College football in all its glory has no finer home than Tiger Stadium, known throughout America as "Death Valley" or as some have called it, "Deaf Valley". As recently as 1996, Tiger Stadium was named the most dreaded road playing site in America in a poll of coaches conducted by Gannett News Service. A 1987 College Football Association poll of the nation's Division I-A head coaches determined the same thing. And a 1989 poll by The Sporting News simply rated Tiger Stadium No. 1 among "The 10 best places to attend a college football game."
Indeed, Tiger Stadium is legendary in college football circles for its raucous and rollicking crowds and for uncountable memories that have been spawned in this mammoth structure. Perhaps the most famous moment in Death Valley history took place on "The Night The Tigers Moved the Earth," October 8, 1988. It was on that night, when Tommy Hodson threw to Eddie Fuller for a winning touchdown against Auburn, that the explosion of the crowd was so thunderous that it caused an earth tremor that registered on a seismograph meter in LSU's Geology Department across campus.
Then there was the night the Tigers nearly upset No. 1-ranked Southern Cal before a sellout crowd on September 28, 1979. The Tigers came up short, but the crowd roared from kickoff to final gun in a game that many ardent LSU followers rank as the loudest in stadium history.
And of course there was Halloween night, 1959, when Billy Cannon made his famous 89-yard punt return to lead No. 1 LSU past No. 3 Ole Miss. Legend has it that families living near the campus lakes came running out of their homes in fear of the noise erupting around them.
Those are the highlights, some of the moments which shaped the character of this great stadium. But week in and week out each fall, a new chapter unfolds in the story of Death Valley.
The band plays the first note of the fight song and more than 90,000 fans rise to their feet, captivated and transformed by what they are about to see. The energy, the noise and excitement level hit another gear as the players charge through the uprights and prepare to take the field of battle. As the game begins the fans create an atmosphere unlike any other in
college football, raising their level of intensity as the magnitude of the game
heightens with every turn.
This could only be a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
For the college football fan, it doesn't get any better than Tiger Stadium, also known as Death Valley. Already considered one of the loudest athletic venues in the world, an additional 11,600 seats were added prior to the 2000 season, creating an even more hostile environment for its
visitors with its current capacity of 91,600.
LSU averaged better than 90,000 fans per game a
year ago and ranked fifth in the nation in attendance for the third straight
season. Tiger Stadium had over 90,000 fans attend six home games in 2002,
including 92,012 for the Alabama game, the second-highest attended game in
school history. The record of 92,141 fans that witnessed LSU defeat Auburn to
claim the 2001 SEC West title still stands.
"Saturday Night in Tiger
"It's Saturday Night in Death Valley and here
come your Fighting Tigers of LSU."
Hearing those words from public address announcer
Dan Borne' as the Tigers enter the stadium brings chills to even the casual LSU
football fan. Seven nights a year Tiger Stadium becomes the sixth largest city
in the state of Louisiana as over 91,000 fans pack the cathedral of college
football to watch the Tigers play.
For LSU fans, there's nothing better than spending a night in Tiger Stadium. LSU home football games are events talked about year round. For opponents, it's another story as Tiger Stadium is an intimidating venue that has been called one of the most dreaded road playing sites in all of college football. Seating 91,600 fans and nicknamed "Death
Valley," poll after poll have proclaimed Tiger Stadium as one of the greatest sites anywhere for a college football game.
In 1998, Sport Magazine named Tiger Stadium "the
most feared road playing site in America." And in 1996, ESPN named LSU's
pre-game party the best in all of America. Those surveys supported the previous
polls by Gannett News Service in 1995, The Sporting News in 1989 and the College
Football Association in 1987 that show Tiger Stadium to be the most difficult
place for a visiting team to play.
Most recently, the Sporting News ranked Tiger
Stadium as the sixth best college football stadium in America in a poll of
college football coaches and fans, while Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly, in a
column debating college football vs. pro football, penned that "College football
is LSU's Tiger Stadium at night."
Now the fifth largest on-campus stadium in
college football, Tiger Stadium is considered one of the loudest athletic arenas
in the world. Three years ago, an additional 11,600 seats were added with the
addition of the east upper deck to bring the capacity to 91,600. In addition to
the new east upper deck, 70 skyboxes, called "Tiger Dens" were built giving
Tiger fans luxury accommodations. The addition of the 11,600 seats marked the
first expansion to Tiger Stadium since 1978 when the west upper deck was
Last year, in just the third season in the
expanded stadium, LSU averaged 90,307 fans a contest, the fifth-highest total in
college football in 2002. It also marked back-to-back years in which the Tigers
averaged over 90,000 fans a contest in Tiger Stadium, a first in school history.
