Schoellkopf Field

November 15, 2003
Schoellkopf Field (Capacity: 25,597)
Ithaca, NY
Cornell Big Red vs Columbia Lions
Final Score: 21 – 34

* The stadium was re-visited for a game on November 19, 2016


For a late season, Ivy League battle between two underachieving teams, I took a ride down to Ithaca, NY for a visit to Cornell. Being before the days of GPS, my struggles to find the stadium meant that I did not arrive until halfway through the first quarter. The prestigious and private Cornell University focuses on research and this school of nearly 20,000 students features a huge campus in the city of Ithaca. City is a generous word as Ithaca really is more of a big college town with a population of 30,000. It is located within the Finger Lakes region of New York State, one of the country’s most scenic areas. Schoellkopf Field was built in 1915 and is one of the oldest college stadiums in the country. During its early years, Cornell had several undefeated seasons. More recent history is not as glamorous as the Big Red have only won three shared Ivy League championships, the last coming in 1990. Upon my return visit in 2016, Cornell was still struggling on the field as it had been 11 years since their last winning season. I have bad luck with Big Red football as my driving struggles occurred again, this time on the return trip. It was a crazy day as temperatures began in the 70s and by the final whistle, it was 40 degrees with a mix of rain and snow. When it was time to go home after the hockey game, roads were snow covered and it was a white knuckle drive the whole way. Schoellkopf Field is historic, but outside of the famed “Crescent”, there’s not much to get excited about.
Prestige Ranking: 1.5 out of 5


The area is absolutely beautiful to visit, though the warm season is the best time as the outdoors are the main attraction. Wineries, waterfalls and gorges make this a destination for many. Ithaca is on the southern end of Cayuga Lake and the downtown is worth strolling thru as there are plenty of hangouts to stop at. Expansive Cornell is on the east side of town and attractions on campus include the McGraw Tower, Fall Creek and plenty of historical buildings.
Location Ranking: 7 out of 10

Accessibility / Parking

The closest interstate (I-81) is over 25 miles away, so country roads are needed to reach the area. Either exit 8 or exit 12 off of I-81 is the best place to start the venture to Cornell. Meanwhile, from the NY State Thruway (I-90) it takes almost 45 minutes of two-lane roads to reach Ithaca. Coming from college in Oswego, I had to use Route 34, which was not easy to follow through the city. Once I finally figured it out and made my way through some traffic to near the stadium, parking was the next issue. There wasn’t much direction from Cornell on which parking lots to use, but luckily the small crowd allowed me to eventually find an area to park. I later found out there is a parking garage just behind the stadium (though this can get full). Finding parking for my second trip was easier.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 5 out of 8


The outside has an old-time look with open archways and some occasional Ivy growing on the walls. Though the look is historic, the deteriorating concrete structure is plain and almost gives the appearance as if it is crumbling. The shape is a gentle curve that rises up towards the middle. It looks a lot smaller than the stadium really is because only the top half of the stadium is visible from the outside. Other sides and entrances have no real outside architecture to them.
Exterior Ranking: 4 out of 10

Concourse and Food

Behind the main seating bowl is a dark and dismal concourse. There is nothing to see in this area and only one small section offered food, which were just grilled items (burgers, hot dogs, sausages) and snacks (pretzels, chips, popcorn). The wait was even worse as it took a half hour during the second quarter just to get through the line. Bathrooms are also atrocious gross troughs being used in the Men’s room.
Concourse Ranking: 0.5 out of 5
Food Ranking: 1 out of 8


Inside Schoellkopf Field, things get a little better as Cornell has a stadium with interesting features, primarily the main seating structure. The “Crescent” is in the shape of the Greek Omega symbol and at the top of the structure, there is a walkway with large pillars surrounding it, with the area near the top reserved as a pseudo-luxury section. Fans can still walk a part of that area and it is a unique feature. Unfortunately, the main bowl is all bleacher seating and with the design being flat, the seats at the end of the bowl are awkward because they are facing the area beyond the end zone (almost 30 yards away). Bleachers are as comfortable as you would expect, but there is no leg-room issues since the bowl is never full. There are way too many seats from bottom to top and a split design would’ve been nice. The view from the top is pleasant as the stadium is set on a hill, allowing for a terrific view of campus, Ithaca and the surrounding countryside. Opposite the main area of seating is a set of bleachers with a nice three-level press box sitting on top. When I returned in 2016, I saw that the west bleachers were removed because of “deterioration and lack of use”. It is strange to not see seats for visiting fans and the decision not to replace the stands looks bad for a school with so much money. The ends are left open with a historic building in the north end, which is used for locker rooms and football offices. Not much has changed since Schoellkopf Field opened in 1915 and despite some not so ideal seats, the stadium is usually empty enough to enjoy the game in a historic structure.
Interior Ranking: 6.5 out of 14


The scoreboard is located in the south end zone and is well away from the field (actually, it’s closer to the trees then it is to the field goal post). A small, black board displays the main info and above it is a clear video screen that shows the game feed.
Scoreboard Ranking: 3 out of 4


There is so much potential with that pillar-lined walkway at the top of the stadium, yet there is nothing on the walls in this area of Schoellkopf Field. Cornell should really float the idea of some sort of history walk. Otherwise, the only displays seen were the flags of Ivy League teams that line the top of the stadium.
Displays Ranking: 0 out of 6


Tickets for Cornell games during my first visit were only $10 and parking was free. A program cost $3. Concessions were cheap as well.
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8

Fan Support and Atmosphere

During the first game I attended, 4,242 showed up and the crowd looked quite small in the massive seating bowl. Fans were spread out, but centered towards the middle and it was disappointing not to see many students come from the nearby campus to the games.  Cornell usually ranks in the lower half of the Ivy League for attendance and only homecoming seems to bring out a great crowd. The atmosphere was typical of a football game with a crowd swallowed up in a large stadium. The ones making the most noise were families of players on this Senior Day. I did enjoy the large Marching Band, who put on a nice show at halftime and at the end of the game.
Fan Support: 3.5 out of 8
Atmosphere: 4 out of 14

Other Stuff

Schoellkopf Field is also home to lacrosse and field hockey. Being in a lacrosse-rich area, the Big Red usually have a competitive squad and they draw well for lacrosse games.

Game (Initial Visit)

The game was good as Columbia jumped out to a 22-7 lead by the time the third quarter was nearly completed. Cornell then began to show signs of life as back to back possessions led to touchdowns, but they decided not to go for two with 10 minutes left and the Lions led 22-21. Columbia proceeded to convert a huge third down and score a couple more times to win comfortably.

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