Matt Hargleroad (Cowboy Altitude)
Our experience at the oddest venue for college football. The Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID is something you'll only want to experience once.
One of the greatest things about college football is the variety of stadiums. They come in all different shapes and sizes, with their own unique personality. The 16,000 person capacity Kibbie Dome at the University of Idaho is the smallest FBS stadium. This my review of experiencing the Kibbie Dome in person this past weekend.
I'd been looking forward to this trip to Moscow for several years. I live in Western Washington and this is the closest the Pokes have played to my home since I moved here in 2005. I also have a soft spot for smaller teams and unique stadiums. The Kibbie Dome always seemed like some place I had to visit in my lifetime. It has a funny shape and name, what could possibly go wrong. My bucket list is very sports heavy and now I can cross this pile off my list.
HEADING TO MOSCOW
I convinced my friend Corey to take the trip to Moscow with me and we headed out around one in the afternoon on Friday. Corey is a USC fan that humors me by listening to me talk at length about Wyoming. Last year went went to a Montana Grizzlies game the week Wyoming had a bye, Corey had enough fun that he was willing to go on another trip with me. We were not very efficient with with our gas and bathroom breaks and the trip took seven and half hours instead of six and a half. At least I got Corey to eat his first Wendy's Spicy Chicken sandwich. How does someone live for over 30 years, enjoy spicy food and not eat the best fast food chicken sandwich?
As we crossed the Cascade Mountains into Central Washington we experienced the smoke from the forest fires that have been raging. You could see the haze and smell the smoke whenever you had a window open. I was excited the game would be held indoors since it would help avoid the smoke. We actually stayed the night in Pullman, WA since Corey knew someone with an apartment where we could crash. I would love to tell you that we spent a wild night hitting up all the Cougar bars and partying with co-eds. Instead we dined at the Cougar Country Drive-In which dished out a mighty fine milkshake. The rest of the night we watched the movie Bernie (two thumbs up) and then stayed up till 3am playing NCAA Football 10. Corey had never played before and got pretty addicted to controlling the Men of Troy. The Trojans were defeated by Wyoming and Air Force.
On Saturday morning we woke up and were groggy from a night filled with fatty foods and video games. After getting all packed we decided to check out the Washington State campus. The Cougars were hosting Colorado and it was also homecoming. We hit up the bookstore and I stood out like a sore thumb in my gold Wyoming shirt in a sea of Wazzu Red. One guy thought Wyoming's mascot was the Broncos. We checked out Martin Stadium and came away impressed. Excited to come back there in 2015 when the Cowboys take on the Cougars. The only negative comment I got was from a CU fan as we were heading to the car. For some reason he told me to keep on walking. All I did was look at him.
After that we hit the highway and headed towards Idaho. Along the way we saw a mileage sign and decided that "Eight miles to Moscow" would be a great name for a country song. The drive went quickly and we had some time before the Cowboy Joe Club gathering started. We drove around campus and found our way to the bookstore. We killed some time there and ran into a few other Pokes fans.
Then we headed over to Wingers where everyone was meeting. There was a tent and tables and chairs setup outside for people to pick up some wings, beer and chat. Met lots of great Wyoming fans who were from the Northwest and had made the trip. It was fun to have a chance to just relax a bit and take down a few brews. There was a nice breeze and the smoke really didn't seem to be an issue. We left for the game about an hour before kickoff. The restaurant was across the street from campus but we drove to get a closer parking spot.
The stadium sits on top of a hill so we had to gain some elevation on the way. The closer we got, the more Vandals fans there were. I was impressed with how many people had brought campers and RVs for tailgating. I expected a quieter vibe outside. As you approach the Dome it basically appears like a giant aluminum silo mixed with a bunker creeping up from the earth..
I never ordered tickets before the game because I knew it would be easy to get them at the door. I also had reminded myself to bring plenty of cash because people would be selling tickets for cheap that they couldn't use. Unfortunately I had forgotten about that when I spent nearly all my cash on wings and beer earlier. We pooled together our cash to buy one ticket for $13. I still the owe the seller $2 because we agreed upon $15 and I told him I would find him inside (he was a Wyoming fan). If you read this below market ticket seller, then send me an email with your contact info and I'll make sure we are even. I bought our second ticket with a card for $20 and we headed inside.
We made it inside 20 minutes before the game started. We actually had entered on the wrong side of the stadium of where the Wyoming fans were sitting. Everyone was in a GA section that basically is located perfectly a view of the sideline endzones. To get there we had to walk to the end of the stadium and then take a winding hallway to the other side of the stadium. The field runs west to east with seating just on the sidelines. The endzones are cements walls that have transluscent plastic panels on the upper half to allow some natural light. The arched roof is constructed of wooden panels and there are acoustic panels hanging from most of the roof.
When we entered the stadium the temperature was much warmer inside. It really smacked you at first. I figured things would cool down when we got to our seats. We found a spot in the Wyoming GA section that wasn't very crowded. It still felt hot and muggy inside. It also seemed the smoke had come into the dome. I was just wearing a t shirt and shorts and usually don't have a problem with warm climates. As the game progressed the temperature became more and more unbearable. There was no air circulation and I couldn't wait to get some fresh air. Once halftime came we bolted for the doors and joined plenty of others who were seeking relief. The fact they allow you leave the stadium and reenter is a blessing.
For snacks we bought some pizza and nachos that were nothing special. The bottled water was a treat for the senses.
A big part of the environment of any football game is the crowd, student section and music. The Idaho fans showed up in fairly respectable numbers considering the state of the program. Attendance was over 11k. The middle sections on both sides were filled fairly well. The student section was large and into the game. They went with the BULL%^#& chant a few many times for my taste. The band took up one sixteenth of the entire seating in the stadium. We missed their halftime performance as we were outside cooling off.
Here are my two biggest complaints about the stadium besides the temperature. There was barely any music played over the PA. The only song I can remember was Freeze Frame, which was played during every video review timeout. There were a lot of video reviews and I now despise this song. The crowd seemed to love Freeze Frame every time it came on.
We could never see any of those video replays because the one small video screen was parallel to our seats and on the far side of the field. The main scoreboard was also parallel to us, just closer to our side. There is a rinky dink scoreboard hanging from the roof that is very hard to see. They really need to add another video screen and scoreboard to the other side of the stadium or on the side of the field near the press box or by the suites. The suites are just open ledges that are on the south sideline.
Whenever Idaho gets a new set of downs the PA announcer leads the fans in a little cheer. That is perfectly fine with me, that is done everywhere. However in Moscow they follow that up with a Viking horn blow sound effect that plays twice. ONCE WAS PLENTY! That second toot of the horn made me cringe every time.
The mascot entertainment was subpar. Joe the Vandal spent quite a bit of time in front the Wyoming section for some reason. After the first quarter he was supposed to come out and entertain the crowd. All he did was stand there for a couple minutes while some music played and then went inside.
Once the Cowboys had won and left the field we headed outdoors and quick as possible for fresh oxygen. We chatted with a couple Cowboy fans before heading to the car and driving back. We made it back in only six hours this time. The Vandal fans were nice to us before, during and after the game. One girl told me "sorry" because Wyoming was losing at halftime. She pretty much jinxed her team right there. I like the campus, the fans were nice and I wish the Vandals success in finding a home for their football team. However, the only thing that would ever drag me back to the Kibbie Dome is to see Wyoming play. And I would rather they play a different school just to avoid having to endure that again.
The Kibbie Dome is a quirky stadium that has rightfully earned it's reputation as one of the worst college football venues. I really wish I could have given it a better review.
If you enjoyed this stadium experience then check out our trip to a CFL game from last year.