Change My Mind: Big Sky Stadiums Ranked

Change my mind: Big Sky Stadiums Ranked

By: Ben Schleiger

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1. Washington–Grizzly Stadium, Missoula, MT
 
Opened: 1986            Cost: 3.2 Million (1986) 7.14 Million (Today)          Capacity: 25,217

University of Montana
has one of the most iconic stadiums in the FCS. Wa-Griz had help from Dennis Washington’s donations to open in 1986. This 25,217 seat stadium is enormous, remote and filled with high-energy Griz fans weekly, and often make the lists of top attendances in the FCS. The crowd noise alone has been known to phase opponents, much less the tough home team, who has a home winning percentage 86.9%. The Grizzlies truly have themselves a bear cave that few teams ever emerge the same from. Grade: 85

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2. Roos Field, Cheney, WA
 
Opened: 1967             Cost: 1.5 Million (1967) 11.5 Million (Today)          Capacity: 8,600

Eastern Washington
is one of the more successful teams of the Big Sky. They are also one of the most iconic teams in football, not for their 2010 FCS National Championship, but for their Red turf field donated in large part by Michael Roos. Roos is an Eagle alumni who had a successful NFL career and put EWU on the map for its originality. While the stadium still lacks the capacity that the team’s success deserves, they produce NFL talent on this red turf. Finding a seat and the “beer can shaped dorm” may be difficult to deal with, but seeing a good game is more than likely each Saturday. Grade: 81

3. Stewart Stadium, Ogden, UT
 
Opened: 1962                                    Cost: N/A                                           Capacity: 17,312

Weber State
is by far the most scenic stadium in the Big Sky and a contender in the FCS for scenery at least. The stadium may be a bit rustic, but the amenities and fan base make up for those implications. Weber State is also a deceptively difficult venue to play at. Grade: 77

4. Bobcat Stadium, Bozeman, MT
 

Opened: 1973            Cost: 500,000 (1973) 22 Million (Today)                  Capacity: 20,767

Montana State
is looked as the little brother of Montana, but with a capacity of 17,000 it stacks up as one of the largest stadiums in the Western FCS Region. Being in Montana scenic views are guaranteed, but the stadium is pretty good looking too. Playing at Wa-Griz is always tough, but I would not count on an easy win at Bobcat Stadium, even on an off season. Grade: 76

5. Alex G. Spanos Stadium, San Luis Obispo, CA
 
Opened: 1935                                    Cost: N/A                                           Capacity: 11,075

Cal Poly offers a better version of Nottingham Field. It is much older (opened 1935), offers scenic views and night games, and has more capacity (11,075). While a simple design it offers a classy atmosphere in a vacation destination setting. The ability to have night games definitely gives an edge to Cal Poly that some other Big Sky teams miss out on. Grade: 73

6. Nottingham Field, Greeley, CO
 
Opened: 1995            Cost: 4 Million (1995) 6.61 Million (Today)             Capacity: 8,533

Northern Colorado
has a quaint 8,500 seat venue scenically nestled between the prairie and foothills. Directly located on campus provides spirit and being a Tree USA Campus adds to the atmosphere. Where it lacks night game capabilities, toughness and capacity it makes up for it in sheer amenities that the stadium and city offer. Fun fact, UNC is one of the few college football stadiums to offer alcohol on-site through the concession stands. Grade: 70

7. Walkup Skydome, Flagstaff, AZ
 

Opened: 1977            Cost: 8 Million (1977) 32.3 Million (Today)            Capacity: 11,230

Northern Arizona
has a fitting timber-built dome for their lumberjacks to play in. Being a timber dome and being 6,880 feet above sea-level make this one of the more unique places to play. It is the second highest elevated football stadium, second only to University of Wyoming. The renovations in 2011 brought a panoramic view to NAU fans. Grade: 69

8. Aggie Stadium, Davis, CA
 

Opened: 2007            Cost: 30 Million (2007) 36.48 Million (Today)         Capacity: 10,743

UC Davis
is unique in its sunken, bowl shape. Davis may be one of the hardest schools to get into but boasts two casual grassy knolls for picnic style seating. With an official capacity of 10,743 Davis has gone above that before against Southern Utah in 2008. It would be interesting to see if that record could be broken in the near future with a late season conference game between Davis and Montana or EWU since all compete at high levels with an enormous traveling fan base. Grade: 68

