We’ve posted plenty on this site about how to improve Notre Dame’s home-game atmosphere. We’ve talked about mascots, fan apparel, uniforms, showmanship, and much more. But there’s one topic we haven’t addressed enough: good old F&B.
Notre Dame Stadium - at least in the common people’s seating - currently serves a selection of run-of-the-mill, perfectly acceptable stadium fare. But there are opportunities out there to do things better: to bring in top-quality food, to support local businesses, and maybe, just maybe, to give the Irish a better home-field advantage.
Let’s go over the five things I’d put on the menu at Notre Dame Stadium.
Rocco’s is an absolute banger of a pizza joint that enjoys nearly-universal acclaim from Notre Dame alums and local residents alike. Beyond the fact that their pizza is delicious, their name also creates an opportunity for a great promotional tie-in with current Irish offensive lineman Rocco Spindler.
If Rocco isn’t already pursuing an NIL opportunity with this South Bend institution, he should be, and placement in the stadium on gamedays would guarantee its success.
Putting Rocco’s in the stadium would also have a great surprise factor, because let’s be honest: stadium pizza usually sucks. You’re expecting a lukewarm piece of cardboard with little flavor, and instead out comes a piping hot slice of Rocco’s? That’ll make anyone’s gameday.
Crooked Ewe Pulled-Pork Sandwich
There isn’t really a clever tie-in here. This is just a damn good sandwich from a really, really good South Bend restaurant that deserves more exposure (it also has an awesome location with a beautiful river view - seriously, go there the next time you’re in town, or if you’re a South Bend resident who just wants to impress someone on a date).
This one also has a similar shock-value factor to Rocco’s in that BBQ sandwiches are often part of stadium fare, but they are usually terrible - bone-dry bread and meat with Heinz sauce, etc. Presenting a sandwich that is 10 cuts above that would be a game-changer.
Evil Czech Brewery Menage-a-Trois Mac & Cheese
This scorcher of a dish from an amusingly-named Mishiwaka brewpub uses a bed of creamy mac-and-cheese as the base for a steamy rendezvous of bacon, pastrami, and Italian sausage. It’s the kind of dish that hits perfectly on a cold Midwestern night - and would hit spectacularly different outside, heading into a close third quarter on just such a night. A cup of hot soup or cocoa would be utterly put to shame by this masterpiece.
The only downside here is that it could potentially put some fans to sleep, which would work against the goal here of enhancing Notre Dame’s home-field advantage.
Fiddler’s Hearth Irish Poutine
Nachos are classic stadium fare. You know the kind I mean. Over-salted, space-proof chips in a plastic box with a large pocket reserved for some cheese-like dipping material. Practically every stadium has these nachos. You know what’s a thousand times better than? Irish nachos, by way of Canada.
With chips (and the chips here are Irish chips, meaning fries) covered in white cheddar, pork bangers, and gravy, this dish from Fiddler’s Hearth is as close to Irish nachos as you are going to find. This is a great way for the Notre Dame Stadium experience to differentiate itself from its competitors serving lame regular nachos, while also supporting a great local business (check out Fiddler’s when you’re in South Bend. Live music, great beers and the closest thing I’ve found in this country to a true Irish pub atmosphere).
Considering Guinness is already the official beer of Notre Dame and is poured wherever alcohol is served on campus - including in the luxury seating areas of Notre Dame Stadium) - this is really just a plea to Notre Dame to make an exception to its policy about serving alcohol to the common folk in regular seating. The whole partnership is marketed as enhancing your game-viewing experience - what better way to do that than to make it available to the people in the stands?
Yes, there would have to be a strict policy against overserving and rules against underage drinking would have to be enforced, but you can’t tell me this wouldn’t improve the crowd-noise factor at Notre Dame Stadium. The Fighting Irish, already amped up by the thrill of competition, their passions further still inflamed with each sip of their chosen stout? Maybe we’d finally get back to Michigan not being able to snap.
Bonus: TROJAN BLOOD (USC Game Only)
Longtime OFD readers will be familiar with site’s official cocktail - click here for the recipe. Leave out the gin to make a version for the kids and fill up those big lemonade machines with each variety. An Irish touchdown means everyone holding one has to finish it.