J. W. Babb Stadium – Erskine Flying Fleet
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
J. W. Babb Stadium 1816 Cokesbury Rd Greenwood, SC 29649
Year Opened: 1933
Erskine Football is Back!!!
Erskine’s football program originally began in 1896 but went on a long hiatus starting in 1951. The team was due to begin playing again starting in 2020, but due to the pandemic their first season was delayed until the spring, and the Fleet was only able to play a handful of games that the first season due to cancellations and other restrictions. Now in the Fall of 2021, football at Erskine is back in earnest, much to the delight of fans.
Originally known as the Seceders, the Flying Fleet picked up their new name during a game in 1929, thanks to a Greenville reporter who was awed by their passing game. The program currently competes as a D2 Independent but will join the D2 South Atlantic Conference starting in 2022. Erskine is in the process of planning and garnering funding for an all-sports complex on campus in Due West, SC, which will serve as the new home of Erskine football. In the interim, however, the team plays its home games at J. W. Babb Stadium, a high school football stadium in nearby Greenwood, SC.
Food & Beverage 3
J. W. Babb Stadium has a decent selection of food and beverages at its concessions stand behind the north end zone, near the main entrance and ticket booths. Hot dogs, bratwurst, nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts (boiled or regular), chips, cotton candy, and boxed candy are all available with nothing over $5. You can also find bottled water and Coke products.
J. W. Babb Stadium is a fine facility and includes a running track around the field, as well as a large video board for replays behind the south end zone. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of Erskine décor around the facility due to it being a shared stadium – the team does hang a few banners and signs to bring in some of the maroon and gold of the Flying Fleet, but thanks to the ubiquitous Greenwood High School signage and logos, you can’t help but be reminded this is a borrowed stadium. In addition, given the program’s recent re-birth, there hasn’t been time yet for Erskine to build up its football fan base to a high level – hopefully, the new stadium and a few more years to build a following will increase the draw at games.
Erskine Football, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
J. W. Babb Stadium has a good number of restaurants in the immediate vicinity if you are looking for a place to hang out before or after the game. Closest to the stadium you can find Lowcountry Grill, known for big portions and reasonable prices, or Mig’s Pizza, whose name is a little misleading given that besides pizza they serve a wide variety of calabash seafood entrees, as well as sub sandwiches and several classic Italian dishes such as different types of pasta and chicken parmesan. There are also plenty of hotels in that same area of town, including local options like Inn on the Square, plus well-known chains such as Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn.
If you plan to be in town for the day or weekend, there are several options to keep you entertained during your stay in Greenwood. Besides several parks, there is a Fun Factory complete with rides and arcade-type games for kids, while for history or railroad buffs there is the Railroad Historical Center, which consists of numerous restored, full-size train cars and a locomotive, which you can walk through and/or take a tour of.
J. W. Babb Stadium doesn’t draw much of a crowd yet during Erskine football games – the main stands are pretty empty, and the visitor’s side (depending on the game) may not be much better. There is some pretty good crowd noise following large plays though, given the small size of the stadium and the acoustics, and you are close enough to the field to hear the sounds of the game very well. Given time, I expect the crowd size to only grow as Erskine football builds more of a following.
J. W. Babb Stadium is easy to get to – it is a little off the beaten path given it is not located in a big city, but this also means there is not much traffic to contend with. There are plenty of parking lots around the stadium (Maroon, White, and Gold) so there is more than enough room to accommodate the fans. The Gold lot is the closest to the field, and as such, it costs more to park there ($20 instead of $10 for the Maroon or White lots). The most convenient way to pay for parking is online when you purchase your tickets, but be aware if you go that route you will have to pay a few extra dollars in fees.
The only downside concerning access at J. W. Babb Stadium is that the lone concessions stand is behind the north end zone, which is fine if you pick up snacks as you enter, but if you want to pick up anything during the game you have to walk down – not a long walk by any means since the stadium is not that big, but you won’t find anything to purchase underneath the grandstands like at other venues.
Concessions at Babb Stadium, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Erskine football games cost $10 plus about $4 in fees for adult general admission (bleacher seats), or you can spend about $10 more for chair backs on the main side; kids’ seats are $5 plus fees. Be aware that all ticket sales at J. W. Babb are online; even if you go to the ticket booth on game day all you will find is a QR code to scan which takes you to the website, so you may as well purchase your tickets beforehand. Parking and concessions are reasonable though, so you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy a nice day of college football watching the Flying Fleet.
Erskine does have band performances during halftime, and ROTCs from local high schools act as the color guard during the playing of the National Anthem. Erskine also has a very small band, but not much else in the way of entertainment during breaks in the action.
Erskine fans are certainly thrilled to have football back after almost a 70-year hiatus and are working hard to get their new stadium built. In time I think the Flying Fleet’s football experience will improve a great deal, but for now expect a basic no-frills experience – perfect for those who just love the game and are looking for a relaxed experience, but may not suit those looking for something more over the top.