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Football is Back!

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 1, 2014

Start a month of football travel with a trip to billion dollar JerryWorld

Finish up a month of football travel with a trip to billion dollar JerryWorld (picture from Stadium Journey)

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Ah yes, American-Style Football is back! This country’s most popular sport always brings excitement this time of year as fans gear up by setting up tailgates, having fantasy football drafts, buying new TVs or actually going to games. This is a stadium site, so of course I advocate heading out to the game, though the dragging out and over-commercialization of the 4 hour FBS events make it a little challenging. While exposure has placed different games on non-traditional days, that also means good news for road-trippers with trips that allow for multiple games and stadium. Here some tempting, great football trips to ponder making this month.

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1) Thu, Sep 4 at 8:00 PM  –  Arizona at UTSA  –  AlamoDome
….Fri, Sep 5 at 7:30 PM  –  Lee at Jefferson  –  Alamo Stadium
….Sat, Sep 6 at 7:30 PM  –  BYU at Texas  –  Royal Memorial Stadium
….Sun, Sep 7 at 4:25 PM  –  Washington at Houston  –  NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant)
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Texas is an easy state to find a great four-day stadium trip and this one is pretty good. It starts in one of my favorite cities, San Antonio and includes a High School Football game, which is a must when in the Lone Star State. Plus, 74-year old Alamo Stadium just completed renovations to upgrade, yet preserve the historical facility. Afterwards, check out 100,000 wearing burnt orange at a Longhorns game. For Sunday, Houston and Dallas are the same distance from Austin, so you can go to either NFL city. I only went with Houston here because I saved Dallas for a late September trip. 

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2) Thu, Sep 11 at 8:25 PM  –  Pittsburgh at Baltimore  –  M&T Bank Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 13 at 12:00 PM  –  West Virginia at Maryland  –  Byrd Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 13 at 6:00 PM  –  Colgate at Delaware  –  Delaware Stadium
…..Sun, Sep 14 at 1:00 PM  –  Jacksonville at Washington  –  FedEx Field
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I love this one…Enjoy one of the best NFL rivalry’s on Thursday Night, then take the open day Friday to either tour Charm City or the Nation’s Capital. Traffic is always a tricky thing to gauge in Maryland, but without it, the drive from College Park to Newark is very doable (1:30). That should be enough time to see one of the most well-supported FBS teams in the country. Then its back down to the DC area to check out a second NFL game. 

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3) Fri, Sep 19 at 7:00 PM  –  Holy Cross at Harvard  –  Harvard Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 20 at TBA  –  Maine at Boston College  –  Alumni Stadium
…..Sun, Sep 21 at 1:00 PM  –  Oakland at New England  –  Gillette Stadium
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While New England is more of a baseball-town, there is also good football and historical stadiums. A visit to an Ivy League game is a must-do at least once and Harvard is a great place to get a taste of the Ivies. Meanwhile, in Chestnut Hill, Alumni Stadium is an intimate and cool facility. Then the tour of Boston suburbs ends in Foxborough with the Pats.

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4) Thu, Sep 11 at 10:00 PM  –  UCLA at Arizona State  –  Sun Devil Stadium
…..Fri, Sep 26 at 8:00 PM  –  Fresno State at New Mexico  –  University Stadium
…..Sat, Sep 27 at TBA  –  TCU at SMU  –  Gerald J. Ford Stadium
…..Sun, Sep 28 at 8:30 PM  –  New Orleans at Dallas   –  AT&T Stadium
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Lots of driving on this one with a total of 15 hours in the car, luckily Albuquerque is in the middle of the trip and it splits up the days nicely. Hopefully, that TBA is not an early start or else it may be a little tough getting to the Metroplex. Otherwise, this trip is a great mix of college venues and cool places to hang out (spend some time in Tempe or Scottsdale after the game). The weekend is topped off in Billion-Dollar JerryWorld.

