Falcon Stadium – Air Force Falcons
Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Falcon Stadium Stadium Blvd Colorado Springs, CO 80840
Year Opened: 1962
Air Force Falcons Football Sings Second
Falcon Stadium on the campus of the U.S. Air Force Academy is home to the Air Force Falcons football and lacrosse teams. The stadium, which was built in a natural bowl, has a capacity of 46,692 and stands in the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. Falcon Stadium is 6,621 feet above sea level, making it the second-highest elevation FBS college stadium, behind the University of Wyoming’s War Memorial Field. The stadium was built in 1962, bringing Air Force football games on campus for the first time. The first game here was on September 22, a 34–0 victory over Colorado State, and the venue was officially dedicated four weeks later on October 20, which included the Air Force’s famous demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. Colorado State continues to be a big rival for Air Force, as the two schools compete for the Ram-Falcon trophy each year.
Falcon Stadium does host non-athletic events, such as the Air Force Academy’s annual graduation. The facility will also host the 2020 NHL Stadium Series outdoor game, with the Colorado Avalanche hosting the Los Angeles Kings.
Food & Beverage 4
The main concessions stand Inside the stadium serve the standard fare such as hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn. The prices for these items are all below $5. For more of a variety, search in the end zones of the stadium, where there are food trucks, a beer garden, and local restaurants for fans to up their food and beverage game. Chick-fil-A is the most recognizable tent located near the beer garden, while Dickey’s bright yellow BBQ food truck stands out in the other end zone. Budweiser is covering the domestic beer, with a 16oz Bud Light costing $8, but a 12oz Bon & Viv pear seltzer is available as well for the same price. But for a little more, Pikes Peak Brewing Company offers a few of their beers to fans.
For non-alcoholic beverages, Falcon Stadium serves Pepsi products; a Pepsi bottled drink costs $4 while coffee, hot chocolate, and cider are $3. Or, for fans that need that extra kick in their step; there is the $5 Spike energy drink. The concessions lines move quickly, and Falcon Stadium does allow food, which is a rarity at sports venues, but the food must be displayed in a transparent 1-gallon Ziploc bag with only I bag allowed per person. Also, factory-sealed transparent soft plastic water bottles 24oz or less are the only beverages permitted to enter Falcon Stadium.
The game day atmosphere begins with fans convoying onto the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds to begin tailgating at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Falcon Stadium in the fall/wintry months provide one of the best tailgating atmospheres in all of college football with the cool-brisk air, smell of food, and the sounds of music with a background of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain. There are plenty of vendors outside the stadium gates offering free samples or items for fans. For those fans lucky enough to be in attendance for the Veteran’s Day weekend game, a show of military helicopters is on hand for photo ops. The Air Force spirit squad can also be seen walking through the tailgating areas encouraging the fans with upbeat cheers.
Air Force Spirit Squad, Photo by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
The pregame festivities are unparalleled by any other college football venue. The march on before the Army/Navy game is well documented, but this tradition is at all the service academies. Before the national anthem starts, various Air Force cadets march into Falcon Stadium in formation filling the field with our future Air Force members. The Air Force Cadets are dismissed and sprint to their seating section. The game football is brought in with a parachute demonstration into the stadium and onto the field. This tradition is always a highlight for fans, both old and new. Then after the national anthem there are various fly overs.
Falcon Stadium is bowl-shaped and has two tiers of seating on the home side with the press box, along with a spacious walkway between the seating tiers. Along the walkway wall, previous Air Force teams are honored with game-by-game records on plaques. During the game there is the normal cheering, such as fans on one side yelling “Air” and the other responding “Force.” For fans that like to use halftime as a break, I suggest you wait or go before halftime. At halftime, Air Force’s live falcon mascot soars around the stadium and the PA announcer gives the history behind the bird being the symbol of the U.S. Air Force.
During the game, after each score, cadets run down behind the end zone and do push-ups. At the end of the game, for games involving the military academies, Sing Last! college football has a tradition of each school singing their alma mater with their fans, but the teams don’t join in each other school’s songs. However, the academies are different, so win or lose, the teams’ mutual respect is shown with both schools participating in songs. So, the motto for the military academies fans and players is to “Sing Second,” as singing second signifies a win in the game.
Falcon Stadium is located at the Air Force Academy, yet still 2 miles from the cadet area. The stadium complex is situated in a natural bowl on the base of the mountain range. Colorado Springs has plenty of things to offer fans in terms of food and lodging, but it is a 25-minute drive from Falcon Stadium. It also depends on which direction or gate you are entering; both the north and south gates have restaurants, shops, and hotels.
For fans near the south gate area, the food options could be at the Promenade Shops at Briarwood Parkway, where there are plenty of chain restaurants such as Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Fuzzy Taco Shop, or Dickey’s BBQ. Colorado Mountain Brewery is a few miles north on I-25 from that gate. Next door to the brewery are Great Wolf Lodge and Drury Inn & Suites, plus a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Hampton Inn Suites-Colorado Springs across the parkway.
