Athlon Says LSU Has the Best Stadium in the SEC, and That's Absolutely Correct
Every fanbase takes pride in creating a hostile environment for opposing teams; and in the SEC, there are plenty of hostile environments to go around.
According to Athlon Sports, at the top of the heap was LSU's Tiger Stadium, which was voted as the No. 1 stadium in the conference—ahead of Georgia's Sanford Stadium, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium and Texas A&M's Kyle Field.
Is that accurate?
Judging stadiums is incredibly subjective, but by virtually any metric, Death Valley rises to the top.
Decibel level? Check.
Tiger Stadium is widely known as one of the loudest stadiums in the country. The 92,542-seat college football cathedral has a massive lower bowl which traps noise in. That noise, especially during traditional night games, is generated from a raucous fanbase that thrives on hours of pregame "prep time."
It's so loud in Tiger Stadium that LSU's game-winning fourth-down touchdown pass from Tommy Hodson to Eddie Fuller in 1988 registered as an earthquake on a campus seismograph.
Fans in attendance know they're part of what makes Tiger Stadium a tough place to play, and thrive on it.
Home-field advantage? Check.
The Tigers are 50-7 at Tiger Stadium since head coach Les Miles took over in 2005, and have posted home winning streaks of 19 games (2005 to 2007) and 22 games (2009 to 2012) in that time. Whether it's due to the fans, a schematic advantage or simply more talent, LSU is tough to beat in Death Valley.
"That was the place where opponents' dreams come to die," Miles said after extending the streak to 22 games in a 23-21 win over South Carolina in 2012. "It started early and it ended late. I recognize the great advantage that the team has in this stadium."
Tradition? LSU has that, too.
Whether it's Mike The Tiger rolling on the field in his cage surrounded by LSU's cheerleaders, Miles holding his players back as they rush on to the field or known (and loud) cheers for each specific defensive situation, LSU has tradition by the boat load.
Is Tiger Stadium the best stadium in the SEC?
Functionality? Well, that's where it's lacking.
If you've ever been to a game at Tiger Stadium, you know navigating the concourse is like trying to navigate a concrete gauntlet. But that's due in part to the stadium's initial purpose, which was also as a residence hall. In fact, according to LSUSports.net, LSU's football players lived in the stadium while the athletics dorm was being renovated in 1986.
It's also undergoing a massive renovation and expansion project that includes the enclosure of the south end zone, the addition of 60 suites, 3,000 club seats, 1,500 general public seats and expanded plaza spaces in the north end zone, according to The Daily Reveille.
Take nothing away from the other stadiums in the SEC. The size of Neyland, Bryant-Denny and Sanford is imposing; the noise at The Swamp and Jordan-Hare is deafening; and when it comes to tradition, nobody comes close to the 4,098 that Texas A&M boasts (only a slight exaggeration).
But Tiger Stadium is the whole package. When it comes to SEC power, it rises to the top.
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