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Gerald J. Ford Stadium

University Park, TX

Home of the SMU Mustangs

3.6

2.8

Gerald J. Ford Stadium (map it)
5800 Ownby Dr
University Park, TX 75205


SMU Mustangs website

Gerald J. Ford Stadium website

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 32,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Pony Up

On September 2, 2000, Southern Methodist University opened a brand new football facility on the Hilltop overlooking Dallas, Texas. Gerald J. Ford Stadium is a 32,000-seat horseshoe shaped stadium located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, just north of downtown Dallas. The stadium is on the same location as the former Ownby Stadium, the original stadium to house Mustangs football on campus.

Gerald Ford Stadium has 600 preferred club level seats and 24 luxury suites within a three-level press box. The stadium field sits below ground, while the Collegiate-Georgian style architecture of the stadium blends in with the campus and surrounding neighborhood.

The stadium has seen some upgrades since the inaugural season including a new 32x45 Daktronics video board in 2009. More recently a new 233-seat Hall of Champions Club along with seven new suites have been added. The suites are design to be used as indoor or outdoor seating.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The food and beverage area at SMU has improved over the last few seasons. The basic concessions list features nachos, sausage on a stick, and large peanuts for $5 each, while for $4 you can choose a hot dog, pretzel, large popcorn, candy, and cracker jacks.

The improvement of the food is from the outside vendors occupying some of the concessions around the concourse and the food trucks located above the grass berm area in the south end zone near Mockingbird. The outside vendors are local restaurants, Dickey's BBQ, and Campisi's. Campisi's provides the pizza for $10 while Dickey's BBQ serves Texas BBQ with a chopped beef sandwich at $8 with sides of potato salad or barbecue beans for an extra $4.

The food trucks consist of Thai Fusion or Ruthie's Rolling Café. Thai Fusion offers four different rice bowls; Nutty Chick (Satay chicken in peanut sauce), Curry Porky (pulled pork with green curry), Beefy Brisket (pulled brisket with sriracha bbq sauce), and Very Veggie (assorted veggies with yellow curry for a cost of $10 a bowl). Curry and Beefy are also offered taco style with two tacos for $8. Sweet potato fries are $5 and deep fried rice balls are $4 to complete the Thai Fusion menu.

The Ruthie's truck game day grub serves various grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough. The Boss is a BBQ brisket with sharp cheddar cheese for $10, while a Turkey Trot consist of turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, and slob sauce will cost you $9.50 a sandwich. If you want just a basic grilled cheese sandwich then your best option is the Extra Cheesy Classic with Swiss, Cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella for $7.50.

Southern Methodist University serves Coca-Cola products. A large beverage of either Coke, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, or Sprite cost $6. A Dasani bottle of water is $4.

The success of serving alcohol at SMU basketball games in Moody Coliseum provided the stepping stone for beer and wine sales to be sold inside Gerald J Ford Stadium. Bud Light and Michelob Ultra cost $8; while a Shock Top Belgian White will cost a little more at $10. The wine offered is a Copa Di Vino Chardonnay for $10.

Atmosphere    3

The game day atmosphere at Gerald J Ford Stadium begins a few hours before kickoff with a tradition called The Boulevard. It could be considered by some as the best tailgating in the Southwest. Bishop Boulevard, located in the center of the campus of Southern Methodist University, is closed down and becomes the place to be before a Mustangs game. SMU fans, alums, and students that reserve a spot on The Boulevard set up tents, grills, food tables, drinks, and some have their own flat screen television to keep track of other games around the nation.

If you don't have a reserved spot on The Boulevard, don't worry as SMU wants everyone to be a part of The Boulevard experience. The Good Sport Patio area is set up on The Boulevard, which is free to the public and opens three hours prior to kick off. The patio is a tent with food, drinks, a sitting area with tables and chairs, along with televisions. Of course the food and drinks are available at a cost, this particular game had an In-N-Out food truck serving. There is also a play area for the youngsters. If you are on The Boulevard about an hour before kickoff, you'll be able to hear "The Hub of SMU," the Mustang Band. The SMU band, lead by the SMU cheer and pom squads, walk down Bishop Boulevard on their way to the stadium.

The atmosphere inside the stadium depends on how good the SMU football team is doing on the field, or that of the visiting opponent. The band and student sections are located on the visitor side, while the donors and alumni are seated on the home side of the field. The corner tunnel in the end zone is the entrance for both teams. The home team comes out on the field through two pyrotechnics flames while the spirit squads are lined up along the sideline.

Gerald J Ford Stadium is the basic horseshoe stadium with an excellent view of the field. The Boulevard atmosphere is fun and interesting to be a part of, and like any sports venue, the potential for a "great" atmosphere at SMU's football games could easily become a reality if the SMU football program could establish a more consistent winning record.

