Burgess–Snow Field at JSU Stadium – Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium 700 Pelham Rd N Jacksonville, AL 36265
Year Opened: 1947
Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium
Over the better part of the last decade, Jacksonville State has proven itself as one of the more dangerous teams of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Not only have the Gamecocks been headaches for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams such as Georgia Tech, LSU, and Arkansas, they have pulled upsets on the home fields of the Ole Miss Rebels and Florida State Seminoles in recent years.
Jacksonville State has made the steady climb from a NCAA Division-II power, playing in four NCAA D-II championship games and winning it all in 1992. The Gamecocks continued their gridiron success when they moved from Division II into the FCS for the 1996 season – it took Jax State ten seasons to reach the pinnacle of the FCS, facing off against nine-time FCS champion, North Dakota State.
Jacksonville State now joins the FBS member conference, Conference USA, as one of the handful of new members in college football’s highest division. In preparation for the jump to college football’s top division, Jacksonville State has invested $80 million in upgrades to their football facilities that offer both their student-athletes and fans an improved football experience.
Food & Beverage 4
Fans here have a choice of traditional concessions stand items including hot dogs, chili dogs, cheeseburgers, nachos, fountain Coke products, and all the typical concessions stand popcorn, peanuts, and candy options. Fans can order concessions to pick up and go using the Everyday App; QR codes are posted around the concourse to make downloading the app easier.
Those wanting a bit of a break from the norm will want to visit the Food Truck Rally behind the east end zone bleachers – this area features a mix of Brix ‘n Stix Wood Fired Pizza, TJ’s Crawfish Shack, RNB Finz and Chicks LLC, Kona Ice, Main Squeeze Lemonade, and WOW American Eats.
Beer is sold at JSU Stadium, but options are a bit limited. Bud Lite, Busch Lite, and Michelob Ultra round out the macrobrews, while Wicked Weed Pernicious, Back Forty Truck Stop Honey, and Bud Seltzer provide a break from the run-of-the-mill beers.
All payment options are cashless – payment methods fans can use for concessions and food trucks include credit/debit cards or Apple, Google, or Samsung Pay.
The Food Truck Rally is definitely the way to go if looking for a break from the typical concessions stand items; with soul food, wings and fried foods, and Cajun delights, there is a wonderful spread for fans to choose from.
The campus game day atmosphere comes to life in the pre-dawn hours. As early as 7 am, fans start staking their claim to tailgating plots along the grassy area at the front of campus. As game time approaches, “The Roost” starts bustling with more excitement which builds in anticipation of the Gamecock Walk where school mascot Cocky, along with band members, cheerleaders, members of the dance squad, coaches, and staff walk from the team buses at Angel Hall to the current football facility.
Later, while the Gamecocks make final game preparations, fans start making their way to Burgess-Snow Field.
As JSU Stadium continues to undergo upgrades, fans do have a handful of minor inconveniences to navigate. In its second phase of improvements, the Loring and Debbie White Football Complex player development center is starting to take shape behind the stadium's west end zone.
At the moment, the visiting team stands lacks seating, but is open for fans to sit in if they so choose. Outside of the club level seats, any of the seating options get fans right on top of the action and give great views of the game. Given the orientation of the field, however, there is not a lot of relief from the sun – the best bet to limit the impact the sun will have on the enjoyment of the game is sitting on the home side of the field, toward the eastern end of the stadium. Fans on the visiting, north side of the stadium will have the sun in their face for much of the game.
Throughout the game, there is a nice balance of music piped through the stadium speakers, as well as performances by the Marching Southerners. No matter which form of music is used, the Marching Southerners do a great job setting the tone for a fun football atmosphere.
The overall coziness of Burgess-Snow Field will only be improved as progress continues to be made on the player development center and the north side stands.
Backdropped by the mountains of northeastern Alabama, JSU Stadium sits on the southern portion of the Jacksonville State campus. Jacksonville, a relatively small town by FBS standards, is just over 12,000 and has every bit of the cozy, small town feel.
JSU Stadium stands out amongst the campus dormitories. The stadium’s main seating area also doubles as a dorm, with its first four floors providing student housing.
In the immediate area around the stadium there are a handful of pre-gaming options. Struts of Jacksonville, more of a traditional sports bar, and Mason’s BBQ, both on Mountain Street NW, are the most conveniently located spots to grab a pre-game bite to eat.