Six of LSU's seven home games in 2002 were played before 90,000-plus crowds in
Tiger Stadium in 2002, including a season-best of 92,012 against Alabama on Nov.
Indeed, Tiger Stadium is legendary in college
football circles for its overflowing, raucous crowds and for uncountable
memories that have been spawned inside the mammoth structure.
Part of the lore of Tiger Stadium is the
tradition of playing games at night, an idea that was first introduced in 1931
against Spring Hill (a 35-0 LSU victory). Since then, 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 182-61-4 (.745) at night in Tiger
Stadium compared to a 14-20-3 (.419) record during the day over that span.
Whether the game has been at day or night it
hasn't mattered as the Tigers have put together
an impressive 17-4 overall mark, which includes an 8-3 Southeastern Conference
record, in Tiger Stadium since 2000.
Last year, after a 33-10 non-conference win over
Miami (Ohio), Miami coach Terry Hoeppener said of Tiger Stadium, "That's an
exciting as an environment as you can have. I thought the crowd was a factor for
us because we had communication problems we haven't had at Michigan and Ohio
In 2001, the Tigers clinched a berth in its first
SEC Championship Game with a 27-14 victory over Auburn in the season-finale in
Tiger Stadium. After the contest, thousands of Tiger fans spilled onto the
stadium floor to celebrate the victory.
After a victory before a national television
audience on ESPN in 2001, ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten said, "Death
Valley in Baton Rouge is the loudest stadium I've ever been in. There are very
few stadiums in America worth a touchdown, but the Bayou Bengals certainly have
that advantage in Tiger Stadium"
In 2000, the first year of the Saban era, the
goal posts came down twice. Immediately after the Tigers upset then No. 11
ranked Tennessee 38-31 in overtime, the capacity crowd of 91,682 spilled onto
the field of Tiger Stadium to celebrate the victory. Hundreds of students lined
the sidelines and the back of the north end zone as the Tigers' held the Vols
scoreless in overtime for the victory.
The goal posts came down again in the final home
game of the season as the Tigers' posted a 30-28 win over Alabama, their first
victory over the Crimson Tide in Tiger Stadium since 1969.
The goal posts came down for the first time in
1997 as all of America witnessed one of the most explosive nights in the history
of the grand ol' stadium when the Tigers upended No. 1-ranked Florida before a
national television audience. A sea of Tiger fans swamped the floor of Tiger
Stadium as both goal posts came crashing down -- a scene that was replayed
countless times in college football highlight shows.
Perhaps the most famous moment in Death Valley
history took place on "The Night The Tigers Moved the Earth," Oct. 8, 1988. When
Tiger quarterback Tommy Hodson threw to Eddie Fuller for a winning touchdown
against Auburn, the explosion of the crowd was so thunderous that it caused an
earth tremor that registered on a seismograph meter in LSU's Geology Department
Then there was the night the Tigers nearly upset
No. 1-ranked Southern Cal before a sellout crowd on Sept. 28, 1979. The Tigers
came up short, but the crowd roared from kickoff to final gun in a game many
ardent LSU followers rank as the loudest in stadium history.
And of course there was Halloween night, 1959,
when Billy Cannon made his famous 89-yard punt return to lead No. 1 LSU past No.
3 Ole Miss. Legend has it that families living near the campus lakes came
running out of their homes in fear of the noise erupting around them.
Those are the highlights, some of which have
shaped the character of this great stadium. But week in and week out each fall,
a new chapter unfolds in the history of Death Valley.
Better known as "Death Valley" is known as the most dreaded road playing sites in America. The Tigers have drawn more than 15 million fans since 1957. The East stadium was built in 1926, west in 1932, north in 1937, south in 1957, and addition was completed in 1978. The original seating capacity was 12,000 in 1926 and the total capacity now is 79,940.
"I stood in Tiger Stadium and I thought, 'This is what the Colosseum in Rome must have been like.'" -- Ed Simonini, Texas A&M linebacker.
"It was like the Colosseum in Rome and we were the Christians." -- The late Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech.
