It’s one of the most uneventful periods of college football offseason, which means probably time to
focus on something else in your life RANK SOME STUFF! Today, that stuff is SEC football stadiums.
Plenty of people have ranked these stadiums, but those rankings are very subjective and based on personal opinion. Granted this one is ultimately no different, but I at least tried to introduce some objectivity into it by first ranking each stadium based on five different criteria:
- Size: This one is obvious, but usually, bigger is better. A bigger stadium means a louder, more raucous environment, and let’s face it, it’s just cooler.
- Architecture: Some stadiums are just big blocks of steel or concrete, while others actually make an attempt to look like a real building with architectural features.
- Setting: Being on campus matters, but there are varying degrees to that. Some stadiums are nestled in the heart of campus while others are surrounded by mostly parking lots or busy streets.
- Atmosphere: Granted, I haven’t been to every SEC stadium, so this is the hardest one to gauge, but if you’re around the conference long enough I feel like you get a pretty good gauge of the hierarchy of stadium atmospheres.
- Name: Yes, names matter. A simple, iconic name is better than a long, hyphenated clunky one. And almost anything is better than a corporate sponshorship.
With that, let’s rank some stadiums!
14. FirstBank Stadium (Vanderbilt)
TOTAL SCORE: 58
While the setting for Vandy’s stadium is elite (on campus and just a stone’s throw from downtown Nashville), every other aspect ranked last in the SEC. It’s the smallest stadium by a longshot, has almost zero architectural value, and the team’s performance has virtually assured a mediocre game atmosphere. Oh and also they recently renamed it from “Vanderbilt Stadium” to “FirstBank Stadium.” Blech.
13. Kroger Field (Kentucky)
TOTAL SCORE: 57
Kroger Field is pretty cohesive architecturally, and it’s a good thing, because the No. 6 ranking on that list is the only thing that kept it out of the cellar in these rankings. It’s near the bottom in size, has a corporate sponsor for a name and most disappointingly, is surrounded by parking lots on three sizes. It may be on campus, but the location feels anything but special.
T-11. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Arkansas)
TOTAL SCORE: 50
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Reynolds Razorback Stadium, there just doesn’t feel like there’s anything particularly special about it either. Architecturally it’s meh, the name is a bit clunky, it’s on campus, but on the very fringe of campus without a lot of visual interest right around it. I will say the atmosphere ranking may be a bit low, but that’s only because there are so many great atmospheres in the SEC and it can be hard to differentiate between them.
T-11. Davis Wade Stadium (Mississippi State)
TOTAL SCORE: 50
Davis Wade is the second-smallest stadium in the SEC, and if it weren’t for the cowbells upping the atmosphere and a name that rolls off the tongue, it might be even lower in this list. Architecturally the endzone expansion did score it some points, but I feel like those were also negated by the recent addition of the upper deck “balconies.” It’s a interesting concept to be sure, but it’s just an absolute eyesore aesthetically.
10. Faurot Field (Missouri)
TOTAL SCORE: 48
I like Faurot Field. The rock M is a fun tradition and when Mizzou is good it’s a great place to watch a game. There’s just very little that’s truly special about it. It’s setting lost points because it’s surrounded by major streets on several sides, which kind of cuts it off from feeling fully integrated into campus. I also gave it the second-to-worst ranking in atmosphere, so Mizzou fans feel free to roast me in the comments. It did score highly in the name category because I’m a sucker for alliteration.
9. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (Ole Miss)
TOTAL SCORE: 44
Part of the reason The Grove is so vaunted as a tailgating destination is because Vaught-Hemingway is so mid as a stadium. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, when people mention Ole Miss football they think as much about tailgating as they do the game atmosphere, and for good reason. Now that’s not to say that this stadium is bad, far from it. It’s not not on par with it’s peers further up this list.
