Notre Dame Stadium – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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The Legendary Golden Dome
Arguably the most legendary college football program anywhere is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. From the iconic coaches, to the legendary players to the accolades and championships, Notre Dame is probably the most well-known college anywhere. They have been the subject of two movies with Knute Rockne, All-American and Rudy. They are the only college football team to have their own national television network contract. They have also remained defiant to the other conferences in the NCAA and remained independent, the only program to be considered on par with the Power 5 Conferences and not be a member.
The traditions at Notre Dame are widespread. From the bands to the Leprechaun mascot. Even the helmet paint itself is legendary with actual gold flakes being mixed in with the paint. Notre Dame football is definitely a bucket list item.
Home for the Fighting Irish since 1930 is Notre Dame Stadium. Although not the greatest facility in the world, Notre Dame Stadium is going through some significant renovations, no doubt, to capitalize on the amount of money that could be collected through untapped revenue streams. At the end of the day, any football traveler worth their salt needs to take a pilgrimage to Notre Dame and partake in the Legendary Golden Dome.
Food & Beverage 4
One of the great Notre Dame traditions is tailgating. That being said, Notre Dame Stadium provides a decent, but not spectacular array of concession options. Inside Notre Dame Stadium there are a number of permanent concession stands in the inner concourse. Patrons need to be careful as most of the concession stands have the same style of menu, but do not necessarily have the same concession offerings. Close attention should be paid to the menus themselves. Concession items are about what you would expect. Brats, hot dogs ($4.50), pretzels, nachos, popcorn ($6/$8), candy, burgers, chicken sandwiches, veggie chilli, chicken tenders and fries are all available. There are a few mobile stands with offerings specifically Dippin Dots. One of the concession stands that you would definitely want to consider is the Legendary Cheesesteaks stand, where you can get a Philly Style Cheesesteak to satisfy your hunger.
Throughout Notre Dame Stadium Coca-Cola products are available in fountain ($5.50/$8.00) or plastic bottle variety. Coffee, hot chocolate and water are also available throughout. As with many college football venues, alcoholic beverages are not sold in the stadium.
The atmosphere at Notre Dame is outstanding, so much so that the Irish receive a perfect score for atmosphere despite having one of the most uncomfortable experiences out there.
The Notre Dame campus is absolutely breathtaking. All of the buildings on campus look like they belong together whether they were built in the 1800s or 2000s. A trip around campus is an absolutely necessary for those making their first trip to campus. Outside of Notre Dame Stadium, fans may be intimidated by the sheer size of the stadium. Keep in mind that there are significant construction projects on the go, which can make for a messy visit. There are a number of gates around the stadium, named after famous Notre Dame figures. The north gate is probably the one to check out as it is the Knute Rockne gate and features a bronze statue of the legendary Notre Dame coach. It is also the best spot from outside the stadium to see the infamous mural painted on the side of the library known as “Touchdown Jesus.” The library is north of the stadium and can be easily seen from the Knute Rockne statue.
Inside, Notre Dame Stadium features an inner and outer concourse. True fans of Notre Dame football will want to spend a good chunk of time in the outer concourse as there is a ton to see. First off, there are four other bronze statues for the other four coaches that won National Championships. The statues for Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz can all be found around the outer concourse, usually near the other entry gates. There are also a number of displays on the walls of the outer concourse. There are large banners for all of the Notre Dame All-Americans over the years. Also, there is a special Heisman Trophy display for Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Leon Hart, Johnny Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown, the seven Heisman winners in Notre Dame history. Finally, there are huge banners and giant championship ring displays for the 1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977 and 1988 National Championship teams. Notre Dame does a top notch job of putting their vast history on display.
Inside the stadium, fans will find a simple, single-level seating bowl. The field is artificial field-turf and sits in a north-south configuration. A bit of a misnomer is the ability to see touchdown Jesus from inside the stadium. There are very few of these seats available in the stadium and are at the south end, at the top part of the stadium. A perfect view of the centre logo is going to come from sitting on the west side of the stadium. The north and south ends of the stadium feature the scoreboards. The north side scoreboard offers a bit of a video board, but when it comes to this technology, Notre Dame currently falls behind other programs. Notre Dame Stadium also offers one of the most uncomfortable seating situations in college football. There are a few small sections near the field and at the fifty yard line that offer regular stadium seats at a ridiculously huge price. The rest of the stadium offers bleacher benches. The benches at Notre Dame are even below the standards of other programs as the benches at Notre Dame are wooden. There is also not a ton of legroom available. All should be considerations when deciding where to sit and at what price point fans are willing to spend.
