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Official Review by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
For those of you who have never experienced MACtion, you have no idea what you are missing. A great college football experience without the claustrophobia and sheer craziness of having a tenth of a million people in one spot. The MAC has provided the big conferences with some of the most legendary of coaches in the game. The Toledo Rockets have been among the best MAC experiences that you can find.
Establishing a team in 1917, the Rockets are one of the longest running members of the MAC, joining in 1950, just 4 years after the conference was founded. Toledo boasts 10 conference championships including victories in the 2001 and 2004 MAC Championship game. The other titles came in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1981, 1984, 1990 and 1995. Toledo football has had its share of legends and boasts big-time college coaches Gary Pinkel, currently of Missouri and Nick Saban, currently of Alabama among its coaching alumni. Perhaps the most significant Toledo coach, however, was Frank Lauterbur who oversaw one of the most legendary teams in college football history. Under Coach Lauterbur, and standout quarterback Chuck Ealey, the Rockets went on a 35-0 winning streak. Ealey never lost a college football game in his career.
The Glass Bowl has been the home for the Rockets since 1937. The stadium remains after numerous upgrades and is one of the best examples of amalgamating original architecture with modern amenities. The Rocket faithful have stayed true to their team, especially when facing their arch-rival just 20 miles south on I-75, the Bowling Green Falcons. The "Battle of I-75" has become so significant that in 1961 the University of Toledo procured an actual rocket from the U.S. Army and positioned it in such a way, that if fired, it would land on the 50 yard line in Doyt-Perry Stadium on the campus of Bowling Green State University.
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".
The Glass Bowl provides a fairly average culinary experience for college football. You will find what you expect to find here, and the prices are pretty reasonable. Hot dogs ($3.50), popcorn ($3.50), pizza ($4), nachos ($3.50), soda ($3.25), and beer ($6) are all available. Unlike many college football stadiums, there are alcohol sales at the Glass Bowl. Featured brands of beer include Budweiser, Bud Light, Labatt Blue and Yuengling.
If you are looking for something a bit more unique, then try the Tailgate Gourmet in the south end. They feature a sirloin burger and a quarter-pound hot dog. Quality of the food at the Tailgate Gourmet is high, but the service can be very slow.
The Glass Bowl is a great place to catch a college football game. The University of Toledo has done a fantastic job of merging the old with the new. The Glass Bowl has a north-south orientation with a horseshoe seating area, opening at the north end. All seating is aluminium benches with the band and students sitting in the south end.
The west grandstand features the press box and luxury boxes in a three-tier complex above the seating bowl similar to many college stadiums.
The entire stadium is surrounded by a beautiful stone wall made from irregular stones with sharp vertical stones at the top. It gives the stadium a fort-like feel. The north opening also features two large, square ramparts continuing with the fort feel. The beautiful stonework features what may have at one time been windows, that are now covered with pictures of Rocket Legends. The legends include players who have had their numbers retired including Mel Long, Mel Triplett, Gene Swisk and Chuck Ealey. Legends also include newer Rocket players including Chester Taylor and Bruce Gradkowski. On the facia of the luxury boxes, the retired numbers of the Rockets are featured, as well as the 10 conference championship years.
When game time arrives, the Rocket Marching Band marches towards the stadium and enters. They perform as most band do, forming various icons on the field while playing songs including the Toledo fight song.
The team enters the stadium from the north end through smoke and cannon fire. When the Rockets score, be ready as the cannon will fire again! The in-game experience is fantastic and well worth the trip.
Outside of the Glass Bowl is a Nike-Ajax Rocket which was erected on the campus in 1961. The Rocket is pointed at the top rival of the Rockets, the Bowling Green Falcons. The Sullivan Athletic Center, a few steps from the Glass Bowl, houses the main campus store as well as the Rockets Hall of Fame. Toledo has done a fantastic job of sharing their history and their points of pride with visitors, students and alumni.
The Glass Bowl is located right in the heart of the University of Toledo. The university has a beautiful green campus just south of the Ottawa River. The university campus is west of downtown Toledo. The home of the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League, Fifth Third Field, can be found downtown, as well as the new Huntington Center, which is the home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
Other Toledo athletic events are held at Savage Hall, which is just a few steps from the Glass Bowl. If you are looking for some pre or post game libations, you probably want to head to Dorr St. There you may consider trying Jed's on Campus or Oasis Restaurant.
The Toledo Rockets have enjoyed solid fan support. The student section is strong and it is right beside the band. The Rockets have routinely featured attendance in the top 5 in the conference. They typically average over 18,000 fans per year. In 2013, the Rockets averaged over 18,000 fans and were 4th in the conference in attendance. The previous year the Rockets were averaging over 20,000 which was good for 3rd.
Some of the fans do take their time arriving on time, missing the fun of the band performing before the game. This could be because of the solid tailgating scene that can be found on campus. Either way, Rocket fans are not afraid to make noise and definitely love the cannon fires signifying a Rockets score.