 

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Yale Bowl – Wonderfully Historic, yet Literally Falling Apart

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 29, 2013

Yale Bowl Interior

On a sun splashed afternoon perfect for football, Stadium Visit #140 was a historic one. Built in 1914 and site of some amazing moments, the Yale Bowl would be my fifth Ivy League stadium. Last April, we visited New Haven and Yale for a baseball game across the street, so Saturday was just for football as the slightly over two hour drive went smoothly. A winding, yet well-directed path led my car to lot D, where plenty of quiet tailgates with old alums were going on in the grassy field. It was a nice, welcoming atmosphere and everyone I encountered on this trip was very pleasant. Walking to the stadium, I had to rub my eyes a couple times trying to figure out if this was really it. The bowl is built below ground, so aside from the press box, fans just see a low-surrounding wall and then some tall grass above. Very peculiar and unexpected, yet the design was revolutionary for the time and it is a marvel when you think that the giant bowl was essentially excavated. After walking around the outside pathway, through the long tunnel I went for that always awesome moment of first reaching the inside of a new stadium.

The place definitely has a wow factor and I spent a minute just gazing. It is quite an amazing sight and while there is nothing architecturally earth-shattering about a 62,000 seat literal bowl, the thought that it was the first of it’s kind and 99 years old has an impact. After taking it all in, my eyes focused a little more to the closer surroundings, where I realized that in it’s current state, this is not such an ideal stadium. Every one of the seats is a blue, wooden bleacher that looks every bit like they’ve been there a century. Most of these bleachers are crumbling as there are paint chips and broken wooden pieces everywhere and there are even broken seats and concrete stairs. It feels like the stadium seating is falling apart. Walking the aisles is a hazardous operation thanks to the potential giant splinters, while sitting in the seats comfortably is an impossible task, especially since my 6’2″ frame barely fit. The best a fan can hope for is to seek out a wooden bleacher seat that is less splintered than the others. While I greatly appreciate and admire the history of this famed bowl, the uncomforable-ness is hard to overlook.
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Yale Bowl Seating

The game was Yale’s home opener and there was a nice turnout over 10,000 that came out to root on the Elis. The opponent was Cornell and interestingly enough, I have seen the Big Red in four of the five Ivy League stadiums visited. Yale’s start was impressive as they took advantage of a long kickoff return and then zipped down the field in their quick offense to score the first touchdown. The game slowed down after that and at the half it was tied at 10. In the second half, Yale bubble-screened the Big Red to death and dominated by scoring 28 unanswered. Receiver Deon Randall had all four of the touchdowns. Cornell had a couple meaningless scores late and the game ended 38-23. Harvard also opened 2-0 and I hope the Ivy title is on the line at the end of the season when The Game is played at Yale in what is a packed house and great atmosphere. It’s on NBC Sports Network (Nov. 23) this year and is worth a look. I will be working on a detailed review of Yale Bowl this week and a new review at Stadium Journey will be up as well. Have a great week!

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New 2013 Football Stadiums

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 21, 2013

Mercer University returns to the football field after a 72 year hiatus and plays in their brand new, 10,000 seat stadium.

Mercer University returns to the football field after a 72 year hiatus and plays in their brand new, 10,000 seat stadium (picture from http://www.mercerbears.com)

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This season, we have a couple new football stadiums at the FCS level, but first a few updates in the NFL. Two teams saw corporate sponsors added to their home venue (Cleveland and Dallas), while another team made a significant update. In Green Bay, a major renovation was completed to the South End Zone, thus increasing capacity, specialty seating areas, scoreboard and technology. It does give the famed field a new look and huge kudos to the team for entirely footing the bill. There will also be some concourse work done over the next few years. One other interesting note from the NFL…while checking stadium capacities for each team on their website (which looks like a league template), the teams not currently with the best stadium situation as viewed by the NFL did not have a link to their facility on the top main menu bar (Atlanta, Miami, San Diego). Meanwhile, those with newer places did (Arizona, Dallas, Indianapolis). These darn pro leagues thinking they know best for every city and situation (see Adam Silver).

