You may not be a rowdy and raucous college student wearing red and white striped overalls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still thoroughly enjoy a University of Wisconsin Badger Game (with your kids!).
In fact, I found the experience was more fun and impressive as an adult with my kids.
Perhaps it was because I appreciate the infrastructure more, the beauty of the Camp Randall grounds, and what it truly takes to put on an event like this.
Perhaps because I’m not three sheets to the wind this time around. Who’s to say?
Here are some tips for doing a Badger Game in Madison, WI with kids:
1. Wear Badger Gear.
This may go without saying, but say it I must: Wear red and white to the Badger game.
I arrived at the game in a gray non-descript sweatshirt, and I may have been the only person in the stadium not wearing red and white. Lesson learned.
Wearing red and white is a fun and powerful show of unity for the team, and contributes to the fun energy of the day.
2. Park near Camp Randall Stadium.
If you have young kids and you are only attending the Badger game that day, park near Camp Randall Stadium. Here are some good options.
If you are willing to walk and are trying to do other activities in Madison that day, do a little research online before you head out.
We parked in the large Southeast Campus Ramp on Johnson St. and Lake St., putting us within a short walking distance to State Street, and about a mile from Camp Randall.
This central location is good if you want to check out the Dane County Farmer’s Market around the Capitol, get ice cream at the Chocolate Shoppe on State Street, or grab lunch at Ian’s PIzza or the Nitty Gritty.
3. Prepare to walk.
Strollers and baby carriers are not allowed in Camp Randall (but I did see a few baby carriers), so your kids need to be wearing comfortable shoes to walk.
And, here’s a reality check: If your kids are like mine, you may want to prepare yourself for carrying them some of the way.
4. What to bring:
Only bring what you absolutely need. My kids are older (6, 8, and 11) so the only thing I brought was a fanny pack with cash, my id, and some chapstick.
That being said, here are some guidelines:
Diaper bag: You are allowed to bring in a diaper bag into Camp Randall if you have a child, so use that to your advantage. For example, we had a nacho cheese spill on the person’s seat in front of us, so having baby wipes would have been useful.
Nursing items: You are also allowed to bring in items related to a medical condition.
Blankets: If you’re going to a Badger game on a chilly fall day, you are allowed to bring blankets into the stadium. It may help your children last longer at the game.
As mentioned above, strollers and baby carriers are not allowed in Camp Randall Stadium, but I did see a baby carrier while I was there.
5. Attend the Badger Bash at Union South.
We attended the Badger Bash at Union South, just steps from the Camp Randall entrance. Admission to this family-friendly event is free!
The festivities begin two and a half hours before each home game, with indoor and outdoor food and drinks.
There was live music, games and activities for kids, performances by the Spirit Squad, a giant inflatable Bucky Badger, and the marching band came through before the game.
6. Walk around Camp Randall before the game.
Show your kids a slice of Wisconsin history before the game by walking around Camp Randall.
Camp Randall Stadium has been the home of the Wisconsin Badgers football team since 1895, and it’s the oldest football stadium in the Big Ten Conference. It was also a United States army base.
The impressive stone archway at the entrance is a great photo opportunity, and so is the the Camp Randall cannon, leftover from the Civil War.
7. Consider buying a seat back.
The vast majority of seats at the stadium are bleachers, meaning there are no chair backs. Season ticket holders can add a chair back onto their order, or you can purchase a padded seat online before you go.
It’s not totally necessary, but if you plan to go to more than one game, it adds a bit of comfort to your experience.
8. Sit in the lower bowl.
There’s no bad seat at Badger Stadium. The stadium holds over 80,000 people, and the energy is palpable everywhere. It will be a great experience wherever you sit.
That being said, kids will pay better attention if they can see the action on the field more closely, so a lower bowl seat is a good investment.
Sitting near the student sections (J-P) will also bring lots of fun energy to your experience, but you may find yourself having to explain foul language and rowdy behavior.
9. Arrive at least 30 minutes before kickoff.
Definitely arrive early! About 30 minutes before the game is when the team runs out on the field, the announcers introduce the players to much fanfare, the marching band plays upbeat songs (there was even an Olivia Rodrigo song which my kids loved), the cheerleaders perform, and the general revelry begins.
10. Stay in your seats during Halftime.
Halftime is another very entertaining time for kids and adults alike. The marching band performs and the stadium sways together and sings the Varsity song.
11. Jump Around if you can.
No visit to Camp Randall is complete without partaking in the Jump Around tradition.
At the beginning the third quarter, the stadium plays House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, and everyone, well, jumps around.
This was about how long my six and eight year old could make it, so we left afterwards.
12. Older Kids will love Fifth Quarter.
If you’ve got older kids (or if you think your younger kids can handle it) stick around post-game for the Fifth Quarter, where you can catch a lively performance by the marching band, plus school traditions like “Varsity and “You’ve Said it All.”
I loved every second of our time at the Badger Game (except when I was cleaning up the spilled nacho cheese). It’s an iconic experience for a Wisconsin kid, and it was fun to see it all again through my children’s eyes.
What are your tips for visiting the a Badger game with kids? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.