Monday, January 18, 2010

The Other Side of the Alamo Bowl: Tailgate, Stadium, Impact

So yeah, about that whole "tomorrow" thing... Well, that didn't happen. How does a few days later work for ya? Last time we looked at the food, location and sights and sounds of the Alamo Bowl. Today, we'll get to the game day experience itself.

Tailgate

The Alamodome isn't exactly downtown, but it's not exactly far. You know that in-between walk you don't really want to do, but isn't that terrible? The 20-25 minute kind? Yeah, it's about that. There's an odd feature to the stadium parking lots, and that's that the ones MSU fans were tailgating in are separated from the stadium by active freight rail tracks. So there's actually about two flights of stairs down and then two back up to reach the stadium entrance doors.

No real problem there - but there was one little quibble I'd make. There weren't any port-a-potties in a Spartan-designated area. instead, every portable toilet was parked smack dab in the middle of Texas Tech fans. Given that Tech fans are overwhelmingly nice, that wasn't a problem. Make them Ohio State fans, however, and all bets would be off.

Stadium

The Alamodome is arguably the best piece of architectural design in west Texas, with a domed roof supported by suspension cables anchored by four spires. Unlike most suspension-supported structures, the supports holding the roof run upwards from the cables, rather than down. It's very cool, if you're into that sort of thing (which I am).

The sight lines are great too. The upper deck is high above the field, so you better like looking down. The best thing about it though, is that there are no corners in the upper deck, so every seat has a straight view down to the field.

Again, nothing is perfect, and neither is the Alamodome. Going up to the 300-level seats? Yep, you're huffing it up stairs. Despite this being an NFL-caliber facility, there are no escalators. And as for drinks, almost all the soda/pop is sold in 20 oz. bottles - for $4 a pop. Yes, $4 a pop.

Impact

Perhaps the biggest difficulty the Big Ten will face leaving the Alamo Bowl is that it was always a cash cow for ratings. MSU-Texas Tech was the most-watched bowl game on ESPN this year. Sure, that might have just been the whole Mike Leach thing, but keep in mind that MSU-Nebraska was exceptionally well watched too.

Will the games in Houston or Dallas do as well? Probably not, but we live in hope.

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