Notre Dame Stadium - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Notre Dame Stadium 1600 Edison Rd. Notre Dame, IN 46556
Notre Dame Fighting Irish website Notre Dame Stadium website
Year Opened: 1930 Capacity: 80,795
The House that Knute Built
Notre Dame Stadium has been the home of Irish football since opening its doors in 1930. The college football stadium has a capacity of 77,622 and is one of the most iconic structures of its kind in the nation. It was built for $750,000 and originally sat 54,000 people.
It was originally designed by Osborn Engineering Company – the same firm that designed Comiskey Park in Chicago and New York’s Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds – and it patterned on a smaller scale after the University of Michigan’s stadium. Capacity increased in the proceeding years, but a major renovation project of $50 million in 1997 included two new scoreboards at both ends of the stadium and a capacity of 80,225.
It was lowered to its present 77,622 capacity in time for the 2017 season, and the playing field is now synthetic. Further enhancements to the stadium included the Crossroad project which included three new buildings: Duncan Student Center, O’Neill Hall, and Corbett Family Hall. The renovations added new premium seating, and the total cost was $400 million.
It is known by many as the “House that Knute Built” after legendary coach Knute Rockne, who was key in the stadium’s structure and design. He insisted that it would serve as a football-only stadium and kept the area between the field and the stands small to keep fans on the sideline to a minimum. He supervised the parking and traffic system that is, for the most part, still in use today.
Food & Beverage 3
The food options are not as varied as expected and feature multiple stands named either the Irish Express or Shamrock Snacks throughout the concourse. The food consists of hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, and snacks such as popcorn, potato chips, kernel mix, and chocolate chip cookies. The hot cocoa stands are quite popular for games late in the season that dip into the mid-20s.
However, there are more options but many did not appear to be available during our visit to the stadium. The one highlight is the pot roast sandwich that is served with beer cheese, horseradish sauce, provolone cheese, and fried and caramelized onions. It is quite messy to eat and available on the lower level in section 10. The Domer Dog is a fan favorited and topped with caramelized onions, crispy bacon, and blue cheese and available at most concession stands on the upper and lower concourse.
There are a few other items to look for that are not located in multiple sections. The pork tenderloin sandwich is a Hoosier favorite and is available at lower-level sections 13, 14, 31, and 32. Shamrock-shape pretzels are ideal for the game and are located in multiple sections. The Pot of Gold Nachos are worth seeking and can serve more than 1 person. These nachos are covered with 12-hour roasted beef, roasted corn, crispy jalapenos, and cotija cheese and served in a gold plastic helmet.
Alcoholic drinks are not available for fans in the seating bowl and the soda pop of choice are Coca-Cola products. At the warmer games, expect to find long lines at the frozen custard stands sprinkled on the concourse.
If you are an Irish fan, there is no better place to see a game on a Saturday, if you are a college football fan, you might be somewhat envious of the atmosphere on the campus of Notre Dame. The “House that Knute” built is among the elite of college football. It has also been renovated with several nice touches and features honoring the program’s legacy.
Pre-game activities include fans dressed in green and gold, tailgating in the nearby lots, and the traditional drum major and Leprechaun mascot leading the Irish into the stadium. There are various gates named after famous Notre Dame figures. The Knute Rockne gate features a bronze statue of the former coach who put the school on the map.
Notre Dame Stadium blends in well with the surrounding buildings on campus. Depending on what time of year you attend the game, the fall colors may glisten brilliantly, or the warm summer or fall season could enhance the viewing experience. The layout of the main concourse is decorated with Art-Deco styles at gate entrances to vintage signs.
A timeline of 35, 16-foot banners hangs from the lower concourse with replicated vintage football program covers on both sides from the 1930s to the 1970s. There is more vintage art that includes giant framed tickets with the stadium’s old wooden bleacher pieces. These two nods to the program’s history are worth taking photo opportunities with while at the game.
The south concourse features various awards and accolades. 250 plaques celebrate Notre Dame’s National Championships, Heisman Trophy winners, College Football Hall of Famers, and All-Americans. The highlight could either be the giant championship rings or the massive 11 championship banners that hang above the players’ tunnel at the North Gate.
The Eddy Street Commons is within walking distance and home to regional restaurants, apartments, a hotel, and two urban parks. It makes for a great spot to grab a bite at either Brother’s, Chipotle, Five Guys, or McAllister’s Deli.
Legends of Notre Dame is located on campus and also within walking distance of the ballpark. The establishment offers pub food during the day but becomes a nightclub with entertainment and live music at night.
South Bend is in the midst of a renaissance with old buildings being converted into places to live and work, new companies moving headquarters to downtown, and a population book. South Bend Brew Werks and Studebaker Brewing Company are two craft beer choices that offer funky decor and tasty suds.
Attractions include the Studebaker National Museum for the car enthusiast, the Potawatomi Zoo, or you may want to see a little more baseball during your visit. The South Bend Cubs play at Four Winds Field, and it has become quite the place to be seen in town, along with one of Stadium Journey’s favorite minor league ballparks. You might be able to see a game if attending an Irish game early in September.
Irish fans can be found throughout the country, and there were 273 consecutive sell-outs from 1973-2019. Despite the end of the streak, the alumni, supporters, and student body are in action on the field of play. Fans are decked out in the colors green and gold on Saturdays. However, everyone has an ‘ND’ or four-leaf clover somewhere on their shirt or cap.
The stadium is located at the center of campus and is easily accessible from 1-90/1-80. Surprisingly, travelers can access the campus quite easily, but keep in mind the influx of 70,000 to 80,000 fans embarking on gameday. There are three main lots, Bulla Lot, White Field, and Burke Golf Course, that provide ample parking for home dates. The lots offer a shuttle service, and parking passes can be purchased for easier access. A website is available with much more information and a campus map
Public transportation includes buses that travel to Twyckenham Drive and Edison Road, not far from the stadium. Check out the South Bend Public Transportation website for maps, fares, and schedules. The only suggestion would be to arrive well before kick-off, perhaps even 2 hours to grab a spot and take in all that the campus has to offer from tailgating, merchandise sales, mingling with fans, and campus views.
Return on Investment 4
A ticket to a football game depends on the opponent the Irish are playing and how well they are playing that particular season. If you can pick the date for a game, look for cheaper tickets against opponents such as North Carolina and Georgia Tech. However, expect to pay more when USC, Michigan, or Ohio State come to South Bend. A ticket in the low-end price category could be anywhere from $47-$75 and $152-$200 at the higher end.
The price to park is anywhere between $30-$40 in the three major lots, but there are cheaper options a little further away from the stadium. It all depends on how much you want to pay for your experience. Attending an Irish game is on the top of many college footballs, and sports travelers lists, and perhaps would pay a little extra for the cost of a ticket.
The price of food for basic items will cost $5 for a hot dog, $6 for a pretzel, and $3.50-$4 for snacks. A few of the signature items include the pork tenderloin sandwich at $14, the pot roast sandwich at $14, and the Pot of Gold Nachos for $18. A Domer Dog sells for $8.
A Notre Dame football game earns points for the various traditions and history on display throughout the building. The campus is worth a visit, and walking around before or after the game and tailgating with Irish fans is an experience in itself. The final point is for Touchdown Jesus, which overlooks the south end of the stadium.
It is one of the premier college football venues to watch a game in the country. Notre Dame Stadium combines history and tradition with a football experience that should be enjoyed by everyone at the game. There are many similar experiences in the nation, but there is something slightly different here in South Bend for an Irish football game.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org