Neighborhood    4

Gerald J Ford Stadium is on the beautiful campus of Southern Methodist University. The campus itself is 243 acres with an enrollment of about 11,000 students. The neighborhood surrounding the campus is called University Park.

Within short walking distance is Mockingbird Station, a development of shops, dining, and living complexes that were developed around the Mockingbird DART light rail stop. Mockingbird Station has about 11 different restaurants and 18 shops. A few of the restaurants in the station include Trinity Hall Irish Pub and Restaurant, Rockfish Seafood Grill, and Café Herrera. The complex also includes the Angelika Film Center which provides an eight screen, stadium seating center devoted to independent and specialty films. If you can't find what you're looking for at the Mockingbird Station then the DART light rail can easily get you to a place that does, with downtown Dallas being just a short commute south.

Fans    3

SMU fans are football savvy - after all they are in a state that loves its football. However, they aren't like the fans of the larger schools in the state, such as Texas or Texas A&M. They seem to be a tighter knit group of fans especially if you walk through The Boulevard before the game. An SMU football game is a social event for alumni, students, and their friends, so despite what the scoreboard might display, there is always a friendly feel when it comes to fans inside the stadium.

Access    4

Gerald J. Ford Stadium is located on the south side of SMU campus off the Mockingbird Lane Exit from Interstate 75.

Southern Methodist University is located in University Park, just north of downtown Dallas, making the campus accessible by public transportation, yet it doesn't provide the most ideal parking situation for sporting events.

The majority of the parking lots around the stadium are reserved for season ticket holders, otherwise parking is available at the Dallas Area Rail Transportation - Mockingbird Station - or the adjoining parking lots offer a shuttle, but it is a short walk to the stadium. The campus is accessible by public transportation, with the DART light rail being the best option to avoid the Dallas traffic or finding a place to park. The Mockingbird Station is a rail stop on the Red, Orange, or Blue lines.

Return on Investment    4

As the 2014 season unveiled and the Ponies weren't winning games, SMU football tickets were easily available, while the box office was selling single game tickets for $30, third party sellers sold the same seats for as low as $3. SMU has already announced lowering the football prices for the 2015 season. The stadium has great views of the playing field, you can get by without a paying for parking, and if you grab food before entering the stadium then the return on investment is well worth your time and money.

Extras    3

My first extra goes to the Hub of SMU, the Mustang Band, one of the best in college football.

The pre-game set up on "The Boulevard" deserves an extra point.

You can't overlook the football history at SMU that continues to be celebrated, especially the statue of Doak Walker.

Final Thoughts

Gerald J Ford Stadium can be a great way to spend a Saturday in the fall. The SMU campus is an amazing gem in a large city like Dallas. Pony Up and make a trip to SMU's Gerald J Ford Stadium. The memories will last a lifetime.

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Crowd Reviews

The Pony Express is Back

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

Gerald J. Ford Stadium is the new home of the SMU Mustangs, since their first game played on September 2nd, 2000. Incorporating the horseshoe shape, Ford Stadium now holds 32,000, with 24 luxurious suites, and even a child's eye can see where even more modifications and seating capacity improvements can happen. Before the renovations that took place between June 1997 and August 2000, the same site was home to Ownby Stadium. Ownby housed the Mustangs since 1926, and the school did have a couple of stints playing home games at the Cotton Bowl and Texas Stadium. Now the Mustang faithful have a state-of-the-art facility to call home.

Since the Death Penalty in 1987-88, Mustang football has been searching for an identity. Partly due to the renovations, thanks in part from major donations from the Ford and Hunt families (amongst many others), and in part due to the recent success that June Jones has brought back to the metroplex, SMU football is back.

Boring

Total Score: 2.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 1
  • Neighborhood: 1
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 0

SMU is in a beautiful area of Dallas but parking is not great, and there is nothing in the immediate area of the stadium.

Decent Stadium

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

Nothing super special but a decent stadium with a good view no matter where you sit. Getting to the stadium and parking is a pain but ticket prices are relatively cheap.

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Local Food & Drink

La Madeleine  (map it!)

3072 Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75205

(214) 696-0800

http://www.lamadeleine.com/

Pokey O's Cookies & Ice Cream  (map it!)

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(214) 841-9444

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Campisi's  (map it!)

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(214) 827-0355

http://campisis.us/

Trinity Hall Irish Pub and Restaurant  (map it!)

5321 E Mockingbird Ln

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(214) 887-3600

http://www.trinityhall.tv/

Rockfish Seafood Grill  (map it!)

5331 E Mockingbird Ln

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(214) 823-8444

http://www.rockfish.com/

Café Herrera  (map it!)

5321 E Mockingbird Ln

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http://herrerasdfw.com/

Local Entertainment

Angelika Film Center  (map it!)

5321 E Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 841-4712

http://angelikafilmcenter.com/

Pocket Sandwich Theatre  (map it!)

5400 E Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 821-1860

http://www.pocketsandwich.com/

Lodging

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