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Visiting Fan’s Guide: The Gameday Experience

Not the kind of "Gameday" we are talking about

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Your Gameday Experience at Ball State University.

Not All Gamedays Are Created Equal
I have been fortunate in my lifetime to attend college football games at some pretty awesome places. Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Notre Dame, Maryland, UVA, and of course, Kentucky and Ball State just to name a few. Anyone that has been to multiple locations will tell you that the experience at one is very different from the others, and comparing gameday experiences at any one place to any other is an exercise in futility. It’s essentially like comparing apples to bananas. Yes, they’re both fruits, but aside from that, every other thing about them is considerably different. A mindset with that understanding will behoove you greatly should your travels bring you to Muncie.

Like most schools of Ball State’s caliber and size, another fairly important intangible to keep in mind is that the gameday experience is directly proportionate to the success of the team in the given season. The season closer last year against Central Michigan in the midst of a 2-10 season was very different than the Western Michigan game a year earlier as the Cardinals went for 12-0. That is unfortunately, the breaks of the MidAmerican Conference football game, but it’s manageable if you know that going in. It’s economies of scale at its most basic, and the fact remains that the alumni support and local interest in a Ball State program that has been mediocre at best for the duration of its existence hasn’t reached the level of a BCS conference caliber school.

Some Rules to Live By
At some places, and I’m looking at you West Virginia, pretty much anything goes. That’s the extreme to the negative end of the spectrum, where destruction, extreme drunkenness, and general douchebaggery are quite prevalent. On the opposite end of that spectrum is the hoity toity south, where you find gents in ties, women in sundresses, and there is an air throughout of “We’re better than you… and we know it.” To be fair, every tailgate I’ve went to in the south has been a blast, but it is certainly nothing like what you’ll experience in Muncie.

The order of the day, or night depending on kick time, is casual. Pending the temperature, casual and warm. If it’s a sunny fall afternoon, cargo shorts and a polo and you’ll fit right in. The Cardinal fans are friendly, and if you have visiting team gear on, don’t expect too much ribbing. Perhaps an intoxicated student may say something, but for the most part, it’s a friendly lot of football fans that want everyone, including visitor’s to have a good time.

Planning on bringing your RV? Perfect. There’s parking for those and try and offer your neighbor some of your culinary treats. That’s a good way to make some friends, talk some football, and meet the opposition. Most folks with the financial wherewithal to purchase an RV are usually the right kind of fans to get to know. Planning on bringing your couch or a keg? Not so perfect. Those sorts of things are outlawed by the tailgating rules enforced by the University and the police. Yes, we have police patrol the lots. Some other rules to know and love:

  • Tailgating lots open three hours prior to kickoff
  • Alcohol consumption is allowed for those over 21 years of age
  • No kegs or hard liquor permitted
  • No indoor furniture of any kind permitted in the lots
  • Drinks have to be in cans or paper or plastic cups. Glass bottles aren’t allowed
  • No drinking games or drinking game apparatuses are allowed
  • Tailgating lots are cleared 15 minutes prior to kickoff

Now, what if you aren’t a beer drinker? The fact they’ve built in the “Solo Cup Clause” as I like to refer to it above makes it easy to skirt the rules a bit. Keep your liquor out of sight, don’t act like a drunken fool, and the police that walk through the lot will have no reason to stop and pay you any attention. Act like an idiot and you can expect to meet one of the Indiana State Excise Police. Nice folks, I’m sure, but I would rather my gameday not include a visit from them.

Other PreGame Goodies
Aside from drinking in the lots with your crew, there’s some other things available for you to check out. There’s Tailgate Town with live radio broadcasts, there’s the Cardinal Walk where the team will disembark from their buses and walk into the stadium, and there’s other random things to check out like people’s tailgates. You’ll see a large RV near the stadium with “The Sled” written on it. Stop by and be a part of a great bunch of fans and BSU supporters. Tell them OTP sent you.

Before the actual kickoff you’ll want to get in your seats a bit early and witness a bit of the pregame marching band show. Ball State’s band, known as The Pride of MidAmerica is one of the best marching bands in the MAC if not the country. They’ve played professional sports events, numerous parades, and even Presidential Inaugurations. Check ‘em out and witness musical awesomeness.

The Actual Game Experience
Visiting fans at Scheumann Stadium will have a bird’s eye view of the student section as it is on the opposite side of the field. As the student section goes, so goes the atmosphere and energy of the stadium. You’ll notice some traditions there, like the key jingling on kickoffs or the “Chirp Chirp” on 3rd downs and key plays. Is it the Notre Dame finger “W”s or the fist pumps? Of course not. But for a MAC school, it’s pretty impressive. What we lack in national attention and stature we make up for in fun and energy.

Don’t expect a jumbotron or a fancy light show, it’s barebones basic, but there are things between quarters and at halftime for prizes and entertainment to keep your eyes on. Additionally, the Pride of MidAmerica takes the field at half to treat you with some great marching and music.

In terms of culinary treats, it’s standard stadium food and the lines are not long most times. I will warn you though that the same cannot be said for the bathrooms. If using the facilities is a need for you, plan your trip down and try and not go at peak restroom times like halftime or between quarters. You may be standing for a while.

