Stadium Review: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin

I had the chance to check out my favorite college football rivalry this past weekend while visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Minnesota vs. Wisconsin: The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.

I'm going to attempt to be as unbiased as possible in this review.

Frankly, I despise the University of Wisconsin. As a University of Minnesota grad, I think the Twin Cities home of the Golden Gophers is a much better scene for a college education, from the buildings to the coeds.

That said, the University of Wisconsin has really put some work into the outside of Camp Randall since my days as a high schooler trolling around campus. Improvements to the facade and a new trophy room with giant glass windows allow fans to look in and see Ron Dayne's Heisman Trophy and everything else that has been collected by the Badgers over the years.
Camp Randall's North Entrance and Newly Renovated Facade

As a Minnesota fan, seeing most of these trophies made me sick to my stomach.

As you walk in the gates, it feels like a typical college stadium. There is something about the gates at most collegiate facilities that still feels amateurish. It's kind of a cool feeling. For whatever reason, most schools don't tend to put money in this area because it doesn't do much for recruiting --- at least that's my hypothesis.

Inside, Camp Randall is a good place to watch a ballgame. The field is flanked by a giant scoreboard and jumbotron one one side and the old Wisconsin fieldhouse on the other side. The old fieldhouse is a great piece of history that I'm glad Wisconsin has decided to spare any advertisements or other defacing features.

You can barely make out the Wisconsin crest on the fieldhouse just beyond the far endzone.
The gameday atmosphere at Wisconsin carries a pretty strong reputation across the country. From the notorious Wisconsin drinking, brat grilling and overall great tailgating scene to the loyal fanbase that hasn't seen a losing team in about two decades.

The fanbase was very friendly on this gameday. While the student section is known for chants of "a$$h@ole!" at opposing team's fans and other chants laced with obscenities, most of the adults in the stadium are fairly cordial and won't have you reaching for brass knuckles. (Note: this is especially true if the visiting team jumps out to a 17-3 early lead).

On this particularly chilly day, Wisconsin's Camp Randall did not strike me as a particularly loud crowd. That is, no amount of third down noise was particularly disruptive to the players on the field. With a packed house of more than 80,000 in attendance, I expected better.

Perhaps if the student body was as focused on football as they were on House of Pain's Jump Around, it could have been a better home field advantage for the Badgers.

In terms of food, you're not going to want to eat inside this stadium. It's normal, stadium-fare. But outside, you can get stereotypical Wisconsin/German food that's just so much better. From brats and sausage of pretty much any type to beer, you can't go wrong with just about any place on nearby State Street. Also, there are a number of public brat cookouts around campus where you can get a brat for a couple bucks to take in the whole "Wisconsin experience".

As for the game itself, it was a good game. Minnesota took an early 17-3 lead but Wisconsin stormed back, keeping Paul Bunyan's Axe in the longest consecutively running rivalry game in the United States, dating back to 1948 --- with the "Slab of Bacon" trophy pre-dating the Axe by about 15 years. (Wisconsin "lost" the Slab of Bacon and thus, the axe trophy was born). 

Paul Bunyan's Axe... held captive by these animals.
It's a good place to watch a game.

I imagine it's an even better place to watch the visiting team win a game. Something that hasn't happened for my Gophers since 1994.

Final score:
Minnesota 24
Wisconsin 34