Sun Bowl Stadium – Sun Bowl
Photos by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Sun Bowl Stadium Sun Bowl Dr El Paso, TX 79968
Year Opened: 1963
The Sun Bowl opened in 1963 with an original capacity of 30,000, but was expanded in 1982 to 52,000. It currently seats 51,500. The 2010 Sun Bowl between Notre Dame and Miami (FL) set the game’s attendance record when 54,021 people came to see the two storied programs.
Food & Beverage 3
The Sun Bowl has concession stands all throughout the concourse, which have a very limited selection. As is the case with the basketball arena, Don Haskins Center, they only offer hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, soda and beer. All the food and soda are right around $4-$5, and the beer is $7-$10. UTEP offers Coca-Cola and Budweiser products at their sports facilities.
Along the main concourse of the stadium, there are two areas where a variety of vendors have set up tents. There is Mexican food, turkey legs, Chick-fil-A, barbecue and a couple other things. One of the areas is behind the east stands, and the other is in the northwest corner of the stadium.
El Paso is definitely very cold on Sun Bowl day, but that doesn’t take away from any of the pregame festivities or the great visuals the Sun Bowl provides for fans. Walking towards the stadium from the parking lots, you pass by all sorts of tailgating. El Paso football fans have definitely figured out ways how to keep warm for the Sun Bowl, and the participating teams’ fans picked up pretty quickly on some of the tricks.
The landscape around the Sun Bowl is absolutely incredible. If you look too far to the west and south, you do see Ciudad Juarez, which kind of takes away from everything else around. The stadium itself is built on a hill, with part of the hill butting right up against the stands. The surrounding area on campus also has some extremely nice buildings, adding to the rustic, southwestern feel to the stadium.
The field itself is artificial, and obviously gets all the UTEP logos taken off and replaced with the corporate sponsor of the Sun Bowl, as the well as the TV network logos and the logos of the participating teams. All of the logos on the field face the west press box side.
The stadium has one main concourse that goes completely around the perimeter, and two upper concourses, one running along each sideline. On the south end, the playing field is easily visible, so fans can choose to stand and watch the game from the south concourse if they so desire. Both scoreboards and the video board are located at the south end, which is good for about 90% of the fans because almost all of the seats face that direction. The unlucky couple of sections towards the south end must rely on a tiny little scoreboard behind the north goal post.
The seating is definitely not optimized for fans though. There are no chair backs anywhere in the stadium. It is all benches. They do rent seat cushions that have chair backs at all of the stadium entrances though, and it may be a worthwhile purchase for most people. The bands were not really all that great – not too impressive on the field, anyway, but they were good in the stands, and each band definitely got their faithful pumped up.
As long as you stay on the Texas side of the border, you’re good to go.
El Paso actually has a pretty good amount of options that are very close to the stadium. Before the game, there is plenty of tailgating going on in the parking lots surrounding the stadium, and on the lawns in front of UTEP buildings.
Just a short drive south from the Sun Bowl takes you to downtown El Paso, which offers many museums, theatres, and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. If you drive northeast on Sun Bowl Drive, it will take you to Mesa St., which has many bars and restaurants to choose from as well.
PAC-12 fans generally travel well, plain and simple. In some years ACC fans are up to the challenge though, even though their schools tend to be much further away. Lots of fans show up in jerseys, especially of former players from their respective schools, such as Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau, and Marcus Allen, just to name a few.
Last year, the ACC fans were way more into the game than the PAC-12 fans. At the beginning of the year, the PAC-12 participant probably never dreamed that their postseason would be in El Paso, but the lack of their starting QB, and the cold weather, may have led to them not really caring about the game. The ACC team’s band got the wave started before the game, and in the second half, and their fans were definitely all into this game. The players gave them a lot of credit in the postgame press conferences for keeping up with the other team’s fans throughout the game and making their presence felt, especially in the second half.
The stadium itself is just east of I-10 near the Schuster Avenue exit. Since it is in between a whole bunch of hills, the walk to the stadium is not easy for everyone. There are a lot of steps and/or steep hills no matter which direction you are coming from. None of the general public parking areas are on the same elevation as the stadium.
The best parking is the Sun Bowl Parking Garage, which was the permit number PG-1. The general parking was the Glory Road Parking Garage. All the other parking lots are specific tailgating and UTEP permits.
The concourse isn’t very wide, so during halftime it was painful to try and get around the bathroom and concession lines. It also makes it inconvenient for people in the stands because there are lines of people that go into the aisles of the seating area.
Return on Investment 2
Tickets for the Sun Bowl range anywhere from $20-$60. The less than ideal weather conditions not only affected fan comfort, but the quality of football was not very high either. If you are an ACC or a PAC-12 fan, it may have been better to sit this one out and watch it on TV. However, if you are into the history of college football or bowl games, the Sun Bowl is on the short list of games to go to. It is one of the longest-running bowl games right now, and the stadium is so different from most college football stadiums.
The scenery surrounding the stadium makes up the extra points. The UTEP campus looks like an old Spanish Mission, and the hills surrounding the stadium add to the experience, and the noise level. Also, what other stadium can you look out and see another country?
Knowledgeable college football fans probably know the Sun Bowl as the home of a historic bowl game. All in all, El Paso is a nice place to see a college football game.