Tiger Stadium (LSU)

Last updated
Tiger Stadium
Death Valley
LSU Tiger Stadium.jpg
Sunrise over Tiger Stadium, 2013
USA Louisiana location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Tiger Stadium
Location in Louisiana
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Tiger Stadium
Location in the United States
AddressWest Stadium Road
Location Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Coordinates 30°24′43″N91°11′8″W / 30.41194°N 91.18556°W / 30.41194; -91.18556 Coordinates: 30°24′43″N91°11′8″W / 30.41194°N 91.18556°W / 30.41194; -91.18556
OwnerTiger Athletic Foundation [1]
Capacity 102,321 (since 2014) [2]
Record attendance102,321
(Eleven times, most recently October 12, 2019 vs Florida)
Surface Celebration Bermuda Grass [3]
Construction
Broke ground1924
OpenedNovember 25, 1924
Renovated1994, 2006, 2011, 2014
Expanded1931, 1936, 1953, 1978, 1988, 2000, 2014
Construction cost$1,816,210.58 (1936 horseshoe) [4]
($33.5 million in 2019 dollars [5] )
$183 million (renovations and expansions)
ArchitectWogan and Bernard [6]
Trahan Architects (renovations)
Tenants
LSU Tigers football (NCAA; 1924–present)
New Orleans Saints (NFL; 2005; Four games)
Tulane Green Wave football (NCAA; 2005; One game)
South Carolina Gamecocks football (NCAA; 2015; One game)

Tiger Stadium, popularly known as Death Valley, is an outdoor stadium located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the campus of Louisiana State University. It is the home stadium of the LSU Tigers football team. Prior to 1924, LSU played its home games at State Field, which was located on the old LSU campus in Downtown Baton Rouge.

Contents

Tiger Stadium opened with a capacity of 12,000 in 1924. Renovations and expansions have brought the stadium's current capacity to 102,321, making it the third largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), fifth largest stadium in the NCAA and the sixth largest stadium in the world.

Testimonials

Tiger Stadium - Mike the Tiger Tiger Stadium (LSU) - Mike the Tiger and Marquee.jpg
Tiger Stadium - Mike the Tiger

Tiger Stadium is well known nationally for having among the best game day atmospheres in college football as well as being one of the most difficult places for an opposing team to play.

Despite being 142 at Tiger Stadium, famed Alabama head coach Bear Bryant once remarked that "Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It's like being inside a drum." [7] In 2001, ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten said, "Death Valley in Baton Rouge is the loudest stadium I've ever been in." [8] In 2002, (Ohio) coach Terry Hoeppner said of Tiger Stadium, "That's as exciting an environment as you can have ... we had communication problems we haven't had at Michigan and Ohio State." [8] In 2003, ESPN's Chris Fowler called LSU his favorite game day experience. [8] In 2009 former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stated on Sean Hannity's Fox News show that "Unfair is playing LSU on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge."

Survey after survey has concluded that Tiger Stadium is the most difficult place for a visiting team to play, including surveys by the College Football Association in 1987, The Sporting News in 1989, Gannett News Service in 1995, and Sport Magazine in 1998. [8] More recently, in 2007, ESPN named Tiger Stadium "the scariest place to play", saying that "Tiger Stadium is, by far, the loudest stadium in the country." [9]

In 2009, ESPN writer Chris Low listed Tiger Stadium's Saturday night atmosphere as unsurpassed in the country, ranking it No. 1 out of the SE conference's 12 stadiums. [10] In 2016, Tiger Stadium was again ranked No. 1 out of the conference's 14 stadiums by USA Today writers Laken Litman & Steven Ruiz. [11]

LSU prefers night games in Tiger Stadium with its opponents, but television coverage requires that many contests be played in the afternoons. The university is conflicted between maximizing its potential to win and needed advertising revenues from television coverage. As explained by Chet Hilburn in The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football, "The Tigers are apt to win more games at night in Tiger Stadium but the university takes in much more revenue for a day game televised by CBS because of the Southeastern Conference contract with the network is so lucrative." [12]

In 2008, as Alabama narrowly defeated LSU, Wright Thompson of ESPN.com described Tiger Stadium as "the best place in the world to watch a sporting event." [13]

In 2013, the NCAA ranked Tiger Stadium as the loudest stadium in all of college football. [14]

In 2014, the No. 3-ranked Ole Miss Rebels played the No. 24-ranked LSU Tigers on October 25. After the Tigers held the Rebels to only 7 points in a 107 victory, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace stated, "It's a crazy atmosphere. This is the craziest place I've played." [15]

Construction and stadium capacity

View from LSU student section toward the South End Zone, prior to the 2014 expansion. LSU football game.jpg
View from LSU student section toward the South End Zone, prior to the 2014 expansion.

