Pinstripe Bowl: Yankee Stadium and 10 Ideas for Cool Bowl Game Venues
Tomorrow afternoon, the Kansas State Wildcats will take on the Syracuse Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl. Although the game itself features two middle-of-the-road ball clubs with matching 7-5 records, many fans will be tuning in solely for the venue.
As the name may indicate, the Pinstripe Bowl is being played in Yankee Stadium and will mark the first time a bowl game has taken place in New York since the Gotham Bowl in the old Yankee Stadium back in 1962.
The Winter Classic (a hockey game played in a unique setting—this year at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field) has generated substantial buzz for the NHL while the outdoor hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State drew 113,411 fans.
I’m a huge supporter of one-of-a-kind sporting experiences and love the idea of playing more bowl games in alternative venues. So without further ado, I present a list of ideas for cool bowl game venues.
10. Safeco Field
Home to the Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field is one of the most beautiful ballparks in all of baseball. In 2001, the stadium played host to the Seattle Bowl, but that supposedly-annual game lasted just one season.
The stadium's retractable roof could allow the game to be played in any conditions while the 30,000-seat capacity crowd would provide a more intimate setting.
Perhaps the best part of this decade-old stadium? The diverse food selection including “Ichirolls,” an eight-piece sushi roll available exclusively at Safeco.
9. Tokyo Dome
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Although more of a pipe dream than possibility, a bowl game in Japan would be simply put—out of this world.
Seating 42,000 fans, the Tokyo Dome is home to the Yomiuri Giants and the site of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
The stadium was built in 1988 based on the design of the Metrodome in Minneapolis and its dome-shaped roof is actually an air-supported structure that is held up by slightly pressurizing the inside of the stadium. Oddly enough, the Dome is actually part of an entertainment complex that includes an amusement park containing a roller coaster, Ferris wheel and much more.
Although football has very little popularity in Asia as a whole, this bowl could be a unique opportunity for Japanese sports fans to see a once-in-a-lifetime sports spectacle.
I realize that the NCAA would never allow their students to travel halfway across the world for a bowl game, but it would make for one of the most inimitable football games in the sport's history.
8. Yale Bowl
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Ever since the Whalers moved from Hartford to Carolina and renamed themselves the Hurricanes, there has been a huge void in Connecticut sports.
Citizens are torn between rooting for the New York teams or their rivals in Boston and they have no teams to call their own other than the local UConn Huskies. With that in mind, aren’t they deserving of a bowl game?
The historic Yale Bowl was opened in 1914 and has a seating capacity of 61,446. It was the first bowl-shaped stadium in the country and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The stadium has hosted a litany of superb Harvard versus Yale games and was host to the New York Giants during the 1973 and 1974 seasons. It’s a phenomenal stadium deserving of a yearly bowl game.
7. Hiram Bithorn Stadium
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Located in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, Hiram Bithorn Stadium would be yet another fantastic alternative setting for a college bowl game.
The stadium is quite small (18,000 capacity for baseball) and has never been used for a football game before, but it would offer a distinct venue for Puerto Rican fans that have never had an opportunity to see a live game.
Football has become the new American pastime (sorry baseball) and this U.S. territory deserves access to this great sport.
6. Olympic Stadium
Known by many as “The Big O,” Montreal’s Olympic Stadium broke ground in 1973 before being opened for the 1976 Olympics.
Following the conclusion of the Olympic games, the stadium was re-surfaced with turf and turned into the home field for the Montreal Expos. Of course, since the Expos moved to Washington following the 2004 season, the 66,000-plus capacity stadium hasn’t seen many big crowds. Perhaps a yearly bowl game could change that.
Fans have flocked to the Rogers Centre in Toronto for Bills' regular season games, one each in the last three years, and the CFL has thrived for years. So why can’t Canada support a collegiate football game?
It would be a completely distinctive event and could be the first step towards placing a future NFL franchise north of the border.
5. Wrigley Field
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Home to the Chicago Cubs since 1914, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest baseball stadium to date (behind Fenway Park).
From Ivy in the outfield to rooftop seating across the street, Wrigley provides one of the most original settings to watch a baseball game. But what about a football game?
Earlier this season, Northwestern and Illinois squared off in the historic stadium and provided possibly the most unique setting for a football game in years.
Due to safety concerns, both offenses were forced to attack the same end zone, but that minor tweak did nothing to spoil the game. That is, unless you were a Northwestern fan.
4. Lambeau Field
Home to some of the most frigid games in NFL history, Lambeau Field would make a phenomenal venue for a collegiate game.
Located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this stadium has sold out every game since 1968 and is home to some of the greatest fans in sports.
Since the team is owned by Green Bay Packers Inc., which has over 110,000 shareholders, those people would need to vote to allow a bowl game in their stadium, but how could those devout fans turn down extra revenue and an exciting bowl matchup?
The field has seen legends from Bart Starr to Brett Favre making the frozen tundra one of the coolest potential venues for a bowl game.
3. Fenway Park
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Last year on New Years Day, Fenway Park was transformed from one of the more unique ballparks in baseball into perhaps the coolest venue a hockey game has never known.
Over 38,000 fans packed the intimate confines of Fenway Park in what was one of the most entertaining sporting events in years. Fenway has a great history and although the teams would likely be confined to only one end zone as they were when football was played at Wrigley Field, it would be totally worth it for this never-before-seen spectacle.
The cold weather elements of a winter bowl game in New England would certainly be a far cry from the traditional warm-weather and domed-bowl games, making this game an instant success.
2. Estadio Azteca
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In the spirit of trying new things, perhaps one of the more intriguing ideas would be moving a bowl game out of the country. Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca is home to the Mexican national soccer team, but could potentially play host to a different brand of football.
Seating 105,000 fans, Estadio Azteca is the world’s fifth-largest stadium and is famous as the site of Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal.
For those of you who don’t follow soccer, this historic stadium still has great significance as it hosted the first international regular-season game in NFL history: a 31-14 victory for the Arizona Cardinals over the San Francisco 49ers. That particular game drew a crowd of 103,467, proving that you can draw fans to an American football game in Mexico.
Perhaps a yearly matchup including a Big 12 school and some other southern college would pack the stadium while providing a unique viewing experience for fans everywhere.
1. Wembley Stadium
For the past few years, the NFL has been casually toying with the idea of bringing an NFL franchise to Europe.
In 2007, the Dolphins played the Giants in London’s Wembley Stadium with the game selling 40,000 tickets in the first hour-and-a-half of sales. The next year the Patriots defeated the Buccaneers 35-7 in front of 84,254 fans. Could Wembley be the first European stadium to host a collegiate game?
The 90,000-seat stadium is state of the art and will play host to both the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2012 Summer Olympics. A bowl game played at Wembley Stadium would help grow the college football brand on an international level while providing an utterly unique venue with a diverse group of fans.
I know many would object due to its location as it’s quite a commitment from student athletes, but it’s really no different than playing in Hawaii (where the Hawaii Bowl, and previously the Oahu Bowl, has been played for years).