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  • Will Halpern

Kidd Brewer Stadium – Appalachian State Mountaineers


Photos by Will Halpern , Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43

Kidd Brewer Stadium Center 270 Stadium Dr Boone, NC 28608


Year Opened: 1962

Capacity: 30,000

 

ASU Football Continues to Rock in Boone

In 1928, nearly three decades after Appalachian State University was founded, their football team was launched, playing at College Field for 34 seasons until their move across campus in 1962 in what was then known as Conrad Stadium. In 1988 the stadium was dedicated to one of the most successful coaches in Mountaineer history, Kidd Brewer.


Kidd Brewer Stadium, known as “The Rock,” is a staple of college football not just in Boone but in the state of North Carolina, and even though at times it lives in the shadow of the four in-state ACC Programs to the east, Kidd Brewer Stadium and the Mountaineers who play there have been trendsetters. In 1970 the stadium was the first in the Carolinas to make use of artificial turf, and since then the team has had many successes – for example, more than three decades later the Mountaineers won 30 games in a row. The team also captured three consecutive NCAA FCS (then called Division 1-AA) national championships. In fact, ASU is the only college in North Carolina at any level to win an NCAA national championship in football, and the first Division 1 school since Army in the 1940s to win three straight football titles.


However, the Black and Gold are best remembered for something that occurred over 500 miles away from Boone, and that was the team’s upset over #5 Michigan at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, becoming the first FCS school to upset a ranked FBS Squad. The upset over the Wolverines is still regarded as one of the greatest upsets in all of sports, and while the Mountaineers have not achieved anything of that magnitude since then, Kidd Brewer Stadium still provides one of the best small conference college football experiences in the country.


With the move from the Southern Conference up to the Sun Belt Conference, it is unlikely we will see them win another national championship, but with recent home games against Power Five schools like Miami and Wake Forest, and more on the horizon, the stadium is continuing to upgrade to increase the already incredible game day experience.


Food & Beverage 4

Boone is a town known for more than just being the home of App State; it is also home to a plethora of local restaurants, bars, and shops. The stadium, by bringing in some of these local vendors, expands the options far beyond the traditional stadium fare.


The Yosef Snack Bar is the place to grab your normal stadium fare, such as hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, etc., and while each of these items is priced at four dollars, you can mix and match and get three items for ten dollars. Or, the Smoke House Hall of Fame serves heartier fare including the Carolina BBQ Sandwich for five dollars, and if that isn’t enough there is a 12-inch BBQ Grinder for twelve dollars – while the latter’s price is a little steep it is truly a big sandwich. The Cardinal is a food truck that serves burgers, with the single, double, and triple at seven, nine, and eleven dollars respectively. Burgers can be made Carolina Style (chili, slaw, mustard, and pickles) or All the Way (mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions). Cheese and bacon can also be added, and they also offer gluten-free buns and beet burgers for vegans. But the best item at the truck is no doubt the queso fries, and while eight dollars may seem like a lot, it is well worth it. Queso fries are exactly what they sound like: fresh-baked golden fries, drizzled with queso.


Pepsi is the soft drink provider at Kidd Brewer Stadium, going at four dollars for a bottle, and with the introduction of beer sales this season (2019) there are plenty of places to grab a beer, though identification and a one drink per customer limit is strictly enforced. Coors and Miller Lite, along with Blue Moon and Light Claw Hard Seltzer are your domestic options for seven dollars each, and Yosef Golden Ale, the craft beer of choice, is nine dollars. Coffee is also served at a stand where you can also get vanilla and caramel lattes and hot chocolate, as well as mocha and caramel frappes and frozen hot chocolate.


Finally, for those looking for something sweet, two great options are the Appalachian Cookie Company serving up six varieties of fresh-baked cookies, and the Farmer’s Wife Fried Apple Pies, both of which are delicious choices. The only downside with the concessions is that they are priced a little high, and with mostly sold-out crowds at The Rock, lines can be long. Still, the food is well worth the wait and the price.


Atmosphere 5

Kidd Brewer Stadium is by no means one of the larger college football stadiums around, but this adds to the game day experience as the stadium is intimate enough to offer great views of the field, campus, and the beautiful Appalachian Mountains that tower behind the stadium, creating one of the most scenic backdrops in the country for a college football game. The town and the university are both just shy of 20,000 people, but with a stadium around 30,000, demand for tickets is high and sellouts are common.


