“The Dome” is by no means your average college football stadium. As of late, the fanfare has been a bit lacking. When there is a full crowd on hand it is one heck of a home field advantage. As the Vandals prepare to embark on their journey of independence as the football-playing members of the WAC turn to other options, the 16,000-seat facility will need to put all the fans they can into the seats in their quest to remain at the FBS level.
At first glance, the structure (completed in 1975) looks a lot like a can that is flopped over on its side and buried half way with its barrel-arch design. The dome not only features football games, but also converts into a venue for basketball as well. It’s unlike the majority of stadiums in college football. While getting there may not be the easiest of trips, it is a unique and photo-worthy experience.
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 drink options are fairly basic and representative of what you would expect to find at most college football venues. It is neither amazing, nor terrible. It is just exactly what you would expect. The prices are reasonable and represent a decent value in comparison to other stadiums, and is a pretty decent option for those looking to take their families to a sporting event. You have your basics like nachos and soft drinks that are available at the concession stands, which move at a decent rate and the lines are usually not too much of a problem. Alcoholic drinks are not available in the stadium.
Since the Kibbie Dome is an indoor venue, the elements are not an issue when it comes to comfort. Hot chocolate and coffee are always a big hit with crowds dealing with cold weather of most outdoor stadiums in the north. They are not necessary to stay warm at the Dome, but are of course available.
At capacity, the Vandals have a very loud and fun home field for their football team. The last few years have not been the kindest to the team and the attendance reflects that. The Idaho fans are a fun bunch, relatively well behaved (even when they used to play their in-state rival Boise State, despite all the hullabaloo that has been made of their nature in recent years). This a fantastic experience for families to take in a college football game.
There have been some significant improvements made to the facility in the recent years. Though it is a rather small venue it has a great deal of character and provides a unique environment that is hard not to take notice of. That observation is also one that likely doesn't escape attention of the visiting teams.
Before, it was a very dark and almost dungeon-like atmosphere. The recent renovations added translucent panels on each end of the structure that allows a lot of natural light to enhance and brighten the experience. A new pressbox, premium seating and loge boxes were also added.
As far as the other amenities at the stadium go, the video screen could be larger and is rather small. However, the Idaho athletic program is not one that is bursting at the seams with ticket revenue. It's a small stadium and a huge video screen is not likely to be in the cards for some time. The bathrooms are reasonably clean and rarely force you to wait very long, even during sold out games. The metal bleachers are what they are. No different or less comfortable than those at other stadiums. Overall, the experience is one of value.
Moscow is a unique and great college town in the region. Some call it the "Berkley of the Northwest." While the town is worthy of a rating much higher than the neighborhood itself, the immediate vicinity surrounding the Kibbie Dome is not all that interesting. The landscape is quite beautiful, however there are not that many other interesting features nearby.
The stadium is situated on the western edge of the campus, where there is nothing but university buildings and facilities around. Less than a mile away you can find restaurants (mostly chain and fast food), lodging and some shopping. There is a lack of character and development directly alongside the stadium which makes the overall experience somewhat lacking.
Everything is a healthy walk away, so it is not an encouraging environment for those who might be tempted to show up early or stick around after for more of that tailgating experience. The isolated venue is a disappointment and if there were more going on around the stadium, it would greatly enhance the experience.
To the east of campus are the unique Moscow places you need to check out. The Corner Club is a staple of the Idaho Vandals community, and it's a must for anyone who travels to the Palouse to catch a game. A trip to The Garden Lounge is also very worthwhile. Great drinks with a casual environment that will make you think you might be in a section of Portland, Oregon.
For those who consider themselves Vandals fans, they likely always knew they were going to be a Vandal or have family members that are Idaho graduates and fans. The locals also count themselves as fans and the city gets behind their team pretty well.
Attendance at the small venue is an issue at times and there are often a lot of empty seats for the games that are not linked to an event like homecoming or Dad's Weekend. It's a real shame considering the size is not all that impressive. When packed to capacity, it is very loud inside the dome. Normal attendance during the 2012 season ranged from 9,030 at the lowest and 14,755 at the highest, with an overall average of 12,582.
While the fans are a largely respectable bunch, there are not any real big traditions that strike you as very unique to Idaho when compared to other fans around the country. However, it is an overall enjoyable experience.
Getting to Moscow is anything but simple. There is a small regional airport in nearby Pullman, Washington, and another one about 40 minutes to the south in Lewiston, Idaho. Two hours to the north, is Spokane, which is where the largest airport in the region (Inland Northwest) is located. There are no interstate highways, so travel to and from is not something to be undertaken on a whim.
Travel during the late fall and early winter months can be troublesome at times. Flights are sometimes diverted due to fog and snow. The Palouse region, in which the university is located, features its signature rolling hills; and windy conditions are not exactly an unheard of event.
The tickets to attend are relatively cheap, parking is pretty reasonable and the concessions are not as expensive as you'll find in some of the larger stadiums around the country. The quality of the experience is certainly worthwhile.
Prior to kickoff, you can always check out the activities to the east of the stadium. There are a number of tents set up offering food and drink, as well as some fun activities for children.
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