Memorial Stadium - Nebraska Cornhuskers
Photos by Lloyd Brown and James Hilchen, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Memorial Stadium 600 Stadium Dr Lincoln, NE 68508
Year Opened: 1923
The Sea of Red
On several weekends each fall, the third largest city in Nebraska forms within the confines of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Nicknamed “the Sea of Red” for the predominate color worn by their fans, the stadium has a capacity of 85,458. It holds the collegiate record for consecutive sellouts as the last game where there was an empty seat was in 1961. This is a testament to the dominant history of football at Nebraska, with 5 National Championships, 43 Conference Championships and 53 Bowl appearances. The Cornhuskers own a .754 home winning percentage since play began at the stadium back in 1923.
Food & Beverage 4
There are more than 100 concession stands or carts spread throughout the stadium on football Saturdays. These stands are designed with speed and efficiency in mind. The quality of the food is excellent, as you are in the center of farm country, but the variety of foods offered is limited due to the space available and the number of fans to feed. Cornhusker concessions include brats ($6), brisket sandwiches ($8), hamburgers ($6), hot dogs ($3), pizza ($5), nachos ($3-$6, depending on type), popcorn ($3), pretzels ($3), candy ($3) and cookies ($3). Memorial Stadium carries Pepsi brand products (24 ounce for $3), bottled water ($3), coffee ($3) and hot chocolate ($3). Alcohol can not be sold on university property.
The concessions workers do a great job at keeping the lines moving and you should be back in your seat very quickly.
The University of Nebraska has cultivated a great atmosphere at its home games back to the days of legendary coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Statues of both Devaney and Osborne are found outside two of the main gates into the stadium. Another major contributor to the game day atmosphere is the Hall of Fame Plaza, which is a central gathering point before each contest.
Tradition plays a big role in creating a great atmosphere at a Cornhuskers game. The day gets underway with one of the biggest traditions in America’s Heartland, a parade. This activity includes the team’s Unity Walk into the stadium, as well as a pregame concert by the University of Nebraska marching band. Another tradition is the chanting of “Corn!” by one side of the stands, followed by “Huskers!” by the opposite side of the stadium just before the team takes the field. The team charges out of a tunnel as “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project is played and the stadium simply erupts.
Memorial Stadium is very well designed from the aspect of sight lines. Even though it is large, the pitch of the steps and seating is at a comfortable level. Speaking of comfort… bring along a seat cushion as almost all of the seating is of the aluminum bench variety. Another nice design factor are the large HuskerVision boards for the replays and information on other games. Nebraska pioneered the use of video boards in college stadiums back in the 1990”s.
The University of Nebraska campus and Memorial Stadium are both located in downtown Lincoln. Lincoln has two sides to it, as it is the state capital and it is a major college town. We’re going to give you a short overview to the two sides of Lincoln.
First, as the state capital of Nebraska, the city has many cultural activities going on and there are also some very interesting government buildings to check out for the architecture alone. We suggest you visit the State Capitol Building first, as it is the easiest to find. It is a 400-foot tall building that towers over the rest of the city. Inside you will find beautiful murals depicting the history of the state. Another cultural site to visit is the Sheldon Museum of Art, which brings in spectacular pieces from every part of the art world.
As a college town, entertainment venues, sports and dining choices are a necessity. In Lincoln these are found in the Haymarket Historic District. Located just a few blocks from campus, this area is developing into the retail, dining, sports and shopping center of Lincoln. It is home to the Pinnacle Arena, the home court for the basketball Huskers. Within two blocks of the arena is Railyard, an entertainment venue with more than 20 restaurants, bars and shopping options. It is a short walk from Memorial Stadium and is a great place to go after the game while letting the traffic thin out.
The Cornhusker fan base spans many generations. It is not unusual to see three generations of a family attending a game together. What ties these folks together is a love of Cornhusker football….and a seriously red sense of fashion. Expect to see business suits, bib jeans, baby clothes and t-shirts… all in Husker red and sporting either the block “N” lettering or the image of mascot Herbie the Husker. Also expect to see plenty ear of corn headgear.
You will find the Nebraska fans to be very vocal in their support of the team, but in a polite way. This is the Heartland, where trash talking is frowned on. You don’t have to worry about wearing the opposition’s colors with this crowd. Unless… you are in the student section, known as the Boneyard. They are in no way out of control… they are just a bit rowdier than the other 72,000 fans in the stands.
The Osborne Athletic Building offers fans a great look at the history of Nebraska football in its lobby. This includes kiosks featuring great plays in Cornhusker history, a collection of all the National Championship and Bowl trophies won over the years by Nebraska and a section devoted to the team’s three Heisman Trophy winners (Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Eric Crouch).
The Husker Nation Pavilion is a very popular gathering point for fans prior to the games. It is set up on the practice field next to Memorial Stadium. It opens three hours before the kickoff and offers food, games, a team store, autograph sessions with former Husker greats and plenty of large screen TV’s tuned in to other games from around the country.
Nebraska is a large state geographically, with very few large population centers. The major road into Lincoln is I-80, which can be crowded on game days. Lincoln does have an airport (LNK), but flights are prohibitively expensive on game weekends. A second option is to fly into Omaha, which is 58 miles from Lincoln, then rent a car. It is much less expensive and will offer you quite a bit more flight options. Amtrak service is also an option to get to Lincoln.
Once you are in Lincoln, parking becomes an issue, as lots next to the stadium are reserved for boosters and season ticket holders. We strongly urge you to use the Big Red Express shuttle service offered by StarTran on game days. They offer shuttle service from the mall, the airport and many other parking lots that are not in use on Saturdays. The service costs $10 round trip (call 402-476-1234 for detailed information.)
Once inside Memorial Stadium you will find wide concourses and aisles, which help the fan movement to flow very smoothly. The stadium also offers enough concession areas and restroom facilities to handle the capacity crowds.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets (if they are even available) start at $75 for standing room only. Secondary market sellers get hundreds of dollars for a single game ticket. Parking at the stadium is strictly for large donors and season ticket holders. Downtown Lincoln parking areas are nearly all spoken for on game days. The most cost-effective way to get to the stadium is via the Big Red Express Shuttles at a cost of $10 . Concessions at Memorial Stadium are quite reasonably priced. Lincoln’s inventory of available hotel rooms on game weekends is extremely limited. You may want to stay in Omaha, and commute to the game on Saturday morning.
Memorial Stadium salutes Nebraskans who lost their lives in wars dating back to the Civil and Spanish American Wars, in addition to the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The University of Nebraska Athletic Department is one of the few self-supporting college programs in the country. It receives no state funding and charges no student athletic fees. It typically runs at a surplus and donates 5% of the surplus back to the university for use in academic programs.
Fans and players alike love to make the ‘throwing the bone” sign after a great tackle or a successful defensive series. This sign is made by crossing your arms in a skull and crossbones movement.
Another extra must go to the Nebraska fans. They are competitive during the game, but always make visitors feel welcome. They are a class act and represent Lincoln and the university well.
The University of Nebraska and Memorial Stadium represent the best in college football. On the field, the team has been quite successful, winning five National Championships. In the stands, the fans have filled the nearly 90,000 seat stadium to capacity for every game since 1961. More importantly, the athletic department is self-sufficient and does not drain funds from the university. A trip to the Sea of Red helps to restore your confidence in college football done the right way.