Last weekend I drove up to Evanston to see the annual open spring practice. It felt good to be back! Later, Graham put up an article about how there should be beer in football stadiums, and also our friends at SBN's Northwestern community InsideNU want to do away with the song that plays between the third and fourth quarter.
In that note, why not take the opportunity to poll the writing staff here about stuff they might want changed at their favorite football stadiums!
1) Realistically, what's the most pressing thing or things you want changed at your football stadium?
LincolnParkWildcat: Get rid of the "Get your hands up in the air" rally song before the fourth quarter. It's lame. Also the tarp. What an embarrassment. No one cared about that section of the stadium before it was covered with a tarp!
GoForThree: Realistically, not much. I haven't been to Ohio Stadium in a few years so I don't know about the particulars of alcohol sales, but I wouldn't mind seeing Old Grain Belt sold there.
Graham Filler: I go to many Spartan games - The parking is famously terrible and really, how else would you fix it without a parking ramp? Also, it would be earth shattering if the food improved. I picked up some bbq of some sort in 2014 and was pretty happy about that addition...I've also never liked the dancing shell-game, although I know Andrew loves it.
Aaron Yorke: Um... Beer? Since I'm almost 30 years old, it'd be nice to suck on something besides a tailgate Natty Light during a Penn State home game. Also, some more actual seats would be nice, since most of the stadium has to sit on ice-cold benches for the entire game. Of course, seats will never happen because we feel the need to pack 106,000 people into Beaver Stadium every Saturday. How about 90,000 comfortable, not-as-thirsty people? Also, change the end zone paint back to the way it was during the 90s.
Candystripes for Breakfast: There's not a ton that can be changed to fix the biggest problem with Memorial Stadium, so let's say that it could use some additional sunshading for the crowds, as the only real protection anyone gets is the press box on the alumni side. If that fed into putting some sort of retractable roof structure on it, I'd be happy with that as well, but it's not really a necessity.
Jesse Collins: To start, I really like Memorial. It generally is a fun place to watch football, the new sound system means you have a bigger-time feel, and while it's not always as hopping as some of its contemporaries, you could do a heck of a lot worse than a sellout weekend in Lincoln. That said, I'm supposed to have something that's not my favorite, right? For me, I'd like to see something between the 3rd and 4th quarter that sticks. A lot of Husker outlets talk about this song or that song, and I'm cool with whatever, but even taking advantage of the screens and/or getting the student section - which should probably be moved, but uh, yeah - more involved. I don't know. In general, there's not a lot of complaints.
DJ Carver: Realistically? Id like Maryland to get some urinals and get rid of the troughs. Seriously, we are in the 21st century, get some urinals.
Andrew Kraszewski: Bafroomzies. I love Spartan Stadium and all, but they be awful. I don't take a side in the urinal vs mantrough debate, but there are issues with capacity and quality. Spartan Stadium has been undergoing renovations pretty much constantly for the last 15ish years, most of which were long overdue. The west grandstands/press boxes are very nice, the north endzone visitor/croot plaza is finished, and we now have actual locker rooms for refs instead of making them change in a trailer (and we wondered why we got shafted by calls so often). For all those improvements, the east facade of the stadium in general still has an unappealing, Soviet-era rusty fire escape look to it, but at least they took out the gas station for university vehicles that used to be hanging out under the east grandstands- yes, until 9/11 it didn't occur to anyone that putting thousands of gallons of gasoline under a structure holding tens of thousands of people was a terrible, terrible idea. I dislike the commercialization of the whole experience with the ads and the piped-in music and all that, as do most people who opine on the issue, but that's what college athletics is now and I don't see any point stamping my feet about it. I wouldn't actually change much about the game experience as it is now; the huge new video boards can be distracting sometimes but they're still a big net positive.
TLDR version: the stadium's had upgrades to the west and north sides recently and the east side really needs to be next if not the south side.
Thomas Speth: Make it more enticing to students to show up on time. I'm not completely sure how you do that. Selling alcohol might be a start.
MNWildcat: More Northwestern fans.
Oh, you said realistically. Um, better concessions. Northwestern should be able to do better than nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, and maybe one BBQ stand somewhere. Especially for "Chicago's B1G Team," if we're sticking with that as a thing. Offer mini Giordano's pizzas! Or slices of Gio's! Because fuck Lou Malnati's, that's why.
Brian: Better offensive line and quarterback play by the home team. Beyond that, the removal of piped-in music and virtually everything Dave Brandon introduced to "increase the in-game experience." But I'd settle for better offensive line and quarterback play.
2) If money was no object, what would you like changed at your football stadium?
LincolnParkWildcat: I'd like Ryan Field completely rebuilt, like Stanford Stadium was. The concourses are too narrow and the bathrooms are too small, which is really noticeable when we have sellouts. And flawless cell phone service/wifi. I'd also like the Purple Line Express to run between Belmont and the Evanston stops non-stop on Gamedays, but that's getting a little beyond the scope of this article.
GoForThree: Hot Runzas flown in from Lincoln on gamedays.
Graham Filler: I don't think money is an object in EL anymore...I go running by the stadium and this new addition looks spectacular.
Aaron Yorke: All of the things I said before plus those crazy science machines that fill the beer up from the bottom of the cup. And creamery ice cream sold during the spring game. I'd say a new scoreboard too, but I'm pretty sure we just got one.
Candystripes for Breakfast: If money was no object, I'd pave the tailgate fields and see if that gets some students to actually go to our games. Failing that (and to appease the horrified masses I've created by suggesting that tailgating shouldn't be the primary purpose of Indiana football), I'll go with the far more reasonable suggestion of filling in the south end of the stadium with seating and then putting the retractable roof I mentioned in #1 on top of the whole thing.
