Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Glass Bowl 3044 N Glass Bowl Drive Toledo, OH 43606
Year Opened: 1937 Capacity: 26,248
The Rockets Blue and Gold Glare
For those of you who have never experienced MACtion, you have no idea what you are missing. A great college football experience without the claustrophobia and sheer craziness of having a tenth of a million people in one spot. The MAC has provided the big conferences with some of the most legendary coaches in the game.
The Toledo Rockets have been among the best MAC experiences that you can find. Establishing a team in 1917, the Rockets are one of the longest-running members of the MAC, joining in 1950, just 4 years after the conference was founded. Toledo boasts 10 conference championships including victories in the 2001 and 2004 MAC Championship games. The other titles came in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1981, 1984, 1990 and 1995.
Toledo football has had its share of legends and boasts big-time college coaches Gary Pinkel, currently of Missouri, and Nick Saban, currently of Alabama among its coaching alumni. Perhaps the most significant Toledo coach, however, was Frank Lauterbur, who oversaw one of the most legendary teams in college football history. Under Coach Lauterbur and standout quarterback Chuck Ealey, the Rockets went on a 35-0 winning streak. Ealey never lost a college football game in his career.
The Glass Bowl has been the home for the Rockets since 1937. The stadium remains after numerous upgrades and is one of the best examples of amalgamating original architecture with modern amenities. The Rocket faithful have stayed true to their team, especially when facing their arch-rival just 20 miles south on I-75, the Bowling Green Falcons.
The “Battle of I-75” has become so significant that in 1961 the University of Toledo procured an actual rocket from the U.S. Army and positioned it in such a way that if fired, it would land on the 50-yard line in Doyt-Perry Stadium on the campus of Bowling Green State University.
Food & Beverage 3
The Glass Bowl provides a fairly average culinary experience for college football. You will find what you expect to find here, and the prices are pretty reasonable. Hot dogs ($3.50), popcorn ($3.50), pizza ($4), nachos ($3.50), soda ($3.25), and beer ($6) are all available.
Unlike many college football stadiums, there are alcohol sales at the Glass Bowl. Featured brands of beer include Budweiser, Bud Light, Labatt Blue, and Yuengling. If you are looking for something a bit more unique, then try the Tailgate Gourmet in the south end. They feature a sirloin burger and a quarter-pound hot dog. The quality of the food at the Tailgate Gourmet is high, but the service can be slow.
The Glass Bowl is a great place to catch a college football game. The University of Toledo has done a fantastic job of merging the old with the new. The Glass Bowl has a north-south orientation with a horseshoe seating area, opening at the north end. All seating is aluminium benches with the band and students sitting in the south end.
The west grandstand features the press box and luxury boxes in a three-tier complex above the seating bowl similar to many college stadiums. The entire stadium is surrounded by a beautiful stone wall made from irregular stones with sharp vertical stones at the top. It gives the stadium a fort-like feel. The north opening also features two large, square ramparts continuing with the fort feel.
The beautiful stonework features what may have at one time been windows, that are now covered with pictures of Rocket Legends. The legends include players who have had their numbers retired including Mel Long, Mel Triplett, Gene Swisk, and Chuck Ealey. Legends also include newer Rocket players including Chester Taylor and Bruce Gradkowski.
On the facia of the luxury boxes, the retired numbers of the Rockets are featured, as well as the 10 conference championship years. When game time arrives, the Rocket Marching Band marches toward the stadium and enters. They perform as most bands do, forming various icons on the field while playing songs including the Toledo fight song.
The team enters the stadium from the north end through smoke and cannon fire. When the Rockets score, be ready as the cannon will fire again! The in-game experience is fantastic and well worth the trip. Outside of the Glass Bowl is a Nike-Ajax Rocket which was erected on the campus in 1961. The Rocket is pointed at the top rival of the Rockets, the Bowling Green Falcons.
The Sullivan Athletic Center, a few steps from the Glass Bowl, houses the main campus store as well as the Rockets Hall of Fame. Toledo has done a fantastic job of sharing their history and their points of pride with visitors, students, and alumni.
The Glass Bowl is located right in the heart of the University of Toledo. The university has a beautiful green campus just south of the Ottawa River. The university campus is west of downtown Toledo. The home of the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League, Fifth Third Field, can be found downtown, as well as the new Huntington Center, which is the home of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
Other Toledo athletic events are held at Savage Hall, which is just a few steps from the Glass Bowl. If you are looking for some pre or post-game libations, you probably want to head to Dorr St. There you may consider trying Jed’s on Campus or Oasis Restaurant.
The Toledo Rockets have enjoyed solid fan support. The student section is strong and it is right beside the band. The Rockets have routinely featured attendance in the top 5 in the conference. They typically average over 18,000 fans per year. In 2013, the Rockets averaged over 18,000 fans and were 4th in the conference in attendance.
The previous year the Rockets were averaging over 20,000 which was good for 3rd. Some of the fans do take their time arriving on time, missing the fun of the band performing before the game. This could be because of the solid tailgating scene that can be found on campus. Either way, Rocket fans are not afraid to make noise and love the cannon fires signifying a Rockets score.
Getting to the Glass Bowl is not too difficult. The campus of the University of Toledo is located south of I-475, west of I-75, and Highway 24. The game day crew does a great job of keeping traffic flowing through campus and helping fans find and pay for parking. Large parking garages and tailgate lots make parking on campus fairly easy. Inside the Glass Bowl, patrons do find some difficulties with older facilities. Some of the washrooms are pretty small and feature old-school troughs and sinks. Also, on the east side, the light standards are actually in front of the upper deck.
Return on Investment 5
The investment in Rocket Football is not significant. Tickets are normally $25 and can rise for big games. In 2014, the Bowling Green game went for $35 and the Missouri game went for $45. The sight lines on the west side of the stadium are excellent, but you would want to be careful behind the light standards in the upper deck on the east side. Concession prices are very reasonable for college football and campus parking is not very expensive. Overall, you will have a great time in Toledo and you can easily bring a family. The return is significant with a solid college football atmosphere in a very unique stadium.
An extra mark for the student section who throws footballs back to the game when field goals are kicked. There is no protective netting for field goals and it appears that one is not needed. An extra mark for the Rocket pointed at Doyt-Perry Stadium. A truly unique feature that revs up a solid rivalry. An extra mark for legendary Rockets quarterback Chuck Ealey who played his entire Toledo career without losing a game, leading a 35-0 streak.
A trip to see the uniqueness of the Glass Bowl is worth a trip to Toledo just on its own. The Rockets provide a first-class college football experience and the MAC provides some excellent #MACtion in what may be a fairly forgotten football conference otherwise. If you are a college football enthusiast, consider traveling to Northern Ohio to see the Toledo Rockets. You will not be disappointed.
Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9.