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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Soccer has been played at the Air Force Academy (AFA) since 1956. The Cadet Soccer Stadium opened in 1995 as a soccer-specific stadium and is home to both the women’s and men’s Falcons soccer teams.
Construction on the venue was done in three phases: Phase One (1995) included the new natural grass field, permanent seating for 1,000, a press box, and a fence encompassing the entire complex. Beneath the press box are the home and visiting team locker rooms. In Phase Two (1998), the locker rooms were completed and include showers and a changing area. Other improvements in this phase included permanent public restrooms, concrete pads for additional seating on the east side (bleachers now installed) and a walkway between the east and west seating areas. Phase Three (2003) included installing three sets of lights on each side of the field so that evening games could be played.
Beginning the 2013 season, the men’s team competes in the Western Athletic Conference, though they have been a part of a variety of other conferences throughout their years. The women’s team, which started in 1992, plays in the Mountain West Conference.
The game is played in a laid-back, family-friendly environment and if you wish to see a soccer game for the game, this is a good place for that, though neither the men’s nor the women’s team have an overall winning record in their respective histories.
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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".
There is one lone concession truck (at least the game I attended). No prices are displayed. I asked, "What do you have?" The answer was not what I was expecting. The attendant stated he was out of hot dog buns, so no hot dogs. He was out of shortening for fries, so no hamburgers (I would have taken a burger without the fries, but that was not an option). So basically, there is Pepsi products, candy and chips. That's it. It does sound like dogs and burgers are available at some games. I recommend eating before attending a game.
The first thing you notice when entering the Air Force Academy (besides the B-52) is the spectacular view of Rocky Mountains. And, as you drive closer and closer to Cadet Soccer Stadium you realize the mountains are the stadium's backyard. To get the best views of the mountain side at the venue, sit in the east stands.
There are two sets of stands in the stadium on both side lines. They contain metal bleachers without backs. If you can manage stepping up, through, and around the bleacher rows, a higher row is better as there is pedestrian and kid traffic that can inhibit views of the field and play in the lower rows. The total capacity of the stadium is 2,000 and this number includes the permanent bleachers and lawn seating areas.
There is no cover for any weather elements above either of the seating areas. Be sure to bring a light jacket even if the weather states 74 degrees F as there can be a cool breeze whipping around.
There is just a tiny pedestrian walkway between the home stands (west side) and the playing field so you are right there on top of the action. The visiting stands (east side) feel just a tad further away but the seating area is still extremely close to the field. The player's benches are on the east side and face the press box and the mountains. And one can walk from one seating area to another (east side to west side). I saw people walking behind the goal but I exited the stadium and walked along the street and back up to the other side.
The grass of the field (real grass) is plush and reminds me of the grass seen on golf courses.
There is a basic scoreboard with an American flag flying proudly from its side.
Except for the other Air Force Academy indoor and outdoor playing fields and venues, some classrooms and the Chapel, there is nothing else within walking distance. No pubs, no restaurants. You are, however, in an Air Force Academy facility and environment. It is in the Rocky Mountains and there's nothing quite as spectacular as staring at those majestic mountains for some moments during your visit.
Do take a visit to the Air Force Chapel while you are on site. It houses three distinct worship areas under a single roof and has been named a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It has received many architectural prizes since its construction in 1962.
Colorado Springs is a hotbed of tourism. Check out any one or more of these while in town: Pikes Peak (Colorado's number one tourist site), Seven Falls and South Cheyenne Canyon, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, US Olympic Training Center Complex, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, and much more.
Two brewery/restaurants that are between four and six miles from Cadet Soccer Stadium are the Colorado Mountain Brewery and Pikes Peak Brewery. Both are a worthy of a pre and postgame visit.
If you are staying in the area overnight, we recommend the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The hotel is the closest hotel to the North Gate and is located in nearby Monument, about 10 minutes from all of the sports facilities at the Air Force Academy and three miles from the Pikes Peak Brewery. The hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms along with a free deluxe hot breakfast, indoor swimming pool and outdoor fire pit and hot tub. Stadium Journey members can save 15% by clicking here when booking a room.
The fans are mostly of the friends and family variety. There are a lot of kids in attendance. There are some fellow cadets cheering on their Falcons, as well. The fans are encouraging and know their soccer. They also demonstrate good sportsmanship by applauding when an injured player is able to stand after a trip or fall.
Access to the Air Force Academy and to Cadet Soccer Stadium is pretty easy. It's off I-25, exit 156 - the Air Force Academy north exit. Be prepared to show your driver's license at a vehicle gate check upon entering the Academy campus. Also be prepared to unlock your vehicle's doors and trunk for inspection. This doesn't happen on every visit but does happen on occasion.
After passing through the gate, head about 2 ½ - 3 miles straight till you see signs for the outdoor venues (soccer, baseball, track and field, etc.). Make a left, and then follow the signs to the soccer field. There is plenty of close parking surrounding the stadium and there is no charge for parking. Most fans enter near the building (press box and locker rooms) on the west side (closest to the mountains). This is where you will find the handicapped parking and accessible entry.
The closest airport is Colorado Springs Airport and is about a 30 min drive to the Academy. Denver International Airport is a bit farther - about an hour and 15 min drive. There are more flights to/from DIA and those are more than likely lower in fare than a flight into/out of Colorado Springs.
I did not notice any public transportation options.
Be sure to check the AFA website to see if other sporting events (mostly football) are being held the same day. If so, be warned - traffic leaving the Academy can be a nightmare on those occurrences.
Real restrooms (not port-a-potties) are available on the bottom of the press building and they serve their purpose.
A sunny Sunday fall afternoon in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with free admission and free parking to see an NCAA soccer game. You can't get much better than that for your money.
I can't say enough about the view of the mountains. Rosters of each team are provided for the game.
There is no souvenir stand at Cadet Soccer Stadium, though plenty of merchandise can be purchased at the nearby visitor's center.
If you live in the Denver/Colorado Springs area and want to do something with the family or friends on a fall afternoon or evening with minimal expense, this venue may be worth your while. Make a day of it and visit the Chapel, the visitor's center and check out the other areas of the AFA campus.
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