Truthfully, the only thing you have to do at “The Scheu”, as we call it, is simply enjoy yourself, have a hot dog, and cheer for your team. Talk to people, don’t be a toolshed, and you’ll find your trip to Muncie and your time at the game to be better than you ever expected.

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Visiting Fan’s Guide: Ball State University

No post about BSU is complete without this guy. Don't know him? Read on.

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Ball State University itself.

Education Redefined
That’s Ball State’s slogan du jour, though when Edge and I attended it was “Everything You Need”. Catchy or not, those two advertising pitches truly encapsulate the University itself. The 1000-acre campus accommodates roughly 20,000 students, and is known for many academic courses of study that garner national attention. Landscape architecture, architecture, communications, journalism, education, music education, entrepreneurship, business, urban planing, and music engineering are all top flight programs.

BSU gets a ton of flack from the Indianas and the Purdues, but I would say when it comes to public education in the state of Indiana, there is no better place than Ball State. While we may not have the national name recognition of a Big 10 school, you’ll find on your visit here the campus and its population is welcoming and inviting and just begging to be explored.

Explorers of years past include the likes of sportswriters Mike Lopresti and Jason Whitlock, Garfield’s creator Jim Davis, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, former UPS CEO Kent “Oz” Nelson, and Joyce Dewitt from Three’s Company all ventured throughout Muncie’s campus at one time or another. Athletically, the Cardinals have sent their fair share of success to the professional level as well. Basketballers Bonzi Wells and Theron Smith, footballers like Reggie Hodges, Brad Maynard, Nate Davis, Bernie Parmalee, and Blaine Bishop, and baseballers like Larry Bigbie, Bryan Bullington, and Tank Howard all wore Cardinal and White before they cashed in their professional paychecks.

Perhaps most famous, though, is Ball State’s most famous son and perhaps most vocal and notable alumni, David Letterman. Dave is clearly our bread and butter when it comes to national exposure, whether it’s lauding the football coach or applauding President Gora’s legs. I reckon having a national talk show host as the person who mentions you the most is a pretty neat thing. And in true Dave Letterman style…from the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska… the Top 10 things you must see on Ball State University’s Campus:

10.) Shafer Tower: Look down McKinley and you’ll see it. This 150 ft. tall free-standing bell tower has 48 custom-made bells in the top and chimes every 15 minutes between 7am and 7pm.

9.) Emens Auditorium: The hub of Ball State’s entertainment, this venue has played home to acts like Bob Dylan, Rascall Flatts, and Kenny Chesney while also hosting numerous plays, Broadway productions, and other events. Emens seats approximately 3400 and is named after former President John Emens.

8.) Bracken Library: From the outside, the legend has it that Bracken was built to look like a stack of books. Not entirely true, but it certainly fits. Inside this library you’ll find thousands of volumes, a digital repository, and a nice cafe. As an aside, there are numerous loose connections the students have made over the years about certain buildings looking like related objects to their course of study. The business school allegedly looks like a typewriter, the College of Architecture and Planning an easel, and Prius Hall like a piano. See if you can find them or make your own comparisons.

7.) L.A. Pittenger Student Center: Newly remodeled and very nice, the Student Center has never been the student hub in the traditional sense of the word. As BSU expanded, it went the other direction geographically, and it leaves the student center on one of the edges of the campus. Regardless, the building itself has tons of history, tons of memorabilia, and a great food court should you find yourself in need of a snack.

6.) The Village: If you’ve read the eating and drinking guide to Ball State, you know all about the Village. It’s the off-campus spot for students to do everything from get art supplies to a cup of coffee to a frosty pint. Always worth the walk.

5.) Teachers College: If for no other reason than to say you’ve stepped foot in the tallest building of Delaware County. This is home to Ball State’s School of Education, our bread and butter for years.

4.) Frog Baby: One of the coolest things on BSU’s campus, and it sits right outside of Bracken Library. This small statue in it’s reflective pool has its bronze rubbed off it’s nose. Why? Because whenever a student needs good luck, they wade through the water and rub Frog Baby’s nose. Feel free to do it yourself, but Frog Baby doesn’t help visiting teams.

3.) David Letterman Communication Building: New building that puts BSU communication program further ahead of the pack.

2.) Student Recreation & Wellness Facility: Opening in August of 2010, this facility will finally give the community a place for wellness that isn’t old, run down, and depleted. State of the art and worth a visit.

And… the number one thing you must see on Ball State University’s Campus….

1.) Beneficence: Probably no more recognizable landmark than “Benny” as she is affectionately known as to Ball State students, or “the lady with the wings” as she is known as to those who never went here. Benny was a gift to symbolize Ball State University’s generosity to the community. In her left hand sits a treasure chest, symbolizing the resources and treasures at Ball State. Her right hand is extended for anyone who would like to take advantage of them to be welcomed. Behind her stand five pillars, for the five Ball Brothers, and she was sculpted by Daniel Chester French, the same Daniel Chester French who sculpted Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. Cool, huh?

Merch, Merch, and More Merch
There are some people (myself included) who pick up a tshirt of any college that they have visited. If that’s your bag, or you’re simply looking for some neat merchandise to commemorate your trip to Muncie you can check out one of the campus bookstores. The official, University-sponsored one, is in the Arts and Journalism Building while the two off-campus options are TIS and CBX, both in the Village.

