The Northern Iowa Panthers belong to a football tradition that dates all the way back to their first year in 1895. This is an FCS school with a long and proud history in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and with the UNI-Dome they have a facility that is up there with the best in their classification of schools. This Missouri Valley school is always supported on the sidelines by the lovable duo of TK and TC Panther and their purple and gold colors make them stand out wherever they play.
The University of Northern Iowa is a school that has been known to punch well above its weight in football and men's basketball. The Panthers have regularly found ways to defeat both their FCS and FBS rivals over the last decade or so, while the story of former QB Kurt Warner going from grocery bagger to Super Bowl MVP in the NFL is one that will be told for generations. When you watch a UNI game you will never know if you are setting your eyes on the next Warner, an under-recruited player that blossoms into an absolute star.
Games against the likes of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones would be the perfect ones to watch if they are played at the UNI-Dome. The tailgating and the crows will also be on fire for games against rivals such as North Dakota State Bison and Southern Illinois Salukis, with the latter being a rival across all sports. Take a trip across the Heartland and add a stop in Cedar Falls to your itinerary.
Grab your tickets with the UNI ticket office before you even leave for Cedar Falls. This is the easiest way to make sure that you will have your tickets in advance if the game becomes a sellout. Tickets come at a range of tiers and with single-game and packages available. Single-game tickets have started as low as $20 for some of the lower end games in recent years.
Cedar Falls is easily accessible from the myriad of highways and Interstates running across the middle of the U.S. From the south and the north you will be looking for US-63 (or I-380 from the south), while the UNI-Dome is best accessed from US-20 from both the east and the west. Look for local road closures on game day and be wary of some traffic backup around the town of Cedar Falls itself. In general, this is an easy stadium to access.
Parking at the UNI-Dome is relatively inexpensive compared to many stadiums around the country. General parking on campus might be had for as little as $5 in recent seasons on some of the paved, grass, and gravel areas surrounding the stadium. These lots open six hours before the game, and RV parking in the same areas has been just $10 for a single-game in recent years. Tailgating guidelines are directed by the University of Northern Iowa related to parking and quantity of people.
Public transportation options in this part of the country are limited by geography. Your best bet is to take the RV or a tow-behind vehicle to the stadium lots on game day. If you are looking for public transportation there are some bus routes in Cedar Falls, but a rideshare service or taxi may be the quickest and most direct option from wherever you are in and around campus to the stadium.
Overnight parking is generally not allowed on campus and in the lots around the UNI-Dome. You may have some luck in city lots or on the grounds of a local business, but the best option will be to return the RV a short distance to a local RV Park or campground at the conclusion of the game. Fans are allowed one hour for a little more tailgating at the conclusion of the contest before leaving the UNI-Dome parking lots.
Iowa RV Parks and other camping options around the City of Cedar Falls that will make getting to the game in the morning a short commute. Under 10 miles away, Big Woods Lake Campground may one of the closest. Big Woods has full hookup campsites for the RV and a lake with associated water sports and amenities. Black Hawk Park Campground is about the same distance and boasts an outdoor setting for campers to enjoy. George Wyth State Park in the neighboring community of Waterloo welcomes RVers with rigs up to 66' and electric and non-electric sites, again under 10 miles from the university campus.
The parking lots around the UNI-Dome mean it is quick and easy to walk to your gate from the RV. Try to swing by the Panther Football Fan Zone on your way to the stadium (located a the south end of the McLeod Center lot) for an organized tailgate with food trucks and live music. The UNI-Dome is fully ADA compliant, and there are services on hand for those that need a little extra help to enjoy the game.
Load up on clothing with the Panthers logo and their preferred color scheme of purple and gold to get the most out of the trip. This is the only team in town locally playing at the college level, so there will be no shortage of t-shirts, hats, and hoodies available in stores. Those that like to prepare in advance can find UNI goodies online before departing.
Continue the Panthers-friendly theme in color and logo with your chairs and campsite items if desired. Gold is very much a thing in the State of Iowa, so make sure that you are going with the purple and gold as opposed to the cardinal and gold of the Iowa State Cyclones or the black and gold of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Consider a fun, football-friendly setup too, with ladder ball, beanbag toss, and a speaker to play your favorite music (at a respectable level) as you tailgate before the game.
Staying healthy on your trip is important, so make sure to follow all campsite rules regarding fires and grilling. In the summer, it is generally hot and sunny, so make sure to layer on the sunscreen and keep hydrated throughout the trip. Fans can take an empty water bottle into the stadium and this is a good idea regardless of the season. Also, have a first-aid kit and any medications you need ready pre-trip to keep things simple on the road.
Cooking while on a trip like this is much easier with a little preparation before you travel. Stock up on meat, entree items, and sides, both for cooking at the campsite and at the game. Tailgating is encouraged at the University of Northern Iowa, and fans often start getting their grills hot as early as six hours before kickoff. Groups of up to 25 are allowed and both gas and charcoal grills can be used to cook up a feast before heading into the Dome.
There are more than enough restaurants in and around Cedar Falls to allow you to take a night off from cooking at the campsite and get a bite to eat elsewhere. There are a number of restaurants within a mile of the UNI-Dome that serve a mixture of American classics and international foods. One food to look out for is the famous breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and all its crispy goodness that has become an Iowa classic.
Vendors at the stadium all accept either cash or major credit cards to make it easier for you to get some classic football watching eats. Beer sales have been available at the UNI-Dome in recent years, in case you wish to have a brew to wash down your hot dogs, kettle corn, or pretzels. Vendors also sell UNI gear and clothing for fans to pick up during events.
Gates open 90 minutes before kickoff, and there will be lines outside the gates at security checkpoints, so arrive nice and early to guarantee being there for the opening kickoff. Outside food and drink are among the prohibited items, so leave your cooler in the RV before making the walk to the stadium gates. Security staff will also uphold the fan code of conduct and discourage smoking and adult language.
Be sure to check a weather app before leaving the RV to know exactly what to expect during any home UNI game. In August and September, the weather is often beautiful, but by the end of the season (especially if the game is at night) temperatures can dip quite low. Also, keep an ear open for extreme weather such as severe thunderstorms, and know what the emergency policies are both at the stadium and your campsite.
The UNI-Dome has first-aid stations located on the northeast concourse. Staff members will be able to direct you to this first-aid station from wherever you are in the stadium. There are usually paramedics on standby outside the first-aid station to help with any serious problems. Pharmacy services are as close as two miles from the stadium.