Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: opinionated rankings are meant to get people talking, no matter the subject. Few things hit closer to home than a Top 10 list of the best college football stadiums in the country. This is particularly true for LSU Football fans, who will go to war to defend Tiger Stadium’s honor every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Unless, of course, they’re still a bit hungover from Saturday night’s victory celebrations.
Tiger Stadium is famous for many reasons amongst the college football world. If you asked an average, everyday fan to name five of the sport’s most notable venues, you’d be hard pressed to find an individual who leaves Death Valley off the list—if nothing else, for the nickname alone. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Tigers’ home field is exactly one of the most prestigious stadiums in the nation. Does LSU’s Tiger Stadium have a home in a Top 10 list ranking college football’s best venues?
Is LSU Football’s Tiger Stadium one of the nation’s Top 10 best stadiums?
In order to fairly rank the stadiums across the country, there must be an establish basis to go off and a precedent set. Some of the most important qualities a stadium must have to be considered one of the nation’s best are a large capacity, a great game day atmosphere, a rich history, a popularity and some unique features.
As for the precedent being set, we’ll use a recent list put together by Barstool U. It goes without saying the most obvious omission from the rankings is Tiger Stadium, which is undoubtedly better than a handful of venues pinned on the aforementioned list.
LSU’s home since 1924 ticks all of the boxes required to be a Top 10 stadium, beginning with its capacity. Tiger Stadium is the fifth largest college football venue in the country, housing 102,321 of your closest friends. The stadium itself—not to be confused with the campus—becomes the fifth biggest city in the state of Louisiana during home games. The cherry on top is the fact that recent renovations ensured the seating capacity was 102,321 precisely, as that number is exactly 500 more than Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The game day atmosphere almost sells itself in Baton Rouge. Tiger fans begin pitching tents and parking their RVs on campus on Friday afternoon, regardless of the kickoff time the following day. The tailgating at LSU is considered one of the best, if not the best, in the United States as well. The great food, welcoming fans and passion for football make Tiger Stadium a bucket list inclusion for almost any college football fan in the country.
As for history, the venue is nearly 100 years old. There are so many unique, traditional aspects of the stadium that give it a historic feel. The yard markers every five yards, H-style goalposts and metal bleachers all contribute to the authenticity of Tiger Stadium. The stadium’s lesser known nickname will speak for its history: it’s not called the Cathedral of College Football for nothing. Furthermore, from Billy Cannon’s famous Halloween night run to the Earthquake Game, there is no shortage of historic moments that have taken place at the heart of LSU. Tiger Stadium is home to football heritage.
Tiger Stadium may be the official name given to the Tigers’ home venue, but the venue’s main nickname is one spectators around the world know: Death Valley. The sacred ground on Stadium Drive has a reputation for being the toughest place to play in college football. Just ask former Alabama and Texas A&M head coach Bear Bryant, who had this to say about Death Valley:
"“Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It’s like being inside a drum.”"
When the famous words “the sun has found its home in the western sky, and it is now Saturday night in Death Valley” are spoken over Tiger Stadium’s PA system, it is enough to simultaneously give 100,000+ fans goosebumps. Baton Rouge is a special place that almost romanticizes football and embodies passion for the sport.
As noted earlier, many people have their own opinions about what makes a particular stadium great. However, if you were to go around the country taking a poll of the Top 10 venues in college football, it’d be hard to find many people who’d leave Tiger Stadium off their list. Death Valley is truly the heartbeat of Louisiana in the fall—there is no place like it anywhere in the world. For those reasons, it must be considered one of the greatest stadiums in the sport.