You’ve been to the bars, you’ve been to the restaurants. You’ve seen the campus, bought a Tshirt, had some hot dog man. You’re set for the Cardinal Gameday Experience. And that’s what’s coming up next.

Visiting Fan’s Guide: Nightlife and Entertainment

Find a glass, fill it with this, you're all set.

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? The nightlife and entertainment of Muncie, Indiana.

Muncie, Indiana: A Drinking Town With a Football Problem
While I would love to sit here and regale you with tales of the cultural explosion in Muncie, Indiana while tossing out tons of cool little things to do around town that doesn’t involve a frosty beverage that simply isn’t the case. Perhaps it’s just my love for hops brewed deliciousness, but if you’re looking for Shakespeare in the Park or some sort of murder mystery dinner theater, you have come to the wrong place. What follows is OTP’s recommendations of some things to do and places to check out while you’re spending your time waiting for the game or after the game is over.

The Non-Drinking Options
I am clearly not the guy to ask about non-alcohol fueled fun or family entertainment. Seeing as I don’t have kids this clearly isn’t my repertoire. So, for the family options, let’s ask OTP’s family man… Edge. What say you, sir?

If you’re into music, check out Doc’s, located downtown.  They typically have bands on the weekends, and hey, you might see Edge.  Got the kiddies?  We have a Chuck E. Cheese.  Beat my high score in Skeeball of 450,000 and win a prize!”

Skeeball and self promotion… that’s what Edge does. Truthfully, if you’re making this trip to Muncie with the kiddies, then you’ll want to check out things like Minnetrista, a great area for nature, gardens, and getting outdoors. Also to note for the kiddies, aside from Edge’s challenge at Chuck E Cheese, is the Muncie Children’s Museum. Granted, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is one of the best in the country and only an hour or so away, but this will do in a pickle. There’s also movie theaters and the like for you to partake in, as well as the things in the basement of the student center like bowling, billiards, etc.

Honestly, and this isn’t me being cynical about a social life when you bring kiddies to a football game, but I would imagine that going to the game, walking around campus, then grabbing some dinner is the extent of the wild and crazy times when you’re with your family. However, maybe… just maybe… you’re making this trip solo or with a group of your friends. Nothing against skeeball and gardens, but you’re looking for more highballs and Hoegardens. Then read on… if you dare.

The Drinking Options
In the words of Uncle Jemimah, “Do you like drinkin’? Of course you do! Who the hell don’t?!” And you’re in luck with your stay in Funcie. There’s a little something for everyone to experience, whether you’re gunning for upscale classy to the lowest of the dive bars, and not surprisingly, Edge and I have tried just about all of them.

  • Upscale/Downtown
    • Doc’s
      • Aforementioned by Edge as one of the finest Music locales in Muncie. Enjoy a frosty beverage and listen to some great tunes. And if you see a Dale Earnhardt Jr. look a like rocking some Pink Floyd or Phish, thank him for his Edge-riffic stat work here at OTP. Doc’s is located at 215 S. Walnut St.
    • The Heorot
      • Like domestic macro brews like Coors or Miller? Then do not even contemplate going in here. If you are a bit of a beer snob, then the Heorot is right up your alley. Says Edge, “Hundreds of micros and imports, and if you ask for Bud, you’re likely to get the sticky kind that comes in a baggie. You didn’t hear that from me though.” You can find the Heorot at 219 S. Walnut St.
    • The Fickle Peach
      • A good selection of beers, laid back atmosphere, live music often, and pool tables to boot make for an enjoyable experience. Be warned, the Fickle Peach doesn’t have a food menu, so don’t expect to satisfy your munchies. You can find them at 117 E. Charles St.
  • The Village
    • Scotty’s Brewhouse
      • We already gave Scotty’s the OTP Seal of Approval in terms of the food, and the beer and wine selection and atmosphere at Scotty’s is just as good. Lots of televisions, occasional live music, friendly service and a relative douchebag free environment make Scotty’s seem like it isn’t located a hop skip and a jump off campus. Be warned that Scotty’s is beer and wine only. Located at 1700 W. University Ave.
    • The Locker Room
      • Previously mentioned in the food section as well, the Locker Room is sort of a one stop shop for decent food, beer, and liquor. It is considerably noticeable that this is indeed a college bar, so be prepared to feel like the old people as the youths stream in. Try a Cardinal Punch and thank us later. Find the Locker Room at 1813 W. University Ave.
    • The Chug
      • The Chug was closed when Edge and I were in school, but has since reopened. Looking for a uniquely college experience? Then hit this place up. Cheap drinks, not the cleanest place around, but they have beer pong tables, and really, what more could you ask for? The Chug is located at 409 N. Martin Ave.
    • Dill Street Bar and Grill
      • The cheap/dirty/”college” place that was open for Edge and I was always Dill Street Bar and Grill, and don’t let the last adjective mislead you. Dill Street may serve food, but I wouldn’t know. Dill Street was the place where most undergrads would end their weekend night and it was certainly the place to potentially find some companionship for the evening, you know, if drunk college kids are in your wheelhouse. Dill Street is located (appropriately) at 421 N. Dill St.
  • Other Assorted Muncie Awesomeness
    • Buffalo Wild Wings
      • A chain, but an awesome one. Sports bar, wings, cold beer, and trivia. Really can’t be beat. Also located by the Muncie Mall should you need any last-minute pick ups or want to do some amazing people watching. You can get your wing on at 838 E. McGalliard Rd.
    • Clancy’s
      • Part bowling alley, part bar, all awesome. Clancy’s is another Muncie tradition and go late enough and you’ll hear live music in the lounge and cosmic bowling out on the lanes. Clancy’s is at 4805 N. Wheeling Ave.
    • Big Shots
      • Formerly Breakers pool room, apparently the new digs are a little classier, a little brighter, but hopefully all the same character as the last locale. It’s a pool hall. Do not expect fancy. Do not expect a ton of college kids. Expect Muncie townies in full force, and embrace it. Big Shots is located at 2130 N. White River Blvd.
    • The End Zone
      • Good priced cocktails, some students, mostly townies, great wings. Pool tables, televisions, and the like make this a good place to start the evening or stop in for a beer, but it isn’t a place I would recommend camping out at as Muncie has far better options to offer. The End Zone is located at 2430 W. Kilgore Ave.
    • Mark III Tap Room
      • Let it not be said that OTP is not accommodating to all of our readers no matter what their orientation. If you’re a member of the LGBT community and are looking for an accommodating place in Muncie, Mark III is your only option. No personal experience there, but the reviews online are fairly positive. Mark III is located at 107 E. Main St.

