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Official Review by Josh Eastern, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Issaquah High School has been playing football at Gary Moore Stadium for many years. After the recent remodel of the school in 2008, the football stadium has been framed very nicely to look like a real stadium instead of just a football field with some bleachers. It is located in the back of the school, which makes for a lot of open areas to watch the game from different types of angles. A Friday night at IHS is a fun place for any type of fan. It’s also a great place to bring the whole family because of the open space.
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".
If you're planning on having dinner at the game, you might want to think again. There isn't a whole lot of selection aside from your basic concession stand fare. You can get your candy, soda, etc., but outside of that there isn't a big selection.
Next to the concession stand, there is an area where the booster club grills some burgers and hot dogs and also sells pizza, but make sure you have enough cash because a full meal might be more than the price of admission. At the concession stand, candy, soda, and water will only run you $1 apiece while popcorn is $2. There are plenty of snacks available for cheap so if you're looking for something small, this would be perfect.
The lines at any of these places aren't too bad unless you go during halftime when everyone is lined up. It is usually students working the concessions, so it may not go as fast as you'd like it to. Issaquah is a cash only operation, so don't be unhappy when they reject your credit card. Outside food may be brought in, but drinks must be disposed of.
The atmosphere is really fun at Issaquah High School. When you walk in, the band is usually playing and it gets you in the mood for a fun night of football. It is really geared towards a family atmosphere as most of the kids are playing in the courtyard throwing the football around and barely watching the game. When you get to the home stands, everyone is into the game. The students, cheerleaders, band, and the rest of the adults are all engaged in the game but definitely not over the top. It can be regarded as a friendly atmosphere.
The school sits in between two mountains, Tiger and Squawk, which makes for a very picturesque view around the stadium. From the home stands, to the right is the high school which looks very nice, but the rest of the view is of the mountains and the beautiful sunset if it is a clear night. An overhang that covers all of the seats protects the home stands, but the away side is open with no protection from the elements. During pregame, the east side of the stadium (home side) will be facing the sun, but by the time game time rolls around at 7:00, the sun should be behind the mountain which is a great time for a picture at kickoff.
One knock on the stadium is that the only gate to enter is on the opposite side of the stadium from the stands. To go along with that, most of the parking is in front of the school, which makes for a long walk around the school to the stadium. Tickets must be purchased at the door and to avoid big lines, it might be smart to get there a few minutes early as the line get long. While it is a far walk, there is plenty of parking with the lower and upper lots. There really isn't much of a concourse as much as there is just an open area to walk through. Once you get to the stands, the walkway narrows a bit, but nothing major to worry about.
The stands are all metal bleachers, which can get cold during late fall nights, so a blanket and seat cushion should be in your bag upon entry. The students and band take up almost half of the stands, so getting a seat before kickoff is what you should plan on doing. Otherwise, you can stand along the fence or behind the end zone in the courtyard which won't give you the best viewing angle possible. The only thing in between the stands and the field is the track. This means that you really aren't that far away from the field. The stands on either side only go from the 30-yard line to the other 30-yard line.
Issaquah High School is located just outside of the main part of downtown Issaquah in a nice area for a high school. Within 5 minutes walking is Front Street that has many restaurants to eat at before the game. I would recommend walking because the street that leads to the stadium gets dark at night and isn't lit all too well.
Tailgating is definitely allowed and I have seen some people do that before the game. Other than about one tailgating group, no one is big into that at Issaquah. Usually a group of students coordinate something for a big game, but not on a consistent basis. If you are coming to see a game and need somewhere to eat before, Sunset Ale House is a great spot before the game. It has great food and drinks to go along with a spot with plenty of TVs.
Walking into the game is totally fine and shouldn't be anything to worry about. It is a totally safe area and there is plenty of police presence at the game if something were to go wrong.
The fans at IHS are very friendly and are into the game. Most everyone at the game is a football fan whether they have a kid on the team or they have a kid who plays at the youth level. The students are very spirited, but if their team isn't producing on the field, they start to get bored and disinterested in the game.
The high school is very accessible from all parts of Issaquah. On Friday nights, Front Street can be very busy and if you don't give yourself enough time, you might miss kickoff. Parking is free and is right in front of the school so you won't be walking more than 5 minutes to get to the front gate. If you are coming in from nearby Bellevue, it should take you around 15 minutes and about 30 minutes from Seattle.
Wherever you are in the stadium area, you will have a view of the game and you won't miss a play if you need to quench your thirst at the concession stand. Because there is only one concession stand, the lines can get long at halftime. Walking around the stadium shouldn't be a problem as the walkways are plenty big.
Because it is a new school after renovation, the restrooms are very clean and don't smell bad. The knock on the bathrooms is that there is only one, and they are very far from the stands and you will miss a good portion of the game if you have to go.
The one knock I have is that there is only one road you can access to reach the school. You can come at it from two different ways, but before and after there can be a lot of traffic especially if you come from Front Street. After the game can be a mess if it is a close game, but that should be the least of your worries.
Spending your night at Issaquah High School is a great start to your football weekend. With ticket prices only being $7, it is very affordable and worth your time if you are looking to catch some high school football. Parking is free and concessions are cheap so you could get away with only spending no more than $10 if you just get a snack to eat during the game.
Issaquah High School has a rich history and their main slogan is "Pride and Tradition" so things haven't changed all that much as the years have gone on. The stadium is truly beautiful with the school to the right, and mountains surrounding the rest of it, which makes for a beautiful fall night.
There is nothing at Gary Moore Stadium that should be considered an extra at this time.
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