"Unbelievable, crazy. That place makes Notre Dame seem like Romper Room." -- Brad Budde, USC lineman.
"It makes a body tingle. These folks go berserk when the band marches on the field. A huge roar is heard for the invocation, for heaven's sake. They not only know the words to the national anthem, they sing them, loudly. And when the Tigers win the toss...there are tears of ecstasy." -- Douglas Looney, Sports Illustrated describing a Saturday night in Death Valley.
"Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world to be a visiting team." -- The Late Paul "Bear" Bryant, head coach of Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama.
The home of one of football's proudest traditions, this unique structure also once served as a dormitory for approximately 1,500 students, and while LSU's athletic dormitory (Broussard Hall) was being renovated during the fall of 1986, the LSU football players lived in Tiger Stadium. The original phase of construction was completed in 1924.
This first phase included the East and West stands, which seated about 12,000. Four years later (1928), the sides were extended upward to accommodate an additional 10,000 fans, raising the capacity to 22,000. In 1936, the stadium seating capacity was increased to 46,000 with the addition of 24,000 seats in the North end, making Tiger Stadium into a horseshoe configuration.
The next phase of construction took place in 1953, when the stadium's South end was closed to turn the horseshoe into a bowl, increasing the seating capacity to 67,720.
The upper deck atop the West stands was completed in 1978, and it added 8,000 seats to the stadium's capacity. Additional seating in two club level sections, which flanked the existing press box, brought the total addition to approximately 10,000 seats and raised the stadium's capacity to approximately 78,000.
Refurbishing began on the stadium in the summer of 1985, when the East and West stands were waterproofed, and 25,000 chairback seats were added to replace the older "bench" type seats. Another phase of improvements was completed in 1987, when the North and South stands were waterproofed and newer bleachers were once again installed to replace the older ones.
The playing field was moved 11 feet to the South in 1986, to provide more room between the back line of the North end zone and the curvature of the stadium fence which surrounds the field. It also put the playing area in the exact center of the arena's grassy surface.
The Tiger Stadium press box was redecorated prior to the 1987 season, and a few more seats were installed at the upper portion of the West lower stands. Also, the stadium's seating arrangement was renumbered prior to the 1987 season, to make all seats a uniform size. The addition of bleacher seating in 1988 brought the capacity to 80,150 and the elimination of some bleacher seating after the 1994 season to accommodate renovated visiting team dressing facilities brought the capacity to its current total of 79,940. Dormitory rooms built into the stadium can accommodate 4,904 students. The original horeshoe stadium cost $1,816,210.58. The addition to close in the South end cost $1,528,342.00.
Courtesy of LSU Fan
April 17, 1998 - Great site! I think it is time for an update however. You have the 1979 USC game as the loudest ever. I think most everyone agrees that that was the case until the Florida upset last year on 10/11 /97. LSU beat then No. 1 Florida by a score of 28-21. I have attended rock concerts, heard planes take off and been to many games in many stadiums and I have never heard anything as loud as when Raion Hill intercepted the ball with 2:43 left on the clock and all but put an end to Florida's chances of achieving a comeback - and then again a minute and a half later when Abram Booty caught a pass to give LSU the 1st down and the ability to run out the clock. It truly was a magical place that evening.
LSU will splurge on upgrades to Tiger Stadium
By MARY FOSTER, AP Sports Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (February, 1998) -- LSU football fans could find it easier to get tickets, big spenders should find it possible to grab some status, and everyone should find it easier to park in a few years.
With Tiger football on a three-year winning streak, LSU is planning to add an additional 10,000 seats and at least 47 sky boxes as well as a 1,000-car parking garage possibly within the next 3 1/2 years.
"I'm still running the numbers and working on plans, but I would hope we could begin work after next football season," LSU athletic director Joe Dean said on Thursday.
Last year season ticket sales for football went over the 50,000 mark for the first time ever. A study on the economic impact of LSU athletics done by Loren Scott found that over 78,000 fans attended each home game last season. With stadium capacity at 79,940, many games found supporters unable to get tickets. The additional seats would help remedy that, Dean said.
"We are under a lot of pressure to expand the stadium," LSU chancellor William Jenkins said. "Our enrollment is up, attendance is up and all of it is putting us under tremendous pressure to expand."
The plans would include 1,000 new student seats.
With the new capacity LSU, which is currently seventh, would rank second in Southeastern Conference capacity behind Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, which seats 102,544.
