America's Best College Football Stadiums
Courtesy of University of Michigan
Get ready for rousing cheers, touchdowns, and traditions
when game day kicks off at these college football stadiums.
It’s foliage season in Ann Arbor, but the colors that really get
locals excited each fall are blue and yellow—for the University of
Michigan’s football team.
Every Saturday, millions of fans across the U.S. stream into
college football stadiums like Michigan’s Big House to chant, cheer, and stomp
for the home teams. While winning helps, the best places to watch college
football are based on more than any record. The stadiums must be outstanding,
whether for their history or sheer size, and the teams need traditions. Toss in
rousing fight songs, stunts, and postgame hangouts, and you’ve got an
experience worth traveling for.
The stadium attendance numbers speak for themselves. College
football drew a combined 49.6 million fans in 2010—more than twice the number
of the NBA (21.3 million) or the NHL (21.4 million) and nearly three times as
many as the NFL (17.4 million). Major League Baseball filled more total seats
(73 million), but its per-game average was a fraction of what big-time college
The comparison with pro football is especially telling. The
NFL averaged 66,960 per game during the 2010–2011 season, the third straight
year that attendance has declined. Twenty-two college football teams top that,
including five programs (Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Penn State, and Alabama)
that averaged more than 100,000 per game. Overall college football attendance
is up nearly 25 percent over the past decade.
There’s also a sense—despite a few recent scandals—that
college football is much “purer” than the pro game. Its history stretches back
to 1869; Philadelphia’s Franklin Field is the oldest college stadium still in
use and the site of the first radio and television football broadcasts.
Watching the UPenn Quakers defend their home turf feels like a throwback to the
days when players really were student-athletes.
College football is peppered with larger-than-life historic
figures like coach Knute Rockne and running back Archie Griffin, but it’s
always ready for new legends. In a little more than a decade, the Oregon Ducks
have remade themselves as a national powerhouse to the delight of their roaring
fans. The highest noise level recorded inside Autzen Stadium was an
eardrum-shattering 127 decibels, right between a jackhammer and a jet plane.
Join the game-day crowds at one of these top stadiums for
that kind of exhilarating rush—and maybe even history in the making.