The University of Notre Dame is unique, mainly because it is independent of any sports conference. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, Indiana are known across the college football world, and, although they do not belong to any conference, they have heated rivalries with several teams across the Big 10, ACC, and PAC 12 conferences.
Notre Dame’s biggest rivalry is against the University of Southern California. The two teams have met every year since 1926 to duke it out for the “Jeweled Shillelagh,” which the Fighting Irish have won more times. Their mascot, the Leprechaun, is one of the most well-known mascots in college sports, and it riles up the fans at every home game with its shillelagh and over-the-top antics.
The atmosphere at the 77,000-seat Notre Dame Stadium is one of passion, and the crowd shows its support by turning up in the school’s green, blue, and gold uniform colors. Notre Dame Stadium, most recently renovated in 2017, replaced the old Cartier Field in 1930 and has been home to the Fighting Irish since then.
Tickets to see the team vary depending on the opponent, but there are some affordable options. Outside of the stadium, fans get together for tailgate parties, which RVs are invited to join.
University of Notre Dame football games are an experience, one that has been immortalized in the movie Rudy. Historically, home games against USC have been the most expensive, but tickets for other games have started at around $45 in recent years. Premium seats can cost between $200 to $300.
While the Fighting Irish football team is the stuff of legend, the school also competes in a variety of other sports, which are typically more affordable to attend. Tickets for a men’s basketball game, for example, range between $30 to $60.
The University of Notre Dame is located in the northern part of the state, and it is very close to South Bend, Indiana. I-90, that doubles as the Indiana Toll Road, runs just north of the community.
To manage traffic after the game, the university changes the flow of traffic. As you exit the parking lot, keep an eye on the flow of traffic and make adjustments to your route.
Parking lots open early in the morning the day of a game, and while overnight stays are not allowed, RVs can park for the day. There are several parking lots around the stadium for cars, but there is only one for RVs. The RV lot, located at the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union, usually costs about $125 to park, and they do accept cash and all major credit debit cards.
Fans who would rather save their energy for the game can hop on one of the shuttle buses that the school provides. The three different shuttle routes may begin ferrying passengers as early as 6 a.m. and continue up to two hours after the game’s final whistle. The Bulla shuttle is ADA compliant and picks up passengers from the gameday accessible lot. Passengers with mobility issues can flag down a courtesy golf cart, which ends its service when the gates to the stadium open.
Overnight stays are not permitted at any of the Notre Dame parking lots, which means you’ll need to pack up as soon as the game ends. Fortunately, there are a few places to stay for the night near the University of Notre Dame.
Near the Notre Dame and South Bend area, there are several RV campgrounds that should suit your needs. You’ll also find some a few files up north in Michigan. The South Bend / Elkhart KOA is less than 20 minutes from the school. Potato Creek State Park is another option, which is only about 30 minutes south of the school, and offers many outdoor activities. The state park is equipped with a dumping station and dozens of campsites with electricity hookups.
The best and fastest way to get around the stadium is to ride on the shuttles, but there are other options, too. The complimentary golf cart service can help you get to the stadium if you’re having trouble walking. Apart from the school’s shuttles, which only pick up passengers within the school’s campus, Transpo provides a free shuttle service that makes several stops around South Bend, including the downtown area.
With warm to cool temperatures in the summer and early fall, it’s best to pack light, comfortable clothing. For the latter half of the season, however, you’ll want to bring warm clothing, since temperatures can drop to the early 30s starting in November. Aside from dressing for the weather, pack your favorite Notre Dame apparel. The university's primary colors are blue and gold but Irish green is also acceptable.
There’s a lot that goes into hosting a tailgate party, but it all starts with a grill. Bring some chairs as well, so you’ll have somewhere to sit while the burgers cook on the grill. Having a table is important, too, so you can display your spread and make it easier for people to help themselves during your RV tailgate time at Notre Dame.
In the event of any accidents, be prepared with a first-aid kit, which you can find at any supermarket or sports supply store. The university does not allow alcoholic beverages or drinking in the central part of the campus.
Notre Dame does not allow deep fryers or charcoal grills in their tailgating areas, so bring a propane grill and propane cylinder no larger than 20 pounds if you plan on cooking.
Before you fire up the grill, stop by one of the local grocery stores, of which there are many, and stock up on essential items. Don’t forget to bring some trash bags and items that will help you easily serve your guests.
Before you hit the town for some delicious food, don’t overlook the famous steak sandwiches served by the Knights of Columbus, which often costs around $10 and includes a drink. You can find this tasty stand next to the Coleman-Morse Center on gamedays before kickoff. Within the Notre Dame and South Bend area, you can also find a diverse selection of affordable dining options.
To shop for official Notre Dame-branded apparel and items, head to one of the Hammes Bookstore locations. The bookstore also has booths and kiosks inside Fighting Irish Stadium. If you get hungry once you’re inside the stadium, head to one of the many concessions stands, which offer plenty of options. There are even vegan and gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions.
Like many other college football stadiums, Notre Dame Stadium has a strict clear bag policy. Bags that are bigger than a clutch purse must be clear or they are not allowed. If you don’t have a stadium-appropriate bag, you can purchase one at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.
When the football season begins, temperatures are cool in Notre Dame, but that changes quickly as the season progresses. By November, the average low is around 40 degrees and drops to 19 degrees by January. Snow is not common in the winter, however, which can make driving to the game less stressful.
There are four first-aid stations within Notre Dame Stadium that guests can access as soon as the stadium’s gates open. The first-aid stations also serve as nursing rooms for mothers. If it’s an emergency, speak with a staff member or police officer for assistance. Additional medical care and pharmacy locations are situated within five miles of the university campus.