On the north gate side off Interstate 25, there is Bourbon Brothers Southern Kitchen. However, the best idea would be going north to Monument, where Pikes Peak Brewing, 3 Margaritas, and Broken Bones are all good places to eat. There is also a Ramada by Wyndham in Monument, as well as Fairfield Inn & Suites Colorado Springs North/AF Academy for lodging.
There are a lot of things to do around Colorado Springs, the USAFA, Pikes Peak, and Pike National Forest, or you can make the short drive to the Denver area, or some of great skiing options nearby for those later fall games. Unfortunately, the most recognizable building at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the most visited man-made tourist attraction in Colorado, the Cadet Chapel, is closed for necessary repairs right now, with an estimated completion date of late 2022.
The average attendance for Air Force games hovers around 28,000 fans. The top opponents for attendance are the other service academies and Colorado State. This usually translates to Falcon Stadium being less than half of the stadium’s capacity, but this doesn’t affect fans’ enthusiasm, as the Air Force fans get into the game at key moments and can be loud when the opponent is on defense.
However, most of the game the fans are there to enjoy the comradery of being football fans. There isn’t the childish fan behavior from opponents seen at other college football games. The opponents’ fans have respect for one another and especially the Air Force players. The fans are truly there to be a part of celebrating the young men and women of the U.S. Air Force Academy, rather than just being at a football game. The fan competition does change to a slightly fiercer atmosphere while playing Navy or Army, and this rivalry between service academies is something every sports fan should see; Air Force’s home schedule allows it to be home to either Army or Navy on rotating years.
The U.S. Air Force Academy is located northwest of Colorado Springs along the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. Falcon Stadium is on the USAFA campus, 2 miles from the USAF cadet area and about a mile west of Interstate 25. There are only two entry points to the Academy, the South and North Gates. Both these gates can be accessed from Interstate 25.
When going north on I-25 take exit 150B for the South Gate entrance and exit 156 for the North Gate entrance. The North and South gates both open to the public four hours prior to kickoff, while the ticket booths and the gates at the stadium itself open 2 hours before kickoff. Parking is $10 cash without a pre-paid parking pass, and the commute toward the stadium is quick and easy. Parking is plentiful, though most parking is in grass fields; the lots are good to drive across when dry but could be difficult during inclement weather.
There are plenty of entrances to get into Falcon Stadium, although the terrain around the stadium is unbalanced due to the location of the stadium. The access to the upper level of the stadium can be difficult, as the climbing can take away the people’s breaths due to the high elevation – once you are settled in to your seating area, though, things are a little less work.
After the game, the commute from the stadium to the interstate is time consuming for all fans. There are only two ways out so traffic can be a nightmare; Interstate 25 can randomly back up, and construction is constantly an eyesore. There aren’t many options for public transportation here other than taxis or Uber, and those can be pricey with waiting times; I would suggest your own vehicle or rental to access to Falcon Stadium.
Return on Investment 5
Attending a football game at any of the 3 service academies is much more than just ticket prices. The experience of seeing and supporting the best young men and women that the nation has to offer far exceeds any cost for a football ticket. However, even if you just go thinking of Falcon Stadium, then the investment is still to the max on ROI. There is plenty of cash parking around Falcon Stadium at the cost of $10 per vehicle, with Falcons football single-game tickets range from $25 to $65 depending on the seating level. However, the Commander in Chief games (Army and Navy) are great rivalry games with higher attendance, and the prices range from $50 to $90 for these games.
For fans that want a little more exclusivity there is the Blue and Silver Club at the cost of $225. Or, for fans that really want to lower the prices for a trip to Falcon Stadium, except for games against the other service academies, tickets on a third-party website can be low as $15 per ticket, where a family of four could easily keep the price under $100 for tickets, concessions, and parking.
Falcon Stadium honors teams past by listing conference championships, famous players, bowl games, and famous seasons throughout the stadium. There isn’t a better pageantry before, during, and after the game, than football games held at the United States military academies. The pregame flyover, parachutes, and on-field formations are truly an amazing sight for any college football fan. The comradery among fans, especially fans that served in other services, is just on a whole different level of respect than at a typical college football game. A visit to one of the nation’s service academies and the surrounding Colorado Springs area is well worth the trip for anyone.
Seeing a game at Falcon Stadium is an experience that can only be matched at two other places; West Point, NY and Annapolis, MD. These places have a unique and different atmosphere that isn’t matched anywhere else in college football. The fans are welcoming, and the patriotism runs high. Whether, you attend a game at West Point, Annapolis, or at the Air Force Academy, everyone sings second when it comes to watching a game at our military academies.