FAU Stadium – Florida Atlantic Owls
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Florida’s “Other” FBS Team
While Florida Atlantic University may not exactly be known for being a top notch FBS football school, the stadium in which they play certainly doesn’t mirror the program’s outward appearance. The Owls have only been bowl eligible on a couple of occasions, and while they have indeed tasted victory in them before (2007 New Orleans Bowl and 2008 Motor City Bowl), most people pass FAU football off as an also-played program. But do not let this second-tier status deter you from venturing to Palm Beach County for a quality afternoon of college football. FAU Stadium is beautiful, clean, impressive, comfortable, and family friendly in all respects while remaining easy to access from major highways.
Food & Beverage 4
Football, or sports in general, in South Florida usually means great food. Food stands and vendors at FAU Stadium feature items you won’t usually find outside of the region. Arepas and Cuban sandwiches are available alongside cheeseburgers and hot dogs. The best thing about the food offered is that the prices won’t break your bank account. A burger, fries, and a soda will run about $12, a price point much lower than most college football stadiums. In addition, fans who have tickets to the Delray Hyundai Deck will find themselves in the presence of a large bar with a great variety of alcoholic beverages in addition to practically every food choice the stadium offers in one place.
The atmosphere is a difficult thing to gauge at FAU games as it depends greatly upon the opponent, and where in the stadium you choose to sit. For those fans who are sitting near the students, the atmosphere can be on par with many other college football experiences. If you are sitting on the other side of the stadium near the visiting bench, you may be sitting in a sparse crowd. One thing that does make the experience enjoyable is the arrangement of the stadium’s orientation in relation to the sun. As the sun sets in the sky, it falls behind the press box and suite tower, casting a very long shadow full of relief from the heat of the South Florida sun, something that is unrelenting especially early in the season. The seats all have backs to them and are comfortable which also makes the game day experience quite comfortable. FAU Stadium offers a beautiful view of the Atlantic ocean from the stands, something no other stadium offers in South Florida.
Boca Raton is a beautiful part of Palm Beach County. In addition, FAU’s campus is clean, South Florida-esque in appearance, and overall visually appealing. Not far from the campus is a beautiful strip shop that plays host to a PF Changs, J. Alexanders, Shake Shack, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, and more. Equidistant to the east of campus is the Atlantic Ocean. There, you can find a beautiful beach as well as the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center where visitors can get a look at some of coastal Florida’s natural habitats and inhabitants thanks to boardwalks through the mangroves and natural butterfly gardens. Near the beach, hotels are easy to find. What Boca Raton lacks in nightlife more commonly found in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the area more than makes up for in relaxation. In addition, Palm Beach International Airport isn’t far from Boca Raton, with Fort Lauderdale and Miami less than an hour away as well.
The biggest downside to FAU football games is the lack of fans. Much like any form of sports in South Florida, unless the team is winning and in constant championship form, fans will not show up. For that, FAU does well in keeping its mostly commuter-school student body interested in the football team. The fans who do show up are loyal, loud, and passionate. In addition, there is a growing alumni base from recent years who are becoming a passionate base of professionals who support the program and show up to the games. Nonetheless, the game loses some of the mystique of college football with the absence of roaring fans.
Getting to FAU is easy to do. Unlike several sports teams or colleges where the campus stadiums are miles away from the highway exits, FAU is quite literally bordered by I-95 in Boca Raton. Also, just a few miles west is the Florida Turnpike. Once off the exit from I-95, the FAU campus is immediately visible. Parking is quite plentiful and even if you get stuck in a lot or garage that is a little farther from the stadium, the walk is not very far and is through a beautiful campus.
Return on Investment 4
FAU tickets aren’t generally massively expensive, especially for FBS college football. Food prices won’t burn your wallet into ash. With that said, a trip to an FAU game provides a great return on investment, especially when considering you are getting to see Conference USA college football at a fraction of the price of other teams in the country.
FAU football features plenty of in-game entertainment such as t-shirt tosses and game hosts playing trivia with fans. Another neat aspect is the fan experience outside. Multiple booths are set up on the outside concourse as well as the concert stage that gets set up on the field between the stadium and the parking garage making for a wonderful family-oriented fan experience before the games.
Arguably one of the coolest things for diehard football fans is the frequent appearance of legendary college football coach Howard Schnellenberger. Always gracious with the fans, the one-time coach of FAU football now visits the games with frequency.
Fans can also relax under the shade of the palm trees on beach lounge chairs before, during, or after the games.
Finally, the fans can get a chance to meet one of the most distinct mascots in college football, Owlsley the Owl. A giant owl that roams the sidelines, fans always look to get a photo with FAU’s signature mascot.
FAU football delivers quality stadium experiences for FBS college football at an affordable price in one of the nicest neighborhoods South Florida has to offer. The view is second to none, the fans are kind when they do show up, and the pre-game atmosphere is surprisingly pleasant. For sure, FAU is as good of an experience as its bigger neighbors to the south, and it can only continue to go up from here.
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