Memorial Stadium is one of the Big Ten's hidden gems. Located in the heart of Southern Indiana on the campus of Indiana University, Memorial Stadium offers a scenic getaway from the urban life where bicycles are almost as abundant as cars.
Although, Indiana University is most closely associated with basketball, it has been Memorial Stadium that has seen the most investment dollars from the athletic department. What once used to be an ordinary, traditional, and generic end zone to end zone stadium, Memorial Stadium now boasts a unique horseshoe design that pays tribute to the areas limestone mining industry.
Behind the newly renovated north end zone, you will find a massive rock standing by itself. This isn't any ordinary rock. It was placed there by the late Terry Hoeppner when he was head coach of the Hoosiers so that every single player will remember who they are playing for. Today, Memorial Stadium is known as "The Rock."
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I came away both impressed yet confused by Memorial Stadium's concession stand layout. There are plenty of food varieties such as Papa John's pizza, nachos, hot dogs, burgers, and even Philly Steaks. The problem is, is that different stands serve different items. One stand served Papa John's pizza while another one served Philly Steaks and another one served basic burgers.
As I roamed the concourse, I began searching for the concession stand that had the shortest line. I picked the one on the other side of the field, but did not realize until I got to the counter that their stand did not have Papa John's pizza. Therefore, I walked the entire concourse until I found a stand that did. I also made sure I got an IU cup to go with my pizza!
While completing my walk around Memorial Stadium, I noticed a temporary stand in the middle that serves homemade brownies, cupcakes, and other chocolate desserts from local Bloomington residents.
The best thing about the concession stands is that almost all of them had a non-profit sponsor that received a portion of the proceeds. I was impressed with IU's commitment to their community.
Unfortunately, there were still plenty of seats in the corners of the end zones that were still available on game day. Hopefully, that will change when the team improves its position in the Big Ten.
With that being said, there wasn't an empty spot in the student section. Everyone stood and made plenty of noise during the entire game. When you visit Memorial Stadium, make sure you sit next to the student section as those were the most loyal and dedicated fans at the game. The section, nicknamed the "Rock Quarry," was nothing but solid Crimson and Cream, IU's official school colors.
Also, be sure you visit the newly added north end zone section as it will give you a glimpse of the future of college football stadiums. Inside the section, IU has classrooms, weight rooms, a hall of fame, and more seating to go with a state-of-the-art design that can be seen for miles away.
If you want to visit a true college football stadium in a true college town, Memorial Stadium and Bloomington, Indiana has to be on the top of your list. The passion for IU football can be seen all across the small college town. Before the game, be sure to walk down Indiana Street where every single house displays identical IU flags to give you that great college football game day feeling.
Truthfully, there isn't one single street in Bloomington where you can go without fans tailgating and partying on game day. While other stadiums keep their game day atmosphere around the stadium, IU does a great job of spreading the spirit throughout the entire city.
After the game, be sure to stop by Yogi's at the corner of Tenth Street and Indiana Avenue. Any type of beer you can name is there. They also have great salads, burgers, and specialty sandwiches. My favorite: Broccoli Poppers.
If you decide not to go to Yogi's be sure to take a stroll down College Avenue where there are a countless amount of small businesses that will give you "A taste of Bloomington." You will also find both mainstream and local retail outlets on College Avenue.
Like I mentioned earlier, Indiana football's most dedicated fans are their students in the student section. I found this to be quite surprising as most football stadiums have a general fan section that is usually as dedicated as the students. I give the IU athletic department full credit for motivating their students to come to the games.
As for the rest of the fans, they did an excellent job wearing IU's school colors of Crimson & Cream. Only the visitor section provided a splash of clashing color.
I also liked the passion the fans around me displayed. Every single fan was on pins and needles during the game. In fact, a few fans around me would yell, scream, and cry during the game as if their life depended on it. You just can't find fans like that everywhere today. I can only imagine how powerful the IU fan base will be when they successfully fill up their entire stadium.
Memorial Stadium has no shortage of parking lots available for game day parking. It is my opinion that they actually have too many parking lots. In the near future, IU plans on constructing a new arena on part of the Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall parking lot, but as of right now, just about every fan that goes to the game will have a parking space waiting for them.
