Goodman Stadium

Goodman Stadium pgrm_tic

October 5, 2005
Goodman Stadium (Capacity: 16,000)
Bethlehem, PA
Lehigh Mountain Hawks vs Yale Bulldogs
Final Score: 28 – 21 (OT)

* The stadium was re-visited for a game on October 25, 2014

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Goodman Stadium, home to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, brought us to the Lehigh Valley on a nice fall day. The university is located in Bethlehem, a town in far eastern PA that along with Allentown and Easton, make up the Lehigh Valley. The former steel city is home to 71,000 and has a wide, wonderful main street with plenty of restaurants, along with a very popular festival held each summer (Musikfest). After mostly being known as an engineering school, the small, private Lehigh University has expanded beyond its most famous discipline. The football team plays in the Patriot League, part of Division I-AA. They are one of the oldest teams in the country, playing since the 1800s and while they were a Division II school, they won a national championship in 1977. Since their move up a class in the late 70s, they have made several NCAA playoff appearances to go along with four outright Patriot League titles. Since my last visit in 2005, Lehigh added two more League Championships and even made it to the Quarterfinals in the 2011 tournament. Goodman Stadium, built in 1988, is a simple but nice facility with a great setting.
Prestige Ranking: 3 out of 5

Location

Unfortunately, the stadium does not have much nearby as it is located on Lehigh’s athletic campus, which is on the other side of South Mountain and not close to campus or Bethlehem. In fact, it’s much closer to Hellertown and that’s a shame because Bethlehem is a nice town with a great Main Street. Goodman is surrounded by fields and other athletic facilities, with some housing developments outside the athletic campus.
Location Ranking: 4 out of 10

Accessibility / Parking

Exit 67 from Interstate 78 is the best route to the stadium, however one has to navigate a few narrow roads with some odd turns before making it to College Drive and eventually the facility. Parking first starts with the paved lots next to Stabler Arena and when those fill up, fans are vaguely directed to the grassy fields, which was our fate. The fields can get muddy if the weather is not good, but we did not have that problem on this visit. From those distant lots, it is a good 10-minute walk to the stadium. Traffic out of Lehigh’s narrow campus roads can really slow down when heading out from the game.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 6 out of 8

Exterior

Since the stadium is mainly set below ground level, fans arrive through the main entrance on the south side, which is into the open end zone. Behind a sign for Murray H. Goodman Stadium, there are three small, triangular structures at the entrance and these have a light green roof to them. A box office is adjacent to the entrances, along with restrooms. For a look at the stadium, you can see the home stands on the side of the hill and the most prominent feature there is a brown press box.
Exterior Ranking: 4 out of 10

Concourse

As you walk in, there is a large, paved walkway that overlooks the field and is situated above the hill, behind the end zone. It’s a decent way to spread people out and a great feature is the number of food stands, carts and tents that are lined up on the sides of the walkway. Though this can choke traffic in spots, the varied concessions are a welcomed addition. This walkway continues on to each side, going under each of the sideline stands. This does not wrap around to the other end.
Concourse Ranking: 2.5 out of 5

Food

A few traditional stands are built into the backside of the home stands and you can find usual stadium food here. Much better options are found with the food trucks that go around the aforementioned walkway. It is an impressive assortment and I had quite the decision as to what to get for lunch during my second game between Bodacious Burgers, Mr. Bill’s Bucket of Chicken, Gourmet Breakfast (from Fud Truk), Smokehouse favorites, Wood-Fired Pizza and Build-a-Burrito.
Food Ranking: 7 out of 8

Interior

Each sideline has a one-level set of bleachers with a walkway across the middle. There are also two less sections on each side of the upper seating. Behind the South endzone is a steep grassy hill for sitting and watching the game. I like how Goodman Stadium has the lower seating on both sides connect with the grassy hill. It feels a little more enclosed and natural as a result. Unfortunately, the seating starts much further from the field than it should be as a decent amount of grassy space separates the field of play from the bowl. The other endzone has a building at field level for football facilities and the locker room. A nice, compact press box sits on top of one of the sideline bleachers. It’s a small brown building with a green roof and the word “Lehigh” printed on it. Most of the seats are bleachers set in concrete and the exception is between the 40s on the main side, where it is chair-back. Each sideline structure features a curved appearance, a nice deviation from the usual straight across stands. The most noticeable feature at Goodman is the scenic view as South Mountain looms over the stadium and during October, the backdrop is gorgeous as the changing autumn leaves make for a terrific setting, along with other surrounding hills in the area.
Interior Ranking: 8 out of 14