The PostDrinking Rituals
Granted we did a post on food and restaurants in Muncie, but the grub enjoyed after a night out with your friends isn’t necessarily the high brow dining experience that a sit down type place provides. Occasionally, you reach that point where anything sounds good, and thankfully, the “anything” that you can get your hands on is pretty damn tasty. Make sure you take these culinary treasures out for a spin….

  • Hot Dog Man
    • “Hot Dog Man” or Carter as he is known around Ball State’s campus is one of the best loved and most revered Muncie traditions. I would say it would be harder to find a student who hadn’t cut class than a student who hasn’t had Carter’s hot dogs. He locates himself in The Village, conveniently serving those patrons of the campus bars that need themselves some foil wrapped deliciousness from his push cart. OTP’s recommendation: Chicago dogs or a Chili Cheese with mustard and onion. Can’t go wrong.
  • Greek’s Pizzeria
    • Greek’s was referenced in our Where to Eat section, and the pizza is just as good now. However, the nice thing is the walk up stand on the corner of University and Dill. Walk on up, get you a slice, and let that grease and pepperoni soak into your veins. OTP’s recommendation: Pepperoni. Only way to go.
  • LaBamba’s
    • In hindsight, LaBamba’s more than the beer was responsible for the next day feeling of yuck coming out of my nether regions. However, and it is a gigantic Stephen A. Smith however, it tastes so damn good going down that it’s worth any explosive shits you may incur because of it. This is not high dollar mexican food. These are burritos or nachos that are loaded with tasty deliciousness that soak up whatever amount of firewater you have poured down your gullet. Their tag line is “Burritos as big as your head”, and it’s legit. Bamba’s used to be located in the Village but has since relocated out by the budget hotels. That may be a significant advantage for those of you staying out that way. OTP’s recommendation: Super Nachos with Steak. Cannot be beat. Ever.

The Morning After
There’s nothing better than some breakfast food or at bare minimum a good cup of coffee to get you through the morning after and ready yourself for some NFL goodness on Sunday or a drive back to wherever you may call home. Here’s OTP’s choices on where to hit up on the Sabbath for some fuel to get you moving again…

  • The Sunshine Cafe
    • A BSU tradition, Sunshine will rock your face off no matter when you go. Late at night, early in the morning, whenever. Personally, I think it’s the best option for a little hangover remedy. Some eggs, some bacon, a cup of joe and you’re on your feet again. You can find Sunshine at 3113 N. Oakwood, a short drive from really anywhere you may be staying.
  • Eva’s Pancake House
    • Located a short jaunt from the campus of Ball State, Eva’s serves up…well… pancakes and other breakfast awesomeness. You can find them at 1617 N. Wheeling, and should Sunshine be too packed for your tastes, this is a good breakfast alternative before you get on the road.
  • The Blue Bottle Coffee Shop
    • Formerly located in Ball State’s Village, Blue Bottle has since relocated to downtown Muncie. If you haven’t been able to check out the actual locale of Muncie proper, it may be nice to grab a coffee here and say you at least saw some of the downtown area. You can find Blue Bottle at 206 S. Walnut St.

So What to Do?
If I could plan some sort of dream Muncie weekend in terms of entertainment for someone unfamiliar with the area or venturing there for the first time, I would say the night could begin somewhere downtown. Stop into the Heorot for a beer just to experience it. Venture over to The Fickle Peach for a beverage. See who’s playing at Doc’s. From there, I might try to hit one of the local spots, either Clancy’s or Buffalo Wild Wings if my town didn’t have one. From there, cab it to the Village and enjoy your stay. Hit up the Locker Room and then to Scotty’s where you’ll need some snacks to compliment your vast amount of beer to this point. Hit up The Chug and Dill Street, but grab a Hot Dog Man hot dog on the way. On the way out of Dill as you figure out how to either get back to where you’re staying or to whomever’s place you may be staying at after Dill Street, grab a slice of Greek’s. If anyone is sober enough to drive and/or you’re heading back to your hotel stop by Bamba’s for a Super Nacho. Follow that plan and you’ll be laying in bed thanking OTP for one of the most fun nights of your life. Of course, the next morning you may be cursing us, but that’s not really our concern. Eat some Sunshine Cafe and thank us again.

