Spartan Stadium

9 11 2008
  • 248 Jennison Fieldhouse
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 355-1610
  • Website
A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

A full endzone at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

Finally!  When we moved here, I was really hoping to shoot a football game at Spartan Stadium and Michigan Stadium.  Spartan Stadium finally happened.  Michigan Stadium will have to wait and hopefully happen next year.  I’ve now shot games at six of the eleven Big Ten football stadiums (Memorial Stadium (IL), Ross-Ade Stadium (Purdue), Ryan Field (Northwestern), Kinnick Stadium (Iowa), and Camp Randall (Wisc)).  From a working standpoint, Spartan Stadium doesn’t rate that high.  Lack of elevators and access knock it down a lot.  Putting the camera deck in a location that’s not cut off totally from the public knocks it down too.  Parking, however, is one of the best.  They let us park not far from the truck which is outstanding.  I don’t have to carry all the stuff I may need two miles.  I can leave my rain gear until it rains.

So, as most of you know, Spartan Stadium sits on the campus of Michigan State University near the other sports facilities on MSU’s campus.  The first thing I noticed is that it looks much bigger from the outside than it does inside.  The luxury suites and press box tower make it look huge, but that structure also takes away a lot of seats.  Still, the facility hold close around 75,000, so it’s not small either. 

My view from the photodeck.  As you can see, we left the rain covers on.  It was that kind of day.

My view from the photodeck. As you can see, we left the rain covers on. It was that kind of day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to walk around very much because my credential limited my access to the TV tower.  Usually, we’re issued all access passes so we can walk around the stadium freely doing what we have to do.  On the photo deck, they actually had a concession stand.  Again, drinks and snacks are usually provided for working media….not at MSU…at least not where I was at.  The concession stand was just typical stadium food.  Pretzels, popcorn, and little snacks that that.  They didn’t really have anything unique, but I didn’t get to see a concession stand in the concourse areas. 

The fan base was also a surprise to me.  I came from Peoria, IL which is home to Bradley University (you should know that name if you watch MSU basketball….they’ve played the last couple years and Bradley damn near beat them last year).  When you go to a Bradley basketball game 90% of the arena is filled with older people.  There is a very small student section.  That’s the feeling I got at Spartan Stadium.  There was a student section, but they didn’t seem to be a huge part of the game.  At Illinois, there are traditions throughout the game where all eyes are on the Block I.  Even seating is huge.  Students are allowed in a half hour ahead of the public in Champaign and it’s a mad dash for the front row seats.  I didn’t see anything like that at MSU.  Students trickled in with everyone else eventually filling up the section.  At Wisconsin, the media isn’t allowed to go anywhere near the student section.  A few years ago, the railings gave away and students got crushed as a TV photog was trying to get video of rowdy fans, so they know to position security on the 10 yard line and no one is allowed past him.  I just didn’t see any tradition other than the “Go Green. Go White” chants. 

Of course, the game was fun to watch.  It was the last home game of the year and the last home game for Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer.  I just started watching MSU this fall and those two have been a blast to watch.  I am glad I got see Ringer play once before he moves on to the NFL.  I’m not a huge band fan, but college bands are always fun.  Again, MSU was good, but there was just no tradition or nothing special.  Purdue also brought their band and they brought along “The World’s Largest Drum” which is fun to watch.  At Illinois, they have the 3-in-1 which I don’t really understand, but still, it’s a tradition..and it’s when the Chief used to dance.  MSU played Bon Jovi.  They were good, but I just don’t see the tradition I see at the other Big Ten schools. 

Thousands of fans enjoying a cold last home game at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

Thousands of fans enjoying a cold last home game at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing

My overall feeling was that Spartan Stadium is a great place to enjoy a football game, but when it comes to comparison with other Big Ten schools I’ve been to, I’d probably place it right about Ryan Stadium.  I haven’t been to Indiana, Minnesota or Michigan which I’m told just suck, but of the six I’ve been to, it probably rates fifth.  Just the lack of uniqueness among the fans and no visible traditions other than Zeke the Wonder Dog.  The nice thing for fans is that the seats are right on top of the field, so it should be easy to get into the game.  The fans that were there (it wasn’t a sell out by quite a bit, but it was freakin cold) were loud and really into the game, so I can’t say they were lame.  They were just a bit older than I would have expected.  I definitely want to go back as a spectator.  I love living in a Big Ten community and I really want to take advantage of that.  We looked to go to a game this year, but always had something going on when they were at home.  Next year, I look for that to change.

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5 responses

10 11 2008
genie28

As an MSU alum, I am somewhat ashamed to admit I never went to a football game there. Tailgated a lot though! I have been to a game at the Big House- MIchigan Stadium. My recollection of MSU’s student section is that its now high up on the east (?) side of the stadium. And every few years controversy erupts as the school makes more space available for alums and other high-rent types. Considering the Spartans have been mediocre at best for years, there were plenty of years with nearly empty student sections. Back in my day, at Michigan, the students had good seats but they never freaking sit down. I don’t like football that much that I want to stand for 4 hours! And they throw marshmallows. The construction of more luxury suites and other changes might have moved students to lesser seating but I am sure they are still rapid fans, even this year.

10 11 2008
Bethany

I have to say, I don’t have a great reply for this post. Since I just graduated from here last December, this stadium is near and dear to my heart, but I can’t say what it compares to, because this year was my first time visiting another college stadium, and it was the Big House. I have to admit, weather makes a big difference for fans at games, especially the student section. This wasn’t a huge game in most peoples eyes, so I had friends choose just to tailgate or go to the bar rather than attend the game.

As for students getting in, they keep enforcing stricter rules every year, and now you have to wait a very long time outside to get trickled into a barricaded area where they do an extensive pat down…I’ve found it funny that I’ve seen a couple older alum sneak in booze (this weekend an actual beer bottle!), but not any students…they make it much more difficult for them.

Finally, I get a feeling that we may not have big traditions compared to other schools, but being in the student section is still an amazing time. The cheers we do are near and dear to our hearts, we stand the entire game (I’ll admit it’s been nice to have regular seats this year!), and most feel like we’re on the field with those guys as we watch each play. Seeing Javon spend extra time with the student section and then making his way around the stadium to slap hands after the game was an amazing sight.

10 11 2008
Bethany

Oh, and as for food, it is true we don’t have a lot of unique items…I believe there’s some Turkey Man stands, as well as Pita Pit and Melting Moments ice cream sandwiches downstairs. I can’t lie, something about a stadium hot dog and hot chocolate keep me content on game day! 🙂

10 11 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

I was just thinking there would be some tradition. I don’t doubt that the student section is loud and into it. But there isn’t a time during the game that kind of spotlights the student section. Like I said with Illinois, there are many times throughout the game that all eyes are on the Block I. SInce I moved to Lansing everything has been “MSU Football….life revolves around MSU football” and I’m not sure I see why. It seems like there was more alumi than students…and if it’s because the school is keeping students away, that’s awfully sad. Money is important to any D-I school, but one day, those students will be alumni too….

14 02 2009
DIANNE SCHELL

I will be attending the pow wow next weekend and need directions from the Red Roof Inn off Jolly road to Jennison Field House since I am not at all familiar with the area. Can I also download a graphic of the inside of the Field House? thank you.

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