Ranking the SEC's stadiums
Look up any “toughest places to play in college football” and most SEC stadiums will likely appear on that list. The best conference in college football has some of the top venues in the country making football in the part of the country as special as it is.
We enjoy ranking things at Saturday Down South, and if you’re going to be spending your fall Saturdays at any one of the 14 beautiful campuses, where is the best stadium? We’re going to tell you.
14. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky
Unfortunately, somebody has to be last. Commonwealth Stadium, the home of the Wildcats for 38 years now, is not on campus in Lexington, which affects the atmosphere to a degree. Amidst offseason renovations, UK is actually decreasing seating capacity in order to make it a more intimate environment. Commonwealth Stadium boasts two video boards and 10 suites in each corner of the stadium. While it’s still a fun place to see a game, UK boosters could invest some money and make it great.
13. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt
It sits in the heart of the Vandy campus in beautiful Nashville. The Commodores have been playing at the current location since 1922, with Dudley Field, as it was previously named, being the first stadium in the South built exclusively for college football. However, Vanderbilt Stadium lacks personality. It’s a close 40,550 and can look awesome when the ‘Dores wear the all-black. The only amenities Vanderbilt Stadium boasts, though, is a new video board and bern seating in the north end zone.
12. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss
Vaught-Hemingway sits on the southeast side of the Ole Miss campus and underwent a number of upgrades prior to last season. Two on-field suites and bricking of the east and west facades were added last season. Its capacity is currently at 60,580. With tall expectations facing Hugh Freeze and the Rebels in 2014, Vaught-Hemingway could become a premier venue this season. We’re pretty sure every goes to Oxford for The Grove and because it’s a cool town.
11. Donald W. Reynolds Stadium, Arkansas
The home of the Razorbacks is a beautiful setting during the fall. With a capacity of over 80,000, Arkansas has added Championship Alley on the east concourse giving fans a look at conference championships, the 1964 national championship and football lettermen. The south concourse features All-American Alley and the west concourse is home to Bowl Alley. Razorback boosters funded a project that enclosed the south end zone and added a massive videoboard to the north end zone. Every fan should trek to Fayetteville to hear the Hogs be called.
10. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida
It feels like The Swamp has fallen behind in the race to be the SEC’s best stadium, but maybe that’s just because the play on the field hasn’t been very good lately. Still, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is a great place to see a game. New HD screens have replaced the old scoreboards, statues of the Gators’ three Heisman Trophy winners have been built and the James. W. Heavener Football Complex has been completed in the past six years. The atmosphere’s great, with 90,000-plus fans invading the Florida campus. Now let’s hope the wins come.
9. Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Missouri
The Tigers have done plenty of renovations since joining the SEC prior to the 2012 season. The press box and luxury tower on the west side of the stadium was renovated last year, and the east side will be completed before the Tigers open the season on Saturday. Mizzou’s famous hill and Rock M was moved closer to the playing field last season to make room for an expanded concourse on the north side of the venue, giving Tiger fans more space to gather during the game. With a new videoboard and scoreboard was built on the north end zone behind the hill and Rock M, Missouri’s serious about having SEC-worthy facilities.
8. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs enter 2014 with high expectations on the field and a newly-completed renovation to Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. With the capacity now exceeding 61,000, Dan Mullen is building the Bulldog program into one that demands respect in the SEC, and their facilities are beginning to match that mindset. Davis Wade Stadium has gotten close to nine thousand additional seats and 22 additional suites.
7. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee
Every SEC fan must see a game on Rocky Top. A three-phase renovation was completed prior to the 2010 season, adding a modern touch to a historic venue. Located right on the Tennessee River, the world’s largest deer stand (that is a lot of orange) is a beautiful scene on fall Saturdays in east Tennessee. The Vol Navy adds to the tailgating atmosphere, and with the UT campus sitting right in downtown Knoxville, you’re a comfortable walk from a lot of different things.
6. Sanford Stadium, Georgia
Georgia boosters invested $33 million total during 2003 and 2004 adding a second upper deck to the north side and adding 27 new SkySuites. Capacity now sits at 92, 746. It feels like Georgia built the campus and the dropped the stadium in a random spot, but Athens is a cool town and the red and black of Bulldog fans produce a beautiful scene between the hedges.
5. Kyle Field, Texas A&M
With it’s impending, history-making renovation set to be complete in 2015, Kyle Field is quickly becoming one of the premier venues not only in the SEC, but in all of college football. The Home of the 12th Man features three decks on both the east and west sides of the stadium and a capacity of 82,600 that will skyrocket to 102, 500 in 2015. After every Aggie score, guys kiss their gals (now that’s how you celebrate a touchdown), and if you make a trip to College Station, you must experience Midnight Yell even as a visiting fan.
4. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina
Carolina fans are faithful to their Gamecocks, ranking near the top in attendance every season. Though it’s an off-campus stadium, Williams-Brice is still special. A new video-board that semi-enclosed the north end zone, creating havoc for a team driving into the Carolina students. Plus, there’s nothing to get you hyped up like 80,o00-strong jumping up and down to Sandstorm pregame. The farmer’s market adjacent to the stadium has given the Gamecock faithful a beautiful place to tailgate and experience the Gamecock Walk.
3. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn
Call me a homer, but there’s nothing better than Alabama’s fifth largest city on fall Saturdays. Jordan-Hare is located right in the center of the Auburn campus, within walking distance of other areas of campus and gems like Toomer’s Corner. College Street runs right through downtown Auburn and features great locals shops, restaurants and bookstores. Auburn’s pregame experience may be tops in the conference. And if you’ve never seen the eagle take flight, it’s a bucket-list item for every college football fan.
2. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama
Located on the southwestern edge of the Alabama campus, Bryant-Denny comes in at number two on our list of the SEC’s best stadiums. With a capacity north of 101,000, Bryant-Denny has vaulted up the list since the arrival ‘ole Saint Nick. The success Saban has experienced in Tuscaloosa has made the Crimson Tide’s home an experience every SEC fan must experience. With a pair of new video boards, three new levels of seating, 38 new luxury boxes and the unique Walk of Champions plaza, Bryant-Denny holds all kinds of history that fans must see. You’ll get chills when those Tide fans bust into a chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama,” too.
1. Tiger Stadium, LSU
Saturday night in Death Valley is where dreams come to die. With an expansion heading into 2014 lifting the capacity to over 100,000, Tiger Stadium widens its lead as the SEC’s best stadium. Located in the heart of the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, hundreds of thousands of rowdy cajuns ascend on Baton Rouge seven Saturdays every fall and give almost no shot to the opponent to make it out with a win. Those Louisiana folk know how to tailgate, too.