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Official Review by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
It's been just a little over 20 years since the Alamo Bowl was created, and in that time, the game has grown in both popularity and prestige. Featuring (in theory) the second-ranked teams from the Big 12 and Pac-12, the game has seen some thrilling - and often high-scoring - contests between some of college football's traditional powerhouse programs.
The 2016 edition of the Valero Alamo Bowl featured a clash between the #10 ranked Colorado Buffaloes and the #12 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Alamodome, which is still in the midst of a lengthy series of renovations, proved to be an ideal location for this matchup, as a crowd of close to 60,000 fans attended the game. Though it proved to be a rout for the Pokes, the game was still a memorable one.
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As part of the recent renovations to the Alamodome, new catering and concessions options were brought in for the 2016-17 season; these were all on full display at this year's Alamo Bowl. There are now close to a dozen "standard" concessions stands throughout the stadium on all three levels, with hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, nachos, candy, sodas, and bottled beer offered for between $5 and $10.
For those looking to venture beyond the standard, there are lots of other options. As part of the new concessions agreement, a handful of local restaurants were brought in to offer pared-down versions of their menus. Restaurants on hand offer a sampling of local San Antonio tastes, ranging from barbecue (The Big Bib BBQ) to Tex-Mex (Los Barrios) to good old fashioned burgers and fries (Earl Abel's and Candy's Old Fashion). There are also popular local chains, such as Chick-fil-A, Whataburger, and Pizza Hut scattered throughout the stadium, and another fan favorite, Dome Dogs, selling Earl Campbell's signature hot link sausages.
For beverages, there are draft beer stands throughout the stadium, including local craft brewers Alamo Beer and Freetail Brewing Company; for those who seek something beyond the norm, these are your best bets. However, you can also find wine and liquor kiosks, including local whiskey distillery Rebecca Creek. Yes, for those looking to enjoy themselves fully, in the gastronomic sense, the Alamo Bowl has you covered.
Great bowl games have one thing in common: compelling matchups. It's hard to get fans riled up if there is no history between the two teams on the field. Before leaving for the Pac-12 after the 2010-11 season, the Buffaloes and Cowboys regularly played one another in the Big 12; that residual rivalry was palpable in the stands.
The energy in the Alamodome was electric; both fan bases showed up en masse in the stands, and that greatly added to the overall feel of the game. Despite it getting out of hand score-wise in the second half, the crowd was still enthusiastic until the end. There was a particularly enjoyable moment during one of the TV timeouts, during which the vast majority of the crowd sang along as Garth Brooks' song Friends in Low Places was played over the PA system; this added to the fun feel of the bowl game.
Very few stadiums in the United States can boast the neighborhood surroundings found at the Alamodome (and by proxy, the Alamo Bowl). A newly constructed walking bridge connects the stadium with San Antonio's ever-popular downtown.
Home to the famed Riverwalk, Tower of the Americas, Alamo, and dozens of family-friendly attractions, San Antonio's downtown area is a perennial favorite as a tourist destination. Directly adjacent to the Alamodome is the Sunset Station entertainment complex; home to hotels, restaurants, and venues, this is always a popular destination for pre-game tailgating and post-game celebrations. This area has myriad dining, drinking, and entertainment options for before or after the game, as well as literally dozens of hotel options. The only potential drawback is how crowded the restaurants and attractions immediately outside the Alamodome get; if you are interested in visiting one of them, be prepared for long wait times.
The fans really showed up for this year's Alamo Bowl. Over 59,000 were announced as being in attendance, and that number could truly be felt throughout the stadium, throughout the game.
The proximity of the two schools to the Alamodome, and the shared history that the two programs have, greatly added to the fan excitement. Each fan base got to roll out their chants over the course of the game, and both groups eagerly responded to the action on the field. The Buffs and the Pokes made this year's Alamo Bowl memorable.
The Alamodome is easily accessible by car, as it is right off of I-37 and Highway 281. It can be reached from any part of the city within 30 minutes, despite the traffic that bunches up nearby on game days. For the Alamo Bowl, the city also made park and ride services available at several locations around town.
Alternatively, since the new pedestrian bridge was added, the Alamodome can also be walked to from nearby downtown San Antonio hotels and parking garages. However, because the Alamodome is adjacent to a residential neighborhood, many of the access points after the game are closed off during the bowl game, which makes for longer than normal wait times trying to leave afterward.
Ticket prices for the Alamo Bowl run the gamut in terms of range. Seats in the upper bowl (third level) are on the cheaper side, costing generally between $40 and $50, while lower bowl tickets can run $200 or more. However, for the chance to see some of college football's best programs in a high-profile game, you can't go wrong with spending time in San Antonio for this game.
One of the best aspects of college football is all of the pageantry, history, and tradition tied to the teams. For the Alamo Bowl, the schools' bands both put on stellar performances at the half, their cheerleaders, dance, and twirling teams were crowd favorites, and the mascots, Chip and Pistol Pete, delighted fans young and old. However, there is nothing to describe the thrill of seeing Ralphie, Colorado's live bison mascot, make her run at the start of the game. Seeing this massive animal in full gallop, flanked by her handlers as she strides the length of the field, is truly an awe-inspiring sight.
The 2016 version of the Alamo Bowl was a memorable one; each year the fans make this game lively and energetic. The Alamodome is the perfect venue for this bowl game, and San Antonio continually proves to be the ideal host. For fans of college football, this is a great way to experience the excitement and history of the game.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter @EricMoreno6477.
Member Review by pderrick
Originally built to hopefully lure an NFL franchise to San Antonio, the Alamodome has been a city staple since its opening in 1993. Even though the Alamodome was unsuccessful in landing an NFL franchise, it was the home of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs from 1993 to 2002 until the Spurs moved into the newly built AT&T Center. The Alamodome has hosted one thing throughout its existence in 1993 and that is the Alamo Bowl. The Alamo Bowl has been sponsored by a variety of companies from Builders Square, Sylvania, and Mastercard to now Valero who has been sponsoring the bowl since 2007.
The conference tie-ins for the Alamo Bowl have changed over the years, but currently it pits a PAC-12 and Big 12 conference school against each other. The Alamo Bowl always seems to be a closely contested matchup with every game but one since 2005 finishing with a margin of victory of 10 points or fewer. The Alamo Bowl is usually a definite watch game come bowl season and the 2011 Alamo Bowl definitely didn't disappoint.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Oct 13, 2013
I went to the 2010 version of the Alamobowl, which featured my Arizona Wildcats getting crushed by Oklahoma State. It was a fun experience, but wish the game had gone a little better for Zona. Out of the several bowl games I've experienced in person, the Alamo Bowl probably ranks just behind the Holiday Bowl as my favorite. The one thing that was awesome about the trip to San Antonio were the pre-bowl events that I was part of with the Pride of Arizona drumline. We played while riding on a gondola on the Riverwalk, and did several other cool gigs in our few days there. Definitely worth checking out the Alamobowl if your team's in it.
San Antonio, TX 78205
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