9. Hornet Stadium, Sacramento, CA
 

Opened: 1969                                    Cost: N/A                                           Capacity: 21,195

Sacramento State
has a neat stadium, but it is rather simple. This is a great start to a stadium with a nice base. It feels like there needs to be something added to make it signature. Sacramento is a cool town to visit, although the scenery is lacking. Overall nothing to complain about, but also no real wow factor other than the team. Grade: 64

10. Holt Arena, Pocatello, ID
 
Opened: 1970            Cost: 2.8 Million (1970) 17.6 Million (Today)          Capacity: 12,000

Idaho State University
is more colorful than its “baked potato cousin”. It is not an elegant venue, but the colorfulness makes it more cheerful than the other domes in the Big Sky. The Holt Arena is number one in being the oldest enclosed stadium and oldest enclosed college stadium. With a capacity of 12,000 many tiger fans can enjoy the Crayola shaded seating.  Grade: 63

11. Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID
 
Opened: 1971 (outdoor) 1975 (indoor) Cost: 7.84 Million (1975) 36.74 Million (Today) Capacity: 16,000

University of Idaho
plays in a baked potato. Sorry Vandal fans, but your dome looks like a half-baked potato on the outside. On the inside it looks like an airplane hanger with ceiling tiles added. I would hope it is better in person when 16,000 potato-heads are cheering on U of I.
Grade: 59

12. Alerus Center, Grand Forks, ND
 
Opened: 2001             Cost: 80 Million (2001) 111 Million (Today)     Capacity: 12,283

University of North Dakota should get a nice good-bye from Big Sky, right? Wrong. This looks like a classic wrestling venue from the World Wrestling Federation days with the balconies and poor lighting over the crowd. Unsurprisingly, the Alerus Center has hosted WWE Smackdown. At least UND can say they put the smackdown if they won. Grade: 55

13. Eccles Coliseum, Cedar City, UT
 
Opened: 1967            Cost: N/A                                                            Capacity: 8,500

Southern Utah has its ups and downs, just like their stadium. There are gorgeous mountains in the background, but the high school-like visitor stands are sad. While there is no true problems with the stadium, the old time roman columns and very boxy appearance just seem out of place. 8,500 capacity also makes it feel rather small with 90 percent of the seating on the home side. Grade: 53

14. Providence Park, Portland, OR
          (Disqualified, PSU often plays elsewhere due to schedule conflicts with other events or teams, such as the MLS soccer team, and has no true home.)
 
Opened:
1926            Cost: $502,000 (1926) 39.2 Million (Today)      Capacity: 22,000

Portland State
does not get to play on this list as they do not even get a home stadium to play in. They share a stadium with the Portland Timbers MLS soccer team and often play at a high school when there is a scheduling conflict. Portland State come on now, get your booster club and alumni on that project. Grade: 73

Scoring:

1. Seating

2. Scenery

3. Colors

4. Lighting

5. Capacity

6. Toughness

7. City

8. Uniqueness

9. Amenities

10. Field


1. 8, 9, 8, 10, 10, 9, 7, 8, 8, 8 = 85

2. 5, 8, 10, 9, 5, 10, 7, 10, 7, 10 = 81

3. 7, 10, 10, 8, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8 = 77

4. 9, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7, 6, 7, 7, 8 = 76

5. 7, 8, 6, 8, 6, 7, 9, 7, 7, 8 = 73

6. 8, 9, 7, 5, 5, 5, 9, 7, 8, 7 = 70

7. 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 7, 8, 8, 7 = 69

8. 7, 6, 6, 5, 6, 7, 9, 8, 6, 8 = 68

9. 6, 4, 6, 6, 10, 7, 8, 5, 5, 7 = 64

10. 4, 5, 8, 6, 7, 5, 6, 9, 5, 8 = 63

11.  6, 5, 3, 7, 8, 7, 5, 5, 5, 8 = 59

12.  7, 4, 6, 4, 7, 6, 5, 5, 5, 6 = 55

13.  3, 7, 5, 5, 5, 7, 5, 6, 5, 5 = 53

14. 10, 6, 6, 4, 10, 7, 9, 7, 7, 7 = 73