Onto the college scene, where we have a pair of brand new stadiums. Down in Macon, GA, Mercer University has returned to fielding a football team for the first time since 1941. They will ease in to DI by playing a schedule of patsies before joining the Pioneer Football League. Their new Mercer University Stadium home has been jam packed and things seem to be going well at the new place. Charlotte is also starting up football and they will join Conference USA next season. For now, it is a FCS-type schedule in their first year at Jerry Richardson Stadium. I will send a boooo out to them however, for having PCLs (they call them FCLs). What a disgrace, this is a brand new team going to a mid-level conference in a 15,000 seat stadium!

In better news, the University of Albany opened Bob Ford Field last weekend and the new stadium was named in honor of their current, long-time coach. This will be Bob Ford’s final season and the 77 year-old coach is retiring after 44 years at the helm of the Great Danes. One other note in the FCS-level: Alabama State opened their new stadium last Thanksgiving. I thought a new name would be coming soon, but checking back this season, the stadium everywhere is referred to as “The New ASU Stadium”. Seriously? The New has to be affixed to the start of the name, even when “The Old” was called Cramton Bowl? Wow. Anyway, up to FBS, Houston played their last game at Robertson Stadium last season and they will play at Reliant Stadium while their new on-campus stadium gets completed. In the Pacific Northwest, Washington’s beautiful Husky Stadium reopened with renovations finished. The track has been removed, many improvements were made and the gorgeous scenery of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains remains.

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Football Stadiums Update

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 24, 2012

Surprising that the lone new stadium in Division I this year comes from the SWAC (image from Alabama State University)

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After going through each conference in Division I football and seeing current stadiums remaining in place, I thought this would be a quiet year with no new stadium openings. My last conference to check through was the SWAC, a place where I did not expect anything new as the conference has the lowest average athletic budget. Many SWAC schools bring in very little revenue and it is a conference notorious for old, crumbling sports facilities. So, I was quite surprised to find that Alabama State will be opening a new stadium on Thanksgiving Day. ASU Stadium looks beautiful and will be on-campus, which was not the case with current home Cramton Bowl. I’d really like to see Cramdon continue to host football as that old stadium underwent some nice renovations. Haven’t found any news articles on the Bowl’s future, but hopefully it remains a fixture with High School Football in Montgomery. Best of luck to the Hornets as they enjoy their own stadium.

As for the rest of college football, not too many changes, just some renovations. As UMass completes it’s move to FBS, they will play two seasons in Gillette Stadium, while their on-campus football home is upgraded. It’s quite a drive from Amherst (hour and a half), so I’ll be interested to see the turnout. It’s also ridiculous they’re moving to the MAC, but that whole conference thing is a joke for another day. Washington will also be renovating as the Huskies play in Seattle’s NFL home as opposed to Husky Stadium this season. The last note comes from Tennessee State, where the Tigers return to Hale Stadium for three games. The other games will continue to be at LP Field. Tennessee State last played at The Hole in 1998 and the place got refurbished enough to meet standards for Tiger football to return, which is great to see. No notes from the NFL, but we’re a year or two away from a couple new stadiums opening in Minnesota (boo, I love the Metrodome) and California (yea, Candlestick is ready to go).

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Un-De-Feat-Ed

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 17, 2012

Football is back and what better way to spend a pleasant September college football day in…New York City? True, NYC may not be the first place you think for college football, but there is a team that plays right in Manhattan. Out of the Ivy League, Columbia University calls Lawrence A. Wien Stadium home and I made a visit as they opened the season against Marist College. Getting to the game was my biggest challenge as there is no general parking for the stadium. Mass transit is widely available, but I would be doubling my time if I decided to do go that route. Given that I was headed to the Northern tip of Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Inwood, I looked into possibly driving for the first time in my seven years living in the region into Manhattan. After scoping out a parking garage within walking distance, I got up the nerve to do it. Not something I would like to repeat, but I made it, surviving classic NYC driving full of cars blocking intersections, right lanes taken up by buses and rude, honking drivers swerving in and out of lanes.

I gave myself plenty of time and walked the Inwood section a bit, stopping at Park Terrace Deli for a pretty good sub (“The Godfather”, which was roast beef, provolone, onions and horseradish on a hero). They let you bring food into the stadium, which is great, so that was going to be my lunch at the game. In fact, there are a lot of things that Columbia does well and that includes keeping the prices down. An awesome pre-game picnic just outside of the concourse features free water, soft drinks and beer. That’s right free! Plus they have some local restaurants in the area giving away free samples, that you could make into a light lunch. Heading into the stadium, it reminded me a bit of Cornell and had that old feel….but it was actually built in 1984. The south sideline is where the bulk of the seating is and there are over 10,000 seats here with the bowl arcing very slightly at the top. A couple not-so-great things were the scoreboard and the maneuverability. I really liked the scoreboard design, but I couldn’t read the darn numbers in the sunlight! I wasn’t the only one either as fans kept asking each other the time, because it was too hard to see. There is a track around the stadium, but they don’t let you walk on it (like at Penn and Bucknell). So to go to the other side, you need to exit the stadium and walk all the way around, re-entering in the process (with a stamp on your hand). As for the big plus with the Stadium…a great view. Sitting in New York City, you would not expect a canopy of trees, but from the main seating area, a peaceful view of Inwood Hill Park can be seen. Straight ahead is the Hudson River spilling into the Harlem River, along with the Henry Hudson Bridge, then to the right are those towering apartment buildings that are so familiar with the city. It’s a nice setting for football.

And surprisingly, the Lions sent the crowd home happy! Columbia and athletics haven’t exactly been great together and football has endured a lot. No solo Ivy League championships, a 44 game losing streak in the 80s and a winning season that hasn’t happened since 1996. That’s why I was surprised to see a decent crowd on hand (despite the low attendance number, the 3,933 looked like more, when it’s usually the opposite). Fans were cheering nicely and gave nice support as many stood during the critical plays. Good to see optimism with the first game of the year. Initially, it wasn’t looking to go Columbia’s way after a 3-0 deficit at the half. But they came down and scored a touchdown, followed by a botched punt attempt by Marist and a Columbia field goal to start the the third quarter. Toward the end of the third, Marist was about to go in for a TD at the 1, but they fumbled. Columbia was just hanging on until a Marist score with 6:30 left. But they blocked the extra point!!! Their 10-9 lead held up and a couple big defensive stops gave the Lions the victory. All-in-all a great day in NYC and we can check off the fourth Ivy League stadium from The List. For a more in-depth review check out the details at: #127 Lawrence A. Wien Stadium and also, there will be a review posted over at Stadium Journey soon.

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Two Stadiums Getting the Rare Spotlight Soon

Posted by Sean Rowland on December 7, 2011

December is here and in the world of sports there is a lot going on. One event is the beginning of bowl season for college football’s ridiculous postseason. I don’t need to get into the why the system is so ludicrously insane. The little good that comes of it however is in the stadium world, as the spotline shines on three stadiums that remain very quiet for the other 364 days of the year.

Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA plays host to one of the longer running bowl games in the country, the Independence Bowl. This simple stadium only sees high school action during the year and it’s one big moment is when the bowl game comes calling. Another stadium that is now down a bowl game as it’s main attraction is the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. They actually get to host two games: the Champs Sports Bowl and the Capital One Bowl. For nearly three decades, UCF called this stadium home, until they built their own stadium in 2007. A remarkable amount of teams have used this as their home facility, from the USFL to XFL to UFL. It even hosted the World Cup in 1994. Now the only other permament tenant is Orlando City SC, a USL Pro team.

The other two stadiums that host a bowl, but do not have a professional sports team or a FBS team as a main tenant are down in Texas. They are a couple storied venues worth seeing: the AlamoDome in San Antonio and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Alamo Bowl is likely the biggest attraction at San Antonio’s stadium, however if you are to take in a game at the Cotton Bowl, the annual Texas-Oklahoma game that takes place during the State Fair is probably the best time to see the remarkably historic stadium.

