It’s Champ d’Or with a scoreboard!

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Well, the team may still be struggling, but the University of North Texas' new football stadium is a hit. Some 28,075 fans took the new Apogee Stadium for a test drive on Saturday, and it got rave reviews.

Our own informant described it in terms so glowing that we could only compare it to Champ d'Or, that baroque tribute to wretched excess out on Turbeville Road in Hickory Creek. The furniture isn't as fancy, but you can get more people in it, and there are a few more bathrooms.

There are still a few people grousing about the new stadium, and we can relate to their grumpiness; we had a few grouses of our own as the thing was being cussed and discussed over the last several years. But it is now a fait accompli; Apogee Stadium isn't going anywhere, and we might as well get used to it.

We were unable to make the first game Saturday - lofty editorial duties kept us away - but our informant provided a full report of the stadium's many amenities, and we pass them along here for anyone else whose busy schedules kept them away from Saturday's contest.

Things did not start well, our informant said. She and her carful of fellow fans arrived too late to find a parking space in the lot at Fouts Field, and they spent an inordinate amount of time driving back and forth across the UNT campus in search of a parking place. The driver was impatient, our representative said, and kept trying to park on sidewalks, in red zones or in front of fire hydrants.

They spotted an empty space in the distance, but discovered upon racing to it that it was reserved for the handicapped. The impatient driver suggested they take it and appoint a designated limper to dissuade any skulking parking police from ordering them to move. The driver was outvoted, and the search continued.

They finally found a place to park. It was well off-campus - our informant reckoned she could have parked at home and not have had to walk much farther. But the trek was bracing, she said, and the crowds moved along at a brisk clip, sharing the bonhomie that exists only at college football outings.

The trip over the Interstate 35E bridge was made in comfort and without incident - one lane had been dedicated to pedestrian traffic for the game - and our group was soon inside the university's new Xanadu.

They had seats about midway up the end zone section; that's the one that looks like it's about to take off and soar to the WinStar Casino. The ramps and aisles were wide enough to accommodate the pre- and postgame traffic, our correspondent said, and there was ample room between rows, so that nobody's knees bumped into her back.

End zone seats are not the most desired at a football game, but our informant said hers was just fine: She got a great view of the playing field and never felt the loss of a 50-yard-line seat. The only hitch, she said, was a fat University of Houston fan who sat directly in front of her and leaped to her feet each time the Cougars scored. This became a problem in the second half.

The lines at the concession stands moved at a reasonable pace, our observer said, and the prices were reasonable. Restrooms were ample, and everything worked. It was, she said, a veritable Taj Mahal of toilets.

We are happy to hear all this; we had harbored a nostalgic fondness for Fouts Field until we actually attended a game there a few years ago and were saddened by the decrepitude of the aging old arena. You can only go so far on nostalgia, and Fouts Field had hit the wall.

The process may have been a little flawed - a tiny percentage of UNT's students voted to tax future students (but not themselves) to help pay for the new stadium - but Rick Villarreal's dream is now a reality, and we're tired of being grumpy. Bring on Indiana!

 


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