The grand opening of the newly constructed Rafferty Stadium was a total success (despite the men’s lacrosse team falling to Holy Cross). The gorgeous new stadium was packed with spectators for the first game, and had a decent amount for the second game, though many had left when the snow started falling in earnest. The arena features an enormous video screen, allowing spectators to watch replays of big plays or just follow along with the action if they have trouble seeing the game from their vantage point. It also features a concession stand and gift shop under the seats, which were popular attractions based on what I saw.
The main thing that stood out to me was the outpouring of student support for the teams. A designated student section is located behind the home team’s bench, and it was full of students for the games, many of whom are beach seniors that made the trip to campus to cheer on the Stags. Though they may have been tempted by the pregame tailgating options ($40 for all you can eat and drink), it was still nice to see them being an active part of campus events. I am of the opinion that the stadium will be a lot more packed for Saturday home games once the weather warms up, as the stadium will be a fun place to relax and cheer on the school, and it being on campus allows many of the underclassmen without reliable transportation, the opportunity to see the games relatively easily.
I interviewed a few seniors at the game, and they were all very complimentary of the arena. Mike Degennaro ’15 said that he thinks that the stadium will lure people to the games with all of its amenities, and Sohail Sumra said that he feels that it is a “nice, beautiful addition to Fairfield.” Mike LeBoeuf ’15 said that he thinks that the arena is “a beautiful complex” that will “put Fairfield lacrosse on the map,” and that he is very excited for the team this season.
Despite losing in their home opener, the Fairfield men’s lacrosse team should expect lots of support in the future thanks to all of the new features of the stadium. The same can be said about the women’s team; if they keep playing like they did in their first game (they defeated Sacred Heart 11-2), the sky is the limit for the squad.
I highly recommend going to a game in order to see the teams and Rafferty Stadium. The arena is beautiful compared to the one from last year, and is well worth the hike there. Students can get into games for free with their Stagcards, so there is no reason not to go.