Expansion plans call for 47 sky boxes to be built on the east side of the stadium. Each would be a luxury facility comparable to the suites in the Superdome, Dean said. Each would seat 20 people, 16 in regular seats and four on stools.
"I would love to average $40,000 each for the sideline boxes," Dean said. "In the end zone they would probably be $25,000."
Tickets would be extra.
The school also will build a 1,000-car parking garage and will move the front-nine holes of the golf course and add parking spaces there.
Eventually Dean hopes to build a 1,300-car garage that would be attached to the south side of the stadium and support an additional 41 sky boxes.
"This is, of course contingent on one thing," Dean said. "Our football team has to keep winning. That puts the coach under a lot of pressure, but he assures me he plans to keep winning."
The expansion would be the first to Tiger Stadium since the west upper deck which added 8,000 new seats was built in 1978.
Dean is still working out design and construction problems and financing. Construction would probably be financed with Tiger Athletic Foundation funds.
"I kind of flirted with getting the money from the state at one time," Dean said. "But we've been self supporting here all along and we plan to stay that way."
On October 5, 2000 Joe wrote: I wrote to you about a year ago congratulating you on your terrific website. And it has only improved since then -- whenever I get a few minutes of free time, I enjoy surfing through new sections of your site and "losing myself" in page after page of history and pictures. However, I would like to add to the note that I had previously sent to you, which was approximately in Oct 1999. In noting the testimonial from the LSU fan regarding the 1997 Florida game, I completely agree with everything that this fan wrote. I work for ESPN Television as a statistician on many sports, with college football being the busiest time of year for me. I have worked for ESPN since 1987, and have been to virtually every college and professional football stadium in the
country. Most of them I have been to many times each, and this would include Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. I was fortunate to be in the press box for the 1997 Florida game, and it was without question one of the best atmospheres I have ever been in. The stat area where I am located is open air at Tiger Stadium, which is a bit unusual as most stadiums have this enclosed within the main press area of the press box. Therefore, I got the full brunt of the
noise on that night of the Florida game.
I would agree that it was the loudest game that I have ever heard -- until this past Saturday! I was back in Baton Rouge on Sep 30 for the Tennessee at LSU game. Again, it was a big game with LSU upsetting the highly ranked Volunteers in overtime, 38-31. The only difference between last Saturday and the 1997 Florida game is that there are now over 11,000 MORE seats in the stadium! The expansion that your site has mentioned is now completed, with a new upper deck including luxury boxes on the East side of the stadium. This brings capacity to just under 92,000, which is up from 1997s total, which I believe was app. 80,500 for that
Florida game. This year's game was every bit as crazy and loud, and was again finished off with both goal posts coming down within minutes after the final gun. While working the game, I often could not hear myself talking in my own headset! In talking to the truck, I had to just hope that they were hearing me, because I certainly could not hear anything that they may have been trying to tell me! In any case, I just wanted to mention to you that it is without question the loudest stadium in the country when LSU is playing well -- Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City (NFL) would be the only place that I can think of that would even come close.
And, I write this to you having absolutely no ties to LSU at all -- I live in Omaha and went to school at Creighton University, which does not play football (we do have some GOOD basketball)! so I am probably as impartial of an observer as you can get. Of all the places we go to work football -- and I will be at over 60 games this year -- Tiger Stadium is my favorite place to go because of the atmosphere, food, and NOISE! Is a great time -- hard to believe I get paid to go to these places!
Keep up the good work. If I can be of any help to you with information for your site, feel free to e-mail me -- I do 3 football games a week, so I get to a lot of stadiums during the course of the season. Thank you. Joe -- ESPN Television
May 2, 2004 BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A $60 million project to replace the west upper deck of the LSU Stadium, including a new press box and club seats, is under way and already has transformed the grounds on that side.
The day after the last home football game of the 2004 season, Nov. 21, work will begin -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At the peak of construction, nearly 400 workers will be on the site. Three cranes, weighing 750 and 500 tons, will chew huge sections of concrete that many Tiger football fans have called home since 1978.
"It is going to be like a ballet out there," said Ralph Stogner, project manager. "It is going to be beautiful to watch."
The most intense work will come during roughly 12 weeks starting in late November.
"By the end of January we should have most of the demolition done except for the cleanup," Stogner said. "Then it will be full-bore to put it back since we have to have it ready for the first game of the 2005 season."
