DISCLAIMER: To tell you the truth, my favorite part of my job is being able to travel to different cities and stadiums and experiencing their often chaotic and fun atmospheres. I have decided to write about my experiences and give you all my perspective of the places I have been. As pretentious as this may sound, I understand that I have unique privileges being a media member. Keep in mind that these are MY experiences, and yours are probably different. All of my stadium reviews will be ranked off of three things: structure, press box accommodations, and overall atmosphere. I hope you enjoy!
Let's be honest, Notre Dame gets a big boost for being historic (just like they do in the rankings). The overall structure is quite simple, featuring a big bowl that allows sections to mesh together, accommodating just over 80,000 people. It's by no means the largest stadium in college football, but it's still a massive amount of drunk fans in one area. They just renovated the stadium, putting in a massive video board (quite nice), as well as suite seating and an updated press box. As nice as the renovations are, the best part of this stadium is still the history. There's something special about seeing "touchdown Jesus" and the Golden Dome in the distance while hearing the legendary fight song. I felt the history as I walked past statues of Knute Rockne and Ara Parseghian. Sure the place is old, but it's historic enough to the point where nobody really cares.
PRESS BOX: 9.5
I have only one knock on this so I'll get it out of the way now: there was NO sign pointing out the press entrance. It was close to 90 degrees out with high humidity, and I did laps around the stadium before somebody finally told me where it was. Other than that, it may be the best press box I've ever been in. It's state of the art, newly renovated and well run. The communications staff was personable and accommodating, the bathrooms were clean, and my seat had no obstructions. The food spread consisted of a hot dog bar, potato soup, chili, pasta salad and a dessert tray. Really no complaints; it was fantastic.
Keep in mind that the game I was at was the first game of the season against rival Michigan, with the College Game Day crew on hand. Under the lights at Notre Dame against a rival lived up to the hype. The students were raucous from the start, the team was fired up and the two fed off each other. So much so that Fighting Irish Head Coach, Brian Kelly, said it was the best crowd he had seen at the stadium since he arrived in 2010. Notre Dame's media policy allows those sitting in the press box to watch the final 5 minutes of the game from the field. Though it wasn't the loudest crowd I've experienced, it was absolutely incredible how much energy was in the building. The Fighting Irish won a close game with a fumble recovery stifling any hopes of a Wolverine comeback.
FINAL SCORE: 9.3
Moral of the story is that if you're a football fan, you need to go to Notre Dame Stadium. The best part about Notre Dame is that most people have an opinion about them. You either love 'em or hate 'em, either way I'm sure you'll have an enjoyable experience. Do yourself a favor and plan a trip!