An ode to the Kibbie Dome, college football’s weirdest stadium

The Kibbie Dome, the home of the University of Idaho’s Vandals football team from 1967-2000, was a strange and unique place. It was built as a multipurpose stadium with one main bowl for football games and another for basketball games.

The largest football stadium is a weird building that was built in the early 1900s. It has been used for college football games, but it’s also used for other events like concerts and religious gatherings.

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THE DRIVE BETWEEN PULLMAN, WASHINGTON, AND MOSCOW, IDAHOO IS APPROXIMATELY NINE MILES. It’s a well-known route among Palouse residents, passing through the region’s undulating hills and wheat farms.

There aren’t many noteworthy landmarks between the college towns of Washington State University and the University of Idaho, apart from the turnoff for the small Moscow-Pullman Regional Airport. It’s mainly countryside, but one big white building sticks out as you approach from the west.

It appears approximately a half-mile before the state line, dwarfing everything on the University of Idaho campus surrounding it. The majority of first-timers mistake it for an aircraft hangar. Students joke that it’s a massive beer can laying on its side.

The ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center is the official name, but it’s been known as the Kibbie Dome since it first opened 50 years ago this week as the home of Idaho football.

It’s also regarded as America’s strangest college football stadium — and one of the world’s strangest sports arenas.

“Here’s the irony: the Kibbie Dome isn’t actually a dome,” said Alec Holser, a founding partner of Portland-based Opsis Architecture, who oversaw the building’s restoration in 2011. “Other geodesic domes are constructed of wood, but this one is a vault.”

“It’s a blimp hangar with an arched-shaped continuous [roof]. The blimp hangars constructed during World War II were one of the few other buildings of comparable scale.”

On the occasion of the Kibbie Dome’s 50th anniversary, it’s time to commemorate all of the oddities that make it unique.


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