When college football fans talk about their stadiums, the debate can get heated. What makes one place better than another depends on who you ask.
Is it large numbers and deafening noise, or smaller, more “homey” crowds with just as much enthusiasm? Is it tradition and history, or renovations and unique, modern features?
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Fortunately, the FCS accomodates all tastes with a variety of must-see stadiums. Each provides a different gameday experience.
Franklin Field | Penn
As a South Dakota State alum, that is an awesome stadium!
— Bleed Blue (@sdsuceegrad) July 21, 2017
Several Ivy League schools received shoutouts, including Yale, Harvard and Penn. The Quakers’ Franklin Field gets the nod due to its unrivaled history.
The multi-purpose stadium, also used for track & field (it’s home to the Penn Relays), first opened in 1895 and is the oldest stadium still hosting NCAA football. Franklin Field was renovated in 1922 and now can hold more than 50,000 spectators. The U-shaped stadium seating also allows fans to catch a glimpse at the Philadelphia skyline.
Franklin Field holds the honor of being the first FCS stadium to ever host ESPN’s College GameDay back in 2002 when Penn faced Ivy League rival Harvard. The Quakers defeated the Crimson to win that year’s conference title.
Roos Field | Eastern Washington
The Inferno (EWU) pic.twitter.com/ftcoTUtsNH
— Jason Nazzaro (@Jason_Nazzaro) July 21, 2017
Roos Field is home to one of just five non-green playing surfaces in Division I football. Known as the “Inferno,” Eastern Washington’s signature red turf field was introduced in 2010. Eastern Washington has won five conference championships in seven years since the turf was installed.
The mixture of uniqueness and success has made Cheney, Washington a hot spot for FCS fans the past few years. The stadium is on the smaller side, seating just 8,700, but the atmosphere is one of the Big Sky’s best.
Come for the red turf and stay for the top-three scoring offense in the nation (42.4 points per game in 2016).
UNI-Dome | Northern Iowa
The one and only UNI-DOME! No question
— Karter Schult (@karter_schult) July 22, 2017
UNI-Dome @UNIFootball There’s no place like the dome!!!
— Ronda Sternhagen (@SimplyRonda) July 22, 2017
Northern Iowa had an off year in 2016, but the UNI-Dome is still one of the top destinations to visit. The Dome debuted in 1974 but has been revamped multiple times over the decades, most recently in 2009 when new turf was laid.
From the university’s bizarre “Interlude dance” tradition right before the second half to its active tailgating scene, the UNI-Dome presents one of the best fan atmospheres in FCS. Its capacity during football games is 16,324.
Stambaugh Stadium | Youngstown State
— Dante Colella (@C0L311a_DaNtE) July 22, 2017
Another site steeped in tradition, Stambaugh Stadium is home to the four-time national champion Youngstown State Penguins. Known as the “Ice Castle,” the stadium is the city’s tallest landmark and has the largest capacity in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (20,630).
Stambaugh Stadium first opened in 1982. Since then, the Penguins’ home has undergone many renovations, including seat expansion in 1997, new turf in 2002 and a new videoboard in 2015. YSU finished 8-0 on its home turf last season en route to finishing as national runner-up.
Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium | South Dakota State
Dana J Dykhouse stadium pic.twitter.com/e51EcK1OZP
— Rick Jensen (@rickjensen70) July 21, 2017
South Dakota State moved to Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in 2016 and, according to our commenters, it paid off.
The new digs seats up to 19,300 and features the largest LED videoboard in the FCS (3,100 square feet). The new turf field and improved facilities for the student-athletes came with the stadium.
Amidst all the traditional sites on this list, SDSU’s Dykhouse Stadium is a fresh face.
Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium | Jacksonville State
— Collin Barnwell (@Barnabus93) July 21, 2017
Alabama and Auburn aren’t the only schools that draw a crowd in Alabama. Burgess-Snow Field is a popular destination for students and fans in the northern part of the state. The stadium holds 24,000 and can be deafening on gameday with its dedicated fanbase and top-notch marching band.
JSU has earned at least a share of three of the last five conference titles and was national runner-up in 2015, which has only heightened the game-time atmosphere the past few years.
Cowboy Stadium | McNeese
Agreed! It’s “The Hole!” No place like it!
— Laura Latronico (@TwinA71) July 21, 2017
“The Hole” at McNeese State has developed into the most electric atmosphere within the Southland Conference, holding a capacity of more than 17,000 and recording attendance highs upwards of 20,000 since its debut in 1965.
Situated in Louisiana, the pregame tailgating scene is a can’t-miss experience that leads into a pleasant time inside the stadium come game time. Cowboy Stadium underwent luxury seating renovations in 1998 and received a new scoreboard and sound system in 2005.
Bridgeforth Stadium | James Madison
— Michael Evangelista (@Michael_2Clutch) July 22, 2017
Fans get it all when they go to Bridgeforth Stadium; a good product on the field, spacious seating and club-level amenities, a spirited crowd and one of the nation’s top marching bands.
The Dukes captured the 2016 national championship, which should make for even more excitement — and more purple and yellow streamers flying — in the stadium this year.
Fargodome | North Dakota State
Making us blush over here. pic.twitter.com/lO0EziG2DJ
— FARGODOME (@fdome) July 21, 2017
The Fargodome. Of course.
Fans probably won’t find a consistently louder place than the home of the Bison, who won five straight championships from 2010-15. With this decade’s handful of championships, the crowds create one of the best atmospheres in the nation for any level of football.
The show gets started early with the program’s signature tunnel walk where the stadium’s lights are turned off and the team enters to the tune of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” The dome holds about 19,000 spectators and was renovated last year with the addition of new HD videoboards.
Washington-Grizzly Stadium | Montana
— Eric Williams (@Er1cW1lliams) July 21, 2017
While hundreds of fans sided with the Fargodome, the consensus winner for best football stadium across the FCS — at least among our social media commenters — appears to be the University of Montana’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The Grizzlies are among the tops in attendance every year and drew more fans than 44 FBS-level programs in 2015. The stadium holds more than 25,000 spectators, with seating around the entire field in Missoula, Montana.
The homefield advantage is no joke, either. NFL quarterbacks Tony Romo and Carson Wentz have both recalled the stadium as one of the harshest road sites they played at while at Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State, respectively.
From the crowd’s size and enthusiasm to the surroundings, Washington-Grizzly Stadium is in the top class of FCS destinations.