In the United States, there’s eight non-racing stadiums that have a capacity of at least 100,000 and they all happen to be college football stadiums.
This year’s Summer Road Trip cleaned up the remaining two 100,000-seat stadiums that I hadn’t been to (Penn State and Tennessee). Having been to all of them (games at five of them, inside seven of them), I figured it was about time to order them from least to most favorite.
Note: This is just talking about the stadiums themselves. Until I catch a game inside all eight of them, we’ll revisit.
8. DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium
It’s the smallest in terms of the 100,000 seaters, thanks in part to the south end zone being wide open. It offers a cool view of downtown Austin, but it lacks in terms of ease of navigation and state-of-the-art features. Once the new end zone complex is finished, it might solve these problems, but it was hard to take the senior zone seriously at just 25 rows high.
It’s situated right off i-35 which is good for accessibility on paper, but Austin’s traffic problem makes UT-Austin a real disaster to get to. Gripes aside, it’s still a colossal stadium that could very well sit 150,000+ should that south end zone ever be filled in like the north end zone.
7. Neyland Stadium
When it comes to history and tradition, there’s not many places better to see a ballgame than Knoxville, Tennessee. The history is well preserved in Neyland Stadium, much to it’s detriment. The place is seriously old and borderline decrepit with a musky smell from the second you walk up to it.
It’s all a part of the Neyland experience and the place is truly cavernous, but the lower concourse and even some of the gates feel like an old basement. Strip out the fans, teams, and bands playing “Rocky Top,” and Neyland really rings as a historical site.
6. Bryant-Denny Stadium
With the most recent renovations, Bryant-Denny became the premiere stadium in terms of features. All of the recent money flooding into the Alabama football program has turned it into a state-of-the-art facility even beyond just college football. So, why have it so low?
All of the renovations seemingly strip out the history of Alabama football. It’s closer to an NFL facility, which might wet someone’s whistle, just not mine. Also, it feels smaller than it really is– Clemson and Oklahoma feel larger despite both fitting 15,000 less seats than Bryant-Denny.
5. Beaver Stadium
This was the sole 100,000-seater that I haven’t been inside, so I feel like I’m doing it a disservice here; ranking these stadiums is tough. Based on photos and videos I’ve seen, this place is incredible on Penn State game days. On it’s own, even from the outside, it didn’t feel quite as big as it should have.
Beaver Stadium is by far the newest of the stadiums over 100K by 31 years (opened in 1960). You can tell in the design of the stadium that it didn’t start at a 10,000 capacity like the rest. That’s not a knock on the place, it’s a staple in every fan’s bucket list.
4. Ohio Stadium
I really put my bias aside for this one. I’ve seen Ohio Stadium both completely full and completely empty, and most of the allure of Ohio Stadium is the pageantry on gameday. By itself, it’s a massive structure with plenty of history (it’s listed on the historic registrar) but the concourses are a bit cramped for the capacity.
One of the most iconic stadium features in the world is the atrium in the north end zone and, as an Ohio State fan, it just feels like home. To put it fourth on this list isn’t saying it’s not a great stadium– it’s just the fourth greatest.
3. Kyle Field
We’ve moved from the heavy hitters to the heaviest hitters. Kyle Field is an incredible architectural feat and is all around an amazing marvel to look at. The height, the condition, just everything about this place defines prestige. Even without fans inside, Kyle Field is an incredible place to visit.
It’s located right in the middle of Texas A&M’s campus and steps from the Student Center (both major positives). There’s tons of cool statues and easter eggs surrounding the stadium and Aggie pride is infectious, love or hate them.
2. Michigan Stadium
It’s the largest non-racing stadium in the US, third-largest in the entire world, and more so than any other stadium on this list it feels it. The allure to Michigan Stadium is that it’s one giant bowl without decks. Although the back row almost completely removes someone from the action, it’s a marvel to look at.
The sideline structures and press boxes are a newer addition to the stadium built in 2010 and it brought the venue into the 21st century. An innovation that (so far) I’ve only seen at North Carolina and Michigan is their open-air concourse; Michigan Stadium is so large that they don’t have a built-in concourse. It’s a fenced-in area and the tunnel to the bowl connects directly to the outside of the stadium.
1. LSU Tiger Stadium
All of the good things mentioned about the other 100,000-seaters– history, tradition, architectural prowess, size, and grandeur– come together in a perfect package for LSU Tiger Stadium. Features like the double-post goalpost (mainly defunct in modern college football) give it a unique touch. My favorite touch is the midfield Tiger Eye and the multicolored sidelines.
It’s situated right in the middle of LSU’s campus and is feet away from Mike the Tiger’s pen that’s fit for the San Diego Zoo. The height is dizzying in the nosebleeds, but doesn’t take you out of the game. It even has a great name, “Death Valley.” LSU Tiger Stadium is the ultimate combination of what makes a stadium great and is the pinnacle of outstanding college football venues.
What did you make of the list? Let me know on social media which 100,000 seat stadium is your favorite!