With basketball season over and football season still months away, what better time is it than to rank the stadiums of the Pac-12? The conference contains some of the most beautiful venues in college football, but also a couple that aren’t so spectacular. I don’t have a specific formula, but generally combine the location, view, fan experience and attendance into my ranking. As always, I’d love to hear your opinions in either the comments or on Twitter, @HuskyHaul.
1. Husky Stadium – Washington Huskies
I hate to sound like a homer here, but there is no doubt in my mind that Husky Stadium is the best place to watch a football game in the Pac-12. It is one of the best venues in the nation, let alone the conference. There would have been a little hesitation if not for the renovations being done to the stadium. It has always had one of the best views in college football, where you can tailgate from Lake Washington and see the mountains from the stands. Until the renovations, the stadium itself was a little downtrodden, but with a practically brand new structure, you will get to enjoy one of the best venues in college football, Husky fans.
2. Folsom Field – Colorado Buffaloes
It is a shame that such a bad team plays in such a beautiful stadium. Like Husky Stadium, Folsom Field is known for its breathtaking views. Also like UW, Colorado’s stadium is one of the oldest in the conference. It opened in 1924, just four years after Husky Stadium. Attendance has never been Colorado’s strong point, but with a capacity of only 53,616, it allows intimacy. Between the brick façade and the mountainous surroundings, Folsom Field is one of the most picturesque stadiums in the Pac-12. Hopefully they will soon field a product up to par with the stadium.
3. Autzen Stadium – Oregon Ducks
Really, the biggest complaint about Autzen Stadium is its location off of campus. There are not many reasons to visit Eugene, Ore. other than to see a Ducks football game. Those tickets are hard to come by, however, as with the recent success of the program have come sellout crowds. All of top-10 attended games at Autzen have come since 2007. In that time period, Oregon had a 21-game home win streak. Until UW returns to its perch atop the Pac-12, Oregon will the crowd noise battle. The atmosphere combined with the unique architecture of the venue makes it one of the tops in the conference.
4. Rice-Eccles Stadium – Utah Utes
The two newcomers’ stadiums fall in the top-four of the list. While they may not bring top-tier talent (but Utah is pretty good), they definitely bring great stadiums to see a football game. The renovations made to Rice Stadium resemble those of Husky Stadium; they tore down much of it, but left the stands behind the south end zone. It was remodeled into an Olympic-quality stadium, as it was used for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. 11 years later and it still stands as a state-of-the-art college football venue. It has definitely fared better than some other Olympic stadiums.
5. Stanford Stadium – Stanford Cardinal
This is probably the nicest stadium in the conference; unfortunately, the people of Palo Alto don’t realize this. That, or there aren’t more than 30,000 football fans in Northern California. This, and Husky Stadium have long been my favorites in the conference, but the big difference is the atmosphere. Unfortunately for Stanford, that is a big part of college football. The program has seen a lot of success over the last few seasons, so maybe some fair-weather fans will come out of hiding and occupy Stanford Stadium, but until then, it can only be seen as an average experience for a fan. Sadly, that’s from the fans’ own doing, not the university or the team.
6. Los Angeles Coliseum – USC Trojans
The Los Angeles Coliseum comes with a lot of history, but so a lot of Pac-12 stadiums. What differentiates the others from the Coliseum is that they have recently been updated or stand in great areas. Being that USC is located in a pretty bad part of town, going to a USC football game isn’t necessarily the safest evening activity to do around Los Angeles. When you get there, though, the crowd is normally rocking and it is hard to name a program that has had more success than the Trojans in recent memory.
7. California Memorial Stadium – California Golden Bears
Another Pac-12 stadium getting recent renovations, Memorial Stadium is in one of the nicest areas of the entire country in Berkeley, Calif. Tightwad Hill remains one of the most recognizable locations in college football. Between the location, history and new, modern amenities, it is a very nice venue to experience a college football game. Unfortunately, the product on the field hasn’t been the best and like Stanford Stadium, it struggles to draw big, loud crowds.
8. Rose Bowl – UCLA Bruins
One might think that a Nation Historic Landmark might find itself higher on the list, but the Rose Bowl simply doesn’t live up to the standards of newer Pac-12 stadiums. Like Rice-Eccles Stadium, it has hosted the Olympics, twice actually. Unlike the home of the Utes, those Olympics came in 1932 and 1984, rather than 2002. Due to that, the Rose Bowl hasn’t been renovated in recent years and has fallen behind the curve. The fact that Bruins fans usually only fill up about two-thirds of the 91,136 seats doesn’t help for atmosphere of the game, as it is usually noted as one of the least intimidating venues of the conference. It is due for renovations in the upcoming years and with those, it will certainly move up, but until then, it is just a National Historic Landmark.
9. Sun Devil Stadium – Arizona State Sun Devils
Located adjacent to Tempe Town Lake and between two buttes, Sun Devil Stadium is in prime location. It also might be one of the most generic stadiums in college football. Luckily for the Devils, they have one of the most entertaining intros, consisting of the cheer squad leading the team onto the field and a fireworks show that will make you jump if you’re not expecting it. ASU fans are known for being fair-weather and Sun Devil Stadium is usually only about three-fourths full. The student section is always going wild, though and with its pristine location and upcoming renovations, Sun Devil Stadium will soon be a premier college football stadium.
10. Reser Stadium – Oregon State Beavers
Like Eugene, there aren’t a lot of reasons to visit Corvallis, Ore. other than Beavers football. Unfortunately for the Beavers, they haven’t seen nearly as much success as the Ducks have and Reser Stadium has taken a hit, attendance-wise. The newly-renovated grandstands make it ten times better than it was before, but it still lacks the modern elements and surrounding locations that some of the better stadiums in the Pac-12 have.
11. Arizona Stadium – Arizona Wildcats
Another stadium under recent renovation, Arizona Stadium is consistently one-third or one-half empty, making those renovations go to less use. Even after the upgrades, it is not a top facility in the Pac-12. The entire venue is rather average and the fan experience grades low, combining to make it the No. 11 stadium in the conference.
12. Martin Stadium – Washington State Cougars
While most of the regional teams’ stadiums have ranked fairly similarly, the Washington schools are polar opposites. Husky Stadium ranks No. 1, while Martin Stadium rounds out the rankings at No. 12. It is located in Pullman, which is less-than-convenient for anyone that isn’t a WSU student. Even after some renovations in the last few years, it is still light years behind the top stadiums of the conference. The 33,522 seats rank last in the Pac-12 and while it makes for an intimate setting, there are no grandstands or overhangs to contain the noise. Between the location and the downtrodden facilities, it will take a lot for Martin Stadium to escape the bottom half of the rankings.
Topics: Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, California Golden Bears, Colorado Buffaloes, Football, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac-12, Stanford Cardinal, UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans, Utah Utes, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars