The Nebraska Cornhuskers are a historic college football team. Their success has come often, with five national championships and dozens of conference championships (although most of them happened before current students were even born). Although their team has been impressive, the gameday experience in Lincoln might have an even higher reputation. Memorial Stadium has been sold out for every game since 1962, and the 90,000 fans that attend are known to show some of the best hospitality in college football.
Your gameday experience will likely start before the day of the game. Finding a parking spot for a Saturday game usually becomes difficult by late Friday night. Luckily, everywhere you’ll need to go is in walking distance. The bars, tailgates, and everywhere else you might need to go are all within ten minutes of each other.
The day of the game starts early and it starts strong. People going to tailgates will start setting up as the sun starts to rise. Others might go grab a morning drink to kick off the day’s festivities. You could even go out and get Casey’s famous breakfast pizza. Regardless of what your plans are, getting up bright and early to prepare is the best option.
From there, you can get whatever you want out of the day. There are plenty of tailgates right near the stadium, with both locals and alumni. If you’re looking for something a bit more wild, you can find that too.
The younger crowd is split up between a few areas. The houses in the North Bottoms are known to be a hot spot to pregame. There, you’ll find your classic tailgates with food, booze, and plenty of people. After the tailgates, it’s only a ten minute walk over to the stadium or the first bar of the day.
There are too many famous bars and restaurants to even count, and they’re all packed. Barry’s, with a rooftop bar is a great place to start off the day. They have three levels, televisions all over the place, and murals with famous Cornhuskers. It’s definitely a good spot for a day of football.
Other spots to hit up include Brass Rail and Boombox. Dozens more options can be found on O Street, at The Haymarket, or at The Railyard. You could hop between different places all day and still not be able to see everything.
Some people will stay at one spot, but most people like to move around before the game. It’s pretty likely that a few of the tailgates you pass by will offer a drink, some food, or a place to sit for a bit. If you don’t know anyone before game day, you’ll certain end the day with at least a few new friends.
If you decide to watch the game inside Memorial Stadium, you’re in for a treat. 90,000 fans are there every single game, and they aren’t shy about who they’re cheering for. The tunnel walk before the game is an absolutely legendary tradition, and it will definitely give you chills the first time you see it. When the Cornhuskers score for the first time, the sky is lit up with hundreds and hundreds of red balloons. From the kickoff to the final whistle (and all the mistakes made by the Cornhuskers in between), the game is always a highlight of the day.
Afterwards, you can join your friends who watched from one of the many bars, clubs, or restaurants that you went to before the game. You can celebrate the night away after the occasional win, or have a few drinks to forget another tough loss. Regardless of the outcome of the game, however, there’s a way to continue the fun.
At the end of a game day in Lincoln, you can be sure of two things. One, you’ll have seen a good football game, most likely a loss if the game was anytime in the 21st century. Two, you’ll have had a great time and been treated with some of the best hospitality in the world of sports.
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be breaking down the game day experiences at several Big Ten schools. If you have a game day experience you’d like to share, reach out to be included in an upcoming column!