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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Northern Illinois University, and the town of Dekalb, Illinois are surrounded by cornfields. Huskie Stadium rises out of the flat land, beckoning you to watch some college football. Huskie Stadium is a mix of old and new. The field itself, known as Brigham Field (named for former player, coach, and athletic director Robert Brigham) is made of field turf, installed in 2009. Beyond the north end zone, you'll find the Yordon Center, the new academic and athletic center, built at a cost of $14 million in 2007.
Huskie Stadium opened in 1965 and the stands are in a great need of a makeover. The upside is that the bleachers in sections 10 and 13, through row 37 have backs, which makes sitting in your seat at least twice as comfortable. The sound system originating from the south end zone also needs an upgrade in the near future.
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 food and beverage options inside of Huskie Stadium are highly disappointing. The entire menu consists of hot dogs ($3), pizza ($3), pretzels ($2), Nachos ($3), popcorn ($2), and peanuts ($2). Pepsi products are available for either $2 or $3 depending on the size. There is no doubt that the food needs to get significantly better to enhance the stadium experience. In the meantime, eat ahead of time.
It isn't that Huskie Stadium offers a bad atmosphere for enjoying college football, there just isn't much to elevate the experience beyond average. As I mentioned earlier, the speaker system needs an upgrade, and that goes for the scoreboard as well. The marching band does little to add to the ambiance, and the Huskie mascot does not seem to be abundant enough to rouse the fans.
It is definitely worth the extra investment to find either a seatback or bleacher with a back found around the 50 yard line on the western, alumni side of the field. Most of these seats are sold to season ticket holders, but you may be able to find a spot in either section 10 or 13, depending on the opponent.
The tailgating is rather impressive; small, but loud. This is the case, in part, because there aren't a lot of options within easy walking distance from Huskie Stadium. One stellar choice however is Fatty's. Located just a couple of blocks away, Fatty's has great burgers, and I can highly recommend the Fatty Melt. Their wings are solid, and you can get 20 for $15 on a game day. Another unique favorite is the Cajun fried potato salad, something that many students swear by.
Going into the game, I had heard that the Northern Illinois fans could be apathetic, and didn't turn out with any consistency. I was surprised to see the student section filled, and the Red Riot in full effect. The alumni side in the western stands were also represented well. This may have been because it was homecoming, or perhaps it was just because my expectations had been lowered, but I thought the fans were as impressive as most fan bases. After a big play for the Huskies, the announcer would say, "10 yard gain for a Huskie...", and the fans would react in unison, "...FIRST DOWN!"
Parking can be found on Annie Glidden Rd for $5, just across the street from the stadium. If you want to get closer to the stadium, where the tailgating action is, it will cost you $10. In either case, traffic is only a mild problem, and you should be able to get in and out with little aggravation.
Lines for the small bathrooms are longer than they should be, and the sinks in the men's room are extremely inefficient to the point of being ridiculous.
Students can get into Huskie Stadium for free, so there really is no good reason why the student section shouldn't be full for each and every home game. Parking costs are reasonable, and food is inexpensive, but ultimately the quality is lacking. I don't think you will have a bad time, or feel unnecessarily ripped off, but you probably won't walk away feeling like you got a great value.
Extra points for the direction this program and its facilities are headed. The field looks great, the Yordon Center is beautiful, and the fans seem like they are beginning to show up and represent.
Member Review by johnniead on Jul 13, 2011
This was a comfortable, inexpensive, but stale opportunity to see division 1 football. It was very similar to the experience you may have at a division 2 or 3 school. Just a step up in class from a large high school stadium.
Member Review by kschoenbach on Sep 08, 2012
I went to NIU in the late nineties, when the football team had the nation'a longest losing street at 19 games. The stands were nearly empty, and there was no buzz at all. Fast forward to now, when the team is always competitive and in bowl games...ad the stadium still has the same problems. There is the most limited amount of food in a major stadium that I have ever been in, and the concourse in the visiting side still has super slim ramps that make it hard to get out or in with a crowd. That being said, plenty of bathrooms are around. The fans are awesome, and the student section and marching band cheer, play, and sing the entire time. The band's enthusiasm is infectious...sit near them for a good time. For souvenirs, skip the stadium stuff and walk about a half mile east to the Village Commons bookstore, a huge place specializing in all things Huskie, with size and inventory rivaling any major college. There are bars sort of near the stadium, but they are not family friendly. Stick with the tailgating, which is a great time at NIU. It would be nice if now that the Huskies have had extended success, they could spend a little more on a quality stadium.
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