About a mile south of campus is Jacksonville’s town center; this has a handful of restaurants and the Apothecary Draft House, which fans can visit.
Jacksonville’s rural setting does provide fans making a multi-day visit to Jacksonville with miles of hiking trails to explore through the northern reaches of the Talladega National Forest, which runs just east of Jacksonville.
Pre-game entertainment might be a bit limited, but there is enough between tailgating and local restaurants for fans to keep themselves entertained until the gates open.
JSU Stadium is one of the smaller FBS stadiums in the country. Despite its capacity of 24,000, it can be a raucous home field.
Much like their JSU basketball pep band counterparts, the Marching Southerners are the pulse of the stadium’s liveliness. It is not just the spirit of the fight song they play or the musical interludes they drop during timeouts – band members are also commonly leading chants throughout the game and lead the enthusiasm of the stadium in anticipation of the game’s biggest moments.
There is also a Sweet Caroline style sing-along, with a cue from the band as they hold their instruments in the air as they sway back and forth to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. As the song ends, fans breakout in a chant of “U.S.A!...U.S.A!”
The home fans do a lot to stay into the game, but much of the credit for the fan involvement in the action on the field has to go to the Marching Southerners. Their intensity in supporting the Gamecocks is contagious and goes a long way toward creating a fun college football environment.
Jacksonville, Alabama is a bit off the beaten path. Fans coming from the west through Birmingham or from Atlanta to the east most likely will use I-20. This will leave just under a thirty-minute drive through Oxford and Anniston, Alabama. State Road 21 leads from I-20 right to the JSU campus. Northern and southern approaches come mostly via state roads and highways.
Parking is available for $10 at nearby Stephenson, Dixon, and Curtiss Halls, but lots at the Theron Montgomery Building, Bibb Graves Hall, Ayers Hall, Crow Hall, Daugette Hall, and around Trustee Circle are free. A shuttle bus brings fans from the parking lot behind the library to campus. While the walk is not all that long, the shuttle is a nice amenity.
The stadium is accessible from all directions, though the southwestern entrance point is a bit obscured due to the construction of the Loring and Debbie White Football Building. Most fans will enter through the southeast entrance, and fans watching the game from the suites can enter the VIP entrance through the lobby of Meehan Hall. Visiting fans have entry points along the north side of the stadium.
Return on Investment 5
College football tickets can be some of the more expensive tickets on campuses, but Jacksonville State makes the experience one that is far from being finically prohibitive for fans to attend. With tickets starting at just $12 (including a $2 service fee), college football fans will be hard pressed to find a more affordable ticket. QR codes are posted around the outside of the stadium where tickets can purchased the day of the game for $15.
Fans looking for a bit more comfortable game experience will need to pony up $130 for club level seats ($5 service fee included), but those do include a pre-game meal, fountain beverages, and snacks throughout the game.
Jacksonville State wisely invests in their future fans by allowing children 5 and under into games free. This helps grab the attention of younger fans and instills early memories of going to a Gamecocks game.
Banners of Jacksonville State’s alumni who have played professionally in football and baseball are displayed throughout the concourse below the main bleacher area. Former JSU golfer, 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett, is also featured.
Fans can watch the live, pre-game radio show broadcasting from outside the southeast entrance before entering the stadium.
The original press box on the north side of the stadium gives fans a look at the long history of success the Gamecocks have enjoyed, from the years of conference championships to NCAA playoff appearances and the 1982 Division II National Championship.
Jacksonville State is doing everything it can to make the jump from FCS to FBS as seamless as possible. The investments they have made in facilities, player amenities, and coaching are a good first step in making that move a successful one.
Time will tell if the move will be as successful as the Gamecocks performance has been at the Division II and I-AA/FCS levels. One of the challenges is, as members of Conference USA, more than half the conference rivals are more than 700 miles away, which will definitely impact the size of the visiting crowds – nearby Kennesaw State University joining the conference in 2024 will help add a nearby rival to the schedule, and also help bolster visiting crowd sizes.
Overall, an afternoon in Jacksonville, Alabama provides a fun game day atmosphere many would not expect. Despite not having the same level of pomp-and-circumstance many of the major college football programs might have, the small town feel of the Jacksonville community helps bolster the overall experience of a day of football with the Gamecocks.