Yup, Oregon Football. I am a huge Oregon Football fan. I moved from Portland to Eugene when I was a teenager, went to high school in Eugene and then attended the U of O before working my way back to Portland. So in addition to being an alum, I was brainwashed by the locals after living in Eugene for 10 years. Admittedly, this is not a day trip for all but if you like college football it is definitely worth the trip.
Doing this as a day trip works best if kickoff is at 12:30 PM or early to mid afternoon. A game makes for a horrible day trip when kickoff is at 7:00 PM. I’ve done it before and unfortunately will be doing it again this weekend and it sucks but it is manageable. For the 7:00 games I highly suggest making a weekend out of it. Otherwise, with traffic you are probably looking at getting back to Portland around 2:00 in the morning.
When you drive down for a game my advice is to leave early. The earlier the better. There are a lot of people who drive down from Portland for the day to watch these games and traffic can be pretty gnarly. For a 12:30 kick off, my friends and I will usually leave around 5:30 am. Traffic is virtually non-existent and we have a nice relaxing breakfast when we get down there. My favorite breakfast is the breakfast burrito at Burrito Amigo. For the later games, play it by ear but also make sure you pay attention to what is going on in Corvallis. When Oregon State also has a home game traffic can get very very bad on I-5. If Oregon State also has a game I would suggest going first thing in the morning, regardless of Oregon’s kick off time or leave right as Oregon State kicks off.
When you get there before the game, obviously, you will want to partake in some of the tailgating festivities. You have a few options at your disposal. First is the traditional tailgating from a parking spot. Unless you are fortunate enough to score a parking pass on the Stadium grounds, chances are you will be tailgating across the street. These lots open up about 5 hours before kickoff. There is a city ordinance that prohibits drinking outside the stadium until 4 hours before kickoff, which is why they don’t usually open until it is close to that 4 hour window. The exception is the Mason’s lodge which opens up first thing in the morning. The lodge is all on private property which is how they get around the ordinance, so if you park there you can drink to your heart’s content, but go easy you still have to drive home! Parking across from Autzen will generally run you $30 – $40.
If you don’t want to tailgate from a parking spot, your next option would be either one of the beer gardens or a bar. Directly across the street from Autzen is a good sized beer garden that is new this year. I have not had an opportunity to check it out, but it looks fun.
Down the street from Autzen is also a bar called the Cooler, which has a beer garden in their parking lot and a full service bar inside. If you get there early enough the cooler also has an all you can eat $6 breakfast on game days. It is not very good but it will fill you up for cheap. The breakfast off their menu is much better.
Finally, the biggest and baddest beer garden of all is actually on the stadium itself. The Moshofsky Center.
The Mo Center is Oregon’s indoor practice facility. During games it turns into what you see above. It is a fun place to hang out but food and beer is expensive. Unlike the options mentioned above, you also need a ticket to get into the Mo Center.
Aside from the tailgating festivities I also enjoy just walking around the Stadium. The facilities are mind boggling. Alumni Phil Knight have poured a lot of money into the football program and it shows. The latest is the fortress that was completed this season.
These games are a lot of fun and if you are a college football fan seeing a game at Autzen is a must. It is one of the loudest and best venues in all of college football. Autzen was named by the NCAA as the second loudest stadium in the country. To give you an idea of how loud it gets check out the video I took from a game against Cal earlier in the season.
Yes it is raining, very hard, but that was a freak storm because it never rains at Autzen. Aside from the rain what is impressive about that video is how loud it is, in spite of all that damn rain!
As for tickets, I wish I had advice on how to score a cheap ticket but it is almost impossible. Tickets will generally cost you at least $70 per ticket. You can try using my cheap ticket method right after kickoff but I doubt it will work given the demand. You best bet is to try and find something for face value off of craigslist. I’ve bought and sold plenty of tickets off of craigslist and I find it to be pretty reliable.
If you make it down for a game, have fun, remember to be safe because you have to drive home, and go ducks.by