Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Stanford Stadium 625 Nelson Rd Stanford, CA 94305
Year Opened: 1921 Capacity: 50,000
Stanford Football Pride
Stanford football is one of the most successful programs over the last few years in college football, especially within the PAC-12. The experience at Stanford Stadium on game day is also one of the best there is – the stadium’s location, fan base, and overall aesthetics make for a remarkable experience in a picturesque setting for fans to flock to.
Food & Beverage 5
This isn’t your mom and dad’s football food – the Stanford food stands have great eating options, from giant and juicy burgers and chili dogs to Alaskan salmon burgers. However, perhaps the tastiest item on the menu is a bison burger called “The Big Game.” There are also great salads and healthy food options (black bean burgers are a popular choice).
If you like BBQ, Niman Ranch has responsibly raised and chemical free ribs from heaven. The hot dogs and sausages are huge and range from standard sausage to bratwurst and Italian sausages. For drinks, you have a choice of your standard sodas in regular sized cups, or the 3-D Stanford Athletics-themed commemorative cups.
The atmosphere at Stanford Stadium is that of a relaxing college football experience. While seemingly an oxymoronic statement, one minute in the stands helps you realize how true it is – the roar of the crowd fills the air during the game as the Stanford faithful cheer on their team. However, the view over the end zone grandstand shows a beautiful forest of trees to give a wonderful setting for football.
At the top of the end zone is a flat grassy area for fans to relax, sit down, or even toss a football for fun. Additionally, the air quality in Stanford is clean, carrying the fragrance of the nearby pine trees with it. The weather is almost always perfect during football season; never too hot or too cold, a visit to Stanford will bring with it ideal conditions.
The Stanford band is smaller than some, but no less entertaining. A loud train horn also sounds every time the Stanford Cardinal score a touchdown, and a cannon explodes after every scoring play.
Stanford is a short drive from San Jose, San Francisco, and the rest of the Bay Area, but immediately surrounding the stadium and the Stanford campus is a beautiful suburb of quaint homes.
Stanford Stadium is located in Palo Alto, a wonderful melting pot of quality dining and shopping. In Palo Alto, fans can find various bars that are popular among the locals for before or after game entertainment. The Patio is one of the most recommended places by fans at the game, and Gott’s Roadside and Howie’s Artisan Pizza are also two popular food stops literally across the street from Stanford Stadium. There are also various choices for different kinds of food, ranging from Indian, Asian, Italian, and American restaurants. Being in California, there is also a quality vegan restaurant nearby.
When looking for a place to stay near campus, Hotel Keen is a popular stop, as is the Garden Court Hotel. The campus itself is also picturesque and quite large, making for an enjoyable walk before game time.
If you want to wander a bit, San Francisco isn’t far from Stanford’s campus, giving fans plenty to explore in one of the most beautiful cities in America. San Francisco is about a 45-minute drive north (sans traffic), and once you get there you can take a tour of Alcatraz or visit the Ghirardelli factory, meaning that one can never be bored in San Fran.
The fans at Stanford are not like some of college football’s rowdy and rude bunches. Instead, loyal and high class is a better description – the crowd is loyal and loud, but never rude and crude. One fan, after learning I was from Florida while waiting in line for food, welcomed me and shook my hand while thanking me for coming all the way to take in a Stanford game; definitely a first for me at a sporting event.
There is no question the fans here are diehard, as the tailgating scene at Stanford Stadium is top notch. Plenty of families come to games here, with several generations seen watching from the stands. These same families can also be seen in the various parking lots grilling out before the game, with some even bringing satellite dishes and televisions to watch other sports on TV both before and after the game is over.
The student section, also known as the Red Zone, is nestled in the end zone near the southwest corner. Proudly displaying their “nerd nation” moniker on t-shirts while at the stadium, most students are kind, generous, and overall enjoyable to be around.
Stanford’s location is a bit away from the major highways, with the closest being the 101. Additionally, most of the roads around the stadium are one or two-lane thoroughfares that can become backed up quite easily on game day – the traffic is a bit of a nightmare if you aren’t used to California traffic.
Parking on site at Stanford Stadium is widely available, with the closest lots used for those with special parking passes. General parking will run you about $20 per game, but the walk is not very long from there. Some lots are located on various athletic fields and parks immediately surrounding the stadium, but those who wish to save a little money can use the Caltrain. With stations just a 10 to 15-minute walk away from the facility, taking public transportation to a Stanford game can be a viable alternative for those who wish to avoid the potential gridlock around the venue.
Getting around Stanford Stadium is easy as well, with several entrance tunnels and stairways to pick from to get you into the facility. And no matter where you are, there is always a stadium map nearby to help you find out where you are, and where you need to go.
Return on Investment 4
Taking in a game at Stanford Stadium can require a hefty investment depending upon the game you wish to attend. As with most sports, rivalry games such as Oregon, Cal, or UCLA can mean high ticket prices, while in comparison tickets to a matchup with an early non-conference opponent bring more affordable prices. However, what would be a $40 ticket face value can be just $10 to $15 onsecondary market sites. Getting something to eat is also more expensive than some places, but the quality of what you get is high to say the least. But if you plan ahead and are willing to invest a little money, going to a Stanford football game is definitely worth the trip.
There are plenty of things to see at Stanford Stadium that you won’t see at other stadiums. First and most entertaining is the mascot – yes, it looks like a tree with lipstick, but let’s be honest…it’s pretty darn awesome. Next is the band, which puts on a highly thought-out halftime show that tends to tackle current events; one game in 2015 featured a “Musical Debate Club” for the presidential debates. And for those fans who are students of the game, the stadium features a wall of fame for Stanford Cardinal players who have been named as All-Americans.
There is also a great fan interaction aspect on social media, as the stadium’s big screens show fan posts from Instagram at various points in the game during commercial breaks and in-between quarters. Finally, the sheer beauty of the stadium and its surroundings is deserving of a nature magazine cover, with trees planted all over Stanford Stadium’s grounds.
If you’re looking for a high quality, high class, high excitement, and high value college football experience, look no further than Stanford Stadium. It will be hard to find a more beautiful and relaxing site for which to catch college football, and Stanford’s fans make the event even more enjoyable. The weather is great, the team provides high excitement, and the venue is a beautiful scene to behold.