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30 Day Countdown: Day 20 - Favorite Opposing Team Venue?

Do you travel to watch the Dawgs? What's the best opponent's venue you've seen?

Thearon W. Henderson

I love taking in a Husky away game almost as much as going to Husky Stadium. There's just something about being on "enemy turf" that makes seeing a game in person that much more special.

Prior to the Pac 10 expanding to 12 teams, I'd managed to catch a Husky game in every opposing conference venue but the LA Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. For some reason, it's just never worked out to see a game against the Trojans, although my wife and I found ourselves in LA B.K. (Before Kids) the night before the Huskies were playing there due to a cancelled flight and layover. We debated sticking around and getting tickets, but ultimately decided not to. Kick myself about that one to this day....

I decided long ago that I wasn't going to a game at the Rose Bowl unless it was, well, the Rose Bowl. Me in December of 2000: "Brad, we're buying our Rose Bowl tickets. You want me to get you a couple?" Me: "Man, that'd great, but I've already made New Year's plans, and spent some money. Besides, the Huskies are going to be back there soon. I'll pass this time around." Fast forward 14 years....

I haven't been to Rice-Eccles in Utah, nor Folsom field in Colorado. The latter might change in 2014....I've been to the old Memorial Stadium in Berkley, but not the new one, but I'm still counting it. Of the 8 I've been to (and I'm not going to count non-conference stadiums here, but if I was, the setting at BYU is tough to beat, even though the atmosphere leaves something to be desired if you're a "normal" football fan - I was too young and poor to make the trips to Nebraska or Oklahoma, and too busy to make the trip to Baton Rouge), No offense to Wildcat, Beaver, or Bear fans, but it's tough to find anything "special" about your game day experiences (experiencii?). And while the eye candy walking in to Tempe is about as good as it gets, it's a mostly huge and largely unmemorable football venue. So, who makes the cut for me?

Option #1: Stanford Stadium

I've been to the old stadium twice prior to the remodel in 2006 (that, amazingly, was done in 10 months). The old stadium had a track around it, had post-and-beam wood-framed concourses with ceilings about 8 feet high, and was largely falling apart. The old horseshoe wasn't built on a concrete foundation; you could see grass growing underneath the bleachers in the visitor's section. I was there in the rain for the 2000 comeback when Curtis Williams was injured, and a non-descript game a couple of years later. A man actually entered the stadium with the purpose of taking a few laps around the track during the middle of the game. The on-the-cheap remodel cut the capacity almost in half, but it's one of the most functional stadiums in the conference. There isn't a bad seat anywhere, and even though the stadium announcer sounds like he moonlights at local monster truck rallies and half the fans seem to care more about the band than the team, it's still a fine venue to watch game. Coldly efficient, just as you'd expect from a place like Stanford.  The tailgating in the oaks surrounding the stadium is definitely on the stodgy side (and if you spend several hours at a local bar drinking beer, then walk through them smoking large cigars, count on getting dirty looks and a comment or two, as my brother and I can attest), but the BART makes getting into and out of the stadium pretty easy.

Option #2: Autzen Stadium

Driving to Eugene from Seattle is a major grind, but I'd recommend making a trip to Autzen before actually judging it. I've been there for an epic beating (2002) and epic beatdowns (pretty much any year but 2002). At some of the parking lots, you can make reservations ahead of time, and the fans there aren't really any different than college football fans anywhere. If you go looking for trouble, I'm sure you'll be able to find it. If you go, even wearing Husky gear, looking to hang out with fans of the game, you'll get food, drink, and a generally good experience given to you. Inside the stadium is a different experience. While I hate the Ducks as much as anyone, and Autzen is a fairly small stadium, it's an absolutely fantastic environment for a college football game for the home team. As a visitor, especially a Husky fan, you can count on heckling at a minimum, and it only gets worse from there. But again, if you don't specifically look for trouble, you aren't likely to find it. The fans are almost on top of the field. It's shockingly loud, considering that capacity is only around 55,000 people.

Option #3: Martin Stadium

There's nothing special about Martin Stadium. It's small. The facilities mostly suck. The 100 miles of washboard highway between Othello and Colfax, replete with speed traps every few miles (and for anyone making the trip for Apple Cup weekend, some of the speed traps are a state patrol vehicle with its lights on and a seemingly pulled over vehicle, but both are actually highway patrol units) are horrible. But the atmosphere for an Apple Cup inside the stadium is tough to beat, and the sight lines are pretty good from just about anywhere. Yes, there are many examples of poor fan behavior, but it's really not much different from any other stadium in the world. The stadium is right in the heart of campus as well, so it really has a "collegiate" feel.

The Verdict: Autzen Stadium

I'm sure a lot of Husky fans won't be able to get past the fact that Autzen is populated with Duck fans, but it's a truly great stadium. The acoustics make it much louder than many stadiums (such as Michigan's Big House) that are twice the size. I don't know this for sure, but it seems like all of the seats are closer to the field than the 55,000 at Husky Stadium that are closest to the field. It's easy to get in and out of, and for fans that don't have a tailgate of their own, the Moshofsky Center is a great indoor place to watch other games on TV and get something to eat or drink prior to the game.

I wouldn't trade Husky Stadium for any other venue in the country. But if I force myself to take my Oregon bias out of the picture, Autzen is a pretty good second choice.

So, where else do you all like to watch a Husky football game?