With an official seating capacity of 102,321, Tiger Stadium is the sixth-largest stadium in the world by capacity. It is the sixth-largest stadium in the NCAA and the third-largest in the Southeastern Conference, behind Kyle Field at Texas A&M University (106,511 in 2014, 102,512 in 2015) and Neyland Stadium at Tennessee (102,455) and slightly larger than Bryant-Denny Stadium at Alabama (101,821).

The stadium opened in 1924 and originally seated 12,000—the lower half of the current facility's grandstands on the east and west sidelines. In 1931, 10,000 seats were added to the existing grandstands.

In 1936 capacity was more than doubled with 24,000 seats in the north end zone, turning the stadium into a horseshoe. Money was not allocated in the state budget for the seating expansion, but money was allocated for dormitories. According to local legend, Governor Huey P. Long, who had always taken a personal interest in LSU, ordered that dormitories be built in the stadium, with seating above the student living quarters. [16] However, in a 2015 ESPN story, Bud Johnson, at the time director of LSU's athletics museum and also a former LSU sports information director, said that the idea actually came from LSU's athletic director T. P. "Skipper" Heard, while "the governor helped in other ways." [17] Until the late 1980s, the West, North and South Stadium dormitories were featured as part of student housing at LSU, and the football team even lived in them during the 1986 season while the athletic dormitory was being renovated. [17] The dormitories were later converted to office space for Athletic Department staff and faculty and studios for the College of Art & Design's Fine Arts graduate students, but by 2015 were no longer used. [17]

More than 21,000 seats were added in the south end zone in 1953, turning the stadium into a 67,720-seat bowl, making Tiger Stadium the largest on-campus stadium in the SEC, a distinction it would hold until Neyland Stadium expanded to 80,250 in 1976. Unlike the existing stadium structure, they were double-decked in order to fit within the space provided. The first of the two upper decks was added to the west side of the stadium in 1978 to bring capacity to approximately 78,000. [8]

The stadium was upgraded multiple times in the 1980s beginning with replacement of bench seats with chair back seats and waterproofing of the east and west stands in 1985. The playing surface was moved 11 feet (3.4 m) to the south to center the field in 1986. The north and south ends of the stadium were waterproofed and chair back seats added in 1987 to bring those sections up to date with the 1985 improvements. Also in 1987 the press box was redecorated, a few more seats were installed at the upper portion of the west lower stands, and all seating within the stadium was renumbered using a uniform seat-width. By the end of the 1980s the stadium held 80,150 spectators. [8]

The official capacity of the stadium was lowered to 80,000 in 1994 when a section of seating was removed for renovations to the visiting team locker room. The east upper deck seating 11,600 was completed in 2000 and brought total capacity to 91,600. The west upper deck was torn down at the end of the 2004 season, and construction began on "The Stadium Club". The new suites contain over 3,200 special amenity seats as well as a state-of-the-art press box. The "Paul Manasseh Press Box" has been named for and dedicated to the memory of the long-time and popular sports information director. Construction on this addition was scheduled to be completed by the beginning of September 2005, but delayed due to Hurricane Katrina. Construction was completed for the 2006 season, bringing the stadium's capacity to 92,400. [8] A small number of club seats were added before the 2011 season, increasing the capacity to 92,542. [18]

2014 South End Zone expansion Tiger Stadium (LSU) South End Zone expansion.jpg
2014 South End Zone expansion

During construction on the west side, a then-record-breaking crowd of 92,664 fans packed Tiger Stadium in a game against Auburn on October 22, 2005, as LSU defeated Auburn in overtime, 20–17. [8] On October 6, 2007, a new record was recorded when 92,910 fans watched as the number 1-ranked Tigers defeated the number 9 Florida Gators, 28–24. [19] A record-breaking attendance of 93,039 was again set on November 8, 2008, when number 1 Alabama defeated (16) LSU in overtime 27–21. The record was breached yet again on October 10, 2009 when the #1 ranked Florida Gators came into Tiger Stadium and defeated (4) LSU 13–3. The attendance was 93,129. The old capacity record of 93,374 was set on November 3, 2012 when (5) LSU lost to (1) Alabama 21–17, and the current record of 101,194 was set on September 13, 2014 when (10) LSU defeated Louisiana–Monroe 31–0.

