Pick the right game to head to Blacksburg and you’ll find yourself in the middle of the most exciting game day in the country. It may be a controversial statement to some, but a Virginia Tech football game day is wild.
Sellout Crowd Rocks Lane Stadium
Virginia Tech 17, #10 North Carolina 10
I can’t attest for how jumping Lane Stadium gets for a noon kickoff against Richmond or Middle Tennessee, but I can assure you there’s no better place to be than when the Hokies host a ranked rival. Preseason Heisman contender Sam Howell and the 10th-ranked UNC TarHeels visited Virginia Tech to open the 2021 season.
The folks of Blackburg don’t like UNC. Most of the country thought UNC was quite a bit overrated. With a bit of a bad taste in their mouth, Virginia Tech and their fans were chomping at the bits to knock these guys off.
The result is an explosive atmosphere and a sold-out crowd.
Virginia Tech Football Game Day: Pregame
Blacksburg is a fairly accessible town if you’re driving and live somewhat nearby. It’s tucked back in the hills, which makes for a beautiful drive in. But once you’re there, it’s a terrific college town. Parking outside of the major lots is just kind of… anywhere? Local elementary schools only charge about $10 and it’s not a terrible walk to the stadium.
A pro tip: If you’re looking to explore downtown Blacksburg first, don’t park south of the stadium. That’s what I did and I logged over 25,000 steps that day. Rough.
Downtown Blacksburg is one of my favorite college spots in the country. It touches campus, has nothing but local eateries, and plenty of bars and shops. Downtown is a must when you’re in town. Head over to Sharky’s– they have cheap beer and a good selection of really good food. I got a pulled pork sandwich with some local BBQ sauce and it was outstanding.
Tailgating is everywhere. High-class, exciting, busy, it checks all the boxes. This week, students left tailgating early, and for good reason.
Virginia Tech Football Game Day: Lane Stadium
There’s a few places in the country which your butt better be in your seat well before kickoff; Ohio State, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech. Get there early.
The student section had already filled to the brim 90 minutes before kickoff. These guys were serious about making this the week’s best environment. Spoiler alert: They succeeded.
Virginia Tech’s campus is made up of all the same brick. It was originally a military school (and it still has heavy military influence, like Texas A&M) and campus is beautiful. Lane Stadium was built with the same grey brick and stone used all around campus. I’m a sucker for tying a campus together.
The stadium feels cozy and quaint, but really it seats over 66,000– near the top 25 in capacity in the nation. You hear every bit of that 66,000, this place is loud.
The walk up to the upper decks is pretty rough but navigating the stadium is easy. It’s clean, spacious, and overall a terrific venue.
Yes, Enter Sandman deserves its own section. Nothing in the world compares to the hype surrounding Virginia Tech’s team entrance. On the ESPN broadcast, the announcers stepped aside. They just let the stadium atmosphere roll:
It was the perfect storm: First time with fans back in the stands since 2019, hosting a ranked opponent, game was on Friday night prime time, nationally televised, beautiful day. “Electric” doesn’t do it justice.
The crowd sings along to the song while all jumping. It shakes the upper deck a lot, so if you’re a bit uneasy on rollercoasters, this isn’t the seat for you. The team runs out, fireworks and pyrotechnics ignite, and everyone cheers. When the music finally cuts, the stadium carries the song all the way through kickoff.
You can see on the broadcast how rattled UNC coach Mack Brown gets. I would hate to be an opponent walking into that environment. The Hokies’ win was secured before kickoff ever happened.
I didn’t get video of it, because it just wouldn’t have done it justice. Enter Sandman is something every sports fan needs to experience at least once.
Virginia Tech Football Game Day: The Atmosphere
I’ve already talked about how loud and excited this sellout crowd was. The game went Virginia Tech’s way, with the Hokies winning 17-10. The crowd did some serious disrupting, drawing UNC into false starts and forcing timeouts.
What I haven’t talked about yet are the fans. You’re shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of sweaty people who have been drinking all day and yet there were no fights. No arguments. Everyone was just having a really good time, including myself and my dad.
We didn’t sit once. There wasn’t even really room for us all. But that just adds to the experience. Everyone was really friendly, talkative, and happy to be there. 10/10 Virginia Tech fans.
And to top it all off, we got a field rush. It felt so damn good to be back in real college football.
The way it is with all small(ish) college towns, traffic out is less than desirable. The roads of course can’t handle 66,000 folks exiting at once and to make it a bit worse, some of the most accessible ramps to the highway out are closed off. It was a bit frustrating.
The police funnel everyone who tried to park remotely back into the center of town– successfully, I might add– which kind of defeats the purpose of parking remotely.
But when you’re coming down from the buzz of a game day like that, a minor inconvenience doesn’t even matter.
Game Day Grades
Stadium: B+. It’s really nice, what can I say? If you sit up in the visitor stands, you get a pristine view of the surrounding mountains. The walk to the top is brutal, so I can’t give it a perfect rating.
Tradition: A+. Enter Sandman. The End.
Atmosphere: A. One of the best. Up there with my LSU, Texas A&M, and Florida State experiences. I was sucked in and turned partial toward the Hokies now. Results may vary, of course.
Tailgating: B. Pretty good. It’s not this sea of tents like the SEC but the tailgates are high brow and I appreciate that.
Fans: B. Fans are super nice and love their Virginia Tech Hokies. They’re passionate and loud. Nothing really above and beyond like some other places, but when you don’t have a “that guy” anywhere in sight (you know the one– falling on folks, way too drunk to be at the game, yelling in your ear), it’s a good sign.
Extracurriculars: B-. Blackburg in itself is a great college town. Downtown is one of my favorite college spots. But it’s also really removed from major metros. You don’t just pass by Blacksburg.