Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Toyota Stadium 9200 World Cup Way Frisco, TX 75034
Year Opened: 2005
FCS National Championship – Toyota Stadium
Since 2010, the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championship has been held in the North Texas city of Frisco at Toyota Stadium, home stadium of FC Dallas of the MLS. The 2021-2022 season culminated with a clash between the dynastic North Dakota State Bison and the underdog Montana State Bobcats.
The weather on the day was not accommodating and the final score was not what the thousands who came in from Bozeman, Montana, would have wanted. However, the event had parking lots packed with fans from both Big Sky states well before the sun rose across the horizon, and between the Bobcat fans and the diehards from Fargo drew an announced crowd of 18,942.
In the pre-pandemic era, the city of Frisco rolled out the red carpet for both schools. In the past few years, however, the festivities are decidedly more scaled down, yet the game is still a very big deal and definitely has that air about it. Read on to learn what makes the FCS National Championship a must-see event for any college football fan.
Food & Beverage 4
Toyota Stadium has a great selection of food and beverage options for game attendees. The main concessions area lines the concourse near the east and west entrance gates; here you’ll find everything that a sports fan could want to consume during a game.
The Eastside Kitchen, the Corner Kick, and Midfield Market concessions kiosks all feature traditional game day items such as Ultimate Nachos ($11), turkey legs ($10), chicken finger and French fry combo baskets ($10.50), hot dogs ($6), pretzels ($2.50), and draft and bottled beer ($10).
There are also numerous free-standing beer and alcohol stands scattered throughout the stadium, as well as hot chocolate ($5) stands, which are much appreciated on cold winter days.
Quite frankly, the atmosphere at the FCS National Championship Game was on par with anything I have ever experienced in college football, so far. Obviously, the crowd size doesn’t compare to any of the palaces of college football, but the energy and excitement that came from the crowd was palpable.
While there was not much in the way of signage in and around the city of Frisco denoting the National Championship, when you get near the stadium itself the gravity of the circumstances can truly be felt. As mentioned, the parking lots around the stadium were filled to the brim with Bison and Bobcat loyalists, and they were there well before the game even thought about starting. This was despite the cold (which probably is not the right adjective for these folks from up north) and rain that was omnipresent throughout the weekend.
Toyota Stadium was completely decked with National Championship signage and paraphernalia for both competing teams. One wall was also covered with a blowup of the FCS playoff bracket that showed the teams’ marches toward the championship game. Speaking of which, the stadium converted its two team stores into selling merchandise for the game, which all sold like metaphorical hot cakes.
The reason for the score in this section is really all about the energy from the crowd. I’m not sure if this can be repeated at the game every year – North Dakota State’s fans travel for sure, and Montana State hadn’t been in the title game since 1984, so I’m sure that played a part in their fans’ travel plans. Still, for those who were fortunate to attend this time out, I’m sure it will be a game they’ll never forget.
Voted by Money magazine as the number one city in America to live in, Frisco is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. While it is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, it seems as far from the big city feel of Dallas as you can get.
Driving up Main Street you still get the feel of the small town that Frisco used to be. You can see the shops that still fill up the main square, and you can still see the water tower with the sign that bears the logo the city uses (and the logo is everywhere). Long story short it’s quaint, and yet you’re only 20 minutes from Dallas proper and 30 minutes from Fort Worth proper. So, if you get tired of small-town charm, you can do it up in the Big Cities.
With all that being said, if you want to stay in Frisco there are still options for you in terms of entertainment, dining, and lodging, of course. For kids of all ages, you have to – have to – visit the National Videogame Museum. This interactive, hands-on museum (yes, you get to play with everything) gives visitors a tour through the history of their favorite electronic pastime, and best of all, it culminates in the arcade where you can play the museum’s whole extensive collection of games.
Also, while you’re in town, sports fans should make a visit to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. This is especially true since it is literally built right into Toyota Stadium and can be seen behind the south end zone. Visitors can see the history of American soccer, much of which is due to the patron saint of the sport in this country, Lamar Hunt – a statue of whom resides directly opposite the museum on the north side of Toyota Stadium. The Hall of Fame also offers a unique interactive experience that allows visitors the chance to experience key moments in U.S. soccer history.
