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Official Review by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
About 45 minutes south of Austin, Texas is the city of San Marcos, home of Texas State University and Bobcat Stadium. While often overlooked when compared to some of its bigger neighbors, San Marcos is a truly special college town, and a real gem in Central Texas. Huddled on the banks of the scenic San Marcos River, the city has become not only looked upon as one of the most attractive campuses in the state, but also a tourist destination for those looking to escape the nearby big city trappings of Austin and San Antonio.
While their football program started in 1904, the Bobcats have only called Bobcat Stadium home since 1981, and have rolled off numerous successful seasons, including being crowned NCAA Division II National Champions in 1981 and 1982 under Head Coach Jim Wacker, for whom the field at Bobcat Stadium is named. In its quarter century of existence, the stadium has been home to the Texas Special Olympics, and been a filming site for the movie The Ringer and the groundbreaking TV show Friday Night Lights.
The area and the university have seen remarkable growth in the 21st century. Texas State is now the seventh-largest university in the state of Texas; the Bobcats made the leap to Division I, FBS-level competition in 2012, and are now members of the Sun Belt Conference. For Texas State, the unique home field advantage they have makes Bobcat Stadium a place unlike any other in college football.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Bobcat Stadium offers much of what you'd expect in terms of "traditional" stadium fare at most of their concessions stands. Throughout the concourse area, you will find your share of foot-long corn dogs, nachos, and chicken finger baskets. All are very reasonably priced, in keeping with the spirit of the venue being for its students, and most of the standard options (including sodas and bottled water) can be purchased for around $5.
There are also some upgraded eating options available for home games, including popular chains Zaxby's, Newk's Eatery, Pizza Hut, and Marble Slab Creamery. All of these offer scaled-down versions of their restaurant menus, including their classic dishes, and are affordable options for your game time grub.
One of the more unique options is Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop; while you might not typically envision a cold cut sandwich as an option while watching football in a stadium, this quirky shop is a nice change of pace (sandwiches range from $5-$7 each). Also, if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, keep an eye out for one of the scattered kettle corn carts throughout Bobcat Stadium.
First visitors to Bobcat Stadium might get a familiar vibe from the facilities, the crowd, and the overall feel of the venue. Texas State games feel every bit like a big-time high school program; this is in no way meant as a slight. The facilities are truly special; the stadium's horseshoe seating arrangement, the three-tiered seating on the home team side, and the bench seating throughout all combine to give you a high school feel. The south side portion of the stadium is home to the End Zone Complex, home to the athletics offices, training facilities, and meeting rooms.
The north end zone, or North Side Complex, was renovated in 2012 to bring the stadium up to its current capacity. This area is home to the much celebrated student section. It is from here that you will see the maroon and gold colors truly fly, it is from here you'll hear the "Eat 'Em Up 'Cats!" chants ring out in deafening fashion, and it is from this end of the stadium where the atmosphere is truly its liveliest.
Because of its relative intimacy, there are no bad sight lines in Bobcat Stadium. Combining the great views of the game action with the raucousness of the home team crowd adds to the overall experience at the stadium.
San Marcos is very much a college town, and the area immediately surrounding Bobcat Stadium is replete with campus buildings, student housing, and other athletics facilities. There are also a myriad of college life essentials, such as coffee shops, laundromats, fast food restaurants, and the like.
However, with just a little bit of exploring, you're sure to find other outlets for your interests. San Marcos is home to the LBJ Museum of San Marcos, a museum celebrating the time the 36th President of the United States spent in the city as an educator. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, located near the campus, is formerly the site of the long-lost Aquarena Springs amusement park. A relic of a bygone era (think underwater mermaids and a celebrated swimming pig), the Center is now a scientific facility that highlights the unique ecosystem found in the springs of central Texas. The antique glass-bottom boats still run, and are truly an experience for the entire family.
Additional family-friendly activities include the Wonder World Cave and Wildlife Park, a natural themed park in the area based around the Wonder Cave, and Dick's Classic Car Museum. Gearheads and casual fans will be equally amused by what is on display. Or, you can spend a few hours, or half a day, at the San Marcos Premium Outlets Shopping Center just down the road from the stadium, along I-35.
