When Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium turns on its lights on September 3 for the opening game against Western Carolina, Pirate fans filling the stands will get to see one of the top-10 fields in the country come to life as the season kicks off, according to USA Today.
Leading up to East Carolina’s first game, groundskeeper Joey Perry will be tasked with preparing Bagwell Field, which was named to the top-10 list by USA Today. It stated that the midfield logo, with all of the “intricate illustration” it includes, is “downright terrifying.” ECU was also the only school recognized in North Carolina, beating out all in-state rivals.
Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was erected 54 years ago. Originally it cost the university $280,000 to build the 10,000-seat stadium. The stadium was broken in on September 21, 1963, as the Pirates opened with a win against Wake Forest.
Since then, the stadium has had four renovations that have increased the capacity to 50,000. The attendance record was shattered during ECU’s memorable 70-41 win over North Carolina in front of a packed house of 51,082 fans.
ECU decided to add to it’s state-of-the-art facilities with a $55 million renovation, targeting a fall 2018 completion. Recently, the athletic department and the ECU Pirate Club announced a $1 million leadership commitment from the Walter and Marie Williams Foundation, which supports the $55 million “Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Southside Renovation Campaign”.
On August 31, Perry will walk onto the field and begin his two-day task of painting the field. This process takes about 35 gallons of paint and several hours for a single game. ECU will host six games this season and several will inspire different designs in the painted logos, including the blackout game against Navy.
Perry’s job doesn’t end when the season concludes. Rather, it’s an around the clock job with no offseason. It is up to him to keep the field looking sharp all year long so games present players and fans with the best game-day experience.
Bagwell Field has 419 Bermuda grass, which is capable of withstanding the summer heat at ECU. Perry doesn’t just paint though, he is also in charge of all the maintenance that goes along with the field, including mowing the grass and making sure it grows thick and green.
Since it opened, the Pirates have won 331 games over 53 seasons and thousands of Pirates have played on Bagwell Field. When the 2016 season opens up, the Pirates hope to improve that record and look good in the process.