On April 27, 2012, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of an $80 million south end-zone upper deck expansion that added 70 "Tiger Den" suites, over 3,000 club seats and 1,500+ general public seats to bring the total capacity of Tiger Stadium to 102,321, making it the fifth-largest college football stadium in the country. Construction began on October 17, 2012, and was completed by the summer of 2014. [20] The project was privately funded by Tiger Athletic Foundation.

Beginning with the 2017 football season, Tiger Stadium added the "Skyline Club". This open air seating located atop the south end zone upper deck is home to a 1,500 seat "beer garden". Purchase of a ticket in the Skyline Club includes admission to the seating area, admission to a self-serve food buffet, and the ability to purchase beer and wine. [21] The 2018 football season saw the appearance of an additional "beer garden" called "The Chute". This new beer drinking area is located below the south endzone bleachers. It is limited to 1,500 patrons at a time. Fans entering The Chute must be at least 21 years of age, and pay a $20 admission fee that includes two complimentary beers. Additional beers must be purchased separately. The Chute has a large screen television set for watching the game, as well as a seating area consisting of tables and chairs. [22] In 2019, alcohol sales were opened stadium wide.

Top 10 largest crowds
RankAttendanceVisiting teamDateResult
1.102,321FloridaOct. 12, 2019LSU, 42-28
1.102,321AlabamaNov. 3, 2018Ala, 29-0
1.102,321GeorgiaOct. 13, 2018LSU, 36-16
1.102,321Louisiana TechSep. 22, 2018LSU, 38-21
1.102,321AlabamaNov. 5, 2016Ala, 10-0
1.102,321AuburnSep. 19, 2015LSU, 45-21
1.102,321Eastern MichiganOct. 3, 2015LSU, 44-22
1.102,321FloridaOct. 17, 2015LSU, 35-28
1.102,321Mississippi StateSep. 20, 2014MSU, 34-29
1.102,321Ole MissOct. 25, 2014LSU, 10-7

Notable events

LSU football games

Tiger Stadium first opened its gates to fans in the fall of 1924 as LSU hosted Tulane in the season finale. Since the first game in Tiger Stadium, LSU has gone on to post a 354-138-18 (.716) mark in Death Valley. [8] Moreover, Tiger Stadium is also known for night games, an idea that was first introduced in 1931 against Spring Hill (a 35-0 LSU victory). In 2006, LSU celebrated its 75th year of playing night football in Tiger Stadium. LSU has played the majority of its games at night and the Tigers have fared much better under the lights than during the day. Since 1960, LSU is 201593 (.773) at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 21223 (.488) record during the day over that span. [8] LSU lost its first Saturday night game since 2009 against Alabama on Saturday November 3, 2012.

Grantland Rice Bowl

In 1974 and 1975 the NCAA Division II Grantland Rice Bowl was held in Tiger Stadium. [28] [29]

Entertainment at Tiger Stadium

Inauguration party

Governor Edwin W. Edwards hosted a free public party at the stadium on May 9, 1972, the day of his inauguration for the first of his four terms as governor.

Bayou Country Superfest
From 2010 to 2016, Bayou Country Superfest is held each Memorial Day weekend. The concerts were moved to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2017 and 2018 due to renovations at Tiger Stadium.