The stadium is in the process of renovations so at the moment, work is being done behind the north end zone to create a fieldhouse, athletic training space, offices, and premium seating which will be opened by the 2020 season. The main seating area is the west stands, which feature sections 101-107 and 201-207, while sections 108-114 and 208-218 are on the east side. However, it is important to note that a lot of those sections are for different levels of Yosef Club Members, as well as for students who make up the entire lower west end of the stadium. However, you can always find seats throughout the stadium both through the App State Athletics website or through a secondary marketplace. There is also seating on the hill behind the south end zone, but the hill can get very cramped and you don’t get a great view – in some cases you get no view – of the large video board that sits behind that end zone. There is a smaller scoreboard behind the north end zone as well.


Tickets range from 30 to 40 dollars each on average, but if a game sells out the tickets may be higher on the secondary market, especially for higher profile games. Club seating is offered above the west side stands, and the PA Announcer is loud and engaging. App State, like most universities, features a dance team and cheerleading squad, and its mascot Yosef is beloved not only at games but throughout the Boone community.


The Mountaineer Walk allows the team to walk to the stadium past the fans, and “Mountain Music” by Alabama is played before the team walks from the locker room through the corner of the concourse and onto the field for the start of the game. The fight song is regularly sung, and the chanting of ‘App’ on one side and ‘State!’ on the other is often practiced during games. I’d recommend sitting on the west side of the stadium to be closer to the energy of the great student section, and to avoid the direct glare of sunset.


Neighborhood 4

Kidd Brewer Stadium is located on the south end of campus but is within easy walking distance from any point on campus as well as from King Street, Boone’s main drag. Boone is not for everyone: it is by no means a large urban center and therefore can’t offer what some larger cities can, but what Boone does offer is some incredible places to eat, shop, and explore. Just keep in mind that Boone is a mountain town and there are a lot of hills, including the walk up to the stadium itself. Bring lots of water and take breaks as needed.


Boone is home to many locally-owned restaurants and bars where you can grab a bite or drink before or after a Mountaineer football game. Our Daily Bread offers a wide assortment of specialty sandwiches, salads, and local desserts, while F.A.R.M Cafe is a pay what-you-can restaurant that serves local food for people with different dietary needs on a pay scale that makes sure that everyone can eat no matter their income. Saebing Boone King serves up Vietnamese and Thai foods and includes sushi, or Boone Saloon is a favorite among the locals, with a variety of drink options and traditional American bar food, such as appetizers, sandwiches, soups, and salads along with five different types of mac and cheese. All of these restaurants are on King Street, which can get quite busy, so if you’re looking for a place a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Boone, the Pedalin’ Pig BBQ offers scenic views with plenty of outdoor seating and food that is “southern style with a gourmet flare.” Their menu includes various sandwiches, ribs, pork, brisket, and fish, and the restaurant is a great place to check out.


Besides the shops, boutiques, and the many local festivals such as the First Friday Art Crawl, Boone has lots of outdoor activities, which makes sense given that it’s nestled in North Carolina’s High Country in the Appalachian Mountains. There are numerous places to hike, bike, or just relax and have a picnic and enjoy the views.


Howards Knob County Park and Clawson-Burnley Park are both less than a ten-minute drive from downtown Boone and from Kidd Brewer Stadium, or for those looking to extend a football weekend into a camping trip, the Flintlock and Honey Bear Camping sites are just ten minutes from downtown. Those looking to learn how to rock climb should check out Center 45 Climbing and Fitness, just five minutes away, and just fifteen minutes away is Blowing Rock, with its local shops, restaurants, and outdoor areas.


There are a number of places near App State and Kidd Brewer Stadium to stay for a night or longer. There are the chains, of course, such as Hampton Inn & Suites, Quality Inn, and Courtyard by Marriott, which are all a short five-minute drive or 30-minute walk from the stadium. However, if you’re looking for something affordable but a little nicer check out Master Hosts Resorts-Highland Hills Cabins; offering rustic wooden bedrooms, a hot tub, and an outdoor pool, this quaint hotel is located less than two miles away from The Rock.


