DATCU Stadium – North Texas Mean Green
Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Apogee Stadium 1251 S Bonnie Brae St Denton, TX 76207
Year Opened: 2011
Note: Apogee Stadium's name changed to DATCU Stadium in August 2023.
Apogee Stadium is a horseshoe-shaped stadium and home to the University of North Texas Mean Green football team, located in Denton, Texas. The stadium seats 30,850 and opened in 2011 just across the interstate from its predecessor, Fouts Field. Apogee Stadium was designed by the architecture firm HKS, which also created the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
The facility features two seating levels, 21 luxury suites, 750 club seats, two state-of-the-art video boards, and an 1,800 square-foot team apparel store. Besides Mean Green football, the venue has hosted many Texas high school football games. The record attendance for Apogee Stadium was set on September 29, 2018 versus Louisiana Tech, at a game held on Mean Joe Greene Day. On that day a record-setting crowd of 30,150 Mean Green fans paid homage to arguably the best ever to play football at the University of North Texas.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and beverage options are above average in Apogee Stadium, not because of the menu but due to the stadium’s low concession prices and the sale of alcohol.
Apogee Stadium offers basic stadium fare in addition to selections from an outside food chain, Rudy’s BBQ. The main stands sell cheeseburger baskets, Philly cheesesteak baskets, or chicken tender baskets for $7, while an Angus beef hot dog is $4. All other stadium type fare such as popcorn, peanuts, nachos, pretzels, and candy costs between $3 and $4. Rudy’s BBQ covers the full range of Texas BBQ choices with brisket, pulled pork, and sausage for $6.
The concessions fare has recently introduced two new items to the menu, which are mac and cheese with brisket (North Cantina Stands) and mini corn dogs (Victory Grill Stands).
In terms of beverages, Apogee Stadium offers Coke products for $3-$5, depending on size – the large $5 drink is the best value as it comes with one free refill. There are also alcohol sales through the end of the third quarter; the prices for all alcoholic beverages are $6. The main beer choices include Bud, Bud Light, Shiner Bock, Shock Top, and Dos Equis, but there are also craft beers available from Revolver Brewing such as Revolver Blood & Honey, Revolver Full Tang, and Revolver Loong Range Pils. The available wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Moscato.
Just like every college football game, the day’s atmosphere begins long before kickoff with the tailgating. While tailgating is as much a tradition at Mean Green football games as at any other university, it is disappointing compared with other schools in the state. Here at Apogee Stadium you will find tailgating on The Hill, a gentle rise dotted with trees lying just outside the east entrance to the stadium, as well as in parking lots adjacent to Apogee Stadium, and in the Fouts Field lot. The Mean Green players enter the stadium about 2 ½ hours before kickoff, and this is referred to as the Mean Green March. In addition, the North Texas Marching Band’s Green Brigade marches in from outside Gate 4 about an hour and 40 minutes prior to kickoff. Both of these are great for fans that are at the stadium early and want to be part of the game day timeline.
Apogee Stadium has twin-tier seating in a horseshoe-shaped bowl, plus a massive end zone that’s shaped sort of like a “V.” This symbolizes the wings of an Eagle, the North Texas mascot, and gives an architectural statement to the venue. The Mean Green players enter the field from the athletic building behind the south end zone, and there is a statue of an eagle there for the players to touch, sort of like “The Rock” at Clemson’s Death Valley. The National Anthem is performed by the Green Brigade about 15 minutes prior to game time.
Eagle Wing General Admission Seats, Photo by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
As kickoff approaches, Mean Green fans stand with their Eagle Claws hand sign extended and yell “Gooooooooo” until the football is kicked, then they yell “Mean Green.” At the same time you’ll hear a cannon sound off – this is Boomer the Cannon, a Mexican-American war replica that signals kick-off, halftime, touchdowns, and the end of the game. The Mean Green have similar responses as other schools during the game, for example every first down is recorded with the announcer stating “That’s good for another Mean Green” with the crowd responding “First Down.” The school’s fight song is also played after every extra point and field goal, and on every third down there is a high-pitched Eagle scream which gets the fans even louder.
The Green Brigade Marching Band, the North Texas Spirit Squads, and the eagle mascot Scrappy all do an amazing job in keeping the fans entertained throughout the game. The overall atmosphere is average, but there has been plenty of excitement during the past few years. If North Texas continues to have a winning team, and the attendance numbers can stay near their current all-time high, the atmosphere created by the fans here will be a tough environment for any visiting team.
