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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Richardson Stadium – Davidson Wildcats

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Richardson Stadium 201 Faculty Drive Davidson, NC 28035

Year Opened: 1923

Capacity: 6,000


Richardson Stadium Celebrates Its Centennial

Davidson College is a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is in Davidson, NC, which is 19 miles north of Charlotte, NC. The school was founded in 1837 and has a student body of just over 1,900 students. The school offers more than 74 majors and other academic programs.

The athletic teams at Davidson are known as the Wildcats. The football program is a member of the Pioneer Conference at the FCS level of NCAA football. Davidson first fielded a football program in 1896. It played at the Division III level of competition through 1992, moving up to the FCS level of competition in 1993. The team has gone to the FCS playoffs three times (2020,2021 and 2022). Davidson’s rivalry games each season is the battle with Presbyterian College. The game is known as the Carolina Border Clash, with the winner taking home the 1919 Cup.

The home of Davidson football is the on-campus Richardson Stadium. The field is known as Stephen B Smith Field. Stephen Smith is a former Board of Trustee member at the school who was a member of the Southern Conference All-Academic Football Team. It opened in 1823 as Richardson Field, and is named for a prominent Davidson alum from the 1800’s. The field is encircled by the Irwin Belk Track, which is used for Davidson track meets. The stadium has a capacity of 6,000. The stadium has undergone several renovations in its century of service. These renovations included expanded seating and the construction of a new press box and the addition of a visitors’ locker room. Numerous ceremonies have been held during the season commemorating the venue’s Centennial year.

Even as Davidson celebrates Richardson Field’s centennial, it is also looking to the future. In 2021 Davidson announced plans for a $45 million capital campaign to enhance the school’s athletic facilities. A major portion of these funds are going towards the construction of a new football stadium. The stadium will include a continuous seating concourse, a state-of-the-art videoboard, improved concessions areas and modern restrooms. As beloved as Richardson Stadium is, it is a 100-year-old facility. It does not have the wide concourses and modern restrooms of a more recent build. The new stadium will enhance the game experience for the fans in a major way. Construction of the new stadium is well underway, and it will be ready in time for the 2024 football season.

Food & Beverage 2

There is one lone concession stand located on the track to the left of the seating area. It is run by the Davidson-Huntersville Lion Club to benefit charities in the area. They offer the standards, including Pepsi brand products ($3), water ($3), hot dogs ($3), pizza ($7), popcorn ($3), peanuts ($3), and candy ($2).

In addition, there are usually some food trucks behind the south end zone to supplement the offerings at the concession stand.

Atmosphere 3

Attending a football game at Davidson is the quintessential small college football experience. Everybody in the home section of the stadium seating area tends to know the person sitting next to them. It is a more relaxed vibe than you would find at a major college football stadium. Both the student body and the school’s fan base are very well behaved, as the school has a very strict code of conduct in classes and at events held on campus.

You will pass through the tailgating area just before entering the stadium. This is a festive atmosphere, with music, games and fans reuniting with fellow alums. There is also tailgating in the Baker Athletic Center parking lot.

Seating is all on the home side of the field, as the far side of the field is hemmed in by campus buildings and a parking facility. All seats in the stands are metal bleachers, so it is a good idea to bring a stadium cushion with you. The stands have great views of the action, as even the top level of the seating area is still very close to the field.

The service areas of the stadium, such ticketing and restrooms are found beneath the seating structure. The lone concession stand is positioned on the track and behind one of the end zones.

One unusual aspect of the stadium is the patio at the north end of the stadium. The patio is attached to the Alvarez College Union Building and there is no restriction on patrons of that building to come out and watch the game from this outpost. It technically is outside the stadium and so it requires no ticket. The south end of the stadium features an alumni/booster tent and a rather dated digital scoreboard.

Neighborhood 5

Richardson Stadium and Davidson College are in Davidson, NC. The town was founded in 1879 and presently has a population of 12,000 people. It is a true college town, with very close links with the school.

The downtown area of Davison is adjacent to the school, within walking distance of the campus. The town is very pedestrian and bike friendly, with bike lanes and walking trails throughout the area. The downtown area is filled with mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and lodging facilities.

No visit to Davidson is complete without a visit to the Soda Shop. It has been open since 1951 and serves the typical soda shop menu of hot dogs, milkshakes and fries. The Brickhouse Tavern is a favorite of both Davidson students and townspeople. It is housed in a building that formerly was a mill store. Another popular pub and restaurant is the Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse. The town offers two lodging sites in the Davidson Village Inn and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Davidson. The town is located adjacent to Lake Norman, the largest manmade lake in North Carolina. There are numerous recreational activities available at the lake, including fishing, boating and swimming areas.

Fans 4

The Wildcats have a very loyal fanbase made up of the Davidson student body and the townspeople. The alums make up a sizeable portion of the fans in the stands as well. This is because nearby Charlotte, NC is home to a large portion of the alumni who attended the school.

While everything at a Wildcats football game is on a smaller scale than you would find at a major college game, the fans at Richardson Stadium are just as loud and proud of their school. The school band works very closely with the cheer teams to coordinate their actions to keep the fans stirred up throughout the game. Will E. Wildcat, the school’s mascot, is always on hand to encourage the crowd, while also entertaining the small fry.

Access 2

Davidson College and Richardson Stadium are easy to reach via I-77.

Directions from Charlotte: Take I-77 north for 19 miles to the Davidson exit (Exit 30). Turn left onto Griffith Street. Continue on Griffith Street to North Main Street. Turn right on Main Street, then left at Concord Road. Take Concord Road to Baker Drive. Turn left on Baker Drive and then right into the large parking lot for the Baker Sports Complex. After parking your car, you will walk across Baker Drive to Richardson Stadium.

The restroom facilities are found underneath the seating structure. They tend to get very crowded during the breaks in the action, or at halftime. The concourses are rather narrow for the size of the crowd. There are no seats on the other side of the field, so you have a combination of both the home and visitor’s fan bases on one side of the field.

Return on Investment 4

Attending a game at Davidson is very easy on your wallet. All seats at Richardson Stadium are general admission seats. Tickets are $13.05 for adults and $6.53 for youth (12 years old and younger. Parking at the Baker Sports complex is free. The concession prices are quite reasonable for the most part. Food trucks serving the stadium may have more expensive items for sale.

Extras 4

Nearly 25% of the Davidson student body is involved in one of the NCAA sports at the school.

The Wildcats have actually beaten the University of Georgia Bulldogs. The game took place in 1906, with a score of 15-0. Davidson used the recently approved forward pass to seal the victory over the Bulldogs.

Davidson has the 4th smallest enrollment of any school competing in Division I football.

Davidson is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference in all sports except football.

Final Thoughts

A visit to a Wildcats football game at Davidson is small town Southern football at its best. Enjoy the cute downtown stores and restaurants before heading into the lovely, wooded campus of Davidson College. Enjoy the gameday experience at the century old Richardson Stadium while it lasts.

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