Memorial Stadium – Nebraska Cornhuskers
Sea of Red
Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska has been home to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team since it opened in 1923. Numerous expansions have been made to the stadium over the years as capacity has increased from about 31,000 at opening to the current level of 87,091 although attendance is regularly over 90,000 in 2013. The current attendance record was set on September 14, 2013 when 91,471 fans watched the UCLA Bruins defeat the Cornhuskers 41-21. The four highest attended games in stadium history have all occurred during the 2013 season.
Memorial Stadium is home to very loyal fans. The September 21, 2013 game against South Dakota State University marked the 329th consecutive sellout in Lincoln, dating back to 1962. Known as the “sea of red” due to the fans wearing red, Memorial Stadium was named to honor all the Nebraskans who served in the wars throughout the history of the United States. The stadium features many statues and inscriptions by Hartley Burr Alexander, former Nebraska professor of philosophy.
The Cornhuskers have had three Heisman Trophy winners (Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Eric Crouch) along with numerous members in the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1998, the regents named the field after legendary coach Tom Osborne. After one game, the name was removed from the field at the behest of Osborne who didn’t feel it was fair to his replacement. In 2013, Osborne’s name has re-appeared and “Tom Osborne Field” can be plainly seen on the sideline.
Food & Beverage 3
You won’t find a huge menu at Memorial Stadium but the prices are reasonable. The brisket sandwich and chicken nachos are the most expensive items at $7. Pulled pork ($6), Angus hamburgers or cheeseburgers and brats ($5), pizza, ($4), and hot dogs ($3) are the main choices. For snacks, popcorn, peanuts, and cookies are $3, while a variety of candy (M&Ms, Skittles, etc) runs $2.
As with most college stadiums, alcohol is not served so your choices are limited to the typical options. Pepsi products are offered at $4 for a 32 oz. souvenir cup and bottled water is $3. Hot chocolate is available on a game-by-game basis depending on the weather.
There are some food vendors outside the stadium that offer some of the same products for a little less. These items and ONLY these items can be brought into the game. Fast food and other outside food is not allowed.
Game day in Lincoln begins long before the game kicks off. In fact, game day is more akin to an all day party. Tailgaters are easy to find and quite welcoming to visitors. The party continues up until game time but leave yourself a few minutes to stroll around the stadium. About 45 minutes before kickoff, fans line up to watch the Nebraska marching band enter the stadium, ratcheting up the atmosphere even more. Three statues can be seen as you walk around the stadium. The Husker Legacy Statue “displays the sense of pride Nebraskans have in their football team,” according to creator Fred Hoppe. On the north side of the stadium sits a statue of Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer. Berringer, a quarterback for the Cornhuskers, was killed in a plane crash two days before the 1996 NFL draft where he was expected to be drafted. During the 2013 season, a statue of former coach Bob Devaney was unveiled on the east side of the stadium.
Upon entrance to the stadium, the HuskerVision scoreboard is hard not to notice as it sits atop the north side of the stadium. The board measures about 117×33 feet and features HD quality.
The “tunnel walk” is always a crowd favorite. The team touches the lucky horseshoe as they leave the locker room and enter the walkway to the field. The crowd gets amped up as they see the players approaching the field while “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project blares throughout the stadium. The crowd explodes as the team charges onto the field.
Upon the first points scored by the Cornhuskers, fans release thousands of red balloons into the air, another tradition that dates back many years. Another scene worth noting is simply the massive amount of people gathered in one structure and almost everyone wearing red. It is an amazing sight.
Lincoln is very much a college town and there are plenty of places to eat and drink before or after the game. Two of the more popular hangouts are Brewsky’s, and Barry’s Bar and Grill. Both are a short walk away from the stadium. Brewsky’s serves up a mighty fine Reuben and usually has very good drink specials. The stadium is visible from Barry’s which is located on 8th Street. Barry’s rooftop is the place to be although, like Brewsky’s, is generally jammed on game days. Lincoln also has the typical Applebee’s and fast food type places in the area.
There are hotels near the stadium, but be sure to make your reservations early as the rooms go fast on game weekends. Be sure and visit the capitol building before leaving town. Admission is free, the architecture in the old building is amazing, and it is less than two miles from the stadium.
It isn’t very difficult to describe Cornhusker fans. They are simply tremendous. They are locked into the events on the field from the kickoff and their interest does not subside. They have knowledge of the team’s players and, as a whole, understand the game. Even more impressive about the fans is how they treat the visiting fans. As I made the walk to the stadium from where I was parked, the visiting team’s fans were treated to “hellos” and complimented on their team’s ability. Additionally, many were invited to join Nebraska tailgaters for a beverage before the game.
Lincoln isn’t a big town and the area surrounding the stadium is campus and downtown. As such, getting into and out of the stadium will take a while especially considering there are 90,000 other people trying to do the same thing. Getting into the stadium after parking might take a couple minutes but the fans make it a fun experience. Once inside, the concourses under the seating bowls are wide and getting around generally isn’t a problem. There are plenty of places to get something to eat without walking too far. Restrooms can get a little jammed at certain times you would expect, but overall the wait is not that bad.
If you don’t feel like walking back to your car after the game, there are plenty of enterprising folks who will give you a ride back to your car on something akin to a cycle rickshaw.
Return on Investment 4
Nebraska is big-time college football and, as such, the experience will cost a few dollars. Tickets run $75 and you can expect to pay about $15 to park with a little bit of a walk. For a team and stadium with the tradition of Cornhuskers football, it is a reasonable price to pay.
An extra point goes to the memorial statues and inscriptions in and around the stadium. They are very well done. Another point goes to the game day traditions in Lincoln. They make for a fun experience and getting to the game a few hours ahead of time is recommended. You will not be bored. A couple extra points go to the fans. They are friendly and passionate and most certainly enhance the experience at Memorial Stadium.
Few programs can claim more success than the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Few programs can claim a bigger stadium than the Cornhuskers. Couple these two factors along with an outstanding fan base and you have an experience that cannot easily be replicated. Game day in Lincoln is an occasion every college football fan should experience. Memorial Stadium should be on the bucket list of every college football fan.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Hilton Garden Inn Lincoln
801 R St
Lincoln, NE 68508
Holiday Inn- Lincoln Downtown
141 N 9th St
Lincoln, NE 68508
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