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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
With a recent invite accepted to join the Big XII Conference and a massive face lift of Amon G. Carter Stadium in 2012, there’s plenty of excitement to go around in Fort Worth, Texas. After stringing together several years of BCS-buster seasons, $164 million dollars pledged to update the stadium, and decades of patience, elite-level football has returned to TCU and the DFW area.
Amon Carter Stadium was originally opened in 1930 with a capacity of 22,000. Since the original construction, the stadium has gone through several major upgrades. In 1948, the capacity was increased to 30,500 with an expansion to the east side. After additional upgrades, Amon Carter’s capacity had doubled to 46,083 by 1956. The 2012 construction put the stadium with a capacity of 45,000 and added significant enhancements to the overall look and feel of the Horned Frog game-day experience including concession areas and crowd flow.
With a new stadium experience, a winning tradition, and elite competition in the Big XII, a trip to Forth Worth for a TCU game won’t disappoint.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concession experience has greatly benefitted from the recent stadium upgrade. Options are nearly unlimited and stands wrap around the entire stadium allowing for short lines and quick service. Prices are fairly reasonable with classics like hot dogs for $4, nachos for $4.50, and soda (Pepsi products) ranging from $4.50 for a 24 ounce and $5.50 for a 32 ounce.
You have to look pretty close at the signage to realize that some of the stadium operated stands are different from each other. These stands range from healthy options to grill, pizza, and favorite options. Specialty stands include Los Vaqueros (Tex-Mex), Bobby's Fajitas (Tex-Mex), Railhead BBQ, and Dutch's Burgers & Dogs. There are also plenty of portable carts like Conway's (ice cream bars), Lilly's Kettle Corn, Dippin' Dots, and Brain Freeze.
I recommend grabbing some tamales at the Los Vaqueros stand.
There's also a "Bypass Lane" that allows fans to order and pay for concessions straight from their smart phones. Forget standing in line to order. The Bypass Lane allows you to just stop in and pick up your food in a separate lane.
The atmosphere in and around Amon Carter Stadium on game-day is markedly enhanced since the transition to the Big XII Conference.
The Frog Horn is a truly unique aspect of the TCU game-day atmosphere. Weighing in at about 3,000 pounds, the Frog Horn is a huge purple-blinking and smoke blowing engine in the corner of the end-zone. It's capable of belting a locomotive horn at 120 decibels when the Horned Frogs score. It's unlikely you'll find a more unique mascot in Division I football than TCU's SuperFrog. Roaming the sidelines and stands, the SuperFrog is a costumed embodiment of TCU spirit, the horned frog.
Student spirit is evident around The Carter. The student section takes up almost the entire east side of the stadium. The TCU Cheerleaders and Showgirls can be seen around the field and are the symbol of TCU class and spirit. The Horned Frog Marching Band is the pride of TCU.
The recent renovations have significantly improved the stadium aesthetics and overall atmosphere. The best seat in the house is, of course, on the 50 yard line on the west side of the stadium. However, there are plenty of great seats in the lower bowl. The seats in the upper deck on the west side are a bit steep and pretty high, but still give you a great bird's eye view of the field.
The past is honored throughout Amon Carter Stadium with plaques, banners, and even a history section at one of the entry gates. The architecture style of the plaques and stadium gives a strong historical feel as you approach the stadium and as you walk through the concourse.
Fort Worth is a great city for college football and it doesn't get more Texas than this. Just a few miles west of Dallas, Fort Worth offers both a sprawling downtown environment and a cozy suburban experience around the TCU campus. You can even experience a taste of the old west at the Stockyards. This is a great place to hang out with the family or friends. Depending on when you're in town, you might even catch a rodeo. Make plans to spend even more time in the area with a stay at the Stockyards Hotel. A nice place to relax in the downtown area is the Sundance Square. If you have time, plan a visit to the Texas Civil War Museum.
There's some good eats in Fort Worth. Make sure to pay a visit to Cousin's Barbecue. There are several in the area, but head to the original on McCart. Torchy's Taco is a growing chain in Texas and there's a location in Fort Worth. Also, the Ol' Pancake House is a good meal for breakfast or any other time of the day.
Though TCU football has a rich and storied history, some of the luster was lost when TCU was shut out in the transition from the Southwest Conference to the Big XII. The Horned Frogs served as a Southwest Conference member between 1923 and 1995. After 72 years of membership in the same regional conference, TCU bounced around between 1996 and 2011 from the WAC, Conference USA, the Mountain West, and a cancelled a move to the Big East just before the start of the 2012 season when the Big XII conference finally came calling. There's a noticeable difference in the game-day experience as a new member of the Big XII.
For marquee Big XII games, Amon Carter Stadium can be quite an intimidating place to play, thanks to a raucous student section and passionate fans. There's truly reason to 'fear the frog' with a sign of the frog held high across the stadium.
However, there's still room for growth for the TCU fanbase. The diehard fans are around through thick and thin, good opponent and soft. However, non-marquee game crowds can be very thin. It will probably take a Big XII championship run in Fort Worth to solidify a few bandwagoners into long-term, committed fans.
The biggest issue you'll have with access in and around Amon Carter Stadium is parking. Many of the lots are reserved and are by pass only. There are a few lots within reasonable walking distance ranging from about $10 to $20. Look for the lot at the corner of Bellaire Dr N and Bellaire Dr. W. It's $10 cash and just a brisk walk from the west side of the stadium. Once you get to the stadium, you'll have no issues getting around due to upgrades from recent construction. The ticket lines are short and entry into the stadium is a breeze. The concourses are very wide. There are plenty of restrooms that are brand new and with basically no wait.
Ticket prices range depending on the opponent. In 2013, the lowest ticket prices were $30 (general admission) and $45 (reserved) for a home game against an FCS opponent and the highest price was $60 and $75 for the battle with Texas. Depending on how close you want to park, you can find a lot for around $10 within walking distance. The closer you get to the stadium, expect prices to increase significantly. Concessions are fairly priced. Overall, the return on investment is strong.
•There's several fan relation booths around the stadium ready to assist fans looking for seat locations, concession options and more.
•On hot Texas days, don't be surprised if you find free water and ice towels to keep you cool around the concourse.
•The TCU game-day atmosphere is traditionally Texas-style. Expect to see plenty of cowboy boots, hats, massive BBQ pits in tailgate areas, and friendly people.
•TCU really does a great job of recognizing past accomplishments and gridiron greats. You'll find plaques, history timelines, banners, and more honoring the past all around the stadium.
Member Review by pderrick
Originally built in 1929, Amon G. Carter stadium is in need of a facelift and that is exactly what it is getting. Originally built to hold 22,000 people back in 1929 the stadium has had small renovations over the years and can now hold 44,358. After the renovations the stadium will be able to hold around 50,000. All this is necessary as TCU has placed itself right in the national spotlight again coming off a 2010-2011 undefeated season that saw them get a Rose Bowl berth and win over Wisconsin. TCU has also agreed to move to the Big 12 which will not only bring some more powerhouse programs to Amon Carter Stadium it will also bring a lot bigger crowds.
TCU fans and students already make Amon Carter Stadium an atmosphere envied by plenty of big colleges across the country and I'm sure the additional people that will come when the stadium renovations are through will make this place even better. As TCU continues to win and place itself in the limelight, this place becomes more and more of a must see location. Texas is known for great colleges like Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor. With great fans, a great team and a beautiful campus TCU definitely deserves to be in that mix.
Member Review by pwdonaldson on Jan 30, 2013
Been to a game before the move to the Big 12 and the atmosphere was great even then, before playing a higher level of competition.
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