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Penn and Franklin Field…History Everywhere

Posted by Sean Rowland on November 21, 2011

Back in January, I visited The Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It was a venue that I had long known about and eagerly anticipated a visit to as it was well known to college basketball fans. Saturday, I went back to Penn to see another venue, one that it is older and oozes just as much nostalgia, but yet doesn’t get the love like the basketball arena next door. Franklin Field is home to Quaker football and a place that also takes fans back into time. Along with hosting football, the Penn Relays have been held here since 1895 (that’s right as in 1800s) , hence the track around the field. Normally, I’m always against tracks in football stadiums because it cuts back on the view and is less intimate, but in this stadium its OK because of what that track represents. The stadium also was home to the NFL Eagles from 1958-1970.

Despite the parking drawbacks on this urban campus, it was nice to take a stroll this time during the day so I can appreciate the huge, diverse and scenic campus. Like the Palestra, Franklin Field doesn’t really jump out at you as being a stadium from the outside. Plus, there aren’t even any lights to give the stadium away, as those are built into the seating bowl. Inside…wow, unlike any other football stadium I have seen before. There are many stadiums that were built in the early 1900s (this one took its current shape in 1922), but few are left as untouched as Penn’s is. The double-decker horseshoe has so many different vantage points and I checked out a lot of them during the game. Some are amazing, like half-way up the sideline seats on the Penn side, where you have an incredible skyline view of Philadelphia to the right and a view of the University with Weightman Hall on the left. Then there are some that are uniquely awful, like in the corner of the lower bowl on the sideline, where you have a brick wall to your back and side, a pole in the way and a terrible view not even facing the football field. Though seating is uncomfortable and the amenities aren’t there, this is a pretty awesome place to watch a game. Unfortunately, the crowd was weak on Senior Day as it was only announced at 7,609 (and a few thousand of those fans were for visiting Cornell). The only plus atmosphere-wise was watching the weird, yet funny tradition of Toast Tossing.

For a full stadium review and more pictures of Franklin Field, please click the link. I’ll also be doing a review over at Stadium Journey that should be out in a week or two, so be sure to check that out as well!

Oh yeah, the game! Ivy football has yet to disappoint me as five years ago, I saw a classic between Princeton and Harvard. This time, it was Cornell and Penn that put on the entertainment in a game that had no defense, but plenty of excitement. It started great for Penn as Cornell fumbled the opening kickoff and the Quakers scored a touchdown a few minutes later. Cornell got the TD back and then after a few punts, the teams traded touchdowns until it was 21-21. A Penn field goal put them up by 3 at the half. The Big Red got the lead after Penn turned the ball over on downs and Jeff Mathews threw a 54 yard touchdown pass. A few possessions later, Mathews got nailed and Penn picked up the fumble deep in Cornell territory, scoring shortly thereafter for a 31-27 lead. Cornell quickly answered and so did Penn, leading to a 38-34 score in the middle of the 4th quarter. Cornell drove it deep on their next possession, but failed to convert in the red zone. However, as Penn got the ball back, Billy Ragone threw an interception and Cornell this time cashed in on the next possession to take a 41-38 lead. The Quakers followed with a great drive again, however their 44 yard field goal attempt to tie it with 5:23 left was blocked. Penn’s defense had no answer for the Cornell offense all day and they couldn’t get a stop when they needed it as the Big Red effortlessly drove down field, eating clock along the way before scoring a final touchdown. They won 48-38 in a crazy game. Cornell’s Jeff Mathews was 35 for 45 with 548 yards (an Ivy record), 5 TDs and 1 INT. The teams combined for 46 first downs. Meanwhile, Penn had 9 players catch a pass.

