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  • Eric Hasman

Huskie Stadium - Northern Illinois Huskies

Photos by Eric Hasman, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Huskie Stadium Stadium Dr S DeKalb, IL 60115

Year Opened: 1965

Capacity: 30,998


Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium

Huskie Stadium opened in 1965 and after a few renovations, the current capacity has been decreased to 23,595. One renovation that affected seating and stadium arrangement is the Yordon Athletic Center which is in the north end zone and opened in 2007.

It contains a 3,150 sq ft. football locker room with a 780 sq ft. gathering area, a 12,505 sq ft. strength and conditioning center (largest in the MAC), an academic support center, an athletic training room with rehab pools, a 150-seat meeting room, video editing room, all ten coaches' offices, football equipment room, coaches' locker room, computer classrooms for student-athletes and a couple of boxes that overlook the football field.

In 2003, the field was renamed "Brigham Field" in honor of Robert J. Brigham, a former NIU player, coach, and athletic director. Seating is only on the east and west sides of the field. The south end zone is grass and only has a small amount of standing room and tent space behind the fence.

The stadium's AstroTurf playing surface, pioneered in 1969, was recarpeted in 1980 and 1990 before being replaced by a FieldTurf surface in 2001. The east grandstand construction of 1995 featured 10,500 aluminum bleacher seats supported by a steel-beam superstructure and includes 54 rows of seats.

Food & Beverage 1

Concessions at the stadium are lackluster and limited. There are two stands on each side of the stadium. The food items are only the basics: Polish sausage, hot dogs, nachos, soft pretzels, and Rosati’s pizza slice for the main dishes.

These items are ok, I would say they are not a must-eat. As with other stadiums, of course, there is popcorn, Dippin' Dots, and a cotton candy tub. For non-alcoholic drinks, there are bottled sodas which are Pepsi products, Gatorade, and bottled water. For alcohol, there are domestic beers Coors and Miller Lite. The “Specialty” beers at the stadium are New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Heineken and there is an NIU brand Kolsh-style ale, Dawgma.

Atmosphere 3

Before entering the stadium be sure to visit “The Yard” at Huskie Stadium. It is free and open to the public. The Yard is located on the West Lawn within, well, yards of the stadium entrances and is the official pregame tailgate for all fans. Inside the “The Yard” is live music, local vendors, and a beer garden.

In addition, once in there, you can watch football action from around the country on the giant video screen while your kids check out the inflatable games in the Kids' Zone. If you get there early enough, you can meet both current and former NIU student-athletes and learn what's new at NIU and in the community. Also, the NIU cheerleaders, Mission (a live Huskie Dog), Victor E. Huskie, and the Huskie Marching Band are in the area before the game.

Getting into the stadium and to your seats can be cumbersome, especially on the west side. The west side has lots of ramps and staircases going up to the seats. The entrances to each side of the stadium are separate. There is no way to get to the other side of the stadium unless you leave it. So if you decide to watch from the other side, make sure you get your hand stamped to get access.

Even though there are two separate seating stands the stadium has a good buzz/college feeling going on once you walk in. There are NIU flags/banners throughout the stadium. The NIU band is constantly playing some song and of course the Northern Illinois “fight song” too. NIU students, who get in free, sit on either side of the stadium.

There are ribbon boards on each seating stand with game information and other graphics during the game. In the south end zone is the video scoreboard. It is small but it is readable from anywhere in the stadium. In addition, NIU flags and statues, and /or banners are almost everywhere.

NIU has one traditional “Mascot” Victor E. Huskie. In addition, NIU has Mission, a live Siberian Huskie, running across the end zone dragging his ROTC handler after every Huskie score.

Neighborhood 4

I would say that DeKalb is a typical small college town. There isn’t much in town besides NIU, but there are some good restaurants downtown and near campus.

Since it is a college town, pizza parlors, and fast food joints abound, but there are a few nice sports bars near campus. The “official” bar/restaurant of NIU Sports is Fatty’s Pub and Grille on Lincoln Highway which is located southeast of the stadium on Lincoln Highway. The bar has a great atmosphere, and good food, and is home to the coach’s show.

