Nicknamed the “Rowdy Dowdy,” there is only one college football stadium where you can rock out to a Jimi Hendrix song! Before kickoff of each ECU game, Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” blares over the sound system at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium as the crowd goes crazy and the team runs onto the field. For five decades fans have been visiting the East Carolina University campus each Fall to see the Pirates play at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The history of the stadium dates back to the early 1960s, when James S. Ficklen, a prominent member of the Greenville business community, led the way in getting a new stadium built for the Pirates. Costing just over $200,000, the Pirates played their first game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on September 21, 1963 against Wake Forest. The stadium was built through public subscription funds and consisted of a 10,000 seat grandstand on the south side upon opening.
Expansion of the stadium began before the 1968 season, when the seating capacity was increased to 20,000 with the addition of the grandstand on the north side. Before the 1975 season, new lights were added and by the 1978 season, the seating capacity was increased to 35,000. This expansion also included a three tier press box. Before the 1991 season, $1.6 million was spent on general repairs to the stadium. Originally being known as just Ficklen Stadium, it was renamed Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 1994, after Ronald and Mary Ellen Dowdy contributed $1 million to the university. In 1998 the upper deck was built on the north side of the stadium boosting the capacity to 40,000. Prior to the 1999 season, club seats were added on the north side and a new $2 million videoboard was installed.
After winning several conference titles in the early 2000, the university expanded Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to seat 50,000 fans. A 7,000 seat section was constructed in the east endzone prior to the start of the 2010 season. This expansion also included a new HD video/scoreboard. Before the start of the 2019 season a $60 million renovation project was completed at the stadium. It included a four story tower on the south side of the stadium that houses a club level, loge boxes and suites, increasing the capacity of the stadium to 51,000.