Notre Dame Game Day

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Notre Dame Game Day

To get the full experience of a Notre Dame game day, you need to get on campus as early as possible. It is worth wandering through the campus for the exceptional architecture and the pre-game activities, but the real action happens in each of the parking lots before the game. It is tough to get hold of a parking pass, so you will need to prepare your trip to Notre Dame a few months in advance.

Bond Hall

One of the essential parts of the game day is to find Bond Hall on campus and listen to the Fighting Irish song as sung by current Notre Dame students. They usually put on a short concert around an hour before the game starts with free tickets being given away on a first come, first served basis.

Tailgating Lottery

The actual make up of the crowd at any Notre Dame game day is decided several months in advance. The parking lots around campus hold up to 5,000 cars and parking passes are in high demand. Anyone can apply for a parking pass for each home game and the names are drawn by lottery.

A parking pass will guarantee you a spot for one game, but you can expect to pay a minimum of $50 and anywhere up to $300 for the bigger teams and post season games. Large donors to the university have the first opportunity for the limited number of RV parking passes, so it is unlikely the public is able to get one. You may be able to find parking passes on sites like Ebay or Stubhub but Notre Dame is starting to clamp down on those who are making a profit from parking passes.

Pay Lots

Photo courtesy of West Point Public Affairs

If you have not secured a parking pass, you can still go to a Notre Dame game day. You will have to park in the pay lots, which are nothing more than big fields, but they are great for tailgate parties. The most famous of these is the White Lot, which is about a mile from Notre Dame Stadium, and it tends to be a congregation of RV drivers and big Fighting Irish fans. Parking here costs around $10 for the day and the lot is open a few hours before and after the game.


Just about every college or professional team claims to be the birth of cornhole, one of the most popular tailgating games. However, people at Notre Dame have claimed the game as their own, and you will see plenty of people throwing a beanbag adorned with a Notre Dame decal. Playing cornhole is a good way to meet the locals, especially if you challenge them to a few rounds with some food or beer thrown in for good measure.

Students and Alumni

You often do not find many students at a Notre Dame game. The college is fairly small and the alumni regularly make up over 60% of the attendance on any Notre Dame game day. While many other college teams rely on the students to make the noise and rally the team, Notre Dame traditionally plays in front of quieter crowds, with the games being more of a chance for the college to press the flesh with alumni and secure further funding. However, some games against local rivals will see larger student turn outs, which in turn cranks up the atmosphere.

The most important thing to plan on Notre Dame game day is to turn up early. This will help you find a good tailgating spot in White Lot and gives you a chance to go and admire the different gates and their celebration of Notre Dame history before the game starts.

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