Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Autzen Stadium 2700 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Eugene, OR 97041
Year Opened: 1967 Capacity: 54,000
Bright Yellow Football on the West Coast
Autzen Stadium opened in 1967, and was featured in the 1978 cult classic, National Lampoon’s Animal House. The stadium underwent a massive $90 million renovation in 2002, which increased capacity to its current level of 54,000.
Despite its relatively small size compared to many other FBS stadiums, Autzen Stadium is one of the loudest college football stadiums in the country, regularly hitting over 100 decibels inside, and consistently ranks as one of the nation’s top 10 places to watch a college football game.
Food & Beverage 4
While Autzen Stadium has a wide variety of concessions options, its All American stand is the most common, with over a dozen locations inside the venue, especially on the upper level. That said, if you want something besides the stadium basics such as hot dogs and pizza, you may need to walk around to find one of the other stands – which is simple enough, though, as the venue is not that big.
At the All American stand you can find all of the classic stadium fare, including hot dogs, smoked sausage, pizza, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, ice cream, caramel corn, and packaged candy, as well as Pepsi products, bottled water, coffee, hot cocoa, and frozen lemonade. Prices for food items at this stand range from $3 up to $9, while beverages cost between $4 and $5.
All of the other concessions stands at Autzen Stadium seem to only have two locations, one on each side, but they offer plenty of variety, including tacos, burritos, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage, bratwurst, pulled pork, burgers (including a Vegan selection), and even salmon sandwiches – these items may cost $2 to $3 more than the main dishes mentioned above.
However, note that all of the concessions stands inside Autzen Stadium sell the same items that are available at the All Amerian stands, so you can find those items anywhere. In addition, there are also a few small kiosks dotted around where you can find other items, such as kettle corn and Oregon’s famous one-pound ice cream sandwich.
Autzen Stadium provides a great atmosphere for college football, with lots of crowd noise, near sellout crowds, lively music that gets fans dancing, and tailgating that starts at least three hours before kickoff.
Like many other football schools, the Oregon Ducks also have a great marching band, which performs before the game and during halftime. The band runs several different formations during pregame, including forming a giant “O”, as well as spelling out “D-U-C-K-S” to both sides of the stadium. The PA system also plays loud music throughout the game, including video at times, which keeps the fans engaged. The videoboard will also occasionally display a decibel meter, particularly during third downs, to motivate fans to get even louder.
One of the most fun moments at an Oregon football game, however, is when the Ducks come onto the field before the game, led by Oregon’s mascot The Oregon Duck, riding on the back of a motorcycle. Accompanied by flag bearers running with banners spelling out “D-U-C-K-S”, this is a cool sight to see!
Autzen Stadium is located only about a quarter mile from the University of Oregon’s campus, and is bordered on the south by the Willamette River. There are several footbridges you can use to cross the river, and there are plenty of restaurants on that side (there isn’t much on the north side of the stadium, which is bordered by I-105). Two popular restaurants near Oregon’s campus are Chula’s Restaurant and Cantina, which features happy hour specials and small plates, and Oregon Electric Station, located inside a former train station, which features live jazz.
If you are planning to be in town for the day or for the weekend, there are also several things to do in the Eugene area, the most popular being the Cascades Raptor Center, which is open from 10-6 from April to October, but only from 10-4 November through March (the center is closed on Mondays). Another popular attraction is hiking or biking along the Willamette River, and there are several parks along the river as well, on both sides.
The closest hotels to Autzen Stadium are the EVEN Hotel and La Quinta Inn & Suites, both of which are within walking distance of the facility. There are also plenty of choices near campus, on the other side of the river, or along I-5, to the east of the stadium.
Oregon football has a great fan base, with most fans showing up to Autzen Stadium wearing bright yellow team gear, with some green mixed in for good measure. As mentioned previously, games here tend to be sellouts or near sellouts, and the fans are loud and generally engaged, helped by the lively music coming through the PA system.
One of the traditions they are trying to start at Autzen Stadium is that before the kickoff, fans in the student section will sway from side to side, reminiscent of what you will see at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field, although not to the same scale.
Thanks in part to the smallish size, moving around Autzen Stadium is relatively easy – the 2002 renovation widened the concourses and upgraded the bathrooms and concessions stands, which means there is plenty of room to move around, and short lines for the restrooms and concessions. There is also a walkway around the top of the bowl, which makes it easy to get to your seat no matter which entrance you come in at, and you can also use that walkway to find your favorite concessions stand at halftime. Eugene even has its own small airport, which makes it easy to get in and out of town on game day.
That said, I would recommend getting to the game early, however, as even 2 hours before kickoff some of the parking lots near Autzen Stadium are already full. You can find parking for $20 within a few blocks of the stadium (on the north side), or you can park for free on the streets in some of the neighborhoods on the east side of the stadium (turning down Kinsrow Ave or Chevy Chase St).
No matter where you park, though, getting out afterward can be difficult, as there are a lot of cars in a small space – the local police do a great job setting up cones and routing traffic for optimal flow after the game, but it can still take 30 minutes to go a mile or two. Autzen Stadium is one of those places where you are better off parking as far away as you can stand walking, as this will save you time afterward, since the farther you are from the stadium, the less traffic you will have to contend with.
Return on Investment 5
Single-game tickets to Oregon Ducks football games at Autzen Stadium start under $50 for the “upper” level (which isn’t really an upper level, since the whole bowl is a single tier), and this is actually pretty reasonable for big-time college football, and is cheaper than a lot of programs in the Power 5 conferences. Also, even at $20 parking is on par with other stadiums, and if you can park for free it is an even better deal. Plus, there are lots of concessions options for fans on a budget, so a day at Autzen Stadium can end up costing a lot less than going to a game somewhere else, football or otherwise.
A great mascot, which actually required a special licensing agreement with Disney to accomplish, is a big plus, and there is also really terrific scenery here at Autzen Stadium, with rolling green hills visible from inside the venue, and the river to the south you can walk along on your way to the game. Some college football diehards may feel that Autzen Stadium lacks energy, since it is only half of the size of certain other FBS programs, but being able to get as loud as it does with only that many fans is pretty impressive, and getting around Autzen Stadium is also much easier, providing a more hassle-free game day (thanks in part to its size, but also a better design).
The chance to see Power 5 college football, at a budget-friendly facility like Autzen Stadium, and one that is so easy to move around, should not be missed. In addition, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to visit, and you can find plenty to do in Eugene while you are here. You will definitely get to see some quality opponents here, so it should be a great time for your whole crew. Go, Ducks!