Arrgh you ready for ECU game day?

Got your ticket? That's a start.

But there's more to ECU football game day than just showing up and taking a seat. As part of the Pirate Nation, you have certain responsibilities.

And the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium experience is expected to be kicked up a notch this year, according to a press release from ECU Athletic Communications. The Pirates will play their first home football game of the 2017 season at 6 p.m. Saturday against James Madison University.

Some traditions will be the same as ever, like the requisite purple and gold attire and the Marching Pirates playing their hauntingly beautiful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

But there will be some noticeable changes and additions you should know about in advance. You don't want to miss any part of game day in Greenville -- especially this season, when the Pirates have SEVEN home games!

Whether you'll be attending your first game in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium or your 100th, here's the scoop for 2017.

Outside the stadium

Sept. 2 is National Tailgating Day, and local fans are pros when it comes to outdoor pregame parties! Set up your canopy, ice down your favorite beverages and fly The Jolly Roger. Tailgating for a 6 p.m. kickoff means heavier fare; Eastern North Carolina barbecue and fried chicken are always a good choice.

Pirate Walk, held two-and-a-half hours before kickoff, is a mini pep rally that began last season. Fans are encouraged to meet the football team at Gate 5 as they walk between Minges Coliseum and the Murphy Center to the front of the Ward Sports Medicine Building. The cheerleaders and pep band will be on hand, too.

Stadium rules

Although there are no real changes, here's a rundown of the regulations:

Gates open 2 hours before kick-off.

Have your game ticket ready to be scanned when you approach the gate.

Any bags (purses, back packs, diaper bags, etc.) carried into the stadium by fans can't be larger than 10" X 10" X 10". Boxes at each gate are used to measure all bags.

Staff security may inspect the contents of any bag, pocketbook, camera bag, diaper bag, etc. Entry may be refused to individuals failing to allow inspections

You can't bring in: * Containers (cans, plastic bottles, etc.), cups or coolers. * Food items. * Any type of alcoholic beverage. * Whistles, air horns or any electronically amplified noisemakers. * Umbrellas.

Smoking isn't permitted in the seating areas, stairwells, restrooms, and any enclosed area of the stadium.

The stadium management reserves the right to eject patrons from the stadium for intoxication, drug use, foul or abusive language or any other conduct that is not conducive to a family atmosphere as determined by ECU.


The university is changing its branding from East Carolina University to ECU, and the end zones will reflect the change. The West end zone will be painted with "ECU" and the East end zone in front of the Boneyard student section will be "Pirates." The awesome midfield logo -- the menacing ECU pirate skull inside the silhouette of the state of North Carolina -- won't change.

Both teams take Bagwell Field for pre-game warm-ups approximately one hour prior to game time.

Pre-game festivities with the Marching Pirates and mascot PeeDee begin approximately 20 minutes before kick-off.

A new entrance video has been created for this season, featuring a number of Pirate legends who played in the NFL.

The Pirate football team and coaches will continue to enter the field through a giant inflated skull positioned in the corner of the West end zone. The team is led by the cheerleaders and authentically costumed Pirate Steve Whetzel.

The team's entrance music still will be "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix. However, this season there will be even more purple haze, thanks to a change in smoke vendors. "This year not only will the team run through purple smoke like they always have, but fans will see purple smoke in more places on the field than just by the skull," according to the university press release.

Just before kickoff, Pirate Steve will still hoist the colors, a black Pirate flag featuring the traditional skull and crossbones symbol -- but ECU's version of the skull wears a bandanna and captain's hat in purple and gold.


Concession stands and vendors located throughout the stadium offer Coke products, popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, Johnsonville sausage, Dippin Dots, nachos, and other freshly prepared items. Stadium concessions are operated by Aramark, which now accepts Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards at most locations throughout the ECU athletic venues.

Chick-fil-A food also is available. And Papa John's, which previously sold pizza slices at games, now will offer 8" personal pizzas instead.

This season, Aramark has partnered with even more local vendors to provide a wider array of concessions. * Parker's Barbecue will be offered at multiple concession stands throughout the stadium. * Villa Verde Dominican cuisine will be located at Gate 9. * Kona Ice will be set up near Gate 3 and Gate 8. * Smash Waffles will be by Gate 4 and Gate 8.

During the game

Use the hashtag #ECUGameday on your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts before and during the game. Your photos or tweets may be chosen for display on the big video board in the East end zone.

Each time the Pirates score, a cannon still will be fired by a special group of Army ROTC students that are assigned to the "Cannon Team of the Pirate Battalion." The team is responsible for cleaning and upkeep for the cannon, as well. The cannon is "a scaled replica of an English 32-pounder iron gun and Garrison model, circa 1760 to 1790, that sits on a naval style carriage and weighs approximately 45 pounds," according to the ECU website. The cannon was made in Morehead City.

If you aren't sure about the words to Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," brush up on the lyrics to the 1986 rock classic. You don't want to miss out on being a part of Greenville's largest choir when it's played on the stadium's sound system. The song plays during a break in the action, and is cut short when play resumes on the football field. It's become a Dowdy-Ficklen tradition for fans to sing accapella until the end of the chorus.

Livin' on a Prayer Tommy used to work on the docks, union's been on strike He's down on his luck, it's tough, so tough Gina works the diner all day working for her man She brings home her pay, for love, for love

She says, we've got to hold on to what we've got It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not We've got each other and that's a lot for love We'll give it a shot

Woah, we're half way there Woah, livin' on a prayer Take my hand, we'll make it I swear Woah, livin' on a prayer

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the black skull and crossbones flag in the West end zone is lowered and replaced by a red flag representing No Quarter (a piratical term meaning to show no mercy to your opponent]. This traditionally is accompanied by "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns & Roses. Fans in the stands hold up No Quarter flags they brought with them. And this year, the Boneyard student section in the East end zone will join in on the pageantry. A new 90 foot by 54 foot lightweight nylon flag will be unfurled by the students, according to the press release.

All photos taken by 252Buzz during the 2016 ECU football season.

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, is a former staff writer for The Daily Reflector, where she was editor of Her... magazine and Greenville: Life in the East and several other niche publications. Email her at