Whether you went to school in Boise, grew up in Laramie or moved to Fort Collins, chances are you’ve experienced a football game in of these college towns. The same can be said for all 12 cities in the Mountain West, where the colleges reside in cities as big as San Diego and as little as Logan, Utah. One of the cooler parts about this conference, and really college football as a whole, is what each college gameday experience has to offer. The biggest part of the gameday experience is where that gameday takes place, the stadium. With so many different regions, climates and overall topography, the Mountain West has such a wide-varying stadium representation. So, in honor of a fresh football season coming in hot this fall, let’s rank and briefly run down the MWC stadiums! (We’ll try and rank these as stadiums alone, but obviously fan support and tradition might slightly impact the ratings!)
1. Canvas Stadium (Colorado State Rams)
Opening in 2017, Canvas Stadium is scoring MAJOR points on this list because it is so new. Designed by Populous, a well-known company in the stadium-creating world, it is more commonly known as Sonny Lubick field to Fort Collins residents. Because it is so new, it encompasses a new wave of sports venues, where standing areas and sightlines take precedence over capacity. Regardless, it still holds 41,000 people and was designed to help attract more out-of-state students and to develop a more successful program. Fort Collins is a really cool city and they do support their Rams if the team is competitive. There’s no doubt this stadium will be a must visit for fans looking to travel to watch their teams play as well.
2. Maverik Stadium (Utah State Aggies)
I imagine this one will come as a bit of a surprise, but Maverik Stadium boasts some absolutely gorgeous sightlines and skyline views. Utah as a whole is a really pretty state, and this stadium is able to take advantage of that. Despite being old, it’s been renovated frequently enough to be considered high up on this list. The capacity of just over 25,000 is a bit small, but the enclosed press box/sports medicine facility makes the stadium seem bigger and louder. Overall, Maverik Stadium scores major points because of views and Aggie fans are extremely passionate so the building usually contains really good energy if it’s full.
3. Albertson’s Stadium (Boise State Broncos)
Most people either love or hate this stadium, but I think it’s just a solid stadium with an obvious quirk. Known commonly as “The Blue” for it’s unmistakably blue-colored turf, Albertson’s stadium is the only college football field with this loud blue turf color. It’s part of what makes college football so lovable because it is so unique, but the stadium itself is actually quite old but like USU, it’s been kept up well. Boise is also very picturesque, and this stadium is able to showcase that. The sightlines are good for the most part, and obviously the fan support is awesome so the energy in the stadium is nearly unmatched not only in the conference, but in college football as a whole. Some people just can’t stand the turf color, but it’s hard not to appreciate the unique atmosphere that it helps the stadium possess.
4. War Memorial Stadium (Wyoming Cowboys)
Of all the stadium’s that could complain about their place on this list, War Memorial Stadium in Laramie could probably make a case. Wyoming athletics are THE sports team of the entire state and the football field fully encompasses that. The capacity isn’t large which isn’t surprising, but the place can get raucous and the surrounding views can be picturesque during the right time of year. I fully believe that a snow game in Wyoming is one of the cooler games in all of college football, and Cowboy fans have an almost superhuman way of braving the elements. These types of chilly games in this stadium is what makes college football so great, and what makes this conference so well-rounded in terms of regional location. The only knock on War Memorial is the stadium can sometimes have a high school-ish type of feel due to the way the stands are structured. It’s essentially just two giant sides of seating so if it’s a light crowd it sort of looks and feels sub-par compared to other stadiums with similar capacities. Nonetheless, War Memorial is an awesome stadium and Cowboy fans are a tough bunch.
5. Mackay Stadium (Nevada-Reno Wolfpack)
Mackay Stadium is just an overall nice looking stadium, so that alone gives it some points on our list. The capacity at 26,000 is a good number for them, and even though recent renovations dropped the capacity a little the fan experienced was improved and it looks newer despite being fairly old. Unlike War Memorial, it is essentially all enclosed around the field which gives it a good look on TV if attendance is decent. It doesn’t have as much scenery-shock as a few others on the list, but it is pretty and Reno does get behind the team and the layout allows for a noisy atmosphere. It essentially is a no-frills, solid stadium that has a good look on television and the recent renovations add some points for our list.
6. Falcon Stadium (Air Force Falcons)
Even though these rankings aren’t necessarily reliant upon tradition or fan-created atmosphere, it is really hard not to allow those factors to play a part in ranking Falcon Stadium in our list. Just like Army and Navy, Air Force is a service academy and therefore their pregame tradition and cadet-laden stands make this place pretty awesome. Outside of that, the stadium also is one of those places where virtually every seat is a good one, and that’s quite impressive given that it holds over 46,000 people. The obvious knocks on it is that it’s pretty old and the place isn’t usually full of a lot of energy outside of the beginning of the game, especially in down years. Air Force doesn’t have overflowing community support either, but if the place is full or close to it it’s certainly one of the more lively and fun stadiums to watch a game.
