Welcome to For The Win’s ranking of all 14 football stadiums in the Southeastern Conference. The SEC drew the highest attendance of any conference in 2015, averaging a record 78,630 fans per home game. It marked the 18th consecutive season the SEC led the nation in average football attendance.
The Big Ten (66,008), Big 12 (57,347) Pac-12 (51,880) and Atlantic Coast (49,033) fell behind.
The rankings below are based on capacity, average attendance, regality (these places essentially are castles after all), and how wild the place gets on a Saturday.
Vanderbilt Stadium holds a more intimate crowd compared to others in the conference, but Commodore fans prefer the tailgate scene outside the gates anyway — which is a very good tailgate scene by the way. Vandy had the lowest home-game attendance rate in the SEC last season, averaging 32,134 fans. It also went 4-8.
This stadium may never be like its basketball counterpart Rupp Arena, but that’s what coach Mark Stoops is trying to change. The Wildcats are winning recruiting battles they didn’t used to — UK signed the state’s top three recruits for the 2016 class and just unveiled a beautiful new $45 million football facility that will attract more recruits — and is battling schools like Alabama for 2017 competition. Keep this up, win more than five games this season, and maybe fill up the stadium.
Home of the Cowbell, Davis Wade Stadium is certainly one of the most raucous venues in the SEC. Since Dan Mullen became the Bulldogs’ head coach in 2009, MSU has posted record-breaking crowds — all of the top 20 most attended games have come during his tenure — and the stadium underwent a $75 million expansion in 2012, adding 6,000 more seats, a second high-definition video board, premium seating, and more concession stands. This was necessary due to the growing ticket demand from alumni.
Still somewhat of a SEC newbie, Mizzou’s atmosphere doesn’t quite rank up there with the Alabama’s and LSU’s of the conference. Faurot Field has gotten a few upgrades over the last several years, adding more seats, etc., but despite winning the SEC twice in the last three seasons, attendance has hung below capacity at 64,636.
For a team that doesn’t have Steve Spurrier leading them out of the tunnel anymore and won 10 games over the last two seasons combined, fans still pack Williams-Brice Stadium. In 2015, South Carolina finished 16th nationally in average attendance (eighth in the SEC) despite its 3-9 record and coaching change. Shouldn’t see much drop off in 2016 as fans will be intrigued by new coach Will Muschamp.
Here’s the thing about Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium: it’s in the middle of a major $160 million renovation that might see it ranked much higher on this list in 2018 once it’s complete. It’s going to look stunning. The place hasn’t had a facelift since 2001 and is simply lagging behind its SEC rivals. It will definitely give Bret Bielema something to brag about.
When you talk about atmosphere at Ole Miss, you’re most likely referencing the tailgate scene at The Grove. Which is why Vaught-Hemingway Stadium sits in the middle of this list. It’s an epic pre- and post-game scene, but the stadium itself is not as crazy — unless the Rebels are pulling an upset over Alabama and tearing down goalposts. Capacity plays a role though, surprisingly fitting just over 60k.
In 2015 Auburn ranked seventh in the SEC for home game attendance averaging 87,451 — which is capacity. Even though Gus Malzahn’s program has struggled the past two years, going 15-11 since going to the national championship game in the 2013 season, everyone is still showing up to watch the Tigers.
The orange and white checkerboard end zones, the team running through the T, Peyton Manning … there are so many traditions that are synonymous with Neyland Stadium. And despite not having made it to the SEC championship game since 2007 (or winning one since 1998), attendance figures hover around 100,000 annually.
After Steve Spurrier retired from coaching last year at South Carolina, Florida honored its former Heisman Trophy quarterback and national championship winning coach by naming the field after him. So now The Swamp is also called: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida gets points simply for that. It’s also a great place to see a game.
The Bulldogs finished fifth in the SEC in average attendance in 2015, only because there are four schools with larger stadiums. The same will probably happen this year with fans eager to see what kind of team Kirby Smart will pull together in his first year as Georgia’s head coach.
The palace of the SEC and one of the most intimidating venues in all of college football. Fans waving their shakers to “Sweet Home Alabama” and yelling “Roll Tide.” It’s also nearly impossible to win there. Nick Saban has compiled a 56-7 home record in nine seasons. Only a few have been able to come into the fortress and win, including the one and only Johnny Manziel.
After Texas A&M’s $485 million, 18-month renovation was complete, Kyle Field became the largest football stadium in the SEC and in the state of Texas. Which honestly is one of the most prestigious things a football program can have on its resume. There is truly nothing more college football than 102,000 people swaying side to side, chanting the Aggie War Hymn. Even Nick Saban made some comments last year after Alabama beat Texas A&M in College Station regarding the environment affecting the game. He said fans made it “hard for us to play” and “this is the kind of place we should be.”
The loudest, craziest place in college football. It once got so deafening during an Auburn-LSU game in 1988 that Tiger Stadium registered on a seismograph for 15-20 minutes. It’s since become known as the legendary “Earthquake Game.” Les Miles likes to say Death Valley is where dreams go to die. And when you see the tiger eye starting at you from the 50-yard line, it’s not hard to fathom.
Source: USA Today Fan Sports Poll