Fans 5

Kidd Brewer Stadium boasts some of the best fans not just in the Sun Belt but in all of the Group of Five Conferences in FBS College Football. An ASU football game is more than just a standard college football game – it’s a community event. The entire town rallies behind the team and welcomes the influx of former students, alumni, and Mountaineer fans from far and wide that come to Boone for the day or weekend. ASU averaged 23,351 fans last season (2018), good for second in the conference behind Troy and 25,787 the year before, which was tops in the Sun Belt, and while there was a small decline in attendance across those years, the passion of the fans has not dropped. The fans are loud, passionate, and really do bleed black and gold. Many stadiums have student sections, but Kidd Brewer Stadium has a fantastic student section that truly embodies school spirit. It would be easy to forget that the school does not compete in a larger conference given the raucous crowd.

Access 3

Kidd Brewer Stadium is located on the south end of campus a half mile from King Street. However, with the construction going on this season around the stadium, the usually intense traffic on the way to the stadium gets worse. Make sure to give yourself time to get to the game, as parking around the stadium is reserved mainly for donors to the university. Driving into Boone itself is usually not too bad, though the traffic gets tough as you get close to town. A lot of the parking lots closer to the stadium are reserved for club members, but street parking on both King and Queen Streets is just $1 per hour. Depot Street also has dollar-an-hour parking and allows tailgating, unlike the other lots. Other lots that allow tailgating include the First Baptist Church on King Street ($20 donation), Hardin Street Lot ($15), Lot 3 on Cherry and King Street ($15), Austin and Barnes Funeral Home on Queen Street ($20), and the Grace Lutheran Church on King Street which is donation based. There are also some parking spaces around the Watauga County Courthouse and Administration Building, as well as the Watauga County Health Department Lot 150, with 80 free spaces and 250 $25 spaces respectively. There is an ample amount of parking and with construction set to finish for the 2020 season, more parking options should appear. Make sure to visit the App State and Explore Boone websites for the latest information.


If you want to avoid the hassle of driving, Sunway Charters offers inexpensive bus service from Charlotte and Greensboro for 17 dollars each way. Appalacart offers bus service to and from Kidd Brewer Stadium and around Boone free of charge as well. There are no airports super close to Boone; Charlotte Douglas Airport and Piedmont Triad International Airport are about two hours to the southeast and west respectively.


There are two main gates entering the facility, the east gate and west gate. Both have long lines within about an hour of kickoff, though credit should be given to the staff for quickly getting people in. There is a clear bag policy starting this season, so keep that in mind when packing for the game. Handicap parking is in the Hill Street Lot, and there are plenty of handicap seats on the west side of the stadium. Access around the concourses can be tricky given the large number of people on game day. During my most recent visit there were some early issues before kickoff with traffic unable to move between the hill and the stadium’s west side, and as a result some people were delayed getting to their seats, and I saw some visible frustration among the fans. However, it being the first game of the season, those problems are likely to get resolved in the coming weeks.


The bathrooms are clean and the lines are never too bad with the exception of at halftime. The high attendance numbers are great for the stadium, the average-sized concourse does make it hard sometimes to move around the venue.


Return on Investment 5

An Appalachian State football game is truly worth every penny spent on parking and tickets. Between the wide variety of food, the scenic views, and the incredible fans and game day atmosphere, this is a great experience for fans.


Fan Pricing Guide:

Ticket Price: $30-$40

Queso Fries/Dr Pepper: $12

Game Program: $5


There is nothing specific at App State for group ticket deals, though purchasing season tickets allows you to have close game day parking, and joining the Yosef Club allows you to donate to Student-Athletes in need.


Extras 5

One point goes to the incredible views of the scenic Appalachian Mountains from anywhere at Kidd Brewer Stadium. A second point goes to the incredible fans, specifically those in the student section who really make The Rock a tough place to play for any visiting team. Another point goes to all the local food vendors who set up shop during the game, while point number four is for the incredible tailgating scene around the stadium and the town. Finally, a point for the green A in the hedges on the hill behind the scoreboard.


Final Thoughts

Sitting at 3,333 feet above sea level, Kidd Brewer Stadium is the highest college football stadium east of the Mississippi and has one of the best fan bases of any Group of Five Conference school in FBS. The Rock has been the backdrop of long winning streaks, three consecutive national championship winning teams, and now it’s a force in the Sun Belt Conference. Kidd Brewer Stadium is the place to be on Saturday in Western North Carolina; the stadium embodies what makes Boone and Appalachian State such a great place to visit: great food, beautiful views, and passionate fans decked out in black and gold.

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