Jesse Collins: Like, money being no object for me? Because then I'd rename the Stadium Club to the Jesse Collins is Awesome Club and watch games from there.
DJ Carver: Money isn't an object? I'll be completely obvious here and go with a new one. Maryland could do with moving the stadium somewhere closer to east campus, possibly on the current golf course (/ducks). That would simultaneously upgrade the facilities while also helping traffic flow before and after.
Andrew Kraszewski: My idea isn't about the stadium itself, but a building adjacent to it. The old MSC power plant sits, unused for anything other than storage to the best of my knowledge, at the corner of Red Cedar and Shaw. Like the east side of the stadium, the old plant isn't exactly the nicest thing to look at these days. Beyond the aesthetic side of letting it sit idle, it's a huge waste of real estate in a high-traffic, high-exposure area. The first idea I had was to turn it into some kind of sports museum, but with the new Daugherty center sitting about a block away I don't know how useful that would be. Maybe just a general MSU history museum/visitors center would be a good use for it; I suspect that MSU's sprawling campus can leave visitors a little unsure of where else to go and what else to see beyond the stadium if they want to look around.
Thomas Speth: Parking lots. Where? Not my hypothetical problem.
MNWildcat: More Northwestern fans. Pay 'em to come. Sellouts every game.
Brian: Eliminate in-game advertising. Primarily what's blasted over the scoreboard and sound system.
3) What would you like to change at another team's stadium?
LincolnParkWildcat: I think the University of Illinois made a mistake moving the students to the North End Zone. Move them back to the East grandstands. The Block "I" looks better there.
GoForThree: I'd like to see Michigan State correct all the grammar in their locker room. Or the "Big House" transported to the decrepit industrial wastelands of Detroit, brick by brick.
Aaron Yorke: I have sadly only been to two Big Ten Stadiums, and one of them is Highpoint Solutions Stadium. They should make it bigger so that more Penn State fans can fit inside. Also, never renovate Michigan Stadium again, or Penn State fans will obnoxiously brag about the size of Beaver Stadium for a whole year.
Candystripes for Breakfast: Having not been to any other Big Ten stadiums in a long time (the year was 2000, and it was for a Colts game), and not to any college stadium since about 2008 (it was freezing in Scheumann Stadium that day), I am terribly unqualified to answer this question. Therefore, I'll go with the easy answer: Minnesota, seriously, put a roof on your stadium. Just do it.
Jesse Collins: I would like all of the other stadiums to be quieter and less full when they play Nebraska.
Andrew Kraszewski: Michigan Stadium would be a lot more fun if there weren't so many Michigan fans inside.
For realsies, Ionno. I don't generally go to road games trying to make lists of grievances. The open endzones in West Lafayette and Bloomington kind of lend the aura of high school to those stadia, but if you don't have the demand to fill those seats, it'll look even worse. Also Ryan Field is a fracking wind tunnel so maybe Northwestern should build something on the north end of the stadium to block that nonsense.
[ed note: It was absolutely freezing when you visited Evanston in late November 2013. Blame Jim Delany for the scheduling -- LPW]
DJ Carver: haven't been, can't comment yet. I plan on getting out to the B1G stadiums in the future
Thomas Speth: BURN RYAN FIELD TO THE GROUND. Then rebuild it and burn it to the ground again
MNWildcat: Does burning Camp Randall to the ground count as changing it? Because that is my answer. Burn Camp Randall to the fucking ground and salt the goddamn earth.
Brian: I've had enough of this guy for sure.
And would it be too much trouble to update the out-of-town scoreboard more than once or twice a game?
4) How's the cell phone service at your stadium during games? Is there publicly available wifi as backup?
LincolnParkWildcat: I have Verizon on an iPhone 5s, and it's absolutely terrible. It's completely useless during a sellout. I get my tickets from my dad, and sometimes I get to games once he's already inside. I'm usually unable to call him, so sometimes I have to resort to paging him or flagging down a fellow season ticket holder who has a ticket to get him. Sometimes I have to walk a few blocks away from the stadium to attempt to page him when the circuits are full.
GoForThree: I have AT&T, so the service is pretty much always dog vomit.
Graham Filler: A packed 70k in the stadium makes checking scores close to impossible. The scoreboard doesn't give national scoreboard updates much either. What is this, 1997? Get digital, get advanced, get some wifi...
Aaron Yorke: Not good and no way. Just listen to the cranky old men and put your phone away while enjoying the game
Candystripes for Breakfast: The cell phone service is probably better than the wi-fi, as if you don't jump on the wi-fi early in the game and stay on it, you won't be able to access it after halftime (the same is true for Assembly Hall).
Jesse Collins: Cell phone service is spotty, but when you cram 90k+ people in a tight space, that's not really their fault. It's just sort of an inevitability, you know? There is publicly available wifi, which - when it works - is pretty great to have. The cost/reward of getting more is really tough, and I know that the stadium probably wants to continue to get better, but it's such a hit or miss thing that I don't really care. I mean, in general, you're there to watch a game. It's nice to snap a picture to twitter, check facebook, and text your buddy, but is it integral to the gameday experience? This sounds so old man rant... TLDR Is it cool if they get better wifi? Sure. Is it necessary? No.
DJ Carver: perfect
Andrew Kraszewski: lolno
Thomas Speth: Much improved. It used to be impossible to get cell service in the Camp, now it's good enough the texts I send actually send. The wifi is decent. I feel like the 6 million dollars could've been used better, but it's there and not impossibly slow most the time
MNWildcat: I've never had a problem with my T-Mobile (shut up) service, so I can't complain.
Brian: I assume pretty poor (isn't it pretty poor at every stadium?), but I'm probably not the best person to ask.
Alright, what do you guys and gals think? Let us know in the comments!