October 4, 2014
Andy Kerr Stadium (Capacity: 10,221)
Colgate Raiders vs Holy Cross Crusaders
Final Score: 20 – 17
A rainy morning began this visit to my fourth Patriot League stadium, but enough of a break in the weather developed for a predominately dry game in the serene setting of Colgate’s campus. Located in the Chenango Valley and the tiny village of Hamilton (home to just 4,000), is Colgate. The small private school focuses on liberal arts and the university is highly regarded and often in the top portion of various rankings and lists. Raiders football has a pretty deep history that goes all the way back to 1890. Perhaps the most famous season is the 1932 “undefeated, untied, unscored upon and uninvited (to the Rose Bowl)” team. Since joining the FCS level in the early 80s, Colgate has won 7 Patriot League titles and made the playoffs 10 times. The 2003 squad made it to the I-AA championship game. The home to Raiders football is Andy Kerr Stadium, built in 1966 with the main east side seating area constructed 25 years later. Though there is nothing spectacular about the experience, the football setting with limited media timeouts and a beautiful Autumnal backdrop is the sport at its finest.
Prestige Ranking: 3 out of 5
Hamilton features a nice little center of town where several roads meet and this junction of historic buildings includes some good pre and post-game establishments (like Rusch’s and Good Nature Brewing). There is also a nearby park with a small Saturday Farmers Market. Campus is about a mile south and the area is pretty, especially in the Fall. An art gallery and museum of anthropology may attract a few visitors, otherwise the game is the main entertainment.
Location Ranking: 5.5 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
Getting to Hamilton can be a chore as it is 30-45 minutes from Interstates 90 and 81. Several different two-lane county roads are needed to arrive into town. The sports facilities are down College Street and football parking is essentially created as the only small paved lot is reserved for Maroon Council members. General parking is behind the stadium, further down the road and all on grass. Weather can come in to play (especially since this is Central NY) and any heavy rains or accumulating snow leads to other campus lots needing to be utilized. The crowd for the game I saw was small, thus getting in and out of Colgate was not a problem.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 5.5 out of 8
With a pair of sideline seating sections, the exterior look comes from the larger east stands. Here, a rather unattractive display of the back of the stadium greets visitors as the underside of the seating bowl can be seen, along with several maroon support beams. While the top walls are concrete, a nice touch at least is the stone design on lower walls, which fit in better with the campus’ other stone buildings.
Exterior Ranking: 3 out of 10
Getting inside the premises is a surprising adventure as there is no clear spot to find where people are checking tickets in the front of the stadium. I walked right past the tiny ticket booth near the paved parking lot entrance only to realize I was actually “inside”. At each seating entry point, there is somebody looking at each ticket, but the initial impression is kind of strange. Anyway, the aforementioned back of the seating bowl is where people gather for some cover and to use the bathrooms. Stairs lead to the middle of the seating bowl, while to get to the other sideline seats, it is a lengthy walk around the entire perimeter (you can’t cut thru the track). Just some maroon paint and large posters of players give this area any personality and the flanks of this area feature a pair of concession stands and a spot for merchandise.
Concourse Ranking: 1.5 out of 5
The food offerings are the same at each stand and though basic, the options are not bad. Burgers, Sausages, Philly Cheese Steaks and Chicken are featured along with various snacks. Perhaps the best choice for most football games is the cup of chili. Beverages are soda, water, coffee and cocoa.
Food Ranking: 4 out of 8
The large stands stretch from each 10-yard line and are set back a bit from the field due to the track. It is a pretty straight-forward section of seating with just a little undulation at the top of the bowl. Seats are all metal bleachers, except in the middle where the maroon bleachers also have backs. Over on the visitor’s sideline, about 16 rows of basic bleachers go out to each end zone and the top middle features the three-level press box, decked out in school colors and logos. End zones are left open. The defining feature of a Colgate football game is the serene view, seen best from higher up in the east stands. Looking beyond the nearby athletic fields, surrounding hills are dominant and they are splashed in brilliant fall color during October. The stone design of the Sanford Field House in the corner outside the stadium also helps with the general look of the complex.
Interior Ranking: 6.5 out of 14
At first glance, the large maroon scoreboard just off of the ground behind the end zone looks great. But, the vast amount of space is full of ads and it is hard to pick out the actual game information and stats. A small video screen in the middle does offer a nice variety of highlights, live video and graphics that unfortunately are on the fuzzy-looking side. There are at least a few school-related touches with the name designed across the top and football honors at the very bottom.
Scoreboard Ranking: 1.5 out of 4
Those listings at the bottom of the scoreboard feature the years of NCAA Playoff appearances and Patriot League titles, centered by a bigger “2003 National Finalist” tile. Outside of that, there’s not much here…just a few dedication plaques and flags of each conference team above the stands.
Displays Ranking: 1 out of 6
This is a very affordable experience with most tickets $10 (the red bleachers with backs go for $15). Nothing at the concession stand goes over $7 and the individual prices include a $4.50 cheeseburger, $3 hot dog and $3 soda. The $5 program is high, but packed with information and parking runs $5 as well.
Cost Ranking: 7.5 out of 8
Fan Support and Atmosphere
The threat of rain likely held back fans and I would guestimate maybe 1000-2000 on hand (though on a perfect day the week before, the announced attendance was only 13% higher). The crowd on the home side rose their volume slightly depending on the quality and impact of the play. It never got overly loud and I would say maybe a 1/5th of the fans got to their feet after a touchdown. Music was piped in during breaks as I never heard the small pep band play once. Attendance usually is the bottom half of the FCS standings and lately the Raiders have been 5th in the Patriot League. Most games are played in front of lightly populated stands, but the one game that does draw better is against Cornell as the teams have a rivalry.
Fan Support Ranking: 2.5 out of 8
Atmosphere Ranking: 4.5 out of 14
Yes, the school was named (well, renamed) after the Colgate family, which includes William of the famous toothpaste company fame…..Andrew Kerr fronts the facility name and along with being a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, he was a head coach at the school for 17 years. Just this season, the field was named after alum Michael Crown, who helped to fund additions. Those additions include lights, which were not in place until 1997. Nonetheless, games still primarily begin at 1 PM…..Though I never saw any sign of this at the game, #13 is a special and lucky number at Colgate. Most are aware of the significance and it is a neat way for alums to spot each other and connect….Sitting several rows behind me was a student (possibly from Syracuse) doing play by play commentary. Definitely a great way to get some practice and he did a nice job.
This was old-school football as Colgate used ground and pound to perfection as the game wore on. First, the Crusaders jumped out to a 17-7 lead and a key point of the game was Colgate cashing in with just :04 left in the second quarter as Alex Greenawalt hauled in a 14-yard pass to cut the deficit. A huge interception late in the 3rd quarter led to a 14-play drive that QB Jake Melville finished off with a 1-yard run and the Raiders had the lead 20-17. With Holy Cross driving again deep into opposing territory, Peter Pujals made his second pick of the game to keep the Crusaders off the board. Then Colgate finished off the game with a remarkable 15 play, 7:35 drive that ran the clock out for a victory. Every one of those plays was a run and the Raiders had 55 total rushes for 224 yards.