I think it’s safe to say every sports fan has thought about visiting all of the stadiums for their favorite sport at one point in their life.
I always figured it would be NFL stadiums. Obviously it didn’t work out that way. My current goal of seeing a game at all 130 FBS stadiums was unintentional and basically something I stumbled upon during a weekend trip to Colorado in 2017.
I really hadn’t done much traveling in my life, so any trip sounded fun and exciting. I love the movie “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson and found out the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s novel was located in Colorado (The Stanley Hotel – Lake Estes). It is supposedly haunted, has ghost tours and I was all about it.
It’s a two-hour drive from the Denver airport to Lake Estes and you go right through Boulder. I’d always heard about how beautiful Boulder was and decided to stop there to check it out. I found my way to the University of Colorado and eventually. Folsom Field.
While I could not get inside the stadium, I did find the bronze “Ralphie” statue outside of it. I asked a student to take my photo with Ralphie and went on my way.
What’s One More Stadium, Right?
Stopping outside Folsom Field and checking out the campus was a lot of fun. When I realized that Colorado State University was only 45 miles north of Boulder, I headed there instead of Lake Estes.
My dad played linebacker at Pacific in Stockton, Calif. in 1969 and 1970. He said the best game he ever played was at Colorado State (19 tackles and an interception). I wanted to see Hughes Stadium and check out the campus too.
When I arrived on campus, I got sidetracked immediately by the construction of the Rams’ new stadium. Canvas Stadium was quickly being constructed to open for the 2017 season and it was definitely a work in progress:
I was so pumped to see the new stadium being built, I completely forgot to go to Hughes Stadium. Now, I did take time to walk around campus though and found something surprising. It was a bronze ram mascot statue, similar to the buffalo statue in Boulder.
My thoughts were, “do they have mascot statues at every school?” I didn’t know the answer at the time, but I made sure I got my photo with it before I left.
What Else is Around Here?
When I finally arrived at The Stanley Hotel, my mind was racing with ideas about college campuses, stadiums, statues, etc. From there, I started doing some research and found that both the University of Wyoming and the Air Force Academy were within driving distance of Lake Estes. I stayed at The Stanley for only one night (instead of two like I planned) and turned the second day into a road trip to both Laramie and Colorado Springs.
When I arrived at the University of Wyoming, it was a Sunday morning and 29 degrees outside. I walked through War Memorial Stadium (one of my favorites) and found a giant bronze cowboy statue as well. The problem was that there was not a soul anywhere in sight to take my picture.
I waited for over an hour to find someone and ended up flagging down a maintenance worker, who looked at me like I was insane. He may have been right. Anyway, I had my picture and headed to Colorado Springs. I later found out it wasn’t the statue that I had wanted.
CFB Campus Tour Reporting for Duty, Sir!
The last school was the Air Force Academy back in Colorado. This stop was unique, because you had to go through a military checkpoint to gain entrance. Once inside, I went straight to Falcon Stadium.
Most people at a military academy on a Sunday are not visiting the football stadium. While it was cool to be all by myself inside the stadium, I again did not have help taking a photo.
I was ready to give up and needed to get to the Denver airport. I figured I’d come back again someday for the photo. Out of nowhere, there a group of guys showed up to see the stadium and actually asked me to take their picture. I did and they took mine as well. Mission accomplished!
A Hobby Was Born
When I got back home, I decided this was my new hobby. Over the next couple months, I booked trips to Oregon, Utah, Arizona, and Washington to hit each of the FBS schools. In August 2017, I took three weeks off my job to visit 99 FBS schools.
I flew to Miami and drove for three weeks. From there, I went all the way north to Boston College, back west to Minnesota, south to Texas and finished up back in Florida.
I ended that long trip about 15 schools short of all 130 and with the season starting. My trips were planned around games in cities I still needed. I went to Lubbock for a Texas Tech game and got my photo with the Will Rogers statue. I checked out Las Vegas, not to gamble, but for a UNLV game. There, I took my photo with the Rebel statue.
No. 130 came before the Stanford-Notre Dame game on Nov. 25, 2017 in Palo Alto. Stanford does not have a mascot statue. The school used to be called the Indians, but they are now called the Cardinal, which is a color — not a bird. They have a live mascot of a tree and the real life tree (El Palo Alto) is 110 feet tall and not exactly a great photo opportunity. I ended up taking my photo in front of the bronze statue of the founders of Stanford University (Leland, Jane and Leland Stanford Jr.):
Two-Thirds of the Way There
The goal of visiting all 130 schools quickly morphed into seeing a game at all 130. In 2017, I saw 18. In 2018 and 2019, I continued knocking out “stadium games” to reach a total of 88. With 42 schools remaining, my hope is to finish by the end of the 2021 season.
As I’ve been going to games, I’ve also been updating my statue photos. I buy a team shirt from the campus store and also bought a tripod so I can take my own photo if necessary. During my original trips in 2017, I did not have the foresight (or money) to buy 130 shirts. Since I’m apparently an OCD person, I want to get my photo with an official team shirt at each statue. Here’s updated versions of Colorado State and Colorado:
I have about 70 “updated” statue photos and hope to get the rest by the end of 2021.
So there you have it.
This is the story of what inspired me to visit every FBS stadium and how CFB Campus Tour came to be. Out of everything I’ve done in my life, traveling the country for college football is by far the most fun. I am grateful to have to ability to do it and hope it will continue for a very long time.