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Official Review by Miles Markiewicz, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Somewhere among the farmlands of southwestern Ohio lies a charming college town called Oxford. You won’t be taken away by the overwhelming nature of a typical game day. What you will experience is an intimate day at Fred C. Yager Stadium that houses a program with a storied history. Built in 1983, Yager Stadium features The Cradle of Coaches, which is located at the south end of the gates. The Cradle of Coaches is a shrine to all of the famous leaders who have spent time at Miami University, including Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Sean Payton, and Jim Tressel.
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".
Every concession stand has the same menu of basic items such as nachos, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, chips, and candy. Bottled soda, water and Gatorade are available to complement the snacks. Coffee and hot chocolate are sold for those inevitable chilly days that accompany an authentic November game day in the MAC.
All of these items are extremely affordable and range anywhere from $2-$4. You might be disappointed by the quality of the hot dogs because the bread tends to get crunchy once it reaches the customer.
All hope for something special will be lost until you find the hidden gem located on the west side of the stadium. The sideline special will run you $10, but is worth the price of admission alone. This delicious combo is served with a sandwich piled high with a double helping of BBQ pulled pork and is topped with crunchy tortilla chips and melted cheddar cheese. Make sure you choose the side of fried pickles because the combination is wonderful. You might want to grab an entire stack of napkins for this one. You will need them.
The "strEATS" truck located on the southeast corner of the stadium also provides some pretty cool options with different types of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for about $5. If you're looking for an adult beverage you will have to head over to High Street before the game because there is no alcohol sold inside the stadium.
The first thing you will notice upon arrival is the construction of the new indoor practice facility happening at the north end of the stadium. Admittedly, this will take a little way from your authentic game day experience. Construction is set to be completed by the start of the 2015 season, but this large building is located so close to the stadium that it will always be a distraction while sitting in the stands.
The other thing you will notice is the proximity of all other sporting facilities located around Yager Stadium including the soccer field, baseball diamond and basketball arena. This creates a unique feeling of intimacy unmatched by some larger programs.
The football stadium is divided into a concrete section on the west side and bleachers on the east side. Alumni and the visiting crowd sit in the main concrete structure and the entire bleacher section is reserved for the band and student section. Unfortunately, the students do not show up in any meaningful numbers. The ones who do, however, are passionate about their RedHawks. In fact, the Miami University Marching Band will be a highlight of your trip because they provide the most energy in the stadium. They sound great and are always having a fun time in the stands. Make sure you stick around for halftime because they put on an entertaining show.
The city of Oxford is absolutely gorgeous and is complemented well by the Miami campus. Everybody hangs out on High Street before the game to socialize and have some good food. Make sure you stop into 45 East Bar & Grill for a family-friendly environment with plenty of televisions to catch up on college football games around the country. Skipper's Pub also offers a family friendly environment, but is the most crowded restaurant in Oxford on game day.
If you have a chance to talk with a student, he/she will tell you the best spots to go for a rowdier environment. CJ's is where all of the undergraduate students hang out that are of legal drinking age (the bar is 21 and over). This hole in the wall is located off High Street down an alleyway and offers a great college environment. Be sure to try Mad Tree Happy Amber, one of the local brews from Cincinnati located about 45 minutes from Oxford.
Don't forget to take a walk around campus, located just off of High Street, before heading over to the stadium. The University was established in 1809. You see and feel the history as you walk the campus. If you attend a game during family weekend or Homecoming, you will get to talk with some alumni who offer some interesting stories about their time in Oxford.
If you find yourself talking to some of the locals while on High Street you will discover that the following of the football team is not very strong. The RedHawks did post the worst record in the FBS in 2013 at 0-12, so this program has seen better days. However, if you arrive at the right time (such as family weekend) you'll find that fans are still happy to make it out to the stadium as part of their time in Oxford.
No matter the score, the stands seem to empty at halftime to about half the crowd. The students fail to fill even a quarter of the student section and the rest is left as empty space. The good part about this is you can move about the stadium with ease to check out the game from every angle. The ringing of a bell in the north end zone caps off every Miami score, although after asking a few spectators about the origins of the bell you'll find that nobody really has a straight answer.
Getting to Oxford requires some driving time spent on long and winding country roads with limited signage. Once you arrive in Oxford, the stadium is difficult to find because the signs are vague and confusing. Fortunately, once you find the heart of Oxford everything is in close proximity, but the roads are still tight. Parking for the stadium is set up quite well, even though there is only one road leading to the stadium parking lots which are just grass fields. Free shuttles are offered to and from the parking lot due to the fairly long walk. Lines for the concessions and bathrooms are nonexistent due to the small crowds.
Tickets to a game will only run you $15-$22. There are all-you-can-eat seats for $30, but those will not be worth it. If the weather is beautiful, and you're looking to check out a MAC school, the money spent on normal tickets is worth the experience. Although, if you're searching for the best experiences in the country, then look elsewhere. You will also be disappointed to find that parking costs $10.
"Big Ben" Roethlisberger is a legendary quarterback at Miami University. One of the highlights of your trip will be seeing the retired number 7 at the north end of the stadium. It seems that a lot of alumni have a favorite "Ben moment," but none greater than when he lead Miami University to a number 10 ranking in his final season in 2003. Recently, Roethlisberger donated $1 million to the construction of the indoor practice facility to continue his dedication to the University. You will get the feeling that this program is looking for something like this to send another spark that may get them over their current slump.
Fred C. Yager Stadium was built in 1983 to replace Miami Field. If you can believe it, Miami Field had been around since 1895. There are still the original ticket windows located just in front of the stadium that say "Miami Field." They are miniature buildings that add a lot of charm to the visit. If you enjoy the history that a stadium can provide, then you will definitely want to have your picture taken in front of one of these windows.
The Miami University football program has seen better days. Fred C. Yager Stadium seats around 24,000 people but hasn't seen a crowd that large since the days of "Big Ben." This program needs to find a way to get their students back on the east side in order to create an exceptional stadium experience. Other than that, the city of Oxford is a beautiful sanctuary among the open fields of southwest Ohio and provides a great family environment for a game day.
Member Review by paul
In the early 1980's the Miami (OH) University set out to build a new home stadium for their football team, and they turned to Fred C. Yager, class of 1914. Yager was the lead benefactor for the stadium that opened in 1983, and is known as Yager Stadium.
The stadium is open ended with a large scoreboard in the south endzone. There is a proposal currently to add a large building to the north endzone, but no time table has been confirmed.
Today, you'll find bleacher seating on both sides in a comfortable, but unremarkable little stadium, hosting MAC football each fall.
Member Review by sal on Nov 01, 2012
Yager is in a very pretty setting in a nice, little town. A great way to spend an afternoon.
The problem is that if it's a big game, access to Oxford SUCKS. Plan on sitting for a couple hours in traffic.
Fortunately for visiting team fans, the Redhawks don't draw unless they are winning, so typically the stadium stays empty.
Yager itself is a nice stadium. Only seats like 28,000, but if you like football, it's a pleasant place.
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