So we’ve covered where to stay, where to eat, and where to drink. Coming up tomorrow on OTP, things to check out on campus of Ball State University and what to expect from your gameday experience. Buckle up.

Visiting Fan’s Guide: Where to Eat

This is not the chef you'll see at any of these Muncie eateries

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Where to stuff your face after BSU lights up the scoreboard and sends you home broken, bitter, and defeated.

If Stuffing Your Face is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right
See… here’s the thing about Muncie. Depending on where you come from it could either be tremendous disappointment or a few snazzy local spots mixed with old dependability. They used to say Ball State has “Everything You Need” and when it comes to eateries around campus, perhaps that slogan only applies a little. It’s also a curious mix of places that have great food as well as great drink, but for those few that do both well, this will focus only on the food. The sudsy beverages reserved for those of legal age or in possession of a fabulous Hawaii McLovin ID will be dealt with next week. Ready yourself for that one, sport.

Ultimately your food experience in Muncie will oscillate greatly depending where it is you’re coming from. Heading to Muncie from an area with lots of local eateries, tons of independent local flavor, or an atmosphere where the rib shacks, seafood places, or steakhouses are plentiful may leave you a bit underwhelmed. However, if you’re journeying from Lynchburg, VA (where I have in fact lived) and your choices range from The Cavalier for burgers to Yellow Submarine for some sandwiches, you may find Muncie to be indeed “Everything You Need”

Disclaimer: Chains Not Welcome Here
If you are one of those fans who like the dependable things that an Applebees or a TGI Friday’s provides, that’s awesome for you. However, I would rather spend a week as Courtney Love’s maxi pad than settle my hind quarters into a booth that is exactly the same as I could anywhere else in America. That isn’t living the dream when you travel, and you’ll have no opportunity to interact with the very people that will drunkenly tell you how bad your team sucks. And really… what sort of road trip doesn’t culminate with some good-natured hops-fueled smack talk.

There are a few exceptions to this sort of unwelcome chainness we maintain here at OTP. Occasionally you’ll find a chain that’s very regional or state-wide, which is a bit different. For example, if I was going to a Rutgers game you can bet your sweet ass that I’d be stopping at White Castle. You can also bet your sweet ass that any ass that consumes those sliders will stop being sweet approximately two hours later. You have been warned, New Jersey. To that regard, there is a Steak N Shake in Muncie. If you’ve never had it, get it. You’ll be glad you did.

So… Where Do You Eat?
The nice thing about Muncie eateries is that you don’t have so many to choose from that a fight ensues with your traveling partners about what to hit and when. Staying for a couple of nights? Great… hit ‘em all. It’s possible. We broke things up as best we could, focusing on locale which may help you plan what you are eating and when in case your travels take you to one of these areas. Campustown, Hoteltown, and Downtown. Downtown refers to the area that’s furthest away from campus and the stadium, but more along the lines of Muncie proper. Hoteltown is the area right around the budget hotels that we spoke about earlier this week. Campustown is the area right around campus. “The Village” as alums and students call it. There. Now that you’re educated, let’s begin.

Downtown Options
If you’re looking for places that are distinctly not college feeling, downtown is where you want to head. It’s not that you won’t see college kids or other fans there, it’s just sort of a different feeling as you venture further and further away from the hotels and the campus. This area would be a good place to have your Friday night meal, assuming you’re staying a couple days. These are also the places that I would say are best suited to taking a wife or girlfriend and prepaying some goodwill for the drunken fool you’ll make of yourself tailgating or after the game concludes.

  • Vera Mae’s Bistro
    • Type of Food: Pretty much everything you would expect from an upscale midwestern type place. The Italian is certainly worth a try.
    • The Skinny: From the site… “Located in the revitalized historic district of downtown Muncie Indiana, Vera Mae’s offers upscale fusion cuisine borrowing from the rich traditions of Europe, Asia and the new world. Our goal is to offer the highest quality and freshest fare available presented with impeccable service with attention to detail. Warm and inviting, the atmosphere reflects the love of the historic features inherent to the space and is filled with art work predominantly from local artisans. Our banquet facility, private dining area and seasonal outside seating allows for a wide range of accommodations.”
    • Address: 209 S. Walnut St.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Remember a few moments ago when we were talking about banking goodwill for some Saturday fun or making your lady feel special so perhaps she can give you some post game sexy time? This would be like a 5 year CD with amazing rates. And yes, we just combined financial planning, dirty thoughts, and food. We’re that good.
  • The White River Landing
    • Type of Food: Known for their seafood, which you wouldn’t think would be notable considering Muncie isn’t close to any body of water except the White River. And you don’t want to eat anything that comes from there… trust me.
    • The Skinny: Casual, good food, cold beer.
    • Address: 117 W. Charles St.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Want to go some place Muncie? Don’t want to spend a ton of cash? Still want some decent grub? Then this isn’t a bad option for you.

Hoteltown Options
This is certainly the widest swath of places in Muncie. Some within walking distance of where most of you will be staying, others a short drive away. You’ll also find most of the chains in this general vicinity like Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, Chilis and Outback. Thankfully, there are enough places not named those things that you should have plenty to choose from.

