Frankly, I thought all that Under Armour money would be put to better use.
About a half hour outside of Washington, D.C. (give or take an hour or two for traffic), the University of Maryland in College Park is a new member to the Big Ten Conference. For the first conference game against my beloved Golden Gophers, I met up with a group of friends to check out Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium and their campus as the Gophers worked their way toward a 31-10 victory.
Pre-Game TailgateThere are a number of open and available tailgate lots all over campus. We bought our tailgating passes from the University of Maryland and paid about $20 for the parking spot. There's no need to arrive early. In fact, we got to the tailgate lot about 8 a.m. and were among the first to arrive for a noon kick-off.
What struck us most about the tailgate situation at Maryland was the laid out list of rules that included a weak attempt to draw a line between "partying" and "tailgating". It seems music is a big problem at Maryland. If you have music, that means you're crossing the line between a party and tailgate which could get you in trouble. Although, I must admit, I didn't see anyone actually asked to turn their music down.
Overall, the fans were cordial but this didn't feel like a major football environment out in the tailgate lots. After trips to some of the less-impressive Big Ten football programs like Indiana - I'd put Maryland in the bottom tier, right next to Northwestern and far behind the rest of the conference.
|From our tailgating spot, it was only about a 10 minute walk to the stadium.|
Traffic wasn't a problem on our way in. As I mentioned, the game day atmosphere wasn't really in full effect until much closer to kick-off.
Getting Into Maryland StadiumMaryland Stadium holds just over 51,000 fans at capacity and with a 3-2 Minnesota team coming to town, we didn't expect it to be a sell-out. While a college town, College Park doesn't appear to be a college football town. (We're told to come back during basketball season).
The walk from the tailgate lots was pleasant on a warm autumn day. The campus was well-maintained and there were no safety issues in terms of sketchy folks around the stadium.
One thing that stood out was that as we walked toward the stadium, we saw a ton of students walking the opposite direction. It was bizarre. In fact, we had to re-check Google Maps because we thought maybe we'd taken a wrong turn along the way. It turns out, students at Maryland just don't really care about football.
We did encounter a bit of a bottleneck at the southwest entrance to Maryland stadium when trying to enter.
We didn't anticipate a 15-minute or so wait at the gate to get through security and to our seats. Not a huge deal but we probably should have planned for it. Because of the delay, we missed the opening kick-off and anthem.
Inside - The GameOur seats were located in the southwest corner of the stadium behind the Minnesota bench on about the 10 yard line (Section 3). We were situated about 25 rows up from the field and had great sight-lines with no real issues in that regard.
When looking for tickets (we paid $25/each on Stubhub), we had some worries that seats closer to the field might have some serious obstructions because of a lack of elevation. Seats were cheap, even in the second and third rows from the field and we figured we should avoid them.
It turns out, we might have been misguided - here's a look from about the tenth row:
The whole environment inside was ok at the start of the game but the fanbase almost felt distracted. The student section was ok but not exactly rowdy and the rest of the fans kind of seemed irritated that they were expected to put up with a football game that afternoon.
Our seats were located close to the end zone opposite the student section and University of Maryland Marching Band. The band was pretty loud - loud enough that we could clearly hear them. At some stadiums, that's actually a big issue --- the band plays but is basically inaudible from the far reaches of the stadium.
Fans were very nice to us as visitors - don't get me wrong. It just seemed like they weren't really "die-hard" fans of the Terrapins. Which, might be understandable given the program's mediocre history of performance.
Of course, you might want to bring a book:
|Probably the worst college football fan east of the Mississippi|
Concessions were reasonably priced but I'm told I missed the boat on the really interesting local fare. Behind the visitors section, concessions largely offered the types of things you'd expect with no real deviation - hotdogs, chips, soda, beer. (Yes, they serve beer inside Maryland Stadium).
I'm told that on the other side of the stadium - likely where the bigger money boosters sit - they do have some more interesting concession offerings. Stuff like crab cakes and the sort of items you'd expect that close to the coast.
Wrap-Up of the Trip
Overall, the trip was a C and would've been much worse if Minnesota had lost. The atmosphere inside Maryland Stadium wasn't worth the effort of getting there. That said, as a Minnesota fan living in Tennessee, I'll probably return the next time they play here as D.C. is an easy flight and tickets to the game itself were pretty reasonable.
If you go - be sure to check out the home-sideline concession options (unlike me) and if you insist on getting to the tailgate lots before 9 a.m., be sure to go to the bathroom before you arrive!