally all of the band members are together again.
Blue Thunder Band Taking Their Seats, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
This process continues to entertain and delight fans even after the game has already started, and the band members are joined by a dance team garbed in glitter, as well as by the cheerleaders performing on the track in front of the Blue Bears bench – even if the action on the field is not enough to make the experience enjoyable for you, the entertainment provided by the band and dance team surely will. The visiting team’s band also performs during halftime, so you will have the chance to see not one but two great bands during your visit.
On the home side at Alumni Memorial Stadium, most of the seating is on stone steps (painted blue for the Bears) with only a single row or two of chair backs in the top row, which are usually the first to be taken, while on the visitors side you will find more traditional metal bleachers – for my money the stone steps are actually more comfortable, but be aware of the multiple seating options in case you have a preference. In addition, the stadium has a scoreboard behind one of the end zones, which does not include a video board for replays, so make sure to pay attention if you want to catch the action. On the plus side, however, the walking path at the top of the stands is open to the field, so you can keep an eye on the game while you get up to get a snack.
Salisbury, NC is your quintessential rural small town, with a population of under 34K living in an area of about 18 square miles. Despite its small size the town boasts a theological seminary and three colleges, including Livingstone and crosstown D2 rival Catawba, and offers several attractions for fans in town for the day or weekend.
A few restaurants close to Alumni Memorial Stadium include Hap’s Grill (a tiny but popular burger joint) and the very unique La Cava, which is an Italian restaurant set up inside a former church. For fans of the outdoors, nearby Kelsey Scott Park offers slides and swings for the little ones, while those with an interest in history can check out the NC Transportation Museum a few miles to the east. And, if you plan to be in town overnight there are plenty of hotels near the stadium (at the I-85 exit), including a Comfort Suites and a Courtyard by Marriott.
Livingstone College does not currently pull in a ton of fans for football games, but as the team keeps winning and the band keeps playing that should improve over time. As a result, however, at present the stands seem a little empty, but the fans who are there are very vocal in support of the Bears (or against certain calls by the refs). You will see a lot of fans in team gear, and if you didn’t bring any of your own you can buy it from a stand at the stadium, or pick up a Blue Bears towel or noise maker (i.e. thunder sticks) as you enter the venue.
Getting to Alumni Memorial Stadium could not be much easier – located in Salisbury, NC, the venue is only a few miles off I-85 and offers parking for $5 right next to the facility. There is no traffic to worry about as you approach, even if you arrive within a few minutes of kickoff, and unlike some venues there are plenty of signs pointing the way to parking; the event staff are also friendly and courteous if you do end up needing some assistance finding your way.
Once you get to the stadium you will use the main entrance on one end of the home stands (near the parking), and if you are sitting in the visitor stands you will then walk down the stairs and across the field to that side. The concession stands are only located on the home side, but they are easy to get to and the lines are short. There are also more than enough bathrooms to accommodate the size of the crowd, and since the venue is not full you will have plenty of room to spread out if you want to.
Return on Investment 4
If you are in the area I would definitely recommend a visit to Alumni Memorial Stadium – the band is worth seeing and the action on the field is generally competitive; despite a losing season in their last campaign the Bears are starting out this year (2019) on a high note. Tickets to games here are slightly higher than other venues in the area at $15 ($10 for faculty/staff and $5 for children), but the parking and concessions are on the low side so that should make up for it, even if you are bringing a large group.
The Bears do have some signage around the field and logos on the field itself, and the stands are painted in the team’s colors which is always a plus. The track around the field does mean fans are a little further from the action than they might like, but the venue is small enough that you are still plenty close enough to hear the crack of the pads against each other; in fact I would recommend sitting at the top of either grandstand to get a better view of the action, as the nearest seats to the field might even be too close.