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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Stokes Soccerplex – Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29

Stokes Soccerplex 140 Lakeview Dr. Loretto, PA 15940



Year Opened: 1971

Capacity: 500

 

Flashy Football (The Other One)

In between Altoona and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, you will find the small town of Loretto, home to St. Francis University. St. Francis’s athletic teams are known as the Red Flash, and their soccer team plays on campus at the 500-seat Stokes Soccerplex. The Plex is located directly behind the Maurice Stokes Athletic Center, home of DeGol Arena and the basketball program. Both the Athletic Center and the Soccerplex are named after St. Francis basketball legend Maurice Stokes.


Food & Beverage 0

There is no food and beverage for sale at the Stokes Soccerplex but fans are free to bring their own.


Atmosphere 2

Walking through the front gate at the Stokes Soccerplex will put you in the corner of the field, within feet of the corner flag. From there, you can walk around the sideline to three sets of bleachers near midfield, the middle one larger than the other two. Many fans also choose to bring lawn chairs or stand along the grass. Wherever you sit or stand, you will have a great view of the action, as everywhere in the stadium is extremely close to the field. There is one scoreboard as well which just shows the time and score.


The team really does not do much of anything to engage fans aside from playing music pregame and at halftime over the PA system. Frankie the Friar does make at least one appearance a year as the team’s mascot, as he does at all SFU team sports, but he was not there when we went.


Neighborhood 2

Loretto is a small town with not much going on. There was a pizza place directly across from the stadium, and signage is still there, but it has closed. Downtown Loretto, if you can even call it that, is a short walk or drive off-campus, but there are only a few options. Spanky’s Tavern and Loretto Pub and Grill are right across the street from each other at the intersection of St. Mary Street and St. Peters Street, and there are a couple of small hotels in town, but if you want anything more, you will have to drive 25 minutes to Altoona or 35 minutes to Johnstown, both of which have significantly more options.


Fans 3

Although the Red Flash only draws 50-100 fans a game, in such a small venue it can seem like a lot more. A typical game will see a smattering of fans in the bleachers plus more fans decked in red standing and sitting along the sideline of the field. Most of the fans are either friends and family of the team or SFU students. One of the more conspicuous fans at games is the University’s President, Malachi Van Tassell, a Franciscan friar who routinely attends Red Flash athletic events in his priestly robes to cheer on the school.


Access 3

The St. Francis campus is about 25 minutes from Altoona or 35 minutes from Johnstown via U.S. Route 22. From there, you will drive a few miles along rural back roads to get to campus. Once you are on campus, parking is available in the Stokes Athletic Center lot – head as far back as you can to get close to the Soccerplex.

Note that most of the streets in town are named for Catholic saints in connection to the university, which amusingly confuses some GPS apps which can’t handle “St.” standing for two different things in the same name. Some apps will attempt to refer to the streets as, for instance, “Street Catherine Street” or “Saint Catherine Saint.”


There are no restrooms on-site at the Soccerplex. There are some restrooms next door in the Stokes Athletic Center, but you will need to walk all the way around the building to access them, which is quite inconvenient.


Return on Investment 4

Admission to Red Flash soccer games is free, parking is free, and you won’t pay anything for concessions because there aren’t any. However, there isn’t enough here to earn the top score.


Extras 2

There are free gameday programs available by the entrance.


There are also championship banners along the stadium fence honoring Red Flash conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.


Final Thoughts

St. Francis is a small college in a small conference in Division I, so it should come as no surprise that the soccer program isn’t all that big. Much of the focus is on the football and basketball programs, while the soccer team gets no marketing at all except for the annual mascot visit. While disappointing, it is not unexpected given the limited resources here. A trip to the Stokes Soccerplex is a very basic experience. Those who live near Loretto may want to check out the Soccerplex to take in a free soccer game up close and personal, but if coming from outside the immediate area, it may not be worth the long trip for anyone but the most diehard college soccer fans or stadium chasers. That being said, if you’re on campus for a Red Flash football game and are looking to make a long weekend out of it, a soccer game here is worth checking out while you’re in town.

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