James Madison's Bridgeforth Stadium

James Madison's Bridgeforth Stadium

James Madison's Bridgeforth Stadium

A new year brings new life and new hope. A brand new 25,000 seat football stadium doesn’t hurt either.

James Madison seems far removed from their Div 1-AA National Championship in 2004 but they are not quite so far out of the nation’s consciousness. After all, many Dukes considered last year’s victory over FBS and in-state rival Virginia Tech “the biggest win in school history.” Yes, that includes the national title.

But JMU is quite a bit detached from conference domination and league supremacy like they had earlier this decade. In the offices in Harrisonburg, VA, the hope is that their new stadium will bring along with it new football life. After all, a new stadium brings in better recruits. Better recruits bring more talent and more wins. More wins bring more fans and more excitement which, in turn, fills up those brand new seats.

The goal seems pretty simple yet execution is the key.

The home schedule kicks off on the night of September 10th against Central Connecticut State. The fans will surely be raring to go, the first game in the brand new digs. The question is whether that feeling will continue and feed into the team or if the new car smell will fade away. By the time of the final home game in November, when fans are not coming for the spectacle of the arena anymore and it is up to the team to pull in fans with their play, will it happen? In recent seasons, Dukes’ “faithful” have departed Bridgeforth Stadium at halftime of many a game, never to return for the final two quarters. In addition, the student cheering section has been suspect, not always coming out in full force for a team closer to the bottom of the CAA than the top.

A new stadium will help this go away for at least the first few months of the year but, at some point, the team’s play must be what keeps the crowd engaged. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case.


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