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Doubleheader in Central PA

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 27, 2011

Last Saturday, it was off to one of the more scenic places in this great country on a fall day; Central Pennsylvania. The rolling hills were bright with color and though the thick overcast kept the temps in the 40s, it was still a great day for football. My first stop was Lewisburg and Bucknell University. This was my second trip to the area and I love Lewisburg and it’s quaint, walkable Market Street with a lot of good places to eat. However, I hate driving around campus as sporting events at Bucknell have no direction or indication on where you are supposed to park…plus parking is quite limited. After getting situated, inside the small stadium is a seating bowl that is a partial horseshoe which is filled in with wonderful landscaping in the South end zone as Bucknell is spelled out in the shrubs. They also do a nice job of honoring important people in the Bucknell program, like Christy Mathewson and some famous Bison Coaches. The on-campus location provides a nice feel, however the lack of atmosphere and fans was disappointing as fellow Patriot League rivals Lehigh and Lafayette do much better in that category. The Bison played Holy Cross in a mid-season game and the Crusaders prevailed in a 16-13 defensive battle. Bucknell frustratingly had seven positions to try and at least get into field goal range but had to punt on six of those and then had a loss of downs (with three sacks) on their final possession. Ugh, the loss dropped home teams to 3-11 this year when I visit for a game.  For much more details on the stadium, here’s the full review: #111 Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Also, a special thanks to Eric McCabe on the visit!

After Bucknell, I had just enough time to get back on I-80 and head a little further West down to State College, PA. A new sport for me was on the docket: volleyball. Penn State plays at Rec Hall, a building that was built in the 1920s and designed by the same guy who built The Palestra (Charles Klauder). You can certainly see some Palestra characteristics, especially with the look of the exterior. What was really cool about this visit was that Rec Hall is situated much more closer to the downtown area of State College, as opposed to all the other athletic facilities which are quite a ways away to the North. This gave me a chance to explore the town a little bit and it really is awesome with tons of local restaurants, bars and shops. Definitely a college town with most everybody walking around under 25 years old. Plus there was a huge buzz as the football team was playing on the road and starting in a few hours. Back to Rec Hall and volleyball, the arena was ok, it featured a lot of pull-out bleachers in its rectangle design as its multi-pupouseness showed. Loved the terrific videoboards here. It was great to see a program that is in the upper echelon of the sport as PSU has won four straight National Championships. They went on to beat Michigan in this tight match, 25-22, 25-21 and 25-23. An impressive crowd showed up considering the football game was going on at the same time as it was a legit 2,578 for the attendance number. Great atmosphere too, led by their pep band who had some various chants. For the detailed overview on the stadium experience, click here: #112 Rec Hall. All in all, it was a successful trip with two stadiums visited at two vastly different, but equally great colleges.

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Football List Updates

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 27, 2011

Updates have been completed on The List for college football teams along with pro football as those leagues have started back up and we have two new stadiums added to The List. They may not be for a BCS team, but they are just as important in my eyes. First, down in the retirement community of Boca Raton, congrats to Florida Atlantic University, as they have a new on-campus facility: FAU Stadium. Their old home of Lockhart Stadium down in Fort Lauderdale remains as some minor-league soccer continues play there. Also, down in North Texas, the Mean Green have closed down Fouts Field and replaced it with Apogee Stadium.

In other news, California is doing some major renovations to Memorial Stadium, so they are playing at AT&T Park for the year…interesting that they didn’t play at Candlestick. In Akron, I had to remove the crumbling Rubber Bowl from the list as I can’t find any evidence of high school football still being played there. If there is, send me an email. After I made my visit to InfoCision Stadium, I looked into their old home near the airport and did you know the Rubber Bowl has lights on the field, in the way of fans’ views? Lots of other negative thoughts on that stadium from others too. Over in the NFL, only one change and that’s to Denver’s stadium name, which is now Sports Authority Field at Mile High (instead of Invesco Field). Who cares, everyone just calls that place Mile High anyway.

Also, all of the reviews are posted on the right. Despite weather impacting 3 out of 5 stadium trips, I am gratefully thankful none were postponed or cancelled. Something I always am concerned about when I venture to an outdoor facility far from home. Had a great time at all of them!

