Weather: Clear and cool, 50’s; Ticket Price: $9 on Stub Hub, Face $40; Parking $20
“It has everything you’d want but…” by Tree
Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, a very affluent suburb of San Francisco. The field is located on a campus, affectionately known as the Farm. The previous version of the stadium was a large stadium seating over 85,000 and had hosted World Cup matches. The stadium was torn down and rebuilt in 2005, to its smaller, more intimate capacity of 50,000. The Stanford campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and very picturesque. The stadium fits well on campus, nestled in the pines. It is however elevated so like many spots in San Francisco so plan on a vigorous walk up the stadium. The stadium is state of the art with free wi-fi, individual seats with seat backs, two video screens at opposite ends and a video ribbon screen to provide more data. I have seen better in some stadiums, but not ones of that size. With an elevate bowl design, there isn’t a bad seat in house.
The best thing about the stadium is the selection of food vendors. They are local with an array of choices. I was very impressed with my Italian sausage and peppers although my brother was a little miffed that there was no spoon or fork to be found to round up the chili and cheese from his dog. The rest rooms were standard fare. We paid $18 for our tickets on stub hub and that was for two. I queried a couple of fans and they speculated it was a combination of the opponent, Washington State, and the timing of the game. With Bay area traffic, a six p.m. game effectively means taking the afternoon off when any sort of tailgating is factored in. Apparently, a Friday afternoon off is a precious commodity for the Silicon Valley crowd because the scalpers couldn’t give tickets away. The tailgating was average although when we went to check out what looked to be a more robust scene across the street but an overzealous security guard would not let us pass. The same could be said for an octogenarian usher who took his job way too seriously.
The fans were not exactly rabid. They were vocal on bad calls, but I did not hear any coordinated cheers. There did not seem to be a great deal of traditions with the exception of the Stanford Band. The Stanford Band has a tradition of irreverent, bordering on offensive, performances. I enjoyed them immensely. The theme that evening centered on game shows in which the state of Washington was the subject of derision. They did a spoof on the “Price is Right” and I didn’t catch what the object was they were pricing, WSU tuition perhaps, but the answer was “a few potatoes, a couple green apples and a bunch of grapes.” Stanford also did a “Wheel of Fortune” bit where the question was “What is there to do in Washington?” and the answer was “Nothing” where the WSU participant was spotted the entire word and still couldn’t get the answer right. The weather for the game was warm at first, but as the sun set, it got down right cold. When in San Francisco, one should always dress in layers.
We drove into Stanford from the SFO airport without much difficulty but it was early, two p.m. for a six p.m. start. Traffic can undeniably be difficult as I tried to meet a friend who worked at the University, but she got shooed out off campus early because of game traffic. The parking was easy to find and about average at $20. It was in large wooded park right next to the stadium. It was also relatively easy to leave after the game.
Washington State had scored 59 in a losing effort to Cal the week before, so I had hopes they might make a game of it with the favorite, Stanford. While the game was not a blow-out, the Cardinal were in charge the entire game. They grabbed a quick lead, and WSU could never seem to catch up. WSU’s quarterback was running for his life most of the night and their offense finished with negative rushing yards. I tend to root for the home team at these games, but I found myself pulling for the Cougars. Unfortunately, Stanford answered every WSU counter punch with another score. In the end, Stanford came away with a 34 – 17 win.
Stanford has all the amenities of a first class stadium, an entertaining band and a usually very competitive brand of football. However, I just didn’t have a very good time. I could not put my finger on it at first. As I look back on it, there were several things that I found off-putting. First, some of the fans at the tailgating weren’t very friendly. I typically talk to fans before the game to get a feel for what the stadium is like, the atmosphere, what makes the school great, etc. While I do this I hand out trinkets like cozies, hats and little plastic footballs with the somanystadiums.com logo on it. I never give those footballs directly to kids, always asking their parents first instead. A couple of the parents I asked looked at me like I was a pedophile. Then a couple of the tailgating groups were fairly standoffish. And, there was the security guard who was border line rude. There were exceptions, of course, but there was definitely a negative vibe to outsiders. I asked a friend of mine who is a Stanford alum and he said with the infusion of all the dot.com money, the area and school have become very snooty. It was the essence of my visit. I would classify the experience as take it or leave it. I would not consider it a must-visit stadium.