2018 SEC Football Stadium Fan Experience Ratings
Football in the South is a religion, and its churches are the stadiums found at the SEC schools. Four of its venues have a capacity of more than 100,000, one has a capacity of more than 90,000 and three have a capacity of more than 80,000. Those seats are needed as the SEC has sent a member school to the NCAA Championship game 13 times since 2000, winning 10 of those games. In 2018 the Championship game pitted SEC members Alabama and Georgia against each other.
Now that the season has concluded, we are proud to release our 2018 SEC Stadium Fan Experience Rankings. You’ll find that in our rankings, bigger may not be better, and the winner on the field, may not be the winner in the stands. Our rankings are based on the FANFARE System, which scores venues in seven different areas of the fan experience. Once you’ve had a chance to check out our rankings, we invite you to share your opinions and thoughts in the Rate It Section at the bottom of the article.
In first place are two great stadiums:
The home of the Crimson Tide scored highly for its gameday atmosphere. The aura of The Bear, the cheer of Roll Tide Roll and the Million Dollar Band playing Yea Alabama make an afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium an electric experience. As you might expect the Crimson Tide has the top stadium in our SEC fan experience ratings
USC has made massive improvements to the area just outside Williams- Brice Stadium. The former sea of asphalt has been replaced brick lined paths filled with greenery and a statue of Gamecock football great George Rogers. The Cockaboose Railroad still offers one of the more unique tailgating experiences in the country. The Gamecocks have fought their way to a close 2nd place behind Alabama on our FANFARE ratings.
Coming in third is:
Saturday nights in Baton Rouge are a dream for Bayou Bengal fans and a nightmare for visiting teams. Cajun food, 103,000 fans singing “Calling Baton Rouge” and a new Mike the Tiger earns Tiger Stadium our third place slot.
Coming in fourth is:
Tradition… it’s what makes a trip to College Station so special. The student section stands throughout the game in its’ role as the 12th man. You will not find cheerleaders here, as A&M has yell leaders. Thousands of fans turn out for Midnight Yell Practice the night before the game. Another distinctly Aggie tradition keeps fans at their seat during halftime, as a performance by the Fightin’ Aggie Band with its military precision marching formations is not to be missed.
We have a two-way tie for our fifth slot:
“The Swamp” wears down opponents with its heat and humidity well into the fall season. Opponents are welcomed to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the music from “Jaws” and a video taking you right between the jaws of a Florida Gator. The blue and orange clad Florida faithful revel in doing the Gator Chomp after a Florida score or a key defensive stand.
Athens, Georgia is a sea of red and black on football Saturdays. The Bulldogs mascot UGA has won several awards as the Nation’s Top Mascot. The refrain “How Bout Them Dawgs?” has become equally famous. The city of Athens adds to the Sanford Stadium score with its reputation as a music and culinary hotbed.
Coming in seventh is:
Neyland Stadium has one of the prettiest settings in college football, as it sits on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. Its’ close proximity to the river allows the Vol Navy to sailgate prior to each home game. Two uniquely Volunteer traditions are the orange and white checkerboard end zones and the playing of “Rocky Top” after Tennessee scores or successful defensive stands.
We had a two – way tie for the eighth position:
The Grove at Ole Miss is arguably the best tailgating experience in college football. Fine China and your best linens replace paper cups and cheap tablecloths here. Students also dress up in their Sunday best to cheer the Rebels on. Hotty Toddy is the greeting shared by everyone in attendance at the games. The town of Oxford adds to the score with its lovely town square and its’ many links to American literary icon William Faulkner.
Jordan- Hare Stadium is in the “Loveliest Village on the Plain” and is proud of it. When you hear the words “War Eagle” it can mean hello, serve as a crowd cheer or serve as a polite way to say “Go to H- – – Bama! “ While in town a visit to Toomer’s Corner is a must to sample their famous lemonade.
We have a two- way tie for the 10th position:
At the home of the Razorbacks, it is no surprise that BBQ earns top honors in our Food and Beverage category. The Broyles Athletic Center is well worth a visit for its exhibits on the history of Arkansas football. Arkansas also has one of the more unique cheers in college football… Woooo, Pig! Sooie!
Need more cowbell? You’ll be sure to find it in Starkville on football Saturdays. Fans ring cowbells (with some restrictions) as much as possible to cheer their Bulldogs on. The Junction just outside Davis Wade Stadium provides a great spot for tailgating prior to the game. The city of Starkville hosts “New South Weekends” featuring special events, store sales and dinner specials in conjunction with every home game.
Our last tie is for 12th place:
Most people think of Kentucky as a “basketball school”, but the Wildcats have invested heavily in recent years on other sports facilities. Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium) went through a $120 million renovation in 2016 and a new baseball stadium is set to open in Spring 2019. The renovations at Kroger Field have greatly enhanced the fan experience as it added benchback seating on the lower levels, widened the outer concourse for better traffic flow and added an end zone patio for visiting recruits
The newest member of the SEC family has a storied football history. Faurot Field is one of the only conference stadiums to offer lawn seating in the end zone. Some of the traditions Faurot Field has brought to the SEC are Big Mo’, the world’s largest drum and the block M letter measuring 90’ X 90’ in the north end zone.
The 14th position in our ratings goes to Vanderbilt Stadium in Music City:
The Commodores have added some nautical elements to Vanderbilt Stadium to build school spirit. A foghorn staffed by Midshipmen from the school’s Naval ROTC program is sounded after each Vanderbilt score or Vanderbilt win. The football team has also adopted “Anchor Down!” as their mantra to encourage their defensive team to make a big stop. Vanderbilt also scored highly in the Neighborhood category for its location in the trendy West End section of Nashville.
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