As many of you know Rory asked us to do an ode to our college football team's stadium. Lucky for me, my team's stadium is one of the best, if not the best, in the country.
LSU's Tiger Stadium is a formidable place to play. If you are fortunate to either attend a game or even be on campus on a game day, it is one of the most enjoyable experiences ever. As far as the eye can see, in any direction, is a sea of cars, tents and RVs.
Tailgating starts early, and for some the day before the game, and it is the best in the country. Food is abundant, and ranges from hot dogs and burgers, to jambalaya, gumbo, frog legs, gator, and other things. Of course the alcohol flows freely prior to game time as well.
If you are a fan of the road team who happened to make the trip to Baton Rouge, prepare to be heckled a bit (or more than a bit) if you wearing your team's colors. A lot of what you'll hear all over campus is, "Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait"
Finally, game time approaches (and if your really lucky nowadays it will be starting at 7pm). Prior to the game however, the team is met by thousands of screaming fans as they walk down Victory Hill on the north side of the stadium. They are closely followed by the Golden Band from Tiger Land.
Now you're ready to enter the stadium, full of great food, beverage, and surrounded by "92,400 of your closest friends." The crowd is always loud a cheers for their team, even for the initial warm-ups. Looking at the field you see the now iconic Eye of the Tiger at Midfield, which many Tiger fans now consider sacred.
Believe me you do not want to upset this crowd prior to game time. Just ask the 2007 Florida Gators, who decided to stomp on that very Eye, and paid the price for it (go watch the youtube videos of that game).
The next thing you will see is a bright gold-colored cage (yes, in tiger town that color is gold, not yellow), being pulled around the stadium, topped by the LSU cheerleaders. Inside is Mike the VI, LSU's live bengal tiger. After his trip around the stadium, his cage is parked next to the visiting team entrance so they have to run by him as they enter the field.
With about 12 minutes left before kickoff, one of the most iconic pregame rituals is begun by a man who is clad in white and carries a mace out to the south goalline, gives it a spin, blows his whistle, and on to the field comes the Golden Band from Tigerland.
As the 300-plus member band marches on to the field to the sound of a single bass drum, the crowd becomes frenzied. Once the band is on the field, the best pregame performance can begin, and four simple notes make the crowd go wild.
As pregame finishes, the team prepares to enter the field through a tunnel made by the band itself. If it is a night game, PA annoucer Dan Borné will say the words that send chills down the spine of LSU fans present.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the sun has found its home in the western sky, it is now saturday night in Tiger Stadium... Here comes your Fighting Tigers of LSU!"
During the game, you will hear cheers like, "Geaux Tigers," "Oh Wee Oh," "L-S-U Tigers," and more. The band will play classics like "Geaux Tigers (first Down)," "Boogie Down," "Chinese Bandits," and of course "Hey Baby," "Hey Fightin' Tigers," and others.
And then there is one of the newest songs, but one of the crowd favorites, "Neck." It is amazing to see nearly the entire crowd dancing to the song.
As for the atmosphere on the field, it is nearly impossible for opposing teams to be able to hear on the field with the crowd at full volume (which is often).
If the game goes into overtime, LSU is in a win/win situation. If they win the toss, they will pick defense, if they lose it, they will choose to play on the north end of the field, where they will be backed by the alway packed LSU student section.
Once the game ends, traffic can be a nightmare, but no one seems to care, especially if LSU just won the game. Some people, however, decide not to fight traffic, going back to their tailgates for some postgame partying.
By far, LSU has one of the most electric atmospheres in all of college football, before, during, and even after. If you haven't gotten to experience a game at Tiger Stadium, I suggest you come down to Baton Rouge at least once in your life, and experience the sights, sounds and smells of everything associated with game day at LSU.
To wrap up this article, here are two very interesting facts: 1. When Tiger Stadium is at capacity on game day, it becomes the 5th largest city in Louisiana, 2. For the Florida game in 2007, over 150,000 people were on campus that day, meaning 60,000+ people were on campus without a ticket to the game.