Howe: Ranking the Big Ten Football Stadiums

Discussion in 'Football' started by RobHowe, May 13, 2020.

  1. RobHowe

    RobHowe Administrator

    One man's opinion of conference venues:

    uihawk82, Hawk1960, Seth53 and 4 others like this.
  2. Grady

    Grady Well-Known Member

    From a fan's perspective, NW's stadium is hard to beat: BTen football in a h.s.-type venue. Indiana's stadium in the '80s was the worst BTen stadium I've been in...a sterile concrete feel and fans a mile from the players. Their fans were pleasant enough, tho: one game there the Hawks won something like 7-0 and as my friend and I walked out of the stadium a tailgater handed us a cold bottle of champagne and said "Here, you guys earned it." Made the return drive to Iowa City more enjoyable! Ross Ade at Purdue can really get deafening when full and the crowd is into it -- I remember watching Drew Brees break our hearts there.
  3. kicker22

    kicker22 Well-Known Member

    Wonder how the players would rank them when you eliminate the fans and the game day environment we're most likely going to encounter this fall if there's even a season to begin with.
  4. SpiderRico

    SpiderRico Well-Known Member

    I went up to Minn a few years back and I really enjoyed their stadium (enjoyed it more because we won, of course). But it's a nice stadium, actual seats, easy ticket to get ahold of, and the fans are pretty friendly.

    Was looking forward to going back for a friday night tilt, but unless something miraculous happens, looks like that may not happen.
  5. Xerxes

    Xerxes Well-Known Member

    Minnesota is the nicest college football stadium that I've been to by a wide margin in terms of comfort.

    Atmosphere doesn't compare other venues but a very good place to watch a game in and they sell beer.
    HuckFinn likes this.
  6. Fryowa

    Fryowa Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up. I enjoyed it.

    I've visited Wisconsin, Nebraska, the Metrodome back in the day, MSU, Penn State, Illinois, and Nebraska in the Big Ten. Nebraska, PSU, MSU, and Wisconsin are all impressive in one way or another whether it's size volume, etc., but no place inside or outside the Big Ten is as impressive to me as Kinnick, for one reason--the proximity of the stands to the field. It's huge to the Hawk players to have fans close enough to reach out and touch, and it's intimidating as hell for the opposing teams when fans can scream at them incessantly. I remember clearly the '15 Maryland game seeing players and even staff get into jawing matches with Iowa fans. That has to have an impact on the game.
  7. NorthKCHawk

    NorthKCHawk Well-Known Member

    Nebraska has some great traditions and they are usually very polite to opposing fans, relatively speaking. I have taken my son to the last three games in Lincoln and been treated well.

    But the stadium is in a weird location on the edge of downtown. Parking is terrible and there is no real tailgating or central hub. And, the stadium is a mismatch given all the renovations and expansions. Its not new and its not historic. Its a hot mess.

    I like Minny's new stadium. It was such an upgrade over the metrodome.
  8. hawkdrummer1

    hawkdrummer1 Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up, Rob. I've been to all except Maryland, Rutgers, Happy Valley and the Shoe. When visiting fans routinely tell you they're impressed....well, yeah. Kinnick is #1.

    Illinois at #11 even after a stadium rehab is sad. They finally took out the track and moved things in a bit, but the stands are still too far away from the action. vibe.

    Minnesota's newer stadium is nice enough but they'll never go above #8 until they have a consistent fan base. They have the facilities to jump into the first tier, but not the vibe.
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  9. Motigerhawk

    Motigerhawk Well-Known Member

    Ross Ade was a terrible stadium. Went in the 80s in November. Reminded me of sitting at a HS game. Silver metal bleachers on a cold November day are the worst. No one was there.

    Had a blast that night at the bar we went to though.

    Loved Madison. And had one of my best memories going to the old Metrodome. What a great time I had there. Drove up with no tickets and no place to stay. And that was where one of my most favorite adventures started.
  10. Grady

    Grady Well-Known Member

    A few of my favorite times harassing opposing players: got Jeff George's attention prior to the game and told him he was going to throw 3 INTS -- which he then did, but the Illini won anyway. When the Hawks played THE Ohio St and blew them out, at the start of the 2nd half their TE dropped a pass and I just rode his ass mercilessly until he turned around and glared endlessly at me like he wanted to tear my head off -- when they react are the times you know you've gotten in their head. Another favorite was the last Nebraska game and they had a RB who was getting good yards when he touched the ball, but they weren't giving it to him. I kept asking him why coaches weren't giving him the ball more? And finally he looked over to me and just shrugged his shoulders, like "I have no idea." Another time I asked the team's kicker if he would take my picture...he just looked somewhat amused, slightly confused, and looked around like "would that be OK?"
    HuckFinn likes this.
  11. HuckFinn

