When Umass moved to the FBS after the 2012 season it was decided that the 17,000 seater stadium was not big enough for home games and instead the entire home slate was moved over 95 miles away to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass which is the home of the New England Patriots. It was thought that this would increase interest, attendance and revenue at UMass games. The problem is that the Minutemen have just not been particularly competitive since moving the FBS, plus Foxborough is an NFL crowd and not a college town, so unless UMass is playing the likes of Boston College or another power school the attendance actually decreases.
The result of this is that in 2014 UMass decided to bring football back on campus to some degree. In both 2014 and 2015 the Minutemen will play half (3) of their home games in each venue. In 2014 the aforemrntioned Boston College game at Gillette Stadium drew over 30,000 people, but the other two games (Colorado and Eastern Michigan) pulled in 10,000 and 12,030 respectively. The first game back on campus in three year by comparison, the Homecoming clash with Boston College, pulled in a capacity crowd of 17,000 to Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
The stadium is named after Warren P. McGuirk who was the UMass Athletic Director from 1948 to 1971. The stadium was his lasting legacy to the school and it opened in 1965 at a cost of $1.4 million. In order to get games back to the campus stadium, UMass had to upgrade the press box and some of the facilities to meet minimum NCAA FBS requirements. The capacity of 17,000 is itself only 2,000 above the NCAA minimum standard and the indoor training facilities for the team to use during the long Massachusetts winters (and spring) also had to be renovated to give the school a chance to be competitive.
Unlike many stadiums in the FBS, UMass was unable to play night games until as recently as 2008. This is when lights were installed at the stadium for the first time, with the home side beating Albany on August 30, 2008, in the first game under the lights in school history. UMass has also worked hard to get the amenities up to FBS standards, with high quality field turf being installed in 2014 and a new video scoreboard making its debut in 2009.
The $20 million which has been poured into the stadium over the last few years has definitely helped UMass when it comes to competing and recruiting at the MAC level. A number of improvements are not visible to fans, but include things like updated locker rooms and weight room facilities for the players. Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium is never going to compete with the behemoths in the SEC or Big Ten, but for UMass to remain viable as an FBS school, and for the stadium to have any historical importance, more changes are needed.
Buy tickets to see UMass at the Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium today!