It sounds silly, I know. The idea of one of the most iconic sporting venues in all of sports no longer just that, but I think that we might be there. The thought that Tiger stadium is not longer around, what do I mean?
On Wednesday afternoon LSU unveiled a proposal plan for expanding the south end-zone with the addition of 60 suits, 3,000 club level seats and 1,500 general seating. There is even talk of two large HD screens in both corners of the end-zoning replacing the one already in place, but more importantly there is discussion of a standing room only section. The expansion would conclude with Tiger stadium growing into a 100,000 capacity venue.
If the rendering above turnout to be what the development is, it would give the stadium yet another unique look, but at what point does all these additions and upgrades kill the Tiger stadium vibe. Allow me to play the role of old fart. Tiger Stadium has always set itself apart from other SEC venues. It doesn’t have scrubs around the field and the bleachers are right on top of the field. The perfect bowl gave the stadium great acoustics and with the high and steep stand, no noise escaped.
The stadium has had so much work that it is almost unrecognizable. The renovations of the west entrance hides the famous dorm windows that give the stadium a unique flair. Going to a LSU football game is 2011 is a completely different experience than going ten years ago.
In 2000 there was the addition of the east upper-deck, giving the stadium the symmetry that had been lacking with the only upper-deck on the west side for years. The new seats meant new and more suits and club seats. The arrival of video score boards arrived a few years later giving the fans another option of what to do during play calls and timeout. I think 2004 was the first year of the field-goal net in the north end-zone. Before then the football would travel into the stands, and if it was the opposing team’s ball, somehow it made its way to and over the top of the stadium. It may not have been the best tradition, but it was a fun one. More importantly was what was on the net. I find it comical that when a kicker lines up to kick a try, he stares straight at the All-State logo. I wonder if you polled former college kickers, how many of them use All-State? Moving on…
In 2005 the west upper-deck was refinished to model the east side and average Joe seats were changed into suite and club-level seats. Making matter worse, the school is in the middle of renovating the west side entrance to create a “nicer façade”.
The problem that they are necessary. If LSU doesn’t make them, then they fall behind other programs and if they do make the changes then they are selling out. Lets face it, it is a full on arms race, but making all of these changes comes with a huge cost.
Have you been to a NFL or NBA game lately? Notice how dead the building is between kick/tip-off and the final quarter? That is were we are heading with college football. It is only a matter of time until we figure out a way to update cell phone service in stadiums and all 100,000 LSU fans can tweet and facebook while the game is going on instead of reacting audible. Instead of high-fiving the guy next to you, you like you buddies status who is watching the game on TV. Instead of watching the field, most fans watch the video monitor. That is just how we are trained to watch sports.
What made Tiger stadium great for me as a child was how load the stadium could get and how that loud noise created a wave of electricity never felt by most south-Louisiana boys. Fans knew that during this era the team needed our help to win. The shear intimidation that the stadium brought might be just enough to give the Tigers an upset over top teams like Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia. But because of the program’s rise over the last decade, the fans don’t have that passion anymore. Instead most sit in the stand or in their recliners watching the games with their arms crossed critiquing every single decision. The average fan only really celebrates one or two wins a year and the rest of the time we think we have a better idea for the team.
We are spoiled. We sacrificed one of the greatest venues to watch a football game for one of the most dominate football programs. I am not saying that I don’t like it. It just doesn’t fit me like my favorite ball cap.