Nestled on the shore of Lake Washington, with views of both the Cascades and Olympics, it’s easy to see why the University of Washington proudly proclaims Husky Stadium as “The Greatest Setting” in college football.
And with the Huskies considered the Pac-12 favorites and a contender to reach the College Football Playoff, it’s not hard to envision a special season for the Dawgs and their purple-and-gold faithful who pack the waterfront stadium on autumn Saturdays.
As a diehard college football fan who has attended numerous Husky games over the years, here are some tips to make the most of your gameday experience this fall.
Keep your calendar open on gameday. Gone are the days of knowing kickoff times well in advance. Due to the Pac-12’s television contracts, only one of the Huskies’ six home games currently has an announced start time, with the rest to be determined as the season progresses. Most kickoff times are selected 12 days in advance, but some can be announced as late as six days prior.
Use public transportation. With parking near the stadium both limited and expensive, public transportation is the way to go. Express buses run directly to Husky Stadium from the Eastgate, Houghton, Kingsgate, Northgate, Shoreline and South Kirkland park-and-rides for a round-trip cost of $7, payable only by credit card. Note that the Northgate and Shoreline locations will use charter buses this fall, and thus will have less availability and different schedules than in years past. For fans coming from the south, take the light rail from Angle Lake Station in SeaTac. Due to the large number of fans who rode the light rail last season, express buses will no longer be offered from Renton or Federal Way.
Or take a boat. Husky Stadium is home to possibly the most unique tailgating scene in the country. With it being one of the few football venues where fans can arrive by boat, the Husky faithful are famous for their “sailgating.” Cruise into Union Bay and party on board with countless other boats in the hours leading up to kickoff, then use the free shuttle service to ride from your boat to the stadium. The postgame return trip requires shuttle tickets, which can be purchased at the Waterfront Activities Center office.
Arrive early. When you’ve paid good money for a ticket, the last thing you want to do is miss the first part of the game. Instead of fighting through crowds in a frenzied rush to reach your seats for kickoff, spare yourself the stress and plan on getting to the stadium an hour or two early. This also gives you an opportunity to stop by The Zone, a popular tailgating area on the East Practice Field adjacent to Husky Stadium. The Zone opens three hours prior to kickoff and features food trucks, beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks. It also has football activities for kids and is the site of KOMO 1000 AM’s pregame broadcast.
For lower-level seats, bring a seat cushion on rainy days. Sitting on cold, wet bleachers for three-and-a-half hours is a surefire way to diminish your overall game-day experience. If rain is in the forecast and you’re sitting in the 100 level, do yourself a favor and bring a seat cushion or blanket to sit on. (Seat cushions are allowed into the stadium as long as they don’t have pockets or zippers.)
To stand or sit? The debate over whether fans should stand or sit at certain points in the game can occasionally lead to some squabbles. Some parts of the stadium tend to stand more often than others, so my best advice is to be mindful of the people around you. If the opponent is facing a key third down, don’t hesitate to stand up — likely most fans around you will be doing the same. But if it’s a first or second down and everyone else in your section is sitting, don’t be the one guy who stands and blocks the view of those behind you.
Be loud. With 70,000-plus passionate fans and overhanging roofs that deflect noise onto the field, Husky Stadium regularly tops 100 decibels and has long held a reputation as one of the loudest stadiums in the country. In fact, ESPN measured Husky Stadium at 133.6 decibels during a 1992 game against Nebraska, which according to multiple sources is the loudest recorded sound in college football history. Husky fans take pride in making life difficult for opposing offenses, so join in and make some noise when the Dawgs are on defense.
It’s worth it. In this age of high-definition television, sometimes watching from the comfort of your couch can be tempting — especially when it’s cold and rainy outside. And yes, the tickets aren’t cheap. But in my opinion, any downsides are outweighed by the excitement of being there in person. The stage is set for what could be a special season on Montlake.
Make a trip to Husky Stadium and enjoy the ride.