Alamodome – Alamo Bowl
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Bowl Time in San Antonio
The most recent version of the Valero Alamo Bowl marked the 26th edition of the game in its current run. Annually featuring the best teams from the Pac-12 and Big XII that aren’t part of the New Year’s six, the contest saw the Washington State Cougars upend the Iowa State Cyclones in 2018.
The organizers of the game regard the Alamo Bowl as the highest profile bowl game that is not one of the New Year’s six, and this high regard shows in the first-class way the game is put on. The Alamo Bowl is consistently rated highly by game attendees for good reason, and in terms of where the game is situated and the teams competing in it, the Alamo Bowl is worth watching.
Food & Beverage 5
A lot of work went into revamping the Alamodome prior to the 2017-18 football season; I will bring this up several times in this review. I bring it up here because quite a few new food and drink stands were added to the stadium that year.
A number of local restaurants, including The Big Bib BBQ, Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant, Earl Abel’s Restaurant, Freetail Brewing Company, and Alamo Beer Company all have pared down menus at their respective stands inside the Alamodome. This group of eateries feature barbecue, tacos, fried chicken, burgers, and craft beer. To this reviewer, having any one of these options at a football game is a match made in heaven.
Also as part of the renovations, a number of additional concessions stands were added to increase the number of food options. There are pizza stands, standard fare, a Nathan’s hot dog stand, an Earl Campbell’s sausage stand, and a Chick-fil-A among all the new options – there’s something for everyone’s tastes at the Alamo Bowl.
Like all bowl games, the atmosphere at the Alamo Bowl is completely dependent upon the teams participating. When you have two fan bases that travel in large numbers to the game, it adds greatly to the atmosphere. The most recent version was one of the instances where the fans came out in support of their squads – especially the Iowa State faithful.
There were large numbers of tailgaters in the parking lots before the game, and the stands were filled on every level. That many people in an enclosed space like the Alamodome amps up the energy, and that makes the atmosphere something special.
One of the great draws of the Alamodome each year, from both a team and fan perspective, is that the venue is within walking distance of downtown San Antonio. All the hotels, restaurants, and attractions are right there for visitors – a great deal has been put into the revitalization of the downtown area in the past decade to make it even more friendly for visitors, and it shows.
A few tips from a local if you’re going to be in San Antonio and are looking for something to do before or after the Alamo Bowl – make the walk across the street from the Alamodome to the Tower of the Americas. At 750 feet tall, the Tower looms large on the San Antonio skyline. If you take an elevator to the top, you get a 360-degree view of the city and can get a bird’s eye view of all of its attractions. You can even eat there, at the Chart House Restaurant in the Tower, but I would recommend getting a taste of more local flavor. For example, head across HemisFair Park and down to the River Walk to Casa Rio; a staple in the city and on the River Walk since 1946, its brightly colored umbrellas and classic Tex-Mex dishes are as much a staple of San Antonio as the river itself.
A great bowl game is wholly dependent upon the fans. The Cougars and Cyclones both showed up for the most recent Alamo Bowl (2018), over 60,000 of them. The Alamodome was nearly filled to capacity; Iowa State in particular had an enormously large contingent of fans in attendance.
The Alamodome was as loud and energetic as any game in the past that didn’t feature a Texas school. Both teams showed up on the field as well, and this just fueled the fans in the stands even more; it was truly one of the more memorable Alamo Bowls in recent history.
I have already mentioned the virtues of the location of the Alamodome and its proximity to downtown San Antonio. Highway 37 runs beside the Alamodome, serving as the barrier between it and downtown, and this road is the most direct way to get to the stadium from most parts of the city.
The Dome also has a public transportation stop (i.e. bus stop) on the street level, which has proven to be a popular way to beat the traffic that tends to congest in and around the facility before and after games. This is also the spot where ride-sharing services make their drops.
A new innovation in downtown San Antonio is the proliferation of electric scooters. Scattered throughout the city, these scooters are accessible through an app, and can take you anywhere you care to pay to take them, including the Alamodome and the Alamo Bowl.
All of this is the long way of saying that you have other options, in lieu of taking your own vehicle and parking at the Alamodome. Parking on site will cost you around $30, but the spots fill up fast and are usually sold out. If you are going to park off site, that will cost you anywhere from $20 to $50 depending on where you park; my advice is to plan accordingly.
Return on Investment 3
Your outing at the Alamo Bowl is going to cost you a bit. While you can generally get upper level tickets to the game for $40 to $50, obviously the closer you get the more expensive your tickets are going to be. Depending on your budget though, this might be a good investment.
Concessions are priced relatively affordably considering the event and the venue. However, when you consider the quality of opponents in the game, you are getting quite the bang for your buck at the Alamo Bowl each year.
The Alamo Bowl has all the trappings of a high-level college football game. Both teams bring their full compliment of pageantry: the marching bands, the cheerleaders, the dance teams, and their mascots.
The Alamo Bowl does a great job of making the venue feel like a neutral site for both squads; they do this by playing to both fan bases, playing each squad’s hype videos on the video boards, and playing both teams’ music over the P.A. system.
I have been to roughly half of the Alamo Bowls in person, and have seen the rest on television. Most years, I have no rooting interest in the game but still enjoy it immensely. If your team does make it to the Alamo Bowl, this is a game you should definitely make a point of attending. However, even if you are just a fan of college football, I would say that you, too, should make it a point to attend an Alamo Bowl at some point – you won’t be disappointed.
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