  • Bella Avanti
    • Type of Food: Italian
    • The Skinny: Decent food, decent price.
    • Address: 3201 W. Bethel
    • Website: None.
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Location is everything when it comes to the restaurant business, and this is the nicest place that’s close to the stadium, the hotels, and is within walking distance from both. Throw in good Italian food and you can’t go wrong.
  • Puerto Vallarta
    • Type of Food: Mexican. Muy bueno!
    • The Skinny: Well kept secret and sort of out of the way.
    • Address: Multiple Muncie locations.
    • Website: None
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Giant portions and gianter margaritas. Be prepared to leave fat, drunk, and happy, which contrary to Dean Wormer really isn’t a bad way to go through life at all.
  • Mancino’s
    • Type of Food: Pizza and Grinders
    • The Skinny: From the owners- “Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders will remind you of an informal neighborhood restaurant. The lines can be long at the counter, but that’s only because Muncie knows where to find great pizza. Place your order as you enter, fill your own drinks, seat yourself where you like and then your pizza or grinder arrives, fresh and delicious.”
    • Address: 4116 W. Bethel
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: If you’re in the mood for a good grinder and don’t have time to wait for delivery or can’t drive somewhere, this is the best you can get. It’s a Muncie tradition and most everyone that has spent any portion of time around this city will have had Mancino’s at least a few times.
  • Pizza King
    • Type of Food: Uh… if you have to ask with a name like that, don’t bother.
    • The Skinny: Pizza to the edge, as they say. Flat, squared pieces, shredded toppings. A little different if you’ve never had it, known awesomeness if you have.
    • Address: 1421 W. Bethel
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Hands down the reigning champion of pizza in Muncie. Opened in 1958, it’s legitimately an Indiana tradition.

Campustown Options
Venturing down to The Village to see what those crazy college kids do? Then you’ve found the right place. Be prepared, though, as parking is limited, and the lines could very well be long. This is one of those areas where alums and students alike flock to simply because of the atmosphere and the memories that most were able to make. Whether you eat down here or not, it’s definitely something to at least check out.

  • Scotty’s Brewhouse
    • Type of Food: Burgers, wraps, entrees, and appetizers that will melt your face off… in that good way.
    • The Skinny: A Muncie tradition since 1996. Established by a BSU alum and the place of some epic nights for the creators of this blog.
    • Address: 1700 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: In an effort of full disclosure, Scotty’s Brewhouse may be my favorite restaurant. Despite the fact that I live in Washington, DC and have nearly every available cuisine at my beck and call. Scotty’s is one of those places where you just feel at home when you walk through the door. Great food, great people, a great environment, and a great experience await you there. It is the one place I recommend to everyone heading to one of Scotty’s cities. Part sports bar, part great food, part great beer makes for quite the enjoyable night.
  • Greek’s Pizzeria
    • Type of Food: Pizza
    • The Skinny: Another Muncie tradition and something that most alums will make a stop for at some point during their trip back to campus.
    • Address: 1600 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Greek’s made more than a few of our treks home during our undergrad career bearable thanks to their walk up pizza stand that served by the slice. After a long night of beers and rabble rousing studying at the library, Greek’s hit the spot.
  • The Locker Room
    • Type of Food: Bar food, plain and simple, but better bar food than you would expect.
    • The Skinny: More of a drink place than a food place, and it will be mentioned in the “nightlife” section, but it is a decent place to stop in for lunch or dinner.
    • Address: 1813 W. University Ave.
    • Website: Here
    • OTP’s Thoughts: Save your Locker Room visit for the nightlife, but it’s good to keep in mind should you find yourself out of other options.

So What to Do?
It ultimately depends on how long you’re in Muncie for, what time the game is, where you’re staying, and what you like. However, let’s play a little game where we create the hardest to please specifics and see where OTP shakes out. If we can please someone with those circumstances, odds are you will be as well. Say you’re coming to Muncie for a football game, you’re getting in to town early Saturday morning for a noon kickoff. There’s a party of 4, all of you like different things, none of you is committal about anything in particular you like. There’s of course other games on in the evening that you’d like to watch and your lady needs a good glass of wine and you a cold beer. Your friends just want to eat. Sound like any road trip you’ve ever been on?

The bottom line, and it’s a sizable one in my opinion, is that Scotty’s Brewhouse is the only place to to. Around for more than one night? Then try out some others. But ultimately, if your time in Muncie is limited, this is the only option. Get yourself some dill chips (with both ranch and horseradish) and a Blue Moon and simply forget about the thumping your team either received or is preparing to receive. Around Muncie you may pay more, but you won’t get more. Scotty’s is a Ball State tradition and one that is not to be missed.

Another Ball State tradition not to be missed? Enjoying a frosty cold beverage or 5. Coming up tomorrow on the Visiting Fan’s Guide? The Nightlife and Entertainment of Muncie, IN!

Visiting Fan’s Guide: Where to Stay

Odds are no matter where you stay, your maid won't look like this

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Where you’ll rest your tired bones after a Ball State win.