A must-eat there are the Cajun potatoes which are a holdover from the former tenant of the building, a Cajun restaurant. The food at Fatty’s is really good you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. On game days Fatty’s does get crowded but it is a great place to go. Another good place for a sit-down meal is Molly’s Eatery and Drinkery on Lincoln. The menu is more limited, but the sandwiches are good.

There are the usual fast food places near the stadium, Culvers, Taco Bell, Chipotle, etc….However, a really good place to go of campus fame is Tom & Jerry’s Gyros also on Lincoln towards downtown DeKalb. The students love the food there and it is reasonably priced.

In downtown DeKalb, two places I suggest are Eduardo’s for Mexicans and Lord Stanley. Eduardo’s has your basic Mexican fare and is outstanding. Lord Stanley’s is known for pizza, and beer, and is a good place to watch sports. While you are there you must try the “Willies” which are deep-fried pizza dough bites with red sauce for dipping.

Many years ago, Chicago had the “Cows on Parade” downtown and DeKalb has the “Huskies on Parade.” There are many hand-painted Huskie statues all over town and campus which were commissioned by local businesses. I don’t know how many there are in total, but it could be a fun hunt to run around and try to find as many as you can.

Fans 4

Attendance at Huskies games is low in my opinion especially considering the success the team has had over the past several years. When the weather is cold or rainy the stadium may be a quarter to half full, otherwise, the Huskies draw about 10,000 to 15,000 per game.

The fans are loyal and loud, especially on the student side – they tend to stand the whole time, which could be annoying for some. They stay engaged throughout the game and enjoy yelling at the refs, the music, and cheering for their team, in that order. The fans on the alumni side are a bit less intense but still solid.

Access 5

The stadium and surrounding area are very accessible – the crosswalks have talking speakers to tell you which street is open to cross. The stadium is on the west side of the Northern Illinois University Campus and about a 5-minute drive from the intersection of Interstate 88 and Annie Glidden Road. Huskie Stadium is very easy to get to with the parking lots being near the Convocation Center off of Lincoln Highway and lots off of Lucinda.

There are several parking lots within walking distance of the stadium. However, to get close you will need a parking pass. The easiest lot, I think, is pretty far away at the Convocation Center which is west of the stadium for $15. I like this lot because is it an easy out after the game.

Return on Investment 3

For mid-major football ticket prices are not bad. General admission tickets for the east side seating range from $15 to $25 and the west side is $20 to $30 depending on the game. Reserve seating on the west side range from $30 to $35 depending on the game. Of course, if you purchase season or group tickets they are discounted.

If you look on the alum website or even Facebook sometimes there are discount ticket codes too.

Premium seating is on the west side of the stadium and goes from approximately the 40-yard line to the 40-yard line. These seats have chairbacks or bench-back seating and are generally reserved for season ticket holders or donors.

Otherwise, the rest of the stadium has bench seating. There are no assigned seats on the east side (student side, sections I-Q) so there is no reason to pay extra unless you want a bit more comfort. The stands are very close to the field so there is not a bad seat in the stadium. The cheerleaders perform in the north end zone because there isn’t enough room for them in front of the east or west stands.

Extras 3

One point for the huskie statues all over town; it was a lot of fun pointing them out to each other as we drove to and from the stadium.

The water tower near the football/basketball stadium has an NIU logo on it, which you can see from the field.

A third point for the fireworks after each score. Yes, many teams do this but being so close they feel and sound bigger.

The Huskies get an extra point for having a 1963 National Champion College Division flag on the west side of the stadium. However, there is no explanation of the Championship that I found, so -1 point.

NIU gets a point for signs on the inside of the west side of the stadium, on the ramps leading to the seats, that show the bowl games that NIU was in and the NIU retired numbers. However, the signs are small and easy to miss, so -1 point. I wish this information was somewhere more visible especially one mentioning that the Huskies were the 1st mid-major to make a New Year’s Day Bowl, the Orange Bowl.

Final Thoughts

Huskie Stadium is not the best or biggest stadium but it is a lot of fun and a good place to see a game.

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