With both Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion officially settled in to Atlantis Resort, practice has ramped up for both teams. The Monarchs got their first look at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium today, while the Eagles took the field Tuesday. The stadium is home to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and has been an important part of the Nassau, Bahamas, skyline since it was dedicated in 2012.
“It is beautiful here,” Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback said. “We are practicing in paradise. The stadium is awesome. The field is awesome. Just getting back out here in the warm weather is different.
“It smells like football out here.”
The 15,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium will be front and center Friday when the team’s kickoff at 1 p.m. ET in the third edition of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
“(The stadium) was awesome,” Old Dominion offensive coordinator Brian Scott said. “What a set-up. They just put in brand new Bermuda grass field that is unbelievable. Probably as good of a grass field I’ve ever played on. It was like playing on a real nice golf course, playing on the fairway, it’s that nice. The stadium is a really good set-up.”
Stadium officials wanted teams playing the in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to enjoy some of the best playing surface around, so they laid down bermudagrass in November for the 2016 game.
“The stadium was great,” Old Dominion wide receiver Zach Pascal said. “It was amazing. When I walked on to the grass, it felt really good. My cuts were amazing and I’m very excited.”
The beautiful weather in Nassau has been great for outdoor activities though it has been an adjustment for the players coming from the cold weather.
“It’s pretty difficult at first to transition from the cold to the heat,” Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Pat O’Connor said. “You need to pace yourself better, catch your wind and set a tone that you need to be successful in practice.”
With practice behind them, members of both teams will participate in a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children today, followed by a special Youth Football Clinic with USA Football.
“It’s going to mean a lot,” O’Connor said of the community service event today. “Giving back to people that aren’t used to seeing football players will be fun. Making them happy and interacting with them is going to be something I’ll never forget.”