If you do not want to pay to park, be sure to drive down Indiana Avenue, which is what I did. All along the road, and the roads next to it for that matter, are metered parking spaces that are free on the weekends. It's a great walk with wonderful access to Memorial Stadium.
I definitely got my money's worth at Memorial Stadium. The facility has undeniable college spirit, good food, and a north end zone that reminds each fan that the future of Indiana football is bright. Having a Big Ten team is a treat that should be taken advantage of for those living in the Southern Indiana and surrounding areas.
The great thing about IU football is that it is on the rise. A new coach, an improved stadium, and a strong commitment and investment to football by the Indiana athletic office prove this. I highly recommend attending a game now before the bandwagon gets too full!
I give one point for the excellent job Indiana did renovating Memorial Stadium. Memorial Stadium is over 50 years old and many believed that it was past its usefulness. Now that the north end zone has been renovated, no one is questioning the viability of Memorial Stadium. I will also add that I have never seen a renovation of a college football stadium look as great as the design IU built.
I give one point for IU leaving Assembly Hall and the team store inside it open on football game days. As a fan that travels to sports venues, it was quite the treat to be able to walk inside the legendary facility on a non-basketball game day. Many Penn State fans shared my beliefs and accompanied on my walk around Assembly Hall. I appreciate IU giving tourists like me the opportunity to see a football game at Memorial Stadium and then taking an open tour of Assembly Hall.
I give one point to the neighbors around Memorial Stadium who made it known to everyone that they have school spirit. The whole city of Bloomington takes game day seriously for both IU football and basketball.
Over the past several years, Indiana University has renovated Memorial Stadium into a fine facility, with plenty of modern amenities to help build the football tradition, and enhance the experience of attending a Hoosiers pigskin game. The horseshoe-shaped stadium is family-friendly, student-friendly, but mostly football-friendly. So much so, you'll almost forget that you're in basketball country. Almost.
The Stadium has become known as "The Rock" ever since former head coach Terry Hoeppner had a limestone boulder from southern Indiana installed near the north end zone.
My visit to Memorial Field was for the Penn State @ Indiana game on 10/20/2007. The attendance that day was 41,251. The stadium was under construction, but it still had a nice atmosphere.
The food was great with standard stadium options, plus lots of name brand food options, including my favorite Chick-fil-A. The only problem was the lines at some of the specialty stands. For instance, there was only 1 Chick-fil-A trailer in the entire stadium the day I was there. To be fair, not sure how construction affected the food stands.
The atmosphere was great. Nice tailgates were going on all around the stadium and the fans were extremely nice to us. Overall it was a very welcoming atmosphere. Also, it was great to hear the band play quite often instead of the commercialization and piped in music you get in the bigger stadiums.
I can't comment too much on the neighborhood as we stayed about 20 minutes from the stadium and didn't spend any real time in Bloomington. Getting to the stadium and parking were fairly easy. The walk was relatively short although it was over gravel, which can be a real ankle killer. We did make a stop into Assembly Hall to look around, however in retrospect I wish we would have also gone through the IU Hall of Fame.
As mentioned earlier, the fans were great. Very welcoming, not offended when we cheered for Penn State and were well in tune with the game. The big thing was that they don't fill the stadium. It was disappointing the see, considering they were a bowl team that year for the first time in decades. The fans also do some weird thing where they wiggle their fingers and chant on each first down Indiana picks up.
Access was easy. The steps leading into the stadium at gate 3 are probably 3 times bigger than they need to be, facilitating easy entrance to the gates and the concourses are very wide. Our seats were easy to find and we had plenty of room. A few things were a little restricted due to the construction when we were there, but not intrusive to the flow of people.
I think our tickets were around $36 and located near the 30 yard line, about 35 rows up. Between the nice fans, easy access and great seats, I feel that the return on investment was great. Just don't understand why more people around Indiana don't take advantage and attend games.
The main extra for me was the area where the kids' field currently sits. It was under construction at the time, but they still allowed the children to chase after the footballs and keep the ones they retrieved. I also enjoyed the fact that Assembly Hall was open on game day.
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