Dowdy-Ficklen stadium in 2009
|Full name||Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium|
|Former names||Ficklen Memorial Stadium (1963-1994)|
|Location||Blackbeard's Alley, Greenville, North Carolina 27858|
|Owner||East Carolina University|
|Operator||East Carolina University|
|Surface||Tifton 419 Hybrid Bermuda|
|Opened||September 21, 1963|
|Renovated||1991 - $1.6 million in repairs and renovations, 2002, 2009-2010, 2018-2019|
|Expanded||1967-1968 - increased seating capacity to 20,000|
1977-1978 - increased seating capacity to 35,000
1996-1998 - increased seating capacity to 43,000
2010 - increased seating capacity to 50,000
|Construction cost||$283,387 ($2,234,553.41 in 2016 dollars)|
|Architect||Dudley & Shoe|
|East Carolina Pirates (NCAA) (1963-present)|
Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is the on-campus football facility for the East Carolina Pirates in Greenville, North Carolina. The official capacity of the stadium is 51,000, making it the second largest college stadium in North Carolina. The record attendance for the stadium was on September 20, 2014 against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with 51,082 in attendance. The stadium is also the site of Spring Commencement exercises for the University.
The initiative to build a new stadium was announced on October 7, 1961. On that day, President Leo Jenkins announced to a meeting of boosters, that a new stadium will be built to replace College Stadium. By 1962, over $280,000 was raised and Ficklen Memorial Stadium was built. The stadium was named for James Skinner Ficklen, the owner of Greenville's E.B. Skinner Tobacco Company. Skinner was a booster of the college, and established a scholarship fund in his name. The original stadium included permanent stands on the south side, a press box, and a lighting system. Ficklen Memorial Stadium opened on September 21, 1963 with a win against Wake Forest. The original seating capacity was 10,000.
The north side permanent seating was constructed in 1967 and 1968, increasing the capacity of the stadium to 20,000. The seats were designed by W.M. Freeman Associates from High Point. The exterior of the stadium was painted in 1970 by F.A. Miller Company. The lighting system was the next item that changed. The original lighting system was replaced with six towers outside of the stadium in 1975. The cost of the new lighting system was $450,000. L.E. Wooten company built the lighting system.
The next addition occurred two years later. The university added seats to the four corners increased the seating capacity to 35,000. This addition made Ficklen Memorial Stadium the third largest stadium in North Carolina. The expansion was funded by a $2.5 million drive in the spring of 1977. The three-story press box which is currently in use was built during that expansion. The press box had space for 92 writers and an entire floor for electronic media. Lastly, scoreboard with a lightbank message center was placed on the east end of the stadium. The playing surface was redone in 1983. A new drainage system, new base of gravel and sand, new treated topsoil, and a new grass--Tifton 419 Hybrid Bermuda were all installed. A new sound system was built in 1988.
In 1991, $1.6 million in renovations and repairs were accomplished on the stadium.
Ronald and Mary Ellen Dowdy of Orlando, Florida, donated one million dollars during a fund-raising drive in 1994. Because of this donation, Ficklen Memorial Stadium was renamed Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Also that year the roads were improved around the stadium. A year later, Al and Debbie Bagwell of Lake Gaston, Virginia donated to the East Carolina Educational Foundation. Because of this donation, the field inside the stadium was named Bagwell Field.
The upper deck on the north side was completed in 1998. It increased the capacity to 40,000. This was the first seating capacity increase since 1977. A year later the club level on the north side was completed. It added 3,000 seats to the total capacity. During the expansion of the upper deck and club level, the press box received improvements. In 1999, a $2 million scoreboard was built in the east endzone. Also that year a Pirate sculpture was dedicated in the southeast area of the stadium. The three-ton bronze sculpture is over 20 feet (6.1 m) tall. Irwin Belk gave the sculpture to the school. Jodi Hollnagel, a faculty member of the School of Art created the sculpture.
The $13 million Murphy Center was dedicated on September 13, 2002. It was built in the west endzone of the stadium. It connects the stadium to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The 52,475-square-foot (4,875.1 m2) strength and conditioning, banquet rooms, sport memorabilia, and an academic enhancement center building was named for Pete and Lynn Murphy of Rose Hill.
The next expansion began in December 2009. The expansion included removing the scoreboard located in the east end zone. 7,000 seats were built in its place. The seats connect the north and south sides in a horseshoe pattern. Those seats increased the capacity to 50,000. Restroom and concession stands were built under the new section. Above the east end zone, a new scoreboard was built. The high-definition scoreboard is 88 feet (27 m) wide and a little over 28 feet (8.5 m) tall. The LED portion is 84 feet (26 m) wide. This makes the new scoreboard the 22nd largest scoreboard in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. On the north and south sides of the stadium, 10,200 chair-back seats were installed. Lastly, another scoreboard was built on the west end zone in front of the Murphy Center. The total cost of the expansion was $20 million.
In May 2016, East Carolina revealed a $60 million renovation project for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which is a portion of its athletic facilities master plan.
The project, which is slated to begin construction after the 2017 football season and was to be completed in time for the 2018 football season, has been extended to a 16-18 month construction period. In April 2019, TowneBank donated $3 million toward the renovation for naming rights. The renovation includes:
TowneBank Tower officially opened in August 2019 and includes 19 skyboxes, four founder suites, 22 loge boxes, 530 club seats, and more than 100 media seats.
On November 14, 1970, the visiting Marshall University Thundering Herd lost a game 17-14 to the Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which ended with Marshall quarterback Ted Shoebridge controversially being called for intentional grounding on the last play of the game. Later that evening, while on approach to Huntington Tri-State Airport, the Marshall football team's plane, which had been chartered to transport the Thundering Herd to and from Greenville, crashed, killing all 75 people on board.
On December 11, 2006, a plaque was erected at the visitors' entrance to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. It depicts the memorial fountain on the Marshall University campus.
|Year||Total attendance||Average attendance||Rank||Reference|
|1||51,082||North Carolina||September 20, 2014||W, 70-41|||
|2||50,719||NC State||September 10, 2016||W, 33-30|
|3||50,610||North Carolina||October 1, 2011||L, 20-35|
|4||50,514||Virginia Tech||September 26, 2015||W, 35-28|
|5||50,410||NC State||October 16, 2010||W, 33-27OT|
|6||50,345||Southern Miss||November 5, 2011||L, 28-48|
|7||50,277||UCF||November 19, 2011||W, 38-31|
|8||50,191||Navy||November 6, 2010||L, 35-76|
|9||50,145||Marshall||October 23, 2010||W, 37-10|
|10||50,096||Virginia Tech||September 14, 2013||L, 15-10|
|11||50,092+||NC State||November 20, 1999||W, 23-6|
|12||50,023||UAB||September 24, 2011||W, 28-23|
|13||50,010||Tulsa||September 5, 2010||W, 51-49|
|14||49,410||Tulane||October 29, 2011||W 34-13|
|15||49,404||Virginia Tech||September 10, 2011||L, 10-17|