Last week it was the hardest stadiums to get to. This week it is the list of the easiest ones to visit. This, of course, doesn’t mean these are the best experiences although most of them rank pretty high on that list as well. What puts a stadium on this list? Generally speaking, the stadiums have to be easy to get to which means either in or near large cities. You don’t want a long drive or multiple stops on your flight in. The drive to the stadium should be straight forward and ideally the parking is easily accessible. Alternatively, mass transit through subways or shuttle buses is a reasonable substitute for convenient parking.
Not surprisingly professional stadiums, excluding the god-awful Fedex Field outside of Washington D.C., are well designed with easy access in mind. However, I am not a fan of schools playing in professional stadiums. So at best, I give Miami, Temple and South Florida only honorable mentions. Pitt, however, did manage to make the list.
5. Wake Forest. Located in Winston Salem, N.C., it is an easy drive from Durham to get to Groves Stadium. The cash parking lots are directly across from the stadium making for an easy tailgating experience. The Demon Deacons are not exactly what you would call a powerhouse. It is pretty much a lock that there will be plenty of room to spread out in the lots adjacent to Groves Stadium.
4. Pitt. The University of Pittsburgh plays at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. However, the Panthers have a substantial amount of yellow in their uniforms and fit right in at the stadium. Navigating Pittsburgh can be tough with the myriad of bridges and tunnels but driving to the stadium is fairly straightforward. Even better, the “T” (the ‘Burgh’s light rail) drops you off right at the stadium, usually for free. It is also an easy and attractive walk to the stadium from downtown, Simply cross the Roberto Clemente bridge, take a left past PNC park and you will find Heinz Field. The only challenge might be understanding the directions you get from a Yinzer if you make a wrong turn.
3. Florida Atlantic. FAU stadium is in Boca Raton, Florida. There are tons of direct flights to Miami so getting there is easy. Finding the stadium in Boca Raton is simple as well. The route is well marked The tailgating lots are plentiful, if a bit expensive at $15. The program is a young one and the stadium is practically brand new. The large open air bar and a tendency for fans to dress like they are at the beach only adds to the atmosphere. The only negative is the historical quality of the football program. With only four winning seasons in fifteen years, you may be in for some bad football.
2. UCLA and USC. UCLA and USC are both in Los Angeles which is another easy city to get to via air travel. Once in the city, I didn’t drive a car to the stadium. Instead I took the LA Metrorail to get to either stadium. In a testament to the ease of navigating that public transportation, I managed to hit both the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl in one day. One may argue that driving around L.A. is no picnic, but it is still L.A. Sunny and 75 degrees every day.
1. Michigan. Ann Arbor is a short drive from Detroit so getting to the Big House is easy. Opposite the stadium is a golf course that opens up for cash parking on game days. For $40 you get a great spot in the rough with thousands of your friends. For visiting fans, there is no better experience. Well, perhaps until they have to enter the stadium and see the Wolverines thump their team. Even so, it is worth the trip.
Next week, the least attractive looking stadiums.