7. Bulldog Stadium (Fresno State Bulldogs)
Bulldog Stadium could best be described as a smaller version of some of the countries biggest stadiums. At a capacity of just over 40,000, there isn’t much about the stadium that stands out except that the fans are there to watch football. Unlike some of the new stadiums that put a premium on having large club suites or standing areas, Bulldog Stadium was created for fans to be close to the action and engaged in the game. Being the team of the Central Valley of California, Fresno State has some of the better fan support in the conference and the stadium can get very loud and intimidating when full. It’s not quite as old as some of the other stadiums on the list, but there hasn’t been a lot of recent renovation on it. It’s definitely a solid stadium that can create an extremely good atmosphere, so we’ll put it right in the middle of our list.
8. Dreamstyle Stadium (New Mexico Lobos)
Dreamstyle Stadium is overall a good place to watch a football game. It looks like many other smaller-capacity stadiums, but it actually seats almost 40,000. The stadium itself is solid, but it lacks a lot of atmosphere and tradition. Lobo fans are some of the most passionate basketball fans in the country, but that support doesn’t really translate to the football field. With late starting times being common throughout the conference, the second half of Lobo games late in fall can look like a chilly ghosttown, and it takes away from an otherwise nice looking stadium. With a nice array of luxury seating and a sports medicine facility enclosing one of the endzones, it could probably rank a little higher on the list but it certainly loses some points due to atmosphere.
9. Sam Boyd Stadium (UNLV Rebels)
When you think of Las Vegas, bright lights and extravagant structures likely come to mind. Sam Boyd isn’t exactly that, but it’s not bad. Outside of Rebel’s football, it hosts the Las Vegas Bowl every year, and that is generally well attended. It’s your typical horseshoe-shaped stadium, with a capacity of around 40,000. UNLV is much more known for basketball, and like New Mexico the fan base is much stronger on the hardcourt than it is on the gridiron. With the new stadium being built for the Raiders when they move to Vegas, the future of Sam Boyd is up in the air. Overall, Sam Boyd Stadium is fine but doesn’t offer enough to make it up high on this list.
10. SDCCU Stadium (San Diego State Aztecs)
Stadium drama in San Diego is something that has plagued the city for decades, and the Aztecs are right in the thick of it currently. With the Chargers departing for Los Angeles, the Aztecs have been left with a creaky old stadium that’s far too large for their needs. Formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium, no one in San Diego even refers to it as SDCCU Stadium. It seats around 70,000, and that is much too big. The Aztecs actually have some of the better fan support in the conference, but it doesn’t look like it on TV because they are playing in an NFL-sized stadium. Over the recent success the football program has had, SDCCU Stadium can get loud, and the “black-out” and “red-out” themed games can look really cool and give the stadium some buzz. With plans to open a 35,000 stadium in the coming years, San Diego State could themselves higher up on this list in the next few years. For now, they belong on the lower end of the list.
11. Aloha Stadium (Hawaii Rainbow Warriors)
Similar to SDCCU Stadium, Aloha Stadium is an older stadium that is a bit too large for the Warriors. It shows it’s age, and the Warriors don’t generally have the fan support to fill it up regularly. Being probably the biggest sports draw in the state, if the team is competitive in can definitely be a cool atmosphere given the unique culture the state provides. There aren’t really any plans to build a smaller facility, so the Warriors will have to shoot to be relevant enough in hopes to fill up the stadium on a regular basis. It is by no means a bad place to watch a game, and being the usual home of the NFL’s Pro Bowl give this stadium a few points, but age and lack of a regularly good atmosphere puts it near the bottom of this list.
12. CEFCU Stadium (San Jose State Spartans)
To try and put it kindly, it’s a bit difficult to rank the Spartans high on any sports-related list. CEFCU Stadium, or more commonly known as Spartan Stadium, is almost impressively old. The stadium has been around for over 80 years, and it certainly shows it’s age. The capacity is around 30,000 but the fan support for Spartan football has been nearly nonexistent for awhile now. There is virtually no atmosphere at games, and the stadium is close to empty for most games. It is rumored that recently planned renovations will make part of the stands unusable for at least this year, so a potentially bad atmosphere might get worse. Once the renovations are complete, there might be a chance this stadium goes up on our list soon, but for that to happen there will need to be some success on the field to get fans into the seats.