When it comes to food, the entertainment district right around Toyota Stadium has numerous options for you that are within walking distance. One great option is Super Chix Chicken & Custard – this place does chicken sandwiches (a la a certain fast-food chain from the south) with a twist; Chicken Cordon Bleu, Crispy Avocado, and Korean BBQ are just a few of their options, along with chicken tenders as well as frozen custard. It’s the definition of fast casual dining. Also, if you’re looking for a little of that famous Tex-Mex cuisine, the Blue Goose Cantina is right around the corner from the stadium; it’s a great spot for pre or post-game quesadillas, nachos, fajitas, and margaritas.
For hotel options, there are also several chain hotels that are within walking distance of Toyota Stadium; this is great if you are lucky enough to book early and don’t want to pay for parking. The Candlewood Suites Dallas-Frisco NW Toyota Center and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Dallas-Frisco NW Toyota Stadium are literally right behind the stadium, and are imminently affordable. If these two are booked, however, there are easily a half dozen other hotels in the same area.
As has been mentioned numerous times since the start of this review, all the grades are skewed due to the involvement of the fans. I have been to bowl games and soccer matches in this stadium and nothing so far has compared to the fan engagement that I saw during this game.
I’m especially blown away due to where the two teams that played in this game come from – it is nearly 1,500 miles from Bozeman, MT to Frisco, TX; it’s also almost 1,100 miles from Fargo, ND. Now, I’m not saying that all 18,000 people who were in the stands drove here or were from those two states, but there were a lot of Montana and North Dakota license plates in the parking lots that day. Bottom line, the fans were great, they were loud, and they made this a great experience.
Fans in Line to Enter Toyota Stadium, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Frisco is 20 minutes from downtown Dallas and 30 minutes from downtown Fort Worth. It’s also just over 20 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Once on site, there are four main parking lots for fans to choose from.
The one drawback when it does come to being away from the big cities is the lack of public transportation – your options are virtually nonexistent. That said, if you don’t want to drive to the game your best bet is going to be utilizing a rideshare service.
One other factor to be aware of; there are only two main thoroughfares to access the parking lots, and as it starts getting closer to game time, traffic starts to back up considerably. You’ll need to take this into consideration when heading to games at Toyota Stadium.
Return on Investment 3
Single seats for the National Championship Game start at $90 per person and rise accordingly based on location in the stadium. Parking was set at $25 per car. Concessions were kept at their MLS prices, but this is still not a bad deal considering the circumstances of the game. You’re still going to spend a good amount of money, but it probably pales in comparison to the FBS version of the title game.
In numerous previous reviews I’ve mentioned my fondness for the extras that go along with the sport of college football – these were all present and accounted for the FCS National Championship Game.
Both Montana State and North Dakota State brought all their accompanying pomp and circumstance to Frisco with them. The Bobcats brought their spirit squad, their marching band, the Spirit of the West, and their mascot, Champ. The Bison did the same with their cheer squad, their band, the Gold Star Band, and their mascot, Thundar. All of this just added to the atmosphere and gravity of the game.
The Spirit of the West, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
In addition to what the teams brought, the stadium itself also offered up such extras as firing off ceremonial fireworks during the player introductions and during the post-game celebrations. The NCAA also gave fans the opportunity to take pictures during the game with the FCS National Championship trophy.
This game was definitely a bucket list event for me, and it did not disappoint. The energy from the crowd on both sides more than made up for the bad weather and the lopsided score.
Congratulations go out to the North Dakota State Bison for their record breaking ninth National Championship, and congratulations to the Montana State Bobcats for an unbelievable season of their own. This is an event I would absolutely take in again.
If you’re a sports fan, I would encourage you to make the trip to Frisco for the game; if you’re a college football fan, this is a must-attend event and definitely one you should add to your bucket list too.