Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.86
Husky Stadium 3800 Montlake Blvd NE Seattle, WA 98105
Year Opened: 1920 Capacity: 70,083
Loud and Purple on the Lake
Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium opened in 1920, and currently has a capacity of 70,083. The U-shaped stadium overlooks Lake Washington, and is one of a few college football stadiums that is accessible by water; the UW crew team even offers ferry service to “sailgaters” to get them from their boats to the game. The venue recently underwent a $280 million renovation, which included new seating, removal of the track that used to surround the field, and new concessions and bathrooms throughout. Husky Stadium is notable for several reasons, including hosting speeches for several US presidents, as well as hosting multiple NFL games. More impressively, the wave is said to have originated here back in the fall of 1981 (credit is shared between a former band director, yell leader, and trumpet player).But perhaps most important of all is that Husky Stadium is officially recognized as the loudest college football stadium in the nation, thanks in part to cantilevered metal roofs above each sideline that trap the noise inside. During a 1992 game versus Nebraska, ESPN recorded a noise level of 133.6 decibels, the highest ever recorded for college football.
Food & Beverage 5
Husky Stadium offers lots of variety from its many concessions stands, including local favorites like fish ‘n chips. Each stand offers a different mix of items, so feel free to walk around until you see something that catches your eye; the lines are never long, and there are selections available for any price point. Main dishes include several types of hot dogs, including one with kielbasa as well as one that comes with Poutine toppings. Husky Stadium also has burgers, meatball subs, salads, hummus wraps and chicken wraps, fish ‘n chips, chicken strips, chowder, nachos, and something called Montlake Mess (akin to 7-layer dip but with only 4 layers). Other food selections offered are peanuts, popcorn, pretzels, Poutine, and fries (regular or garlic), plus Cracker Jack, boxed candy, cotton candy, 2 flavors of churros, kettle corn, cupcakes, and Dippin’ Dots. Food items range from $4 for the smallest items to around $11 for some of the combos.
Drink options include all of the usual suspects, namely Coke products in bottles or from the fountain, bottled water, hot cocoa, fresh-squeezed or frozen lemonade, and Starbucks coffee. One other great feature though is that Husky Stadium has “Hydration Stations” all over the concourse, where fans can fill water bottles, so you don’t necessarily have to purchase any beverages while inside.
Beer and wine is available inside the stadium, especially in “The Zone,” a beer garden on the east side of the stadium.
Husky Stadium is an amazing venue for college football. There is lots of energy, the setting is beautiful, and the facility has lots of great amenities. Husky Stadium has a lot of great Husky décor, including a Husky statue out front (west end zone), signage commemorating former players and coaches inside, intimidating images of Huskies looking you right in the eyes, and loads of purple. Perhaps the most stunning piece is the shimmering, glittering “W” under the stands as you enter from the south side; all of these great add-ons really enhance the experience here.
The stadium has seating on all 4 sides, and all of the seats have chair backs; most of the seats are aluminum benches with chair back rails, but there are a small number of bucket-style (purple) seats in the center of the south sideline. One of the coolest features here, however, is that Husky Stadium actually sits on Lake Washington, and you can see the lake from inside the stadium, behind the east end zone. The lakeside setting creates a wonderful atmosphere, especially with all of the greenery here, and adds to an already enjoyable experience. See a view of the lake from inside the stadium here:
The stands on both the north and south sides have overhangs, which help keep the noise trapped inside. This creates a lot of crowd energy, but the noise is not overwhelming, so you can feel all the excitement of college football without being deafened by it. And as a further bonus, the overhangs also mean that the upper deck seats on those sides are protected from rain, which Seattle has a lot of.
The band and mascot at Husky Stadium really help add to the energy as well. The band sits near the front of the west end zone, and you can see the band members moving and gyrating throughout the game, while playing popular music as well as classic football songs. You will also see the mascot, usually near that same end zone, pumping his fists after a great play, or strutting back and forth, waving his paws to rev up the crowd.