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The Birthplace of College Football

Posted by Sean Rowland on October 11, 2010

Last Friday Night, it was off to Piscataway, NJ along the banks of the Raritan as I checked out Rutgers Stadium with the Scarlet Knights taking on UConn in a nationally-televised game. This would be my second time seeing the Huskies in three weeks. Once again, the weatherman lucked out with an absolutely beautiful day and evening for football. I’ve been holding off on making the short ride for a stadium visit here until renovations were complete and luckily one of our clients does work with Knights football and we were able to get some free tickets to the game. I went with my co-workers and we ended up tailgating for a few hours before heading in. The traffic can be atrocious in this area and with this being a weeknight game, it is even worse thanks to awful Jersey rush-hour. Parking is not great for Rutgers football as the lots are spread out well away from campus (unless your a rare, parking pass holder) and you have to take shuttles into the stadium. The lots were $20, but there is also an expensive $30 area turned into a lot across the street from Rutgers Stadium at Johnson Park. This was the much better alternative and ended being a good plan. We got there in plenty of time, had a nice time tailgating, however the ride out onto two-lane River Road was annoyingly long.

Let’s talk about the game for a little bit. I have gone through the last 18 new stadium visits without a great game (last one was UNLV vs Oregon State), so I was due one and this delivered. After Rutgers went up 7-0, UConn ran the kickoff back 100 yards to tie it up. The Knights were able to come back and go up 17-7, before the Huskies ran off seventeen straight, thanks in large part to Jordan Todman (who finished with 123 yards rushing). After the 24-17 lead held up through the 3rd, Rutgers rattled off a long drive only to get stuffed on 4th down at the UConn 12. The defense played great and Rutgers got the ball back as freshman QB Chas Dodd hit a 52 yard bomb on the second option of a screen play to tie the game with 3:53 left. After another defensive stand and another long Dodd pass, Rutgers kicked the game-winning field goal with :13 left and won 27-24. Dodd was unbelievable in his first start, going 18/29 for 322 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. He threw a ton of good balls and had lots of poise, so it looks like he’s probably going to assume the QB role over Tom Savage. Fans appreciated the great work by Dodd, but the guy they did not approve of (and booed several times) was the “savior of the program” Greg Schiano.

He’s in his tenth year and has done remarkable things with a Rutgers program that was dormant for decades. He took over in 2000 and recruited well and did some excellent things, the culmination of which came during the biggest game/win in school history vs #3 Louisville in 2006. However, fans think he is not an ideal “game” coach and that was evident during this one with just bad play calling and unnecessarily using the failed Wildcat formation, which the fans loathed. The fans here are passionate and as I’ve seen in my visit to The RAC, they come out in droves (and Red) to support Knights athletics. In-game atmosphere was great and I loved hearing the various three or four chants that Rutgers fans yell out. However, I was disappointed to see that only 2 of the 11 games in the stadium after the renovation to enlargen capacity have been sold out. They’ve jam-packed the stadium several times, but during our game, there were whole sections empty. I can certainly sense the frustration in the crowd with the direction of this season.  I’m also learning that the late arrival/early leaving thing is more common than I thought in college football as it still sucks to see it wherever you go. Overhearing talk from the regulars, it has become an increasing issue at Rutgers Stadium. Don’t get me wrong though, the in-game atmosphere is still enjoyable.

As for the stadium, it’s pretty nice, though I’m certainly against a $104 million renovation where other sports get cut (swimming, tennis, crew were some of the sports dropped to help save money) and students have to pay extra fees. The outside architecture is kind of a mish-mash of designs with each side being oddly different. Inside, I love the use of red and the beautiful new scoreboard which says at the top “The Birthplace of College Football”. The bowl is decent and the two very steep second decks of seats on the sides offer the type of high views in which I enjoy, even though they’re far from the field. Though it is part of luxury seating, I do like how they cleverly designed a lounge area (from the Welcome Center) within the middle of the end student section area. It’ s hard to see throughout the stadium, yet offers a cool view with tables and barstools in the middle of bleacher seating. Overall, a great game, fun experience and nice stadium to watch football. For the full review, click here.

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