Stadiums... A BIG Change In Football!
by Dave Rowe
Having been involved in football for more than 50 years gives you a lot of fond memories and a good perspective on things that have changed in your sport. One interesting aspect of this history has been both playing in a watching the growth of different stadiums around the country. People will ask “what is the biggest difference you see in football today?"
I, like many people, will quickly tell them the size, quickness and strength of players today compared to my playing days have seen incredible change. But stadiums and how fans watch the game is another area of incredible difference. This past summer I walked back into Beaver Stadium at Penn State where I played my college football. I stood in amazement as I looked at the stadium where I used to look from the field up into the stands.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that Beaver Stadium holds a unique distinction of being one of the few stadiums in the country that was moved from its original location. That’s right - “MOVED!” A couple of years before I went to Penn State they literally picked it up and moved the stadium from its on campus location near Rec Hall, out to a location almost a mile away. Being a steel stadium they took it in segments and moved it down the road to its current location.
My senior year I believe the stadium held probably 46,000 people plus or minus a few. Walking into the end zone of the stadium today, I was awed! Today it is the largest stadium in the country! Yes, bigger than Michigan at the current moment.
There used to be a track surrounding the football field that has long been removed. The stands come right down to just behind the benches. As I looked up, the first thing I noticed were the “Sky Boxes” that surround the mid deck. In my days of playing it was all about seats and where they were located. Today, it’s about your sky box and what it has. Those suites are decorated like a home or better. The food served is fantastic. If it’s sunny and warm, you go outside onto the deck where you sit and watch. If it’s cold or rainy, you can sit inside and look out the glass windows or just watch closed circuit television. All this for a paltry $15,000 or so! Like I said, in my days it was just getting a seat. Today they even have private elevators that take you to the suites! I remember well my friends climbing 100 rows of seats. One of the only good differences with the “old days” tickets and those of today are the prices! I remember the Super Bowl game tickets being $20 a piece. I’ll bet my friends had to climb also!
You don’t have to look far to see things that just jump up and grab you! In the end zone there is an incredible TV screen, called a “Jumbotron.” I recently saw the next generation TV screen in the new Dallas stadium. It stretches the length of the sideline and shows plays as the happen. Flash back to my playing days and imagine looking at the scoreboard. First, you saw the score. It might be misleading if some of the lights were out that formed the numbers. You might have seen the time left in the game and perhaps the number of first downs. WOW, it too, sure has changed!
The menu’s at games sure has changed also. In the old days it was typically hot dogs, chips and drinks and perhaps candy bars. Today, there are actually fast food restaurants located in the stadiums! A McDonalds located in the stadium, I wonder if they are open all week?
I know I could go on and on but the final thing that grabbed my attention was the program. That too, has come a long way. From a roster printed on a bi-fold sheet to an elaborate 100 page program with color photos and every fact in the world about the school the team all the coaches and whatever.
WOW, times have sure changed!!!
Former Oakland Raider, NBC Analyst, and College Football Analyst Dave Rowe recently retired to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina after more than a 50 year association with the game of football. Eye on Sports Media approached Dave and asked him if he would like to write a series of guest articles recounting his history with the game. The man, who proudly states that his rear-end is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thought it would be fun.