Bobcat fans are a fiercely loyal bunch. The years of success under Hall of Fame head coach Jim Wacker have only added to the passion they feel for their team. Again, there is a decidedly high school feel that spills out in how the fans feel about their Bobcats.
The student section is rife with signs, and the home team crowd is always responsive to the band, the cheerleaders, and (above all) the action on the field. You can't help but get caught up in the Friday night feel that emanates from the stands. Again, this is a positive about the entire experience. Even if you don't have a figurative dog in the fight, it's virtually impossible not to get caught up in the home crowd's energy.
You can get to Bobcat Stadium relatively easily off I-35. San Marcos is the halfway point between Austin and San Antonio, and is 45 minutes from either. There is currently construction near the stadium, so that should be taken into account when planning your visit.
A free shuttle service is also offered on game days; shuttle buses begin service 3 hours before kickoff and continue for one hour afterward. Check out Texas State's Game Day Transportation Site to track the shuttles in real time, and see pickup/drop-off locations and wait times.
When you take into account the amount of success the Bobcats have had - two National Championships and 14 conference titles - versus the cost for tickets and the level of competition Texas State annually goes up against, you really have quite a bargain on your hands. General admission tickets for home games at Bobcat Stadium start at just $15, with priority seating for just $40. When you couple that with the affordable food, you are getting a really great bang for your metaphorical buck.
Like all great college programs, there is a lot to see in addition to the on-field action at Bobcat Stadium. The Texas State Marching Band, with nearly a century of history behind it, is a real crowd pleaser. Spelling out "STATE" and "CATS" in big block letters before every home game, the band is a major attraction in San Marcos.
Also, make sure you stay around at halftime to see the performance from the "world famous" Texas State University Strutters. The Bobcats' dance team is the largest in the country, with close to 100 members each season. Their distinctive western attire truly sets them apart, and adds to the ambiance of Bobcat Stadium.
For younger fans, make sure you keep on the lookout for Boko, the popular Bobcat mascot, and in the west side concourse area, Tiny Tails to You brings a small petting zoo to each game. This Austin-based traveling petting zoo features hedgehogs, turtles, chickens, and much more. Again, not what you'd expect at a football game, but it is a nice added feature. The Coca-Cola Fan Zone, on the west side of the stadium, also has a lot of entertainment options for fans (think games, music, and other live entertainment).
Bobcat Stadium is a beautiful venue on a beautiful campus. The atmosphere and energy make it a must visit for all college football fans. Visitors will be charmed by its old school look and feel. The band and dance team are unique in the college football landscape, and add greatly to the overall game watching experience. If you are in Central Texas, make sure to visit San Marcos and see a game at Bobcat Stadium.
Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter @EricMoreno6477.
Member Review by EGrant on Oct 25, 2012
Eat ‘em up, Eat ‘em up, go Cats go!
In San Marcos, Texas you’ll hear this chant every time the Texas State Bobcats get a first down, or make a big play.
An FBS school in 2012 for the first time in the history of the program, the Bobcats play their games on Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium and have since 1981.
The stadium now seats over 30,000 people after enclosing the structure to a horseshoe design before the 2012 season, the last in a line of scheduled renovations that began in 2008.
Home to camera crews from the hit movie “The Ringer” and the television show “Friday Night Lights”, this San Marcos landmark can even be seen from your car as you pass through the town on Interstate Highway 35.
Named after the legendary coach that guided the team to two national championships in the 1980s when the school was known as Southwest Texas State, the stadium is the crown jewel of the school’s move from FCS competition to FBS play, and is a bright spot in the future of the athletic program.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Dec 07, 2015
Got to be one of the best stadium names in all of college football. And the stadium isn't bad, recently had some renovations so looks newer than its 30+ years. Pretty good selection at the concessions stands, too. The biggest drawback is that there are not a lot of fans - Texas State recently made the leap to FBS, and hasn't yet built up a solid fan base. A cinch to get in and out of, though, since there isn't much traffic (vehicle or fan) to contend with.
201 San Marcos Springs Dr
San Marcos, TX 78666
1000 Prospect St
San Marcos, TX 78666
120 Stagecoach Trail
San Marcos, TX 78666
3939 South Interstate 35
San Marcos, TX 78666
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