Columbia residents and Missouri fans, take note: we all could learn something from Kansas State fans.
I've heard reports of Missouri fans being somewhat unwelcoming to opposing fan bases. Okay, so Tiger fans are unlikely to come up to Kansas or Nebraska fans and give them a bouquet of flowers anytime soon, but for the other fan bases, there should be a more concerted effort to be gracious hosts.
Maybe K-State fans were nice to Missouri fans because both fanbases share a mutual disdain for Kansas and Nebraska, or maybe it was because K-State didn't view Missouri as much of a threat this year. But whatever it was, everybody I encountered in Manhattan who was wearing purple was incredibly nice and welcoming to those wearing black and gold.
So K-State easily wins the first comparison of graciousness of home fan base. But how do the Wildcats and the city of Manhattan match up in other categories?
Manhattan's downtown area (known as "Aggieville") is a quaint stretch bars, restaurants, and shops pretty close to campus. The area has a great "college town" feel to it, with nearly everybody wearing some shade of purple or gold. Everybody in Aggieville was extremely friendly to Missouri fans—not once did I hear "Missouri" and "sucks" used in the same sentence.
There's not a single bar or restraurant I'd recommend. Instead, I'd recommend just walking around the area and going in to a couple of establishments and really getting the flavor of the area. That's possible to do without taking a huge chunk out of your wallet, as most bars in the area don't have a cover charge according to the K-State fans who showed my group around the area.
Even if you're a student who isn't 21, the area is pretty neat to explore even though most bars are strictly 21+.
Personally, I liked Aggieville more than Columbia's downtown. Everything is in such close proximity to each other and there was a really awesome community feel to it. That's not to say that Columbia's downtown isn't good, but Manhattan's really was a great experience.
Tailgating & parking
Tailgating in Manhattan is far cheaper than in Columbia, that's for sure. The lot my group tailgated in was a stone's throw from Bill Snyder Family Stadium and only cost $15. For $15 at Missouri, you'd have to park in a garage that is not only bad for tailgating but a decent hike from the stadium. The lot was spacious and there weren't any problems of tailgates bumping into other tailgates.
That being said, Missouri has a far better tailgating scene than K-State despite it being more pricey and less convenient. Maybe it was because the game was an 11:30 kickoff, but I didn't get a very high level of tailgating enthusiasm coming from K-Staters. At Missouri—mainly for alumni—tailgating is a weekly ritual.
Another thing to note: Kansas law prohibits the possession of alcohol on state property. It doesn't matter if you're 21 or 51, you cannot have alcohol on state property. So if you're planning on having a few beverages before a game in Manhattan, be sure you park in an off-campus lot.
Stadium concourse & food
Obviously, Bill Snyder Family Stadium's concourse looks better than Faurot Field given that Snyder is a newer facility. But there was less congestion on the concourse than at Faurot—although that could have been because of a smaller crowd than the usual at Faurot. Regardless, K-State's lines moved quickly at both the concession stand and bathroom.
The only problem with Snyder is that, if you're sitting in the upper deck, you have to walk down a few flights of stairs to get to pretty much anything. There are no bathrooms on the upper deck, and if you want to buy a drink or a hot dog with a credit card, you have to go all the way down to the concourse. Unless you're looking for a good leg workout, the trek up and down from the upper deck to concourse can get a little bit annoying after a little while.
I'd still give the concourse edge to K-State, though, although with the caveat that it might be equal with Missouri if there were 70,000 people at this game.
There weren't any specialty foods that I could see—just the stock hot dogs, pop, pizza, peanuts, candy, chips, etc. I'm a huge homer for the chicken fingers made at Missouri football and basketball games, so I guess I'd personally give the food edge to Missouri.
Missouri's recent success and K-State's recent struggles are going to lead me to put Missouri's game atmosphere far above K-State's. But if this was six years ago and Darren Sproles was darting across the field while Missouri toiled in mediocrity, I can easily see K-State's atmosphere be better.
So obviously, you'll encounter a whole lot more noise at Faurot than at Snyder. There weren't too many instances in which the K-State faithful got on their feet and made noise, although Missouri's wholly dominant performance in the game could have had something to do with that, too.
Going back to the courteous theme, though, K-State fans were awesome at the game. Even though I'm sure they were getting a little sick of Missouri fans singing the fight song after a Danario Alexander touchdown, nobody ever turned around and yelled "SHUT UP!" or expletives at the Missouri fans in my section. In all honesty, I don't think Missouri fans would exhibit the same gracious self-control that K-State fans did.
Look, I wouldn't trade going to school at Missouri for anything. That being said, I really enjoyed the overall experience Kansas State and Manhattan had to offer. I'd highly recommend getting out to Manhattan for a Missouri/K-State football or basketball game if you haven't already.
And, seriously, if there's a lesson to be learned from K-State fans, it's that college fanbases can indeed be courteous to each other. I really wish more Missouri fans exhibited the same kind of respect and courtesy that K-State fans showed toward Missouri fans over the weekend.