    HuckFinn Well-Known Member

    I have also made several trips to Lincoln. As I do for other away venues, I go to a local HS near I 80, have a huge parking lot to tailgate, bus to and from the game, very simple. I do the same deal at MN but from State Fair Park.
  12. okeefe4prez

    okeefe4prez Well-Known Member

    The stadiums are all great. The atmosphere just changes based on the year and the caliber of the team playing there. There are redeeming factors about all of them. Yeah, Illinois fans are pretty apathetic right now and yeah, they absolutely botched what was a stunning piece of architecture when they redid it, but Red Grange played there. Nebraska's stadium has the charm of a Wal-Mart, but it's hard to discount the amount of history that place has seen. Northwestern's stadium is great, it has a loveable loser charm about it and it's got mass transit close and a great view of the Lake.

    All of college football is like that. There's just something magical about it - the whole sport. The stadiums aren't disposable like what they've done with the NFL and there is so much history at pretty much all of them and even if it is like that little shitbox in Ames, even the people who go to games there can rehash all the great moments, like that one time they almost beat Iowa and that other time when they almost beat Nebraska and that other time when they did beat Oklahoma State and kept them out of the natty. They are shrines to our country's excesses - we are so blessed that we live in a country where colleges have the money to build stadia with tens of thousands of seats, most of which get used 7 times a year. It doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.

    And it doesn't matter where you go so long as you aren't acting like a pompous jackass wearing an opposing team colors (particularly an in-state rival's) you can roll in a total stranger and make fast friends with a dozen folks crushing beers and grilling brats on a Saturday morning. Sure, there are some asswipes in any crowd that size, but by and large, coast to coast, there ain't anything better than college football or NASCAR tailgating in terms of the friendliness of the average fans. And outside of college football and NASCAR, great tailgating really doesn't exist. The NFL tailgating game is soft compared to NCAA and there are waaaaay too many "NFL is serious business" jackasses who have room temperature IQs who will fight or assault you. Cowboys fans, Eagles fans, Bears fans. I wouldn't want to tailgate around any of those jackasses. Maybe Buffalo fans would be okay, but that's it.
    HawkeyeWalker likes this.
  13. Northside Hawk

    Northside Hawk Well-Known Member

    There is one Kinnick tradition that I would like to see come back.

    Players getting engulfed by fans when scoring TD's in the south end zone. That was cool to watch.
    Ree4, Fryowa and HuckFinn like this.
  14. Seth53

    Seth53 Well-Known Member

    I've been to all B1G stadiums to see a game except Nebby, although I have walked into the stadium to look around. My two cents from my visits :

    13a--Rutgers (once). Nobody knew anything about Iowa. Seemed weird to be playing 30 mins from NYC. Small and quiet crowd when I was there. Not easy to get to. NJ sucks in general. No parking. Little public transportation. They need to be back in an eastern conference. We paid way below face to sit on the 45 on the home side.

    13b--MD (once). Easy to get to off the beltway. A FB program stuck on a BB campus. Little excitement when I was there. People attended as an outing. They really need to be back in some eastern conference.

    11--Illinois (lost count....8?). Only because I will travel to watch the Hawks play there. The visitor side of the stadium was not renovated...bathrooms suck, there's a wind tunnel inside the inner circle. There are restricted vision seats. Fireworks were cool but annoying. Students do seem to have the choreography down. No real vendors around. You can smell the cow dung with even the slightest of south breeze. Awful stadium in an awful town.

    10--Ross-Ade (three times). Ugh. Another nondescript stadium in a dumpy town. The bass drum and locomotive were OK, but annoying. Downtown isn't far away. My first time was the 85 tilt with Long and down to the wire. But the last two times were ho-hum, and the stadium needs repairs. The inner circle feels like you're in a dungeon...dark and dank.

    9--MSU (once). I was at the 09 game. Loud, yes. Full, yes. But damn, it's a long ways from anywhere. Zero around it. And the stadium is rather sterile with little tailgating next to it. I got like zero vibes regarding the structure itself. Probably won't ever go back there again.

    8--Indiana (four times). May be ranked too high here. Dead environment with constant "and that's a Hoosier FIRST DOWN." people there to watch the warm ups. And they added 5000 seats when they were half full to begin with. Another FB program in a BB town. Brown county is beautiful and the stadium is easy to get to, and yes, park right up next to. You can leave at half time to get your drink on and return to your seat. Excellent campus.

