Sitting in Section 121 at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium can be dizzying. If you squint real hard, you might be able to make out numbers and names on the back of the jersey – otherwise, you’re up there because the tickets were cheap and you get a scenic view of downtown Austin. Plenty of college football diehards (myself included) don’t mind the towering seats. It gives a full view of the entire stadium and you’re just happy to be there. But some stadiums don’t have bad seats.
Of course, the smaller venues – your Bowling Greens, your Marshalls, your Utah States – don’t have those kind of seats. So, I’m going to look at the largest college football stadiums, say, with a capacity over 60,000. You really get your money’s worth at the following venues.
The following college football stadiums are ordered on capacity, not necessarily on best-to-worst.
Michigan Stadium, Michigan
For being the United States’ largest non-racing stadium, there are exactly zero seats that take you out of the action at Michigan Stadium. The single-bowl layout puts fans right on top of the action, regardless of whether you’re in Row 5 or 75. Instead, the Big House was built out rather than up. That layout will put more than one stadium on this list. Michigan Stadium perfectly balances being mind-numbingly huge and feeling intimately small.
Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma
The value that can be found inside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is among the best in college football. Some of the best seats in the house come in the end zone corners, which are usually priced at the lower end for Sooner games. However, even the second decks don’t sit you up so high that you can’t tell what’s going on down below. Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is sneakily big – it seats over 86,000 (13th-largest) despite feeling at least 10,000 seats smaller.
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Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State
A common theme on this list is stadiums that feel smaller than they really are. Doak Campbell Stadium is no exception, seating almost 80,000 despite feeling like more in the mid-60,000 range. Thanks to single-deck sidelines and cleverly-placed corners, Florida State’s home feels intimate and traps noise well. When the ‘Noles break a big play, the place sounds more in line with a 100,000 seater. You cannot and will not be disappointed with a seat in the house.
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame
Like Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame opted for a single bowl over tiered decks. This keeps those in the back rows and corners on top of the action for Fighting Irish games. While Notre Dame Stadium feels bigger than it really is, that’s due to the grandeur of the facility rather than being so far away from the field. The one drawback to this layout: it doesn’t trap noise like vertically-build venues.
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa
The photo above was taken just 15 rows from the outside of the stadium. Yet, it feels like you’re sitting in the premium section. The towering home press box and Children’s Hospital (behind) scale down Kinnick Stadium, making it feel quainter than its nearly-71,000 capacity. Another nice perk: there’s plenty of terrific standing room sections to get an even better view. The friendliness of Iowa ties everything together into some of the best seating in college football.
Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech
While not built in a bowl shape like Michigan or Notre Dame, Texas Tech built out rather than up. The field is also set below ground, helping with the illusion that you’re right on top of the action from the back row. Until BYU joins the conference in July 2023, Texas Tech has the fourth-largest stadium in the Big 12 – a surprising fact by just glancing at the seating bowl. More clever angles with corner seats help pack many more inside Jones AT&T Stadium than appear, leading to great seats all around.
Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State
Maybe it’s the feeling of being truly buried inside the stadium – thanks to continuous boxes and press rooms around the top of the bowl and the basketball arena capping the east end zone – but Boone Pickens Stadium might have the best all-around seating for a stadium its size in the country. The rows and angles were perfectly designed to keep everyone engaged in the action. The lower rows even put you so close you feel like you might take an errant pass to the chin. Oklahoma State puts their stands right on top of the field.