I had been to BB&T Field at Groves Stadium, home to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and commonly shortened to BB&T Field, once before. That was for states in 2013—my high school, Northern Guilford, was going for the three-peat. The Nighthawks won handily thanks to eight (!!!) touchdowns by current Tampa Bay Buccaneer T.J. Logan, but I remembered the biting December wind more than anything. Maybe that’s why, after finally finding a place to park nearly a mile away from the stadium, I half-expected an unpleasant experience at BB&T Field as the Demon Deacons (3-0) hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels (2-1).
First thing’s first, this game was a non-conference game, even though these schools are both in the ACC. Weird, I know. Wake came away with the controversial 24-18 victory; the ACC admitted an officiating mistake at the end of the game that cost UNC a chance at a last-second Hail Mary. It was a big win for the Deacs, a program with three consecutive bowl wins that looks to be holding some sustained momentum for the first time in its history. Now they just need the fans to show up.
BB&T Field seats 31,500, by far the lowest in the ACC, and there were plenty of open bleachers and invading Carolina fans—despite throngs of drunken frat bros in the student section, the Deacs’ home field advantage was negligible, at best. But maybe the game being at 6 pm on a Friday had something to do with that. Or maybe not.
Regardless of the low attendance, the Wake fans who were there were loud and passionate, sipping on Bud Lights or foamy pints from the Foothills Brewing stand. Food trucks spewing burger smoke left the whole place smelling of the Fourth of July. If you had tickets for Deacon Hill, where you can bring a towel and sit directly on the lawn above the southeast end zone, you may as well have been at a 25,000 person cookout set to a college football game.
Things feel open at BB&T Field. I’ve felt claustrophobic at football games before—tens of thousands of people beside you, above you, below you, yeah, who wouldn’t feel a bit trapped? It’s not like that at BB&T Field, even if the game had been a sellout. It must be the hill (I’m a fan of the hill, if you couldn’t tell).
I said last week that Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill is one of the most scenic venues in college football. BB&T Field is another. Its clean, brown brick facade, coupled with the verdancy of Deacon Hill, bring life to the stadium. There’s hardly any gray to be found anywhere. Plus, the bathrooms were clean, and guys may be relieved to know that the urinals do, in fact, have stalls.
If you’re looking to take the kids to their first football game, this is the place to go, and try to grab a ticket for Deacon Hill. I doubt you’ll find a cleaner, more family-friendly stadium in the state.