Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a stadium in Greenville, North Carolina. It is primarily used for American football, and is the home field of the East
Carolina University Pirates. It opened in 1963 and holds 43,000 people.
The stadium opened as Ficklen Memorial Stadium on September 21, 1963 with a win against Wake Forest. It cost over $300,000, most of which
was raised by the college’s Society of Buccaneers, the school’s booster club. It was originally named for James Skinner Ficklen, owner of
Greenville’s E.B. Skinner Tobacco Company. Skinner was considered a friend of the college, and had established a scholarship fund.
The stadium originally consisted of only the south side stands, with a small press box and a lighting system. In 1968, the north stands were
constructed, bringing seating capacity up to 20,000. In 1975, a $450,000 lighting upgrade was completed, moving the light stanchions to the
perimeter of the stadium rather than the edge of the field. The renovation added 288 fixtures of 1500 watts each on six 162-foot towers. By 1978,
the grandstands had been widened out towards the edges of the stadium, nearly doubling the size of the stadium to 35,000. The press box was
also updated at this time, and a modern scoreboard was installed. In 1983, a modern drainage system was installed, and Tifton 419 Hybrid
Bermuda grass was planted.
In April, 1994, Ron & Mary Ellen Dowdy of Orlando announced a $1 million gift to the ECU Educational Foundation, which would also contribute to
the stadium’s continuing renovations. Ron Dowdy, class of 1966, is a member of the Board of Trustees, who runs Dowdy Properties, a real estate
company in the Orlando Area. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the Florida Citrus Sports Association, the Board of Directors for
the Florida Citrus Bowl, the Board of Directors at Humana Hospital Lucerne in Orlando, and the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee in Orange
County. For their gift, the stadium was renamed Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that year.
In 1997, the playing surface was renamed in honor of Al and Debby Bagwell, graduates of the university. Al has served as president of the Pirates
Club (the modern booster club), and has served on the Board of Visitors.
In 1998, an upper deck was placed on the north side, bringing the capacity to 40,000. A year later, 3,000 more seats were added, bringing the
capacity to its current level. In 2001, the Murphy Center, a training facility and field house which also contains the ECU Hall of Fame, was opened
in the west end zone. One year later, the current $2 million scoreboard, which has an instant replay board and a deck on top for video production,
was added to the east end.
Future expansion of the stadium includes possibly enclosing the east end zone, the addition of a new press box and suites, the addition of a six
story building for office space, player’s lounge, lockerooms, classrooms, and meeting rooms, and the addition of an upper deck on the stadium‘s
south side. Upon completion, the stadium’s capacity would increase to over 60,000 under this plan.