Sharing a Football Stadium

Two historically black colleges hope to attract more fans and perhaps more money through collaboration.

May 29, 2019
 

Two universities with rival Division II athletic programs are taking a unique approach to boosting home football game attendance by agreeing to share a football stadium starting in the upcoming season.

Saint Augustine's University and Shaw University, both historically black colleges located in Raleigh, N.C., will share the George Williams Athletic Complex located on Saint Augustine’s campus. Both colleges participate in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association conference.

Lucera Parker, Shaw's spokesperson, said the idea of sharing the stadium has been discussed by university administrators for a number of years. Before Saint Augustine's built the athletics complex, the city of Raleigh was considering funding a joint project between the colleges.

The Shaw Bears previously played at a stadium in Durham, N.C. -- a 40-minute drive from the main Shaw University campus. The new agreement means Shaw fans will only have a short drive across Raleigh to see the team play. Kimberly Williams Moore, Saint Augustine's spokesperson, said the teams will alternate weeks of home and away games, meaning a home game will be played for either school on any given weekend.

“If we have someone here celebrating football every weekend, that’s wonderful,” Moore said. “I think we’ll see more to come with cooperation between schools.”

Rival teams Shaw and Saint Augustine's play each other in the annual Raleigh Classic, which for the past 12 seasons has been played either in Durham or at Saint Augustine's. With the agreement, the Raleigh Classic will be played in Raleigh for the foreseeable future. Moore said she predicted increased ticket sales as a result of the agreement.

“The fans in Raleigh did not like going to Durham, so the ticket sales and revenues will surely rise,” Moore said. “That was a huge benefit.”

Parker said that while the teams are rivals, this agreement reflected their shared goals in terms of athletics and growing the colleges’ football programs.

“Anything that works for the mutual benefit makes sense,” Parker said. “We’re interconference rivals, but we’re also comrades at arms in terms of the goals of our universities and the students we educate. This is a win-win all around.”

Parker said it was logical the shift would result in higher sales for Shaw home games. Shaw University will also keep the concessions sales when the school plays at the stadium. The college will also save money by not having to regularly bus players and the band to games in Durham, Parker said.

“This is the right decision for both universities. As institutions of higher learning, both schools have a responsibility to support each other,” Saint Augustine's interim president Gaddis Faulcon said in a statement. “I look forward to watching Saint Augustine’s University and Shaw University host football games at the George Williams Athletic Complex this upcoming season.”

In the same statement, Saint Augustine's athletic director George Williams said the agreement was "a win for Raleigh."

“The two universities have a long-standing history of working together, and this is the latest example. Football fans in the area have the opportunity to see either team plan on any given Saturday. This is a victory for Saint Augustine’s and Shaw, but the biggest winners are the southeast Raleigh community, the entire city of Raleigh and Wake County. I can’t wait for the Raleigh Classic.”

Moore said she believes this agreement will continue to bolster fan support for both schools in the coming years.

“Our goal is to build up all our sports, and that comes from continuing to build a fan base of boosters and find more alumni support,” she said.

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