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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Kessler Stadium – Monmouth Hawks


Photos by Gregory Koch Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Kessler Stadium 107 Larchwood Ave West Long Branch, NJ 07764



Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 4,200

 

Blue Hawks of the Jersey Shore


Located just a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 miles from New York City, Monmouth University is right in the heart of New Jersey. Kessler Stadium is located on Monmouth's campus and is home to the Hawks' football program. The stadium opened in 1993 and was renovated in in 2017 to expand the capacity to 4,200.


Monmouth football has competed in several different conferences in recent years. Until 2013, they were a member of the Northeast Conference in all sports. When the athletic department accepted an invitation to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (better known as the MAAC), the football team had to move elsewhere as the MAAC does not sponsor football. Despite being located in New Jersey, they became a football-only member of the Big South Conference. In 2022, Monmouth joined the CAA for all sports. Then known as the Colonial Athletic Association, the conference chanced its name to the Coastal Athletic Association in 2023.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand at Kessler Stadium, located on the concourse beneath the seats. The menu is pretty basic here. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and chicken tenders are the main courses, with the tenders coming with fries. Soft pretzels, popcorn, and nachos are also available, as are candy, chips, and cookies. Bottled soda and water are available to drink. Prices are reasonable, and combos that come with a food item, fries, and a drink can add additional value.





Atmosphere 3

Kessler Stadium has seats on only one side of the field, with red flower bushes lining the other side. There are some chairbacks at midfield, and the remainder of the seats are bleachers. A track surrounds the playing field, but all seats still have a great view of the action. The seats should be in the shade for most of the game, which is great on a hot day early in the season, but less so on a chilly day in November.


A large videoboard is located behind one end zone, and will be to your left as you sit in the stands. Before the game, it shows a hype video interspersing Monmouth football highlights with players posing for the camera at the Jersey Shore. During the game, it shows the video feed as well as serving as the scoreboard and showing detailed stats for each team.


Monmouth has a mascot named Shadow, who unsurprisingly is a Hawk. He hangs out in the stands during the game interacting with fans and is happy to take photos with kids. A marching band plays on the field before the game, but is not too active after that. After the game, they play the Monmouth alma mater. While most fans don't sing along or even know the words, the tune will be instantly recognizable to anyone as it is the same as Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."





Neighborhood 4

Located just a mile from the Jersey Shore, there is plenty to do in the vicinity of Monmouth University's campus. Although it is in a residential neighborhood, the beaches of Long Branch are just a five minute drive away. While these won't be helpful later in the season when the temperature of air and ocean is chilly, it is extremely popular early in the season, over Labor Day Weekend before it cools off. Long Branch and West Long Branch offer numerous restaurants, serving everything from tacos to pizza to Portuguese. While it is definitely more lively when the weather is warm, it can be nice to experience the area without the crowds later in the fall.


Fans 3

Monmouth football averages a couple thousand fans a game. The stands will be fairly full, but there will still be a lot of empty seats despite the small size. Monmouth's student section sits with the band at the far right side of the bleachers but there do not seem to be too many of them either. This is a pretty standard crowd for the FCS level. They care about the team when they show up, but there simply aren't that many who bother to show up.


Access 4

Monmouth University is about 15 minutes off the Garden State Parkway via Exit 105 or a 90 minute train ride from New York City. If you do choose to drive, parking is available in a large lot next to the stadium, but costs $20, cash only, upon entry. Restrooms are located on the concourse and are of a more than sufficient size for the crowd. It is easy to get into and around Kessler Stadium, and getting out after the game is no problem either.


Return on Investment 2

Tickets to Monmouth football are $20-$25, depending on whether or not you opt for a chairback. This is about average for FCS on its own. However, you will also have to pay $20 to park, which is unnecessarily expensive, and may pay $5-$10 in tolls on the Parkway or Turnpike, depending on how you get here. Concessions are reasonably affordable, but a Monmouth football game is still more expensive than it probably should be.


Extras 1

Look for the team store on the concourse selling Monmouth athletic gear.


Final Thoughts

A Monmouth football game down the shore is an enjoyable way to spend a fall afternoon in New Jersey. Although you will not find the fanciest stadium or the largest crowds, it is well worth checking out on a Saturday afternoon.


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