Notable concerts

DateArtistOpening act(s)Tour / Concert nameAttendanceRevenueNotes
May 22, 2015 Taylor Swift Vance Joy
Shawn Mendes
The 1989 World Tour 50,227 / 50,227$4,119,670
May 24, 2015 Miranda Lambert Platinum Tour
May 27, 2016 Luke Bryan Kill the Lights Tour

Unique features

Facilities

Jeff Boss Locker Room

Jeff Boss Locker Room Jeff Boss Locker Room - Tiger Stadium (LSU).jpg
Jeff Boss Locker Room

The Jeff Boss Locker Room located in Tiger Stadium is 8,000 square feet (740 m2) and houses 126 lockers with LED lighting. It includes a state-of-the-art sound system, HDTVs, illustrative team graphics and a lighting system. [31] The locker room area includes the main locker room, coaches lounge w/ lockers and a private lounge for the head coach. There is also an area dedicated to LSU's first round NFL Draft picks, a wall listing every Tiger that has been active for an NFL game, plus a list of LSU's all-time graduates. It was renovated prior to the 2014 football season and was previously renovated for the 1996 season. [31]

The LSU Tigers football locker room in Tiger Stadium is named in honor of equipment manager, Jeff Boss. He was equipment manager for the LSU Tigers football team for 24 years from 1980 to 2003. The locker room was named after Boss on September 29, 2003. Boss passed away from cancer on October 27, 2003, and the Tigers honored him the remainder of the season with his initials inside a black square on the left side of their jerseys and the back of their helmets. [32]

LSU Strength and Conditioning facility

LSU Strength and Conditioning facility LSU Strength and Conditioning facility.jpg
LSU Strength and Conditioning facility

The LSU Strength and Conditioning facility or LSU North Stadium weight room, is a strength training and conditioning facility at Louisiana State University. Built in 1997, it is located adjacent to the stadium. [33] Measuring 10,000 square feet (930 m2) with a flat surface, it has 28 multi-purpose power stations, 36 assorted selectorized machines and 10 dumbbell stations along with a plyometric specific area, medicine balls, hurdles, plyometric boxes and assorted speed and agility equipment. [34] [35] It also features 2 treadmills, 4 stationary bikes, 2 elliptical cross trainers, a stepper and stepmill. [36]

The facility was originally constructed to house all of LSU's sports teams, but is now home to the men's and women's basketball, gymnastics, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis and volleyball teams. [37] The LSU Tigers football strength training and conditioning facility is now located in the LSU Football Operations Center, where the baseball team also trains.

Hurricane Katrina

Tiger Stadium - Branded for the New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints at Tiger Stadium.jpg
Tiger Stadium – Branded for the New Orleans Saints

Tiger Stadium at LSU served as a temporary relocation site for the New Orleans Saints for four games of the 2005 NFL season after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome and left much of New Orleans under water. The Saints, however, utilized only 79,000 of Tiger Stadium's seats (the new west side upper deck, which was still under construction, was closed for Saints games). The Saints' first two games in Baton Rouge came on the Sunday immediately following an LSU home game, meaning field crews had to repaint the field to NFL standards immediately following the completion of LSU's games, both of which kicked off at 7 p.m. Due to the time crunch, the NFL granted LSU's request to start the Saints' games in the late slot (3:05 p.m. CST). Although none of the Saints' four Baton Rouge dates sold out due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the NFL exempted the Saints from the league's blackout rules, and the games were televised locally by WAFB and WGMB, and in New Orleans by WWL and WVUE.

The Saints went 0–4 in Tiger Stadium. The first game saw the return of Nick Saban, who led LSU to the national championship two years earlier. Saban's Miami Dolphins defeated the Saints 21–6. The Saints subsequently lost to the Chicago Bears (20-17), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3) and Carolina Panthers (27-10). The Bears, Buccaneers and Panthers all qualified for the NFC playoffs, with the Panthers losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game.

Tiger Stadium also hosted the Tulane Green Wave versus Southeastern Louisiana Lions football game on October 1, 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. [38] Tulane defeated Southeastern Louisiana 28–21. [39]

In 1967 and 1969, the Saints hosted exhibition games at Tiger Stadium. The 1967 game matched New Orleans vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, which allowed former LSU superstar and future Tiger coach Jerry Stovall, then a Cardinals safety, to return to Baton Rouge. Two years later, the Saints took on the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by future Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll and defensive tackle Joe Greene, both of whom were in their first season with the Steelers.

The last high school football game in Tiger Stadium was the 1966 Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class AAA championship, at the time Louisiana's highest classification. Local powerhouse Broadmoor defeated South Lafourche of Galliano 24–0.

See also

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Preceded by
Louisiana Superdome
Home of the
New Orleans Saints
(with Giants Stadium & Alamodome)

2005 (4 games)
Succeeded by
Louisiana Superdome