To Hotel or not to Hotel. That is the Question.
Some places (not Muncie) are a vast array of places to stay depending on your budget, your desires, or your need for comfort or luxury. While we don’t have the Gameday Condos that so many SEC schools have, we do have a Best Western, and dammit, that’s enough. This isn’t a place with bed and breakfasts or hostels, so unless you know someone close by, the answer to the above is a resounding “Hotel”.

Your options for hotels sort of depend on what you are planning to do before and after the game. If you want to check out the campus, there’s only one hotel option for you. If you want to be close to the stadium, and in some cases, walking distance, there’s a few. If after the game you prefer some adults rather than college kids, then the downtown hotels are your best bet. Keep in mind that Muncie isn’t a giant metropolis, but the downtown hotels are the furthest away from the stadium and put you nowhere close to walking distance to either Scheumann Stadium or the campus itself. Let’s take a peak at what we have…

The On Campus Option
The Ball State Pittenger  Student Center Hotel

  • The Nitty Gritty: Granted, I have not been back to Muncie since they have completed the renovation of the Student Center, but in my opinion, however humble it may be, this is a great option. While not a spacious or luxurious hotel, the SC Hotel gets you on campus and within eyesight of the campus bars, should the bars be a place you would like to visit. Additionally, you have the Student Center at your disposal, with a bowling alley, pool tables, and a food court and Starbucks for your munchie needs. Some info about the SC Hotel can be found here, and I would highly advise booking those rooms as early as possible. They fill up fast and there isn’t a lot of them.
  • Pricing: Comparable to any other Muncie hotel to say the least. $115 for a suite, $65 for a king room. Definitely worth it.
  • Contact: To make reservations, call the front desk at 765-285-1555.

The Close to the Stadium Choices
The Nitty Gritty: If you want to be in a place that has nice amenities, a ton of rooms, and also is close to the football experience, then these are your best bets. Chain hotels for sure, but those are often the most reliable and predictable when venturing to a place that you’ve never been to. A final note is that the options listed below are in order based on their distance to the stadium. None are so far that it isn’t walkable, but keep in mind the order if proximity to the game is an important factor for you. All of the pricing info below was valid as of today for a potential reservation on October 9th weekend.

  • Best Western
    • Amenities: Free hot breakfast, free high speed internet, complimentary hot breakfast, pool, hot tub, fitness center… right across the street from the tailgate lots.
    • Pricing: King rooms will run you around $90 a night, smoking rooms (which they have) are considerably more.
    • Contact: (765) 282-0600‎ or reserve online here.
  • Lee’s Inn and Suites
    • Amenities: Indoor pool and spa, fitness center, free wifi, free hot breakfast
    • Pricing: King room will run you around $60 per night, but you can spring for the Presidential Suite at $139 with an in room jacuzzi tub.
    • Contact: (765) 282-7557
  • Days Inn
    • Amenities: Fitness center, free wireless internet, HBO.
    • Pricing: King rooms run around $65 per night, but the pricing is wonky and based on the amenities of the room. Some rooms have sofa beds, others don’t, so your mileage is definitely going to vary on this one depending on what you want/need.
    • Contact: (765) 288-2311 or book online here.
  • Super 8
    • Amenities: Free wireless internet, complimentary continental breakfast
    • Pricing: No Kings available, but a queen will run you $68 a night. Which seems like borderline highway robbery considering this hotel’s shape and status. Use this as your absolute last resort. Actually, in case Buffalo or Central Michigan fans ever feel the need to come to Muncie, this place is the bomb!
    • Contact: You shouldn’t contact them, but if you have to, their number is (765) 286-4333‎ and their website is here.
  • Signature Inn
    • Amenities: Fitness center, pool, complimentary in-room wifi, and a breakfast bar with Belgian waffles. That’s right… Belgian waffles.
    • Pricing: $80 per night for the King room. Not a bad deal considering there is BELGIAN WAFFLES.
    • Contact: Phone them at (765) 284-4200‎ or check out the website here.
  • Fairfield Inn
    • Amenities: Complimentary wifi, free breakfast.
    • Pricing: $90 per night.
    • Contact: (765) 282-6666‎ or view the website here.
  • Hampton Inn & Suites
    • Amenities: Pool, fitness room, internet. Basic business traveler’s kind of place.
    • Pricing: $137 per night.
    • Contact: (765) 288-8500 or book online here.
  • Comfort Inn
    • Amenities: Flat screen TVs, heated indoor pool, fitness center, free breakfast and wifi.
    • Pricing: $120 per night
    • Contact: (765) 587-0294‎ or book online here.

The Low Down on Downtown
For some, perhaps staying around a bevy of young alums or potential students is not their cup of tea. Hope that isn’t you as you travel to Muncie, as staying in a downtown hotel is going to not only make your stay there significantly not as fun, but also it’s going to be tough to do. Muncie used to have a fairly historic and rustic hotel in Hotel Roberts downtown, but alas that has closed. Your options outside of those listed above are very basic budget motels for travelers, and ones that I (in good conscience) can’t recommend to anyone coming to Muncie for a game.

The Edge Perspective
Our roving OTP Muncie Bureau Chief gave his thoughts as to the lodging options for those venturing to the Cardinals’ Nest for a game. What say you, Edge?

There are a few new budget hotels that opened up just about a half mile from the stadium on the northwest side. In addition, there are existing hotels in the area that are all moderately priced. Therefore, out-of-towners need not worry about lodging. While none are exactly the Waldorf Astoria, those fans of BSU (or their opponents) should be able to find some affordable lodging for games.