Husky Stadium is located 3 or 4 miles northeast of downtown Seattle, so if you come in for the day or the weekend you won’t be far from everything the city has to offer. The most well-known attractions are of course the Space Needle and Pike Place Fish Market, both of which are worth visiting if you have time. Seattle also has plenty of great restaurants, but if you are looking for something closer to the stadium, try either Schultzy’s Bar & Grill or Big Time Brewery and Alehouse, both of which are next door to UW’s campus, less than a mile from the stadium. Known as Seattle’s “wurst” restaurant, Schultzy’s features house-made wurst plus burgers and cheesesteak, as well as 9 beers on tap that rotate daily, while Big Time is your more typical brewpub that offers pizza and subs, with lots of beers on tap, plus wine and several ciders.
There are plenty of hotels in the Seattle area, but the ones downtown are of course on the pricier side. Ye College Inn is the closest to Husky Stadium, and has rates under $100 per night, but there are also 2 Staypineapple properties not much further away (University Inn and Watertown Hotel), which cost a little more but are a bit nicer. There is also a Travelodge not far from the stadium, which offers cheap rates with no frills.
Fans at Husky Stadium are very loud, and this is enhanced even more by the overhangs on each sideline, which help trap the noise inside.
You will see many, many fans wearing purple, and almost all wear caps, as one of their traditions (besides “woofing” a lot) is waving their caps in unison right before kickoff; seeing 70K+ fans waving their caps simultaneously is really a sight to behold. See the video below:
Besides the cheering, another sound you will hear throughout the game are the fans “woofing;” not barking exactly, but more of a low “woof” intended to mimic the sound a real Husky would make. You will hear this sound during most of the game, usually following big plays on either offense or defense.
The only disappointment from the fan perspective is that a lot of them leave early, even during a win. Early in the fourth quarter you may see the stands begin to empty, so by the end of the game they are only half to two-thirds full. On the plus side, if you want to get into the Husky spirit with some gear of your own, they have a full size team store inside Husky Stadium (west end zone) and small fan gear kiosks all over the stadium, so lines are never long.
There are so many ways to get to Husky Stadium – you can get here by car, bus, light rail, on foot, or even by water. There are light rail and bus stops right next to the stadium, and these are actually your best options; the stadium is surrounded by other UW athletic fields, so even the closest parking is many blocks away. Parking ranges from $10 to $40 depending on how close you want to get. There are plenty of concessions stands, as well as hydration stations and fan gear kiosks all over the place, so lines are never very long. There are also plenty of bathrooms, so it is very easy to find what you need. In addition, Husky Stadium has main gates on each of the three sides, so getting in and out is never a problem. The only downside in terms of access is the post-game traffic; local law enforcement does a great job moving people out after the game, but there are lots of cars, and the cops seem to block access going south, so if you are trying to get to the 520 bridge across the water, you’ll have to go all the way over to I-5 and double back.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to Husky football games start around $60, which is in line with prices at other major college football venues, as are concessions prices. Parking is probably a little on the high side, unless you want to walk a long way, but then again you can come by train or bus and not even have to deal with traffic. That said, the experience here is definitely worth it.Being able to visit the loudest college football stadium in America, right on the lake, and take in all of the terrific amenities like the Husky décor, comfortable seats, and great crowd is an experience that should not be missed.
The lakeside setting is a definite plus, as are the multiple ways to get here. It is also really cool to be in the stadium that ESPN says is officially the loudest one there is. The décor and signage all around the stadium is great to see, especially the Husky statue out front, which people seem to love to snap selfies with. And finally, seeing all of the caps waving in unison before every kickoff is awesome to behold, and even more fun to be a part of, so bring your lid!
There are lots of college football stadiums, but a trip to Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA should definitely be on every fan’s bucket list. It is hard to top the setting and the energy here, and since the Huskies play in the Pac-12, there are always some big name teams coming to town. Furthermore, the recent renovations have added all the bells and whistles you could possibly want, so you are guaranteed a great experience; make plans to visit Husky Stadium today.