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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Bill Snyder Family Stadium, home to the Kansas State Wildcats opened in 1968 and has become one of the loudest football places on the plains. The seating capacity here is 50,000 and most of that noise stays inside the stadium making it a big home field advantage for the Wildcats. Over the past 25 years, the Wildcats have enjoyed a near .800 winning percentage at home.
The facility has had many upgrades over the years since being constructed for a mere $1.6 million. These upgrades include a new press box, playing surface, and upgraded seating areas. The major renovations prior to the 2013 season are just the second in a five-phase master plan that is expected to be completed in 2025.
The Wildcats have not sat idly while the rest of college football teams race to build the biggest and fanciest facilities. Future phases of their plan could include a new strength gym, retail and condo space, seating additions, sound and video upgrades, a recruiting lounge; basically everything but a literal football factory that spits out more gritty underdog players to continue the Snyder legacy of teams that surprise the nation's collective football conscience.
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".
There are many options inside the stadium to have a nice meal while enjoying a Wildcats football game. Standard stadium fare such as hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and pizza are sold throughout the stadium. Prices are on par with most other big time college football venues.
The south end of the stadium offers a wider variety of items such as BBQ, ice cream, kettle corn, turkey legs, and vegetarian options. The BBQ sandwich here is quite tasty, and for $8, you get your choice of three styles of meats with the option of fixings.
Pepsi products are sold here for the typical stadium prices. A souvenir cup is worthwhile so you can wet your whistle while cheering loudly with the K-State faithful. Concession stands are abundant throughout the facility and wait times are minimal, even at peak times.
The atmosphere here at Bill Snyder Family Stadium is something to be seen live rather than on television. Nicknamed the "Little Apple," the entire town of Manhattan is decked out in grey and purple on game days. The population of Manhattan, Kansas, is around 56,000, but that doubles on game days.
Traffic is heavy going in with fans arriving super early to tailgate. Outside the stadium on all sides, tailgating can be seen as far as the eye can see. The smells and sights are as good as you will see in the Big 12.
Inside the stadium, heavy metal music plays over the loudspeaker at key times to get the fans cheering loudly. A song such as "Crazy Train" before a kickoff is enough to pump any football fan up. On this day, a hundred or so motorcycles rode around the perimeter of the football field before the game for the once a year Harley Day at the stadium.
Willie the Wildcat is the official mascot and does an admirable job with fans at the game. After each Kansas State score, he will do as many pushups as K-State has points followed by a pose and chant. This can get quite entertaining during high scoring games.
The biggest tradition of them all here at Kansas State is the Wabash Cannonball. This song gets fans bobbing back and forth in unison. This may seem silly but when 50,000 people all do it at once, it's a sight to see.
The stadium is not quite on campus, which makes for more tailgating room, but less college culture. Fraternity houses, which can always be counted on to contribute some debauchery, are much too far from the stadium for people to enjoy their antics.
Instead, the area surrounding Bill Snyder Family Stadium is a lot like the rest of Kansas; expansive and flat. Fortunately, the next three phases of the master plan promise to bring vast improvements to the neighborhood immediately surrounding the venue.
A neighborhood that needs no improvements is Aggieville, the downtown district diagonally across from the main campus gates. This place has everything you'd expect in a college town: local boutiques, fun restaurants, numerous bars, and plenty of people milling around. If coming to town for a morning game, make a stop at Varsity Donuts and bring a dozen to your tailgate. Their unique and various treats are sure to please everyone.
Kansas State football fans suffered through some historically bad years over its history yet have always been supportive. The Bill Snyder years have been a reward for fans persistence. Fans are into the game from the opening kick until the end of each game. It is a loud venue and enjoyable yet nothing over the top towards opposing fans.
The Wabash Cannonball is one of those fan traditions that you must see live once. Fans also take part in a first down chant when the Wildcats earn a first down.
The only bad part of attending a game is the commute. Manhattan sits about five miles off I-70, and on game days, the side highway from the interstate to town is clogged with traffic. Although lots surround the stadium, most of them are reserved, so expect to pay a bundle for parking within a few blocks of the stadium, or wear comfortable shoes for a long walk from the car.
Free parking can be had in residential areas around the stadium but watch signs carefully. Some streets do not permit street parking without a residential permit. I was able to find a spot by the soccer stadium for free while the church across the lawn was charging $30.
Renovated bathrooms and concessions mean short lines, but the line to get out of town after the game will make you forget how much you enjoyed the stadium experience. Bill Snyder Highway (really, K-177 is named after the coach) could use the same expansion that the stadium has gotten.
Tickets for most games are reasonable and on par with most power five conference schools. The games against Texas or Oklahoma will be a little pricier than a random mid-September game vs a non-conference opponent.
