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Official Review by Marcus Traxler, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Over the years, the UNI-Dome has been home to the Northern Iowa Panthers basketball, volleyball, and wrestling teams. Since the opening of the McLeod Center in 2006, the dome has only been host to the football team in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The UNI-Dome has a capacity of 16,324 fans. The Panthers have had an outstanding record in the UNI-Dome, winning nearly 80% of its home contests since the venue opened in 1976.
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 concession fare is pretty standard at the UNI-Dome. A basic "Dome Dog" will cost $3, while the Grilled Bratwurst Sausage is $3.50. Pepsi products are served, with a regular sized cup drawing $3 and the 32-ounce cola costing $4. Three bag sizes of popcorn are available ranging from $2.50-$4.50. Nothing really jumped off the charts here and I didn't see anything I absolutely had to have.
What I liked most about the UNI-Dome is the light at the top of the stadium. When I visited in mid-October for a 4 p.m. game (which is when the Panthers schedule most of their home games), natural light shined down on the field and never in an impeding manner. That helps the dome avoid the dark, boring feel that can occur with indoor facilities.
I thought the sight lines in the Dome were very good and made the game easy to watch. I was also a big fan of the pregame and halftime shows put on by the Panther Marching Band.
Of course, the Panthers have the recent home track record to prove its success. UNI is 73-15 in Missouri Valley Football Conference home games and has amassed a .793 winning percentage at the UNI-Dome.
A lot of people have raved about UNI's entrance onto the field before the game, where the Panthers gather behind a garage door in the endzone and run out onto the field. Personally, I think it lacks smoke or some other element that would accentuate an already good pregame show.
UNI could also afford improvements with both their scoreboards and videoboard. Both are outdated considerably.
If you're trying to stay near the Dome, College Drive on the east side of campus is your best chance for original restaurants. Beck's Sports Grill is a good option for the typical burgers and beers. Try The Blue Moon Cafe if you're looking for a change-up as well. Locals had good things to say about their service and their underrated menu. If you're coming from the north, you'll run into a lot more chain restaurants near West 1st Street and Hudson Road.
The tailgate lots were busy prior to the game and students looked into it as well. Student involvement can be hard to install at some universities and Northern Iowa should be credited with their efforts. Students are also rewarded with some of the best seats in the stadium for the student section, with the majority of the sections between the 25 yard lines in the bottom 20 or so rows.
UNI fans are among the most passionate in FCS football and that is exemplified through the Interlude Dance. Made more famous by the Panthers' basketball success, the students lead the techno dance before the start of the second half. Seeing it in person is pretty cool and many of the season-ticket holders get involved as well.
The UNI-Dome is pretty easy to find, regardless of the direction. U.S. Highways 20 and 218 from the west and north, respectively, lead into Cedar Falls and make it easy to find the campus. Being a dome doesn't hurt either as the roof will come into view as you near the area.
Parking is available pretty easily although getting around can be a tad arduous for the less patient visitor. Be careful for people crossing the street on Hudson Road.
For homecoming against South Dakota State and against North Dakota State, UNI sold tickets for $40. While I don't think that's out of the question for high-level FCS football, it may be a tad steep. That said, this is normally a conference contender in the Missouri Valley Conference and as a playoff qualifier and the demand is there, despite sharing the state spotlight with Iowa and Iowa State. For its three other home games, adult tickets were $20. Youth tickets were $20 and $10 for the respective games.
The quality of football is strong and the Panthers usually have a solid team, so the prices even out for regular fans of Northern Iowa football.
One point for the Interlude Dance. It is a worthwhile two minutes to see the YouTube clip here.
One point for the tradition of winning at this program. In most years you can expect a very good team, and that certainly adds to the overall experience.
Member Review by shanleye3 on Nov 29, 2012
Alumni here, I'll try to not be too biased!
Member Review by uniftw on Jul 31, 2013
Right off of the two main roads in Cedar Falls. Less than 5 minutes from great restaurants. Great game day atmosphere. Great fans (though the older ones are grumpy at times about standing up).
2210 College St
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
2223 College St
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
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