Getting to the Glass Bowl is not too difficult. The campus of the University of Toledo is located south of I-475, west of I-75 and Highway 24. The game day crew do a great job of keeping traffic flowing through campus and helping fans find and pay for parking. Large parking garages and tailgate lots make parking on campus fairly easy.
Inside the Glass Bowl, patrons do find some of the difficulties with older facilities. Some of the washrooms are pretty small and feature the old-school troughs and sinks. Also, on the east side, the light standards are actually in front of the upper deck.
The investment in Rocket football is not significant. Tickets are normally $25 and can rise for big games. In 2014, the Bowling Green game went for $35 and the Missouri game went for $45. The sight lines on the west side of the stadium are excellent, but you would want to be careful behind the light standards in the upper deck on the east side.
Concession prices are very reasonable for college football and campus parking is not very expensive. Overall, you will have a great time at Toledo and you can easily bring a family. The return is significant with a solid college football atmosphere in a very unique stadium.
An extra mark for the student section who throw footballs back to the game when field goals are kicked. There is no protective netting for field goals and it appears that one is not needed.
An extra mark for the Rocket pointed at Doyt-Perry Stadium. A truly unique feature that revs up a solid rivalry.
An extra mark for legendary Rockets quarterback Chuck Ealey who played his entire Toledo career without losing a game, leading a 35-0 streak.
A trip to see the uniqueness of the Glass Bowl is worth a trip to Toledo just on its own. The Rockets provide a first class college football experience and the MAC provides some excellent #MACtion in what may be a fairly forgotten football conference otherwise. If you are a college football enthusiast, consider travelling to Northern Ohio to see the Toledo Rockets. You will not be disappointed.
Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9.
Member Review by paul
In 1946, University Stadium, on the campus of the University of Toledo, was renamed The Glass Bowl, both for the city's glass producing industry, and for the glass components that were a part of the stadium's first renovations. Today, if you were unaware of the name, you might assume it to be "The Castle Wall Bowl," or "The Jagged Rock Bowl."
The capacity sits at just over 26,000, and it can be a very noisy venue when full. The stadium itself is surrounded by a stone wall that seems straight out of The Shawshank Redemption, but gives the exterior a great deal of charm.
Member Review by collegiatestdms on Sep 21, 2010
My visit to the Glass Bowl came on 10/24/09 when Toledo hosted Temple. Attendance that day was 16,334 for the 7pm game. I parked on campus for $5 about a 1/2 mile from the stadium. I was able to get a free ticket from a nice booster outside who had extra complimentary tickets from the school.
The ticket was for a seat in General Admission section, which is on the Toledo side of the field on the open end of the stadium. This made it hard to see the scoreboard, but I'm not complaining for the price.
The atmosphere was fairly good, although as the game went on and Temple pulled away, there were some groans in the stands. About 15 miles away I ate at a place called Ralphies and it was not good. Nice place inside with tons of TV's to watch games but the food was bad. I didn't eat much of it at all. Some of the tailgating I saw was quite intense for such a small crowd.
At the stadium, I had a hot dog and a soda. The hot dog was the worst I have ever eaten. It was not a good food day for someone who does food for a living.
Overall my experience at the Glass Bowl was a 3-3.5 out of 5. Everyone was extremely nice to me, and the stadium was is good shape for its age, but it is aged. The band was also small and the rocket mascot did not interact with the fans at all. He spent almost the entire game talking to two girls on the sideline, not doing anything to inspire the crowd.
Member Review by cadence80 on Nov 15, 2012
The Glass Bowl was originally called University Stadium, an 8,000 seat stadium built as part of the Works Progress Administration, an agency from FDR’s presidency, as part of the New Deal to counter the Depression that had overtaken America in the 1930’s. The stadium gained its Glass Bowl name after WWII, when the stadium had been left to fall into disrepair. In 1946, an engineer from a local glass company conceived the idea to rebuild the stadium using glass as a major element so the stadium was renamed to reflect its new era.
Over time, expansions have brought a full set of bleacher seating to the horseshoe-shaped lower bowl, an upper deck was added to the east sideline in the 70’s and the giant, 1,050-capacity press tower replaced a small wooden press box in the early ‘90s. Now with a current capacity north of 26,000, the Glass Bowl has grown into an intimate and incredibly original place to watch a college football game.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Dec 07, 2015
The Rockets are (I think) the only mascot in FBS not named after a living thing - every other team is named after a group of people or an animal. Even if you count the Stanford Cardinal as a tree, which I don't think it really is. I have always thought their mascot sounded way too high school, but the outfit is pretty sweet.
The stadium itself is also great - built as part of the CCC during the depression, it has a really cool design with some castle wall vibes going on, and these have been perpetuated during all of its renovations. It is named the Glass Bowl, incidentally, because the design includes glass elements, and the city of Toledo (at least used to be) known for its glass industry. Great fans as well, which of course is due to winning a LOT.
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