The game day production at Notre Dame may be second to none. The traditions of the Fighting Irish are plentiful. Notre Dame has traditional cheerleaders and dancers that most colleges have. They also boast a fantastic marching band with The Band of the Fighting Irish. They place themselves at field level in the northwest corner of the field. Their performance at halftime is well worth the wait. Upon the entrance, the Irish follow the traditional drum major and Notre Dame Leprechaun mascot. It is almost impossible not to feel the energy and excitement.
The Notre Dame campus is essentially a town onto itself. It is located northeast of South Bend, Indiana. On campus there are a few things to catch your attention. There are a few good spots to get a pre or post game meal. Reckers, O’Rourke’s Public House and Brothers Bar and Grill are decent options. For an excellent experience, you want to make a reservation for Legends of Notre Dame. Legends is located right by Notre Dame Stadium and is filled with Irish memorabilia. If you are a huge Irish fan, then Legends is the place for you to be.
There are not a ton of other things to do around South Bend. That being said, there are a few things to check out on the beautiful campus of Notre Dame. Other than the infamous “Touchdown Jesus” mural, checking out the on campus church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is worth the walk across campus. The church was built in 1888 and is absolutely beautiful. Mass is said on campus after every game at the Basilica or elsewhere. Also, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is worth seeing. As far as other sporting options go, Notre Dame plays basketball at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, right beside Notre Dame Stadium, and they play hockey at the Compton Family Ice Arena across the road. Both are also top notch facilities.
If you are planning on staying near campus, then the Fairfield Inn and Suites is a pretty good option for you.
What can you say about Irish fans? Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans are numerous and spread across the country. The Irish have such a following that they warrant a national television network contract with NBC all to themselves. The Irish boast over 250 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium. That number would have been much higher if not for a 1973 midseason game against Air Force that was moved to Thanksgiving Day, when the campus was pretty much empty. Irish fans are loyal and loud and they know their Irish inside and out.
Notre Dame could use some improvements to make access a bit better. Notre Dame Stadium is located at the center of campus. The campus is located just south of I-90/I-80. Getting to campus will not be too difficult. Keep in mind that there will be over 80,000 fans descending on the Notre Dame campus, so giving yourself sufficient travel time is imperative. Although there are huge parking lots south of Notre Dame Stadium, most spots are pre-purchased for tailgating. Finding a spot off campus might be the way to go, which will require a significant hike to the stadium.
If you are interested in public transportation, there are buses that travel Twyckenham Drive and Edison Road, not far from the stadium. Check out the South Bend Public Transportation website for maps, fares and schedules.
There are four main gates for entry into Notre Dame Stadium. Significant construction on the stadium can make the travel around and inside not the best. With the ticket situation at Notre Dame where there are so few tickets available, the ticketing area was not obvious.
Inside the stadium, moving around can be crowded. The washrooms are also in need of a significant upgrade. The men’s washrooms feature the dreaded troughs.
Return on Investment 4
The fact is that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are a bucket list item for college football fans. However, getting your hands on Notre Dame tickets can be a real challenge. Fans are essentially left to the secondary market. Face value on tickets is usually $75 per seat. The secondary market, of course, inflates this price, sometimes significantly. That being said, the large expense incurred for fans at Notre Dame is more palatable considering that most view it as a once in a lifetime experience.
An extra mark for the fantastic Band of the Fighting Irish and all that they bring to the Notre Dame atmosphere.
An extra mark for the traditions found at Notre Dame and the great job they do of putting their vast history on display.
An extra mark for one of the great tailgating scenes in the country.
An extra mark for the absolutely gorgeous campus at Notre Dame, where everything seems to match.
One of the true bucket list items on a sports fan’s list is Notre Dame Fighting Irish football. It is impressive how much of a following that the Irish command considering how uncomfortable Notre Dame Stadium can be and how expensive a trip to the Irish is. That being said, the Golden Dome is truly legendary and you should try to get to South Bend if you can.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Fairfield Inn & Suites South Bend at Notre Dame
1220 E Angela Blvd
South Bend, IN 46617