The University of North Texas football team plays its home games at Apogee Stadium, located at the corner of I-35E and Bonnie Brae Street outside of Denton, Texas. Denton has a population of 113K, and is the northernmost point of the DFW area, where Interstate 35 splits to either Fort Worth or Dallas; the two metropolises are both about 40 miles from Denton. The stadium is separated from the University of North Texas campus by the freeway, but a walking bridge provides students and fans access to the stadium.
There are no restaurants near the stadium; the closest ones are in Denton itself, and include Rooster’s Roadhouse, Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant, and RG Burgers & Grill. Hotels are limited to Hampton Inn, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, and Embassy Suites by Hilton-Denton, but the best option for lodging would most likely be near DFW airport, if you are flying in from out of town.
The Mean Green faithful are great; they are loud, proud, and wear green. In the past there haven’t been enough of them, but ‘win and they will come’ definitely applies to Mean Green fans. In fact, in 2017 the average attendance at Apogee Stadium was higher than any of the previous seven seasons; the average attendance that season was 22,362, eclipsing the previous record of 21,030 set in 2013. The Mean Green also recorded a perfect 6-0 home record at Apogee Stadium in 2017, which is also a first in the stadium history.
This year’s attendance (2018) has continued to live up to last year’s success at the box office. The two largest crowds in Apogee Stadium history happened just this year, including the season opener versus the metroplex neighbor SMU Mustangs, which brought an attendance of 29,519 Mean Green fans. However, a few weeks later on Mean Joe Greene Day versus Louisiana Tech, a new record of 30,150 fans was set in a sold out Apogee Stadium.
Campus parking lots open at 8 am on game day. There is only on-site parking at Apogee Stadium for about 2K cars, with three parking areas available – Red Lot (grass), Blue Lot ($30 advance/credit card or $35 cash), and Orange/ADA Lot (across the bridge at Fouts Field). The public parking is in the Orange Lot and costs $10 in advance or by credit card, or $15 cash per space. From this lot, fans can easily access Apogee Stadium via the Pedestrian Bridge across 35E; this is about a 10-minute walk to the gates. The gates at Apogee Stadium open 1 ½ hours before kickoff. For people needing ADA assistance, a shuttle bus runs from the ADA Lot to the stadium before games, and returns fans to that lot after the game, and is available to those needing ADA assistance plus one accompanying person. There is also RV Parking available in the Blue and Orange lots, but these spaces need to be reserved 48 hours before each game.
The ingress and egress around Apogee Stadium isn’t that bad, but for people coming to the facility for the first time it is better to plan ahead by getting familiar with the area, or by visiting the North Texas website. There is a commuter railway into Denton from Dallas called the A Train, but unfortunately the station is three miles from the stadium, so the best way to reach the venue is by car (either rental or other). There are plenty of entry gates around the stadium and the concourses have plenty of room to walk and plenty of signage to direct you, making access while in the venue very fan friendly.
Note that starting this 2018 season, Apogee Stadium will use the clear bag policy, with purses, bags and containers larger than a small clutch bag not permitted inside Apogee Stadium.
Return on Investment 5
Mean Green football tickets are reasonably priced; tickets range from $18 for general admission to $30 for reserved seating. If available, the club areas are priced at $90. The parking across the interstate at Fouts Field costs $10, but there are a few free parking spaces on nearby streets if you want to walk further. However, it is already a 10-minute walk from the Fouts Field parking areas, so the free parking would be even longer. The concessions prices are also a pleasant surprise for a sports venue. Overall, a person could have a relatively low-cost day watching college football here at Apogee Stadium.
The team celebrates its history with a series of murals throughout the concourse featuring some of North Texas’ great players. Of course, the biggest Mean Green player is “Mean” Joe Greene – there is a statue of this former great outside Gate 2. In addition, after a North Texas victory the campus administration bell tower gets floodlit in green, which is a beacon to the community of the team’s result. Apogee Stadium is also the first stadium in college football to achieve LEED Platinum status for its environmentally friendly amenities, and as a structural venue has earned high praise from well-respected football people around the area.
Mean Joe Greene Statue, Photo by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Apogee Stadium is a beautiful and impressive football venue – if you are in the area and enjoy college football, but don’t want huge crowds and high costs, then attending a football game at Apogee Stadium is a wonderful experience.