Camp Randall is example for Gophers

By Matt

The University of Minnesota’s football program is a disgrace to the Big Ten and, as a sophomore at the University — from Madison, Wis. — a huge disappointment. I’m not referring to the fact that Coach Wacker resigned after another losing season. These things happen. I’m referring to the complete lack of a true University atmosphere surrounding the Gopher home football games. And the unfortunate part is, how could there be?
I’m not sure if anyone reading this has ever been to a Badger game at Madison’s Camp Randall, or even been in Madison on a football weekend, but those of you who have know exactly what I’m talking about. The city is alive! Red and white. Weber grills and parties (starting at 8:00 a.m.) stretch as far as the eye can see. Students, alumni and football fans crowd the downtown bars and restaurants socializing before, during and after the game. Camp Randall is sold out almost every game. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the University of Minnesota completely lacks these qualities. The University, by tearing down Memorial stadium and moving the Gophers into the Metrodome, has eliminated the school spirit at home games.
How does the University expect to get a large turnout when students are forced to either drive to the game or take the bus. You see, students are college kids without a lot of money, so many of them don’t own cars. Those that do, including myself, can’t afford to pay the outrageous parking prices for lots surrounding the Dome. For the student body, this leaves the shuttle bus that goes to the home games. I’m sure that, for the administrators who had a part in the brainstorming for the shuttle, this seemed like a great service to students. The fact of the matter is that it forces students to be on the shuttle’s time schedule in order to get a lift to and from the game. Most students like to be able to decide for themselves if they’re going to see kickoff or be a little late to the game.
The University football stadium needs to be on campus so that students can walk to and from the game from their dorms or campus apartments.
The Metrodome is the worst college football stadium I have ever been to. Is there any connection to, or sense of spirit between, the students and alumni towards the Metrodome? No. How could there be to a stadium that contains absolutely no character towards the University. There is no history. No aura. It truly saddens me to think that late on Friday, or early Saturday morning, the staff at the Metrodome is busy dusting off Gopher paraphernalia in an attempt to transform the Dome into “our” stadium. With all their hard work, all the staff accomplishes is creating a false sense of spirit, and a feeling of being in a rented stadium. I’m surprised the staff at the Dome has never been confused as to what organization they need to dress the stadium for on a particular day. The Metrodome is a pro sports facility, not a college one.
I’m sure that at the time, everyone thought that the Metrodome was the wave of the future — a facility to pack all of Minnesota’s teams into. College football is a sport that shouldn’t be played in a sterile facility as devoid of heart as the Dome is. There is so much more involved in college football then having a winning team. It’s about the University pulling together, having a good time, and creating a sense of loyalty to the University.
Where are the gorgeous, sunny fall days sitting in an outdoor stadium at a football game with your college buddies? The parties in the morning. The smell of brats drifting from the grills throughout the campus. Students and alumni walking together on campus to and from the stadium. The band marching up University Avenue and taking the field. The campus bars full of students having a good time after the game. The maroon and gold.
(I apologize for using the word “campus” repeatedly for those of you students that don’t know what one is).
I feel sorry for the players who are on that field busting their butts every week. I’m sure they would appreciate a packed, wild student section supporting them at home games. That’s what they deserve.
It’s sad to see old pictures of Memorial Stadium standing on the campus where the Rec Center is now. The money that built Memorial Stadium, for the most part, was donated by students, alumni and residents in the state of Minnesota. It was built in memory of this state’s war veterans. Like too many veterans, the stadium was demolished and has been forgotten.
The University needs to bring back a sense of school spirit to its home football games and I don’t think this will be accomplished until football returns to the campus. I wish I didn’t have to go home to Madison to enjoy the spirit and atmosphere of college football.
Matt Wilcox is a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts.