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Gerald J. Ford Stadium

University Park, TX

Home of the SMU Mustangs

3.6

3.1

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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The Hilltop

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.

Concessions have improved thanks to the inclusion of outside vendors throughout the concourse and food trucks located above the grass berm area in the south end zone near Mockingbird. The outside vendors are local restaurants such as Dickey's BBQ and Campisi's. Campisi's provides 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 serves various grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough. The Boss is a BBQ brisket with sharp cheddar cheese for $10, while a Turkey Trot consists of turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, and slob sauce that 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. Gerald J. Ford Stadium serves a small variety of alcohol beverages. Bud Light and Michelob Ultra cost $8, while a Shock Top Belgian White will cost a little more at $10. Copa Di Vino Chardonnay is available 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 TVs 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 food and drinks are available at a cost, with vendors such as In-N-Out serving up options via a food truck. 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, led 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, located just north of downtown Dallas, off I-75.

Within a short walking distance is Mockingbird Station, a development of shops, dining, and living complexes that were built 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, Twin Peaks 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. However, if you like to stay in the area but away from the crowds at Mockingbird Station then maybe visit Milo Butterfingers off SMU Boulevard, down from the local attraction, George W. Bush Presidential Library. Besides the attraction of the presidential library, there is The Meadows Museum, just off the boulevard on the campus of SMU and is well worth your time to visit.

Fans    3

SMU fans are football savvy; after all they are in a state that loves its football. Not having the large following of the bigger schools, Mustangs fans are a tight knit group and you can witness this with a walk through The Boulevard before the game. SMU football games are a social event for alumni, students, and their friends. 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 I-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 at the adjoining parking lots which offer a shuttle or 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.

SMU has a clear bag policy, with the only permanent bags allowed inside Ford Stadium to be made of clear plastic, vinyl or PVC not to exceed 12x6x12 inches. Popular examples include one-gallon freezer bags (Ziploc type) or a hand sized clutch bags with or without a handle or strap. All other bags besides the ones listed in the clear bag policy are prohibited to enter the stadium.

Return on Investment    4

SMU football tickets are easily available. The box office sells single game tickets for $25-$50, and depending on how the Mustangs season unveils, there could be third party sellers offering the same seats for as low as $3. The stadium has great views of the playing field, you can get by without 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

The 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. It is definitely a low cost-high return investment on a beautiful campus in a large city like Dallas. Pony Up! Make a trip to the hilltop to experience SMU's Gerald J Ford Stadium.

Poor SMU

I went to a game last year, the Mustangs were 0-8 at the time, and it was homecoming. They were on the verge of winning finally, and all the kids in their prom dress were oh soooooo excited. But then they gave up 2 TDs in the final 8 minutes and lost by a point. So sad.

by Aaron S. Terry | Dec 02, 2015 05:09 PM

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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.

Pony Up

Total Score: 3.57

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

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.

Good colors and ponies memorialized

Total Score: 3.29

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

Gotta love the colors here, the red lettering on the blue end zone really makes it pop. They also have a memorial to their mascots, which are buried inside the stadium, behind the scoreboard (at Texas A&M the mascots are buried in FRONT of the scoreboard, so Reveille can always look up and see if we're winning).
BTW - why is this stadium named after Gerald Ford - wasn't he from Michigan? His presidential library is there...

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Local Food & Drink

Milo Butterfingers  (map it!)

5645 SMU Blvd

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 368-9212

http://milobutterfingers.com/

Urban Taco  (map it!)

5331 East Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 823-4723

http://www.urban-taco.com/

Campisi's  (map it!)

5610 E Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 827-0355

http://campisis.us/

Trinity Hall Irish Pub and Restaurant  (map it!)

5321 E Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 887-3600

http://www.trinityhall.tv/

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

3034 Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75205

(214) 987-1200

http://www.pokeyos.com/

Local Entertainment

Meadows Museum  (map it!)

5900 Bishop Blvd

Dallas, TX 75205

(214) 768-2516

http://www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org/

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

The Highland Dallas  (map it!)

5300 E Mockingbird Ln

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 520-7969

http://www.thehighlanddallas.com/default-en.html

Magnolia Hotel Dallas Park Cities  (map it!)

6070 N Central Expy

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 750-6060

http://www.magnoliahotels.com/magnolia-dallas-park-cities/magnolia-hotel-magnolia-dallas-park-cities.php

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