Parking seems a bit high ($20-$30), but the ability to tailgate can make it worth it. Inside the stadium, food and beverage prices are on par with normal stadium prices at any division one football game.
The west side of the stadium is a beautiful sight on its own, but if you climb to the highest levels of the stands and look out beyond the field and north end zone, you get a fantastic view of the Kansas landscape. A grain elevator stands guard over a golden pasture, and in the near distance, hills of flint rock meet baby blue skies chock full of puffy clouds. Anyone who naively says Kansas isn't scenic or beautiful doesn't know what they're missing.
The pregame presentation by the Wildcats band is a good one and worth a couple bonus points.
The experience at Bill Snyder Family Stadium is pleasant and unassuming unless you see it in person. It truly is electric and even the most hardened traditionalist will find themselves having a superb time here.
Member Review by JackWinter
Serving as a cultural, social, and athletic mecca for the football-crazed residents of Manhattan, Kansas, Bill Snyder Family Stadium is the raucous home of Kansas State Wildcats football.
The stadium was rededicated in honor of legendary coach Bill Snyder before he roamed the sidelines for what was supposed to be his final game in 2005. When asked his opinion of renaming the venue in his honor, Snyder famously and modestly said, "If you are going to do it, name it after the people I care about most."
With KSU struggling in the seasons immediately following his departure, Snyder resumed his old position in 2009, becoming the only head man in the FBS to coach in a stadium named in his honor.
Since Snyder took the reigns of Wildcat football in 1989, KSU has ascended near the top of the college football mountain, consistently ranking among the nation's top programs on a season to season basis. Given the daunting task of traveling to K-State country and playing in front of 50,000 rabid and purple-clad fans at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the program's success is hardly surprising and poised to last a long time.
Member Review by paul on Oct 27, 2011
I love Manhattan- it is a great college town, with wonderful fans, and the famous Aggieville. The basketball experience certainly outshines the football experience, but a trip to Manhattan, KS is a good idea regardless...
Member Review by JB on Oct 21, 2012
I discuss with review.
Food is greatly improved and getting better!!
Options are improved, greater variety, service has improved......I know WANT to eat at the staduim. Pass outs need to be eliminated to help improve the fan experience.
Member Review by nami on Jan 09, 2013
EMAW! BTW, K-State is a Pepsi school not a Coke as it has been mentioned. The Pepsi contract began in the 1990s.
Member Review by Lbbsport on Oct 20, 2013
Though not one of the largest, the times I have been here the fans are very passionate and into every play. The city which they play is very small but has a definite college town feel.
Watching a Bill Snyder team is always a good return on investment.
Member Review by corymsims on Dec 13, 2013
Bill Snyder Family Stadium, home to the Kansas State Wildcats, is quickly becoming one of the most opulent pigskin palaces on the plains. Fresh off a Big 12 Championship and Fiesta Bowl appearance in the 2012 season, the Wildcats began the 2013 campaign in a fresh home stadium. It is newly renovated with improved restrooms and concessions, a KSU hall of fame, club level seating and dining, an updated press facility, and a great “Tailgating Terrace” on the second level that serves beer and food to special ticket holders. The updated facade on the west side of the stadium looks great; new limestone walls house the updated facilities and improve the aesthetics of the venue. The most noteworthy addition has to be the towering bronze statue of the stadium’s namesake, the Wizard of the Little Apple, Bill Snyder.
Formerly KSU Stadium, Bill Snyder Family Stadium hosted its first game in 1968 with a 35,000 person capacity. Several renovations have increased that to 50,000, making it tied for eighth in the ten-team Big 12. The major renovations prior to the 2013 season are just the second in a five phase master plan that is expected to be completed in 2025. The Wildcats have not sat idly while the rest of college football teams race to build the biggest and fanciest facilities. Future phases of their plan could include a new strength gym, retail and condo space, seating additions, sound and video upgrades, a recruiting lounge; basically everything but a literal football factory that spits out more gritty underdog players to continue the Snyder legacy of teams that surprise the nation’s collective football conscience. Kansas State never seems to get the attention it deserves, but with a winning team, cool new stadium upgrades, and a great fan base it will be hard for this program to fly under the radar much longer.
Member Review by AirAssaultDawg on Jul 22, 2014
Extremely fun atmosphere and intense fan base. It would be nice if the concession stands had lids for cups, but that's my only complaint. Not a KSU fan but Im looking forward to seeing another game in Manhattan.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Nov 04, 2015
K State has an amazing atmosphere and great fans (as well as a phenomenal facility that is getting even better). The only thing lacking is that it is in the middle of nowhere, so getting there is a little bit of a pain. But well worth it, the crowd is fabulous.
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