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Ranking Best Big 12 Football Stadium Pre-Game Experiences

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 7 mins

Ranking Best Big 12 Football Stadium Pre-Game Experiences

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While the winds of change are strong across the college football landscape, no entity will feel it more than the Big 12 Conference. Four new teams enter the fold for the 2023 season as the conference realignment carousel picks up steam. BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston enter conference play starting this fall. 

It’s also the final Big 12 season for the conference’s anchors, Texas and Oklahoma, as the historic programs jump ship for the SEC. Even more change is expected in 2024, with Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah coming to the party. 

Speaking of party, Big 12 football knows how to throw one. Depending on the location, you can expect a top-shelf tailgating scene and a slew of local establishments, plus a number of activities geared toward kids and families. 

There is much to see, to do, to take in before kickoff, maybe even time to lay down a little college football betting action, now that wagering is legal in many states. 

As for 2023, Bookies.com has compiled a comprehensive, second-annual list of the top Big 12 football pregame destinations, ranked in order from best to worst. The list is borne from an algorithm based on multiple factors. Among them:

  • Location: Close to the action, accessible to fans
  • Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a crisp fall day with a beverage and grill
  • Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat
  • Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?

Here are all the Big 12 football pregame destinations, ranked.  


RELATED: Big 12 Newcomer UCF Has Worst Travel in Power 5


Ranking Best Big 12 Football Stadium Pre-Game Experiences 4

Best Big 12 Football Stadiums To Visit By Pre-Game Experience

T-14. Iowa State Cyclones

ISU ranked dead-last in pregame fun last year, but the Cyclones made up ground, improving their mark in tailgating. Indeed, the area around Jake Trice Stadium offers ample opportunities to park and partake, though tailgating on campus is prohibited. Meanwhile, the bar scene is a mile away. Iowa State was the lone Big 12 team to post a losing home record in ’22. (2022 ranking: 10th)

T-14. Houston Cougars 

Cougar Alley is a cool spot to hang and definitely the highlight for most fans before kickoff. Most parking options aren’t close and a kid zone offers something but isn’t huge. Its proximity to downtown is great for many fans, but parking and safety issues kept the family score down. (2022 ranking: N/A)

12. BYU Cougars

If you like to pound back a few before entering the stadium, do so from the comfort of the hotel before landing. Alcohol is not allowed on the entire campus. Entertainment in general isn’t a big draw here, though the ringing of the Victory Bell after wins is worth it. A lack of booze does have one bonus: No pre-game stadium is considered safer, a draw for those with kids. (2022 ranking: N/A)

11. Baylor Bears

Magnolia Market is a neat place, and the “sailgating” tradition remains a draw. But for the general audience, neither of those brings the score to new heights. The entertainment scene is a hike. Parking is ample and the Badger Football Tailgate Show is a destination stop before heading inside. (2022 ranking: 9th)

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10. Kansas Jayhawks

Lawrence delivers when it comes to pre-game fun. The bar scene is busy on Massachusetts Street and tailgating is visible, though it’s more for those who have tents and are willing to pay. Parking with a grill is quite limited and family activities are lacking compared to other campus Saturday’s, keeping KU’s score down (but improvable). (2022 ranking: 8th)

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9. Cincinnati Bearcats

The Cincy campus is north of downtown, close enough to the action, but far enough away to avoid massive traffic and other big-city issues. Impressive tailgating is reserved for those who can afford to pay for it, and a happening bar scene isn’t nearby. (2022 ranking: N/A)

8. Central Florida Knights

Parking on gameday, and even getting to the Orlando-area campus, isn’t always easy. But once you’re in the conclave, it’s a party. The action is at Memorial Mall and winds to the riverfront stadium. UCF ranked right in the middle of most categories – not bad, not uniquely stellar. (2022 ranking: N/A)

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7. TCU Horned Frogs

For those looking to do it up on the tailgate, the lack of available parking spots hurt the experience. But TCU ranked No. 2 for families (Frog Alley pushes the score) and top 5 in overall entertainment. The bar and restaurant scene aren’t nearby, keeping TCU lower on the list, especially for fans of a certain age. (2022 ranking: 7th)

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Tech took a plunge in the overall rankings, though its scores didn’t fall through the floor. What hindered it is an issue with tailgating (unless you’re a student) and a lack of dining and drinking options. The Raiders still ranked in the top 6 (out of 14) in every other instance, offering up entertainment and kids options that rival just about anyone else in the Big 12, highlighted by Raider Alley. (2022 ranking: 4th)

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5. West Virginia Mountaineers

Few can compete with the atmosphere Morgantown offers when it comes to parking and tailgating as a community. No team in the Big 12 ranked higher for tailgating. If you don’t like grilling and drinking in a lot, other entertainment options, including a bar scene, lagged. But WVU ranked No. 3 in family sentiment, creating a rare tailgate-family combination, highlighted by the Mountaineer Mantrip, a parade to the stadium by the team. (2022 ranking: 5th)

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Those with kinds found the entertainment to be lacking compared to other Big 12 locales. But Okie State ranked in the top five in every other measured category, including a jump to the No. 2 spot for tailgating. The Walk continues to be a game-day experience, and Gameday at the Union adds to the flavor. There is no grand, central entertainment scene, but rather several options and direction to take. It didn’t hurt the score. (2022 ranking: 6th)

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3. Kansas State Wildcats

The bar scene is two miles from Snyder Family Stadium, and the campus is about a mile away. The location is a hindrance to certain fans, but to those who want to park a car and pull out a grill, it’s tough to beat. And the lots open a whopping five hours before kickoff. The experience of taking the kids to the game was ranked second-to-none despite fewer kid-specific options than other colleges. (2022 ranking: 3rd)

2. Texas Longhorns

Austin becomes one big party on Saturday gamedays, which is why it ranked No. 1 among locations and No. 1 for entertainment among all Big 12 spots. There is no central action, however. The bar scene on West Sixth Street is a bit of a hike and tailgating is hit or miss. All the pre-game traditions that come with Texas football add to the lore, including the “Eyes of Texas” and “Largest Bass Drum in the World.” The fan fest is a sprawling kid-friendly spot adjacent to Memorial Stadium. (2022 ranking: 2nd)

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma isn’t No. 1 in any key metric. Instead, the Sooners do everything really well, ranking in the top five in every category, the lone school that can boast such a mark. A big-time bar scene is just a few minutes from the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium gates and Campus Corner is draped in red-and-white. If you have an RV, the SooneRVillage makes OU games close to perfect. (2022 ranking: 1st)

About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.