Scoreboard

The brown scoreboard is on top of the building behind the endzone and is small with white lettering. It just has basic information and when sitting at an angle, it can be tough read the numbers. Along with an “LU” in the upper corner, “Murray H. Goodman Stadium” is spelled out across the top. Flags are also above the board.
Scoreboard Ranking: 1.5 out of 4

Displays

The team has a storied history and it is displayed across four boards on the building in the endzone. Honors for the Lambert Cup, NCAA Playoff appearances, NCAA Championships and Patriot League Championships include the years of achievement, if you can read it. The small size of these boards really hide what should be displayed more prominently. At the top of each seating bowl, flags for Patriot League teams can be seen flying in the wind. Lastly, near the entrance, there are a few plaques to recognize Murray Goodman and others at the university.
Displays Ranking: 2.5 out of 6

Cost

Prices weren’t too bad as ticket prices were $10 – $13 for each game. This was general admission, so it was a little more for the chairbacks. One note is that the ticket price goes up when rival Lafayette comes to town. Parking was free for my second trip, so that was a bonus. Concessions were reasonable.
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8

Fan Support

The Mountain Hawks generally average double-digit attendance through the season and they have been #1 in the Patriot League over recent years. National rankings often find Lehigh in the top quarter of attendance. This has started to slip though as crowds have dropped off recently. The game I saw in 2014 featured a pretty good house, however it was homecoming and the three prior games only averaged 5,700. It was also disappointing to see many remain in the parking lot tailgating during the entire event. “The Game” against Lafayette is sold-out and boisterous.
Fan Support: 4.5 out of 8

Atmosphere

Inside, there is a better buzz and atmosphere than many other Northeast FCS places and while it is not mind-blowing, the crowd responds well to the game. It never got too noisy and there weren’t any organized cheers, but fans were generally involved and attentive. As the game got exciting towards the end, more noise came from the crowd. It was a little disappointing not to see the place go nuts after a crazy win, but again the atmosphere was decent for FCS. Lehigh has a good-sized band and the fight song is catchy. The band did play too much as there were even times they played way while the game was going on.
Atmosphere: 8.5 out of 14

Other Stuff

Lehigh is one half of a huge rivalry in college football. They have played against Lehigh Valley neighbors Lafayette more times than any other game in Division I. Games are always sold out and the winner of each contest gets to keep the game ball…..Goodman Stadium used to host the Philadelphia Eagles training camp during the summer as many regional Eagles fans visited camp…..The school’s nickname was the Engineers (in reference to what many came to Lehigh for) before changing to the Mountain Hawks in 1995…..The field was in terrible shape for our first visit as it was quite muddy, despite the nice day….Each time Lehigh scores, a cannon goes off…..Prior to Goodman Stadium, Lehigh played in Taylor Stadium, which was built in 1914 and located on campus.

Game (Initial Visit)

It was a thrilling game with the Mountain Hawks coming back from 21-6 down. After their starting QB, Mark Borda, got injured with 5 minutes left in the game (31/46, 333yds, 2tds at the time), the backup Sedalle Threat led Lehigh to a tying TD from the Yale 15 with 4:30 left in the fourth. The 2-point conversion was good on a nice pass to the back of the endzone. The game then went to OT, where Lehigh scored on a tough 6-yard run. During the Bulldogs’ position, they had four shots at the endzone from inside the 10, but failed to score and the fourth down pass was deflected as Lehigh won. The team ran onto the field and celebrated as the teams combined to throw 103 times for 659 yards.

Stadium Experience Ranking: 59.5 out of 100

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