8. Williams-Brice Stadium (South Carolina)
TOTAL SCORE: 43
It pains me to have Williams Brice in the bottom half of the rankings, because I think it’s one of the more underrated atmospheres in the SEC. I also love the architecture (even though it’s almost entirely just concrete). The way the lights hang over the upper deck make it instantly recognizable (anyone watched “The Program?”). But it loses major points for setting as the only off-campus stadium on this list. Granted it is nearby the South Carolina State Fair, but during the time of year that isn’t happening, the setting leaves a lot to be desired (and yes I know they have plans to develop some of the space around it but that’s still years away).
7. Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn)
TOTAL SCORE: 36
Lots of good stuff to say about Jordan-Hare. A memorable name, a great on-campus location and one of the best gameday atmospheres you’ll find. The thing that knocked it down a few spots was the architecture (or lack thereof). If they upped their game on the aesthetics front as many other top SEC stadiums have done, they could easily move up this list.
6. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama)
TOTAL SCORE: 34
Bryant-Denny is home to the most dominant dynasty in the history of college football, but this is a ranking of stadium, not teams. Granted there’s a lot to like about Bryant-Denny, ranked No. 4 both in size (one of four 100k+ stadiums on this list) and architecture (I love the symmetry), it simply falls short of some of the truly elite company to come on this list. Nothing outright bad about it, but it end up as middle of the road in several categories.
5. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida)
TOTAL SCORE: 33
This is an iconic venue in college football, and it’s rankings in these categories reflect that, particularly being No. 4 in both setting and atmosphere (and atmosphere probably goes even higher when they’re good). And as trivial as it sounds, what really dragged it down was the name. While “The Swamp” is a great nickname, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is decidedly less so. It’s just a bit clunky to say, and it likely cost them the No. 4 spot on this list.
4. Sanford Stadium (Georgia)
TOTAL SCORE: 30
Sanford is what you think of when you think of an on-campus college football stadium. It’s not surrounded by parking lots or major streets, it’s nestled among the buildings and trees creating an incredibly picturesque setting. And with the Dawgs being so dominant in recent years, the atmosphere is also phenomenal. The only knock on Sanford is that the stadium itself, architecturally, brings very little to the table.
3. Tiger Stadium (LSU)
TOTAL SCORE: 17
A big jump in scores as we enter the top three. LSU scores in the top two in 3/5 categories, with the second-largest stadium, second in architecture (I love the lower bowl arches) and tops in atmosphere (Saturday nights in Death Valley are special). The only aspect where they aren’t elite was setting. Granted they’re on campus, with Mike the Tiger’s habitat nearby, but it also features parking lots on two sides, which keeps the setting from being ranked higher.
2. Kyle Field (Texas A&M)
TOTAL SCORE: 15
Is there some bias at play here? Almost certainly. But there’s a ton to like about Kyle Field. The SEC’s largest stadium also has what is pretty undeniably the prettiest exterior, as well as one of the top atmosphere’s thanks in no small part to a 30,000+ student section. And with a name that’s only two syllables long and has stood for more than a century, it’s instantly recognizable. The only knock on Kyle is the setting. It’s on campus, but A&M’s campus isn’t particularly scenic (even if the recent addition of Aggie Park has helped in that regard).
Neyland Stadium (Tennessee)
TOTAL SCORE: 10
Neyland comes out on top, and it wasn’t even particularly close, with them ranking in the top three in every single category. Setting? On campus next to a river near an awesome city in Knoxville? Unmatched? You have to love naming it after a head coach, and it’s short enough to be memorable but not a mouthful. Atmosphere? Well we all saw what this place can be like when they beat Alabama last year, and Neyland is raucous even in years when the team is average. Some people may question it rankings in the top three in architecture, but A) I love the simplicity of the two decks that wrap all the way around, and B) Tennessee has done a lot in recent years to spruce up what was once a very uninspiring exterior (looking at you, Auburn).
So there you have it, the most definitive SEC stadium rankings you’ll ever read...until you find a better one.
Which stadium was most grossly misranked?
This poll is closed
Ben Hill Griffin