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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has been the home of the Oklahoma Sooners football team since it opened on October 20, 1923. It is the 15th largest college stadium in the country and the second-largest in the Big 12 conference seating a full capacity of 82,112. The stadium has undergone numerous renovations in recent years, updating the jumbotron, restrooms, and concession stands.
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 is plenty of variety in the concessions at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium to satisfy the cravings of any fan. Whether you are looking for traditional stadium food that you can get anywhere or something a little out of the ordinary, you will find it at this venue.
There are concession areas all around the stadium serving nachos, jalapeno sausages, spicy brats, candy, footlong corn dogs, and Coca-Cola products. All of these are operated by non-profit organizations as fundraisers. It's always nice to see a venue help out its community in that way.
Other areas dotted around the stadium sell food like pizza, BBQ, funnel cakes, frozen lemonade, and "Mackdaddy's Onion Burgers." There is also a huge concessions area on the home side of the stadium that is basically like a food court at a mall. Here, along with other types of aforementioned concessions, you will also find a Taco Mayo stand.
As for recommendations, you can't go wrong with the nachos, They may seem like traditional, average, everyday nachos at first, but once you get up close you'll realize just how different they are. Not only are they delivered in a huge bowl, but they also come doused in multiple kinds of cheese with jalapenos aplenty.
The concessions in certain parts of the stadium do get rather crowded. But the lines move quickly and all of the concessions take credit/debit cards. There is also at least one ATM in the stadium if you find yourself lacking cash. Prices are a bit high, but it's worth it for the quality and variety of food you can get.
The fans are very involved in the game and lively throughout the contest. The atmosphere is very "classic," meaning that, while it is a great, historic college football experience, there really isn't anything else to add to that atmosphere. The lack of in-game traditions is a bit disappointing.
Still, most visitors will be headed to this venue to see a top-tier football program play in a historically-important stadium, so the lack of extra atmosphere boosters is not as big a deal as in other places.
The Pride of Oklahoma marching band is great throughout the game and at halftime, and the TV monitors and radio broadcast airing in the concession areas is great if you are the type of fan who hates to miss a snap. Also, the Sooner Schooner has to be one of the most interesting and unique mascots in college football.
The best place to go on game day is Campus Corner, which is filled with shops, restaurants and bars that are all hopping. Jimmy John's, The Hideaway Pizza, O'Connell's Irish Pub and Grille, and Louie's Grill & Bar are just a few of the places you can visit.
There are also plenty of hotels to choose from in Norman. The Hilton, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Best Western are all highly reviewed. One recommendation would be the NCED Conference Center & Hotel. Not only is it the largest hotel in the whole state of Oklahoma, but it also is convenient for many reasons. It is far enough away from campus to avoid game day traffic but offers a shuttle to and from the games. It has a complimentary breakfast buffet and a food court and bar that stay open until 2am.
Oklahoma fans show up to support their team week in and week out. However, the involvement of the fans is not as consistent as one would like throughout the game. There are definitely points in the game when they seem largely disinterested. The atmosphere is great during the exciting parts, but not so much during the less exciting parts.
During my most recent visit, some fans did leave at halftime, but the fanbase as a whole really redeemed itself with its banter back and forth with visiting fans. Needless to say, exchanges like those make the game even more fun for a third-party fan.
The bathrooms are very clean, but they could use an update. You may have forgotten what communal urinals are, but the restrooms at this venue will remind you.
Parking is extremely difficult to come by. Any visiting fan should plan on arriving super-early to even have a chance at parking or finding a hotel that provides a shuttle back and forth to the games (many of the area ones do).
The seating is alright, but it could be a bit more spacious and comfortable. As with many venues, the cheaper the seats, the less room you get. In the case of this venue, it will probably be worth it to most fans to pay a little extra for a better seat.
The walkways and aisles throughout the stadium get very crowded, particularly at halftime. Fans who do not like to stay at their seat for most of a game will have a hard time at this venue, but otherwise it isn't a huge deal.
Tickets to watch the Sooners play at home are not cheap, but they are more than worth it if you love college football. This stadium is one of the most storied in the nation, and that alone will make it worthwhile for die-hard fans.
For others, it will be the fan experience, the atmosphere, and the awesome food options available that draw them in. This is truly a venue that every sports fan, especially football fans, should visit at least one time.
One extra point for having the Gomer Jones First Aid Center. It is really easy to find and is much nicer than similar types of facilities at other venues.
Another extra point for Heisman Park located outside the stadium, which consists of statues of all of the past Heisman Trophy winners at Oklahoma.
A third extra point for the marching band who, after playing their set at halftime, actually ran through the concession area (instruments in tow) yelling Boomer Sooner. It was entertaining to say the least.
Finally, an extra point for the opportunity to watch a program that has claimed seven National Championships. Only five schools in FBS can claim more.
Member Review by EricP
There is nothing quite like a cool, breezy game day in Norman, Oklahoma. The bi-polar Oklahoma weather is normally on its best behavior in the fall, making football season the best time to travel to Norman. The Sooners have been the state's main sports attraction for decades and get the full attention of all Oklahomans.
Fans descend on Norman from all corners of the state to take in the sights and sounds before filing into the monument that is the 82,000 capacity Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. All of this and the history surrounding the program make it a can't-miss destination for the traveling football fan.
Member Review by Techsan on Jun 10, 2012
The OU crowd was not very nice in my two previous visits. They are extremely engaged and do make for a great college game atmosphere, though. Parking is not ideal near the stadium and there is not much to do within walking distance.
Member Review by Josh Greene on Feb 12, 2013
If you want to watch a team win at home, go see Oklahoma. Most of the fans are good, but some get quiet. Nothing extra during the game, just football. Great area though.
Member Review by Tejasduck on Oct 23, 2014
My 3 trips to Norman have been special. My last trip was the Notre Dame game. The place was electric. Although the access before kickoff was very slow due to the stadium and event staff, not being prepared to hold the largest crowd, to attend a game at Memorial Stadium. The newly announced renovations should help in the future with better access to your seats. I believe visiting Norman, on a Saturday in the Fall, should be on every college football fan list.
577 Buchanan Ave
Norman, OK 73069
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