    7--Penn State (once). Not really impressed. Seriously. Been dis-jointly renovated so much it looks like a tinker-toy build. Decidedly difficult to get to, and parking is a mess. No real bars or food joints around within walking distance. They play that obnoxious cat scream constantly.

    6--Ryan Field (lost count...10?). Actually a fave place of mine. People give it crappy reviews but it's been my Kinnick away from home. Easy to get to off the Metra. Lots of energy due to Iowa fans filling it up. Mustard's Last Stand is a must-eat location. Some decent bars within walking distance. Not a bad seat in the house.

    5--Michigan (once). 1st class operation all the way. Golf carts running all day to assist people. We had our own section usher. Clean, and yep, big. Not all that loud as you know, but big. Can't argue against 110K people in one location. They can even cheer twice when both MSU and OSU lose. Not a lot of bars, etc near it that I recall. Fun but not exhilarating

    4--Minnesota (twice) I'll give them props. Excellent stadium and they sell beer! Park at the fair grounds and it's a breeze getting there. They can move people with the best of them. Small but loud and very clean. The food venues around the stadium are pure minnesota-ian. I really have nothing bad to say about the venue, other than some fans.

    1c--Madison. (four times). Party time! Stadium is within a block of downtown. Loads of fun, alcohol, energy, and noise. Inside rocks. Easy to get to if you ride the city buses. I've never seen Iowa lose there, so that's something.

    1b--Ohio State (three times). Hard to argue against 108K extremely hard core fans. Take a raucous Kinnick and add one-THIRD more people. You get the idea. Hiney-Gate was the BEST party I've ever been to. Period. A bit difficult to get to and it's steep in the upper deck, but it was quite the shrine.

    1a--Kinnick (dozens). The only drawbacks are it's a bit difficult to park close to, and, there's no real nightlife close to it. Everything else is first class. Go Hawks.
  15. Fryowa

    Fryowa Well-Known Member

    Illinois is an absolute butthole.

    Trash stadium, trash campus, mediocre fans who’ve had the life sucked out of them, snoozer atmosphere, and to top it off its located in the absolute shittiest town in the state of Illinois. It’s like someone said, “let’s put this thing in the worst city we can possibly think of and still be within the borders of Illinois. Champaign has all the charm and quaintness of East St. Louis but with marginally less garbage in the street. For those of you who haven’t been there, think Fort Dodge’s big brother that FD has always looked up to and strives to be like.

    If our conference had a yearbook, the “B1G City You’re Most Likely To Catch A Bullet In” award would go to Illinois perennially.
    Chickenlounge likes this.
  16. Northside Hawk

    Northside Hawk Well-Known Member

    You're not just whistling Dixie about Ohio Stadium's upper deck being steep. That place can induce vertigo. Those hand rails are there for good reason.

    We were able to park at the state fairgrounds and take a shuttle bus to the stadium. When the shuttle returned us to the fairgrounds we were two blocks from the interstate heading west.

    Besides Kinnick the only other B1G stadium I've been to is Camp Randall. Great sightlines but an endless number of switchbacks to the upper deck. Upper deck does shake like the reputation warrants during "jump around"

    For last November's game vs Iowa we were over on the east side of the stadium near the ten or twenty yard line. All the touchdowns were scored going the other way that day while the field goals were at our end. We left our tailgate sight about ninety minutes prior to game time. Couldn't move in the bars on Regent. Went to Buckingham's after the game while waiting for traffic to clear. Couldn't move in there either.
  17. Seth53

    Seth53 Well-Known Member

    The Shoe:...the 09 game I was with a buddy. We switch-backed and switch-backed and switch-backed until we got to the upper deck. I mentioned, boy, glad we're almost there. He said...look up...and was like another 30 frickn rows up to where we were...straight up, and no, we weren't at the top by any means. Still loud as shit up there though.
  18. Seth53

    Seth53 Well-Known Member

    Lol! Right on. If But-gers and Merry-land weren't so frickn far out of B1G geography, I'd rate Illinois dead last. By a large margin. It really is Fort Dodge east...and that's being unkind to FD. "Come to Champaign....catch a bullet, syphilis or mad cow disease...."
  19. Hawk1960

    Hawk1960 Well-Known Member

    My list would be almost identical.
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
  20. okeefe4prez

    okeefe4prez Well-Known Member

    I've got a lot of Illini buddies and I've had some great times at Memorial Stadium, but yeah, Champaign sucks and they sure messed up the renovation of that stadium. Same with Soldier. They had these classic architecture, historically significant stadiums and they just completely took a shit all over them with the remodeling projects. I actually liked Illinois back in the day when it was just the open aluminum bleachers sitting there in the end zones. There was some charm about it.