Bazemore-Hyder Stadium – Valdosta State Blazers
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium 1204 Williams St Valdosta, GA 31601
Year Opened: 2004
The Blazin’ Brigade
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium at Cleveland Field is the home field of the Valdosta High School Wildcats, but is also used by the NCAA Division II’s Valdosta State Blazers. The overall facility was named after two prominent Wildcats coaches, while the field itself was named after a former school superintendent. Though football was first played here in 1923, the old stadium was demolished and a new venue built on the same site in 2004. The new venue includes a Wildcat Museum to celebrate the many accomplishments of the high school club.
The Valdosta Blazers have played football here since 1982, and in four decades and earned 4 national championships (#Titletown, USA). The Blazers currently compete in the Gulf South Conference.
Food & Beverage 4
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium has concessions stands on both sides of the field, and offers a strong selection of menu items including pulled pork, BBQ chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, Italian sausage, nachos (with or without barbecue), popcorn, and packaged candy for $2 to $5 (except for the BBQ nachos which are $8). The home side also offers a few additional items such as shaved ice, kettle corn, and caramel corn. You can also buy bottled Coke Products or bottled water for $3.
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium is a great little facility – while not large compared to FBS or FCS facilities (which require more seating by rule), the Blazers’ 11,249 capacity is on the higher side for D2. The trees surrounding the stadium on three sides provide a pleasant setting, and there is plenty of Blazer signage all around the facility, making it hard to tell this is really a high school football stadium (a lot of shared stadiums don’t do as good a job hiding the other team’s décor, so seeing that here is a great touch).
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium has grandstands along both sidelines, on the north and south sides of the field – the larger home stands have chairback seats and chairback rails all the way across, making for more comfortable seating for fans. The visitor side, however, has regular bleachers in all areas, and the two grandstands are not connected, so you will have to enter on the side where you have your tickets. The east side of the stadium is taken up by the field house with locker rooms, while the west side has a large scoreboard, including a videoboard for instant replays, which is big enough that it can easily be seen from anywhere in the venue, no matter where you are sitting.
The Valdosta State marching band is known as the Blazin’ Brigade, and along with the cheer squad they put on a great show before the game, when the team comes onto the field, and during halftime, with lots of red-and-black banners waving in the breeze. The band is also very large and does a lot of great formations, including playing popular songs from both today and yesterday.
Blazin' Brigade, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Valdosta, GA has a population of around fifty-six thousand, and is located next to I-75 not far from the Florida-Georgia line; the stadium is nestled between Highway 221 on the south and Highway 41 on the east and north. There are several Mexican restaurants near the venue (El Cazador is the closest), but Soultry’s Southern Cuisine is only a couple of miles away (next to I-75), as is Texas Roadhouse, if you are looking to take in some other games before or after the Blazers contest.
There are plenty of hotels in Valdosta, with enough options to fit any budget – all of these are located in the corridor next to I-75, about 3 miles west of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. There are also a couple of parks within a few miles of the facility, as well as the South Georgia Selfie Museum if you are looking for a more modern and unique type of tourist attraction to visit.
Even for a D2 playoff game the Valdosta State Blazers do not draw a huge crowd to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, but the fans who are there are plenty loud, and they definitely outnumber the visiting fans, which is always a refreshing thing to see from the fans at a smaller school. The facility also sells Blazer team gear underneath the home side (not a huge selection but a few items), so be sure to pick up your VSU swag while at the game.
On the plus side, Bazemore-Hyder Stadium is easy to get to since it is located near several different highways, and you can park right across the street at the VFW for $10, which is a great deal and makes for a short walk to the venue. The concourse is also very easy to move around, and there are plenty of bathrooms and concessions stands to accommodate everyone.
The downside is that the two different grandstands are separated, so you cannot move freely from one area to the other, and you have to enter on the side where you have your ticket. Things are particularly congested on the visitor side, with long lines to buy tickets (and for concessions), so be sure to buy your tickets online before the game so you can avoid some of the wait. Ticket lines were almost non-existent on the home side, however, and the concessions lines are shorter on the home side as well.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Valdosta State games at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium start at $12, but it is worth it to pay a little more to get the chairback seats on the home side, as well as the better concessions and shorter lines on that side. Concessions are also a great deal with most items running under $5, which is much less expensive than a lot of other venues – for the experience you get, seeing a Blazers game is definitely a great return on investment for your sports dollar.
Valdosta State has an awesome mascot (a person in a matchstick costume with a flame for a head, amazing costume!), and they play several videos on the big screen during halftime to keep fans entertained after the marching band finishes their show. They also have a solid football program with no fewer than four national championships in less than twenty years, so you are sure to see some great talent on the field.
Valdosta State Banners, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Bazemore-Hyder Stadium is definitely worth a look – you may not have heard of the small school known as Valdosta State University, but if you are a football fan you should have heard of the Blazers and their recent string of successes. If you are in the south Georgia area, make time to take this great little stadium in rural GA.