Who knows… if you’re nice maybe Edge will let you crash on his couch.

So What to Do?
Truthfully, it’s a matter of personal preference and whether or not you want to be around people, around the bars, or around beautiful downtown Muncie and it’s residents (that’s sarcasm). If you are hellbent on staying out by the stadium, Best Western for closeness or Comfort Inn for comfort would be my picks. However, my pick of choice, and it’s a tried and true tradition, is staying at the Ball State Student Center hotel. It’s a short drive to the stadium, a short drive back when you’re probably sober enough to do it after a 3 hour game, and it’s a short walk to the campus Village. Which is what we’ll get into in our next segment… where to eat!

Visiting Fan’s Guide: Muncie and How to Get There

Estrada welcomes you to Muncie

What’s that you say? You are undertaking the mythic journey of following your team to an away game against the Ball State Cardinals? Then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Do we have the pageantry of the Auburns and Alabamas? No. Do we have the coeds of the USCs and Arizona States? Unfortunately, no. Do we have the cultural explosion of a road game at Miami? Definitely not. You also don’t have excellent odds of ending up in a bathtub full of ice in a seedy motel missing a kidney. Life is all about trade offs.

So you’re venturing to Muncie and like any fan visiting a place for the first time, you head to the interwebs in search of a place to stay, some places to eat, what to expect, and what to do. And that, ladies and gents, is where your faithful team here at OTP comes into play. We’ve done the research and Lord knows drank and ate our way through Muncie so you don’t have to. Consider it a thank you gift in advance for the W your team gave us.

On today’s edition of the Visiting Fan’s Guide? Muncie. How to get there and some background on the city itself.

Muncie… A Typical Middle-American Community
Don’t take my word for it. Take the Rockefeller Institute of Social and Religious Research or the National Science Foundation who funded several studies about the “average” American right there in little old Muncie, Indiana. That was back when Muncie was a vibrant community and smack dab in the boom of manufacturing and plant work that left the community employed, happy, and most importantly, home to one particular family that moved their canning and jarring operation from Buffalo, NY to Muncie, IN. That family? The Ball family.

Muncie in its earliest stages, like many towns and cities in the midwest, was a Native American settlement for the Delaware Tribe. Clearly, it’s home on the White River was appealing, and the area was claimed for European settlers who thought that would be a great place to live… regardless of who lived there currently. Who would have thunk that manifest destiny would have ended so well for all of us Ball State degree holders.

As the economy fluctuated in the mid to late 80’s and late 90’s, the manufacturing sector as a whole slowed remarkably, and in turn, so did Muncie’s vibrant nature. Large factories closed, industrial natured jobs dried up, and Muncie began a slow descent into depression and economic downturn. The lone beacon through all of that was the campus itself being the de facto center of Muncie culture and life. Students will often lament not being part of a bigger and better city atmosphere, calling it “Funcie” sarcastically, but there are things to do and things to see if you look hard enough in Muncie.

How You Get There:
Most of our MAC brethren will probably make the drive to Muncie, but if flying in is your preference, you have only two viable options. There are flights to Muncie, as it does have an airport (code: MIE) but most flights within most readers’ budgets will take you to Indianapolis (code: IND). From Indy to Muncie is roughly an hour and a very easy drive right up I-69. Yes… it’s ok to make jokes about the interstate’s number. Every Ball Stater does.

Famous Muncie References:
Think Muncie has produced nothing of substance other than the glass “Ball” jars that your grandma cans her blackberries in? Think again. References about Muncie, Indiana include the likes of:

  • In the 2010 movie Valentine’s Day by Garry Marshall, the character “Jason” played by Topher Grace states to be from Muncie, Indiana
  • Norville Barnes (played by Tim Robbins), the lead character in the 1994 movie The Hudsucker Proxy is from Muncie, Indiana.
  • The 1986 movie Hoosiers by David Anspaugh about a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship was based on the 1954 Milan High School basketball team that beat the Muncie Central High School team from Muncie.
  • The comic book Knights of the Dinner Table is set in a fictionalized version of Muncie, and many characters are current or former Ball State University students.
  • The character Jerry from the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, set in a fictional nearby town, is derided by his coworkers for having a time-share condo and planning his retirement in Muncie.
  • In Supernatural (TV series), the episode, “Hammer of the Gods”, is set in Muncie, Indiana.
  • The movie, My Name is Jerry was shot in Muncie, Indiana and was produced by the Ball State University Institute for Digital Education and Entertainment (Sponsored by the Center for Media Design) and the College of Fine Arts.
  • In Close Encounters of the Third Kind Richard Dreyfuss’ character is in Muncie, IN when he sees the UFO.
  • Toby Keith mentions Muncie in his song I Wanna Talk About Me

Let us all also not forget that Muncie was home to the short lived television series Armed and Famous where Erik Estrada and WeeMan were Muncie police. Perhaps most importantly though to the betterment of the world and society, Muncie was the former home of Playboy Playmates Jami Ferrell and Michelle Baena. Funcie indeed.

Now that you’ve learned about Muncie, check OTP over the next several days where we will bring you things to see, things to do, places to stay, places to eat, places to imbibe, and most importantly, what to expect on your visit to Scheumann Stadium on gameday.

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