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  • Scott Bultman

Bill Snyder Family Stadium - Kansas State Wildcats

Photo Courtesy of Katie Gimore

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Bill Snyder Family Stadium 1800 College Ave Manhattan, KS 66502

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 52,200

Putting the Wild in Wildcats

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, home to the Kansas State Wildcats opened in 1968 and has become one of the loudest football places on the plains. The seating capacity here is 50,000, and most of that noise stays inside the stadium making it a big home-field advantage for the Wildcats. Over the past 25 years, the Wildcats have enjoyed a near .800 winning percentage at home.

The facility has had many upgrades over the years since being constructed for a mere $1.6 million. These upgrades include a new press box, a playing surface, and upgraded seating areas. The major renovations before the 2013 season are just the second in a five-phase master plan that is expected to be completed in 2025.

The Wildcats have not sat idly while the rest of the college football teams race to build the most significant and fanciest facilities. Future phases of their plan could include a new strength gym, retail and condo space, seating additions, sound and video upgrades, a recruiting lounge; everything but a literal football factory that spits out more gritty underdog players to continue the Snyder legacy of teams that surprise the nation’s collective football conscience.

Food & Beverage 4

There are many options inside the stadium to have a nice meal while enjoying a Wildcats football game. Standard stadium fare such as hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and pizza is sold throughout the stadium. Prices are on par with most other big-time college football venues.

The south end of the stadium offers a wider variety of items such as BBQ, ice cream, kettle corn, turkey legs, and vegetarian options. The BBQ sandwich here is quite tasty, and for $8, you get your choice of three styles of meats with the option of fixings.

Pepsi products are sold here for the typical stadium prices. A souvenir cup is worthwhile so you can wet your whistle while cheering loudly with the K-State faithful. Concession stands are abundant throughout the facility and wait times are minimal, even at peak times.

Atmosphere 5

The atmosphere here at Bill Snyder Family Stadium is something to be seen live rather than on television. Nicknamed the “Little Apple,” the entire town of Manhattan is decked out in grey and purple on game days. The population of Manhattan, Kansas, is around 56,000, but that doubles on game days.

Traffic is heavy going in with fans arriving super early to tailgate. Outside the stadium on all sides, tailgating can be seen as far as the eye can see. The smells and sights are as good as you will see in the Big 12.

Inside the stadium, heavy metal music plays over the loudspeaker at key times to get the fans cheering loudly. A song, such as “Crazy Train” before a kickoff is enough to pump any football fan up. On this day, a hundred or so motorcycles rode around the perimeter of the football field before the game for the once-a-year Harley Day at the stadium.

Willie the Wildcat is the official mascot and does an admirable job with fans at the game. After each Kansas State score, he will do as many pushups as K-State has points followed by a pose and chant. This can get quite entertaining during high-scoring games.

The biggest tradition of them all here at Kansas State is the Wabash Cannonball. This song gets fans bobbing back and forth in unison. This may seem silly but when 50,000 people all do it at once, it’s a sight to see.

Neighborhood 3

The stadium is not quite on campus, which makes for more tailgating room, but less college culture. Fraternity houses, which can always be counted on to contribute some debauchery, are much too far from the stadium for people to enjoy their antics.

Instead, the area surrounding Bill Snyder Family Stadium is a lot like the rest of Kansas; expansive and flat. Fortunately, the next three phases of the master plan promise to bring vast improvements to the neighborhood immediately surrounding the venue.

A neighborhood that needs no improvements is Aggieville, the downtown district diagonally across from the main campus gates. This place has everything you’d expect in a college town: local boutiques, fun restaurants, numerous bars, and plenty of people milling around. If coming to town for a morning game, stop at Varsity Donuts and bring a dozen to your tailgate. Their unique and various treats are sure to please everyone.

Fans 4

Kansas State football fans suffered through some historically bad years, yet have always been supportive. The Bill Snyder years have been a reward for fans' persistence. Fans are into the game from the opening kick until the end of each game. It is a loud venue and enjoyable yet nothing over the top towards opposing fans.

The Wabash Cannonball is one of those fan traditions that you must see live once. Fans also take part in a first-down chant when the Wildcats earn a first down.

Access 3

The only bad part of attending a game is the commute. Manhattan sits about five miles off I-70, and on game days, the side highway from the interstate to town is clogged with traffic. Although lots surround the stadium, most of them are reserved, so expect to pay a bundle for parking within a few blocks of the stadium, or wear comfortable shoes for a long walk from the car.

Free parking can be had in residential areas around the stadium but watch signs carefully. Some streets do not permit street parking without a residential permit. I was able to find a spot by the soccer stadium for free while the church across the lawn was charging $30.

Renovated bathrooms and concessions mean short lines, but the line to get out of town after the game will make you forget how much you enjoyed the stadium experience. Bill Snyder Highway (really, K-177 is named after the coach) could use the same expansion that the stadium has gotten.

Return on Investment 3

Tickets for most games are reasonable and on par with most power five conference schools. The games against Texas or Oklahoma will be a little pricier than a random mid-September game vs a non-conference opponent.

Parking seems a bit high ($20-$30), but the ability to tailgate can make it worth it. Inside the stadium, food and beverage prices are on par with normal stadium prices at any division one football game.

Extras 3

The west side of the stadium is a beautiful sight on its own, but if you climb to the highest levels of the stands and look out beyond the field and north end zone, you get a fantastic view of the Kansas landscape. A grain elevator stands guard over a golden pasture, and in the near distance, hills of flint rock meet baby blue skies chock full of puffy clouds. Anyone who naively says Kansas isn’t scenic or beautiful doesn’t know what they’re missing. The pregame presentation by the Wildcats band is a good one and worth a couple of bonus points.

Final Thoughts

The experience at Bill Snyder Family Stadium is pleasant and unassuming unless you see it in person. It truly is electric and even the most hardened traditionalist will find themselves having a superb time here.

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