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Official Review by Jack Winter, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in beautiful and charming Missoula, MT, Washington-Grizzly Stadium is the home of the Montana Grizzlies. Opened in 1986, the stadium has undergone numerous renovations since inception to bring its current capacity to 25,217. It's named for construction mogul Dennis Washington, a native Montanan who donated millions to get the project started in the mid-1980's.
Serving as a cathedral of pride, fun, and football for the University as well as Missoula, it's no coincidence Washington-Grizzly Stadium has become arguably the most feared place to play in the FCS.
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".
Washington-Grizzly Stadium offers an impressive array of food and drink both unique and traditional. Hot dogs, burgers, polish sausages and the like are inexpensive relative to other college football venues, and the same is true of locally influenced favorites kettle corn, roasted nuts, hot clam chowder, and the Viking. The latter, essentially a corndog but made with Swedish meatballs, is worthy of special praise; it's not only rare, but also some of the best stadium food you'll find.
One suspects such an excited and bustling atmosphere as that at Washington-Grizzly is uncommon, for if not FCS football would have a much greater following. As mentioned earlier, you wouldn't know based on the stadium itself, tailgating, fans, or anything else that this was anything but big time college football. Which makes sense, because for the residents of Missoula and others across the state that's exactly what it is.
Areas surrounding the stadium are roped off for pregame tailgating, and the party continues at halftime because of the re-entry policy. You'll find most any food you could imagine, but thick chili seemed a favorite. Once in the stadium, mass participation ensues unique for chants and cheers, most notably immediately following first downs and touchdowns. Prepare your ears for the latter, though "" it's loud.
Missoula, MT is the FCS answer to Manhattan, KS or Oxford, MS (a real college town where the University and its football team reign supreme). Washington-Grizzly is within a short walk of downtown Missoula, where an unlimited amount of local bars and restaurants await.
Plan your Saturday in Missoula with some of these fine establishments in mind: The Oxford, a classic favorite with amazing burgers and country fried steak that's closed its doors only once in 70 years; Doc's, a popular sandwich shop; The Lumberjack, a huge, all-wood built bar isolated outside the city replete with Montana charm; and Charlie B's, a quintessential local watering hole in every sense of the word.
There may not be a more idyllic setting in all of college sports than Washington-Grizzly's. Three sides of the stadium are flanked in the background by sprawling mountains, and Mount Sentinel's "M Trail" sits to the Southeast. Looking for a light hike and with views stretching across the state? Make the trek up to the M, a massive concrete letter located on the mountain's face.
If you weren't told in advance the Grizzlies played FCS football, you would have no idea. In fact, you may think they belong in the Pac-12 with the likes of Stanford and USC. This litany of maroon and silver clad fans should be mentioned with some of the best in the West regardless of classification.
Griz fans arrive early to tailgate outside the stadium, are in their seats for kick-off and when the clock strikes 00:00, and do all they can to help will the home team to victory. Spontaneous dancing and jumping is common in a raucous students' section, while each end zone constantly spurs on the defense with incessant yelling.
Like the best of true college towns, Missoula makes you feel at home, and that feeling rings loudest when attending a Montana football game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Parking is somewhat limited immediately outside Washington-Grizzly, though it's hardly a problem due to the stadium's extreme walkability. As mentioned, downtown is five or so minutes away by foot and two small bridges make the short walk extra easy. The stadium has multiple wide points of entry, appropriately vast concourses, and clear signage indicating directions to seats, bathrooms, and such is apparent.
Most football fans don't know what attending a FCS game is like, and assume it's anything but similar to a BCS-level experience. After attending a Griz game, though, they would realize that assumption is far from the truth. Considering the extremely fair ticket prices, you more than get what you spent for at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
For being surrounded by ranging mountains and the M Trail to the southeast, Washington-Grizzly is awarded an additional point. Also, the "WE ARE MONTANA" mantra deserves praise and special mention as well. Rarely will you see a school motto, sentiment, or saying conveyed with such aplomb and confidence.
Member Review by UofMGrizzlies on Jan 16, 2014
Great college football game day atmosphere. Great fans, tailgating, amenities and very loud.
7000 Graves Creek Rd
Lolo, MT 59847
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