The target is Sept. 3, 2005, when LSU plays North Texas. What happens if the stadium is not ready?
"It's not an option," Stogner said.
A bond issue financed by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, a private support group, is paying for it all. The lead contractor is Yates Construction of Biloxi.
By late December, roughly half the familiar support structure on the outside of the west side of the structure will be stripped away, along with the upper deck itself.
It will be replaced with a seating area virtually identical to the East Upper Deck, which opened in 2000. The stadium's east side has 70 suites for 1,880 fans.
The new open-seating structure on the west side will sit atop three new levels, including 3,200 club seats on two levels and parts of a third level, and a new press box.
The West Upper Deck now sits atop the press box, which is flanked on both sides by about 800 club seats.
The crux of the 20-month project is taking apart and rebuilding the West Upper Deck. It holds 8,014 of the stadium's 91,600 seats. Capacity will grow by 500 or 600 when the work is done.
"The demolition will ripple down, and the new construction will ripple down right behind it," Stogner said. "It is just a tad slower."
As cranes move from south to north, vacant areas will be replaced with precast seating, said Dan Radakovich, senior associate athletic director.
"One crane will pick off a piece and be moving it out of the way while another one comes in to pick off another piece," Stogner said.
Discarded concrete and steel will be hauled to recycling bins. Whether to preserve any of the old seats has been discussed. Seats in landmark stadiums are sometimes sold or given away.
"It has been rattled around, but the bottom line is nobody wants to come out there Sunday morning after the last game and move the seats and get out of the way of the contractor," Stogner said.
"They will probably end up being recycled," he said.
LSU LOOKING AT STADIUM EXPANSION
December 15, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Baton Rouge, La. - Tiger Athletic Foundation President and CEO Major General R.G. Richard
told the Board of Supervisors that Tiger Stadium may undergo renovations and expansions in the next several years, the LSU Reveille reported.
"We are at the present time exploring the possibility of expanding Tiger Stadium," Richard said.
The possible expansion was discussed when board members were approving TAF's "Preservation of Tiger Stadium" project to renovate the west side of the stadium and the entrance. While the board approved those plans, Richard said the possibility of expanding the stadium is
still in an exploratory phase. He said TAF members are looking at business models and construction ability for such plans.
If the stadium is expanded, Richard said the organization would be adding additional club seats and suites. That decision was made after surveying their public, Richard said.
Qualifying for those seats would be based on the University's priority point system. An expansion could also include the addition of facilities that make Tiger Stadium more usable in football's off-season. Richard said they are looking at adding a banquet room on the stadium's ground level.
FIRST APPROVAL GIVEN FOR LSU STADIUM PROJECT
March 1, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Baton Rouge, La. - The Advocate says plans for a south end zone expansion of Tiger Stadium
have cleared their first hurdle, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said, with unanimous approval by the Tiger Athletic Foundation board to proceed with the project.
"There are a lot of other steps," Alleva said in a statement. "We have to get university and Board of Supervisors approval; we have to get Board of Regents approval, bond approval.
"But the ball is rolling, and we're going to try to make this happen."
While some details are still tentative, Alleva said the plan calls for building what will essentially be a freestanding structure that will wrap around the south end of Tiger Stadium and connect the existing east and west upper decks.
The addition would include a lower level containing 4,000 club seats, two levels of suites totaling 60 in all with seating for 24 people in each, and a 1,500-seat upper deck topping the entire addition, Alleva said.
If the expansion goes as Alleva described, Tiger Stadium would grow by 6,940 seats to a total capacity of nearly 99,500. That would make Tiger Stadium the seventh-largest facility in the country and the third-largest in the Southeastern Conference behind only Neyland Stadium at Tennessee (102,455) and Bryant-Denny Stadium at Alabama (101,821).
As for when the project could be completed, Alleva said, "I don't know when we would put the first shovel in the ground, but I'd love to have it available to use for the 2014 season."
Alleva did not divulge a total projected cost for the project, but said LSU and TAF officials are confident the project will pay for itself.
LSU RELEASES STADIUM EXPANSION PLANS
April 26, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Baton Rouge, La. - Louisiana State University's plans for expanding Tiger Stadium call for the
addition of about 60 suites (with a capacity of 24 people in each), 3,000 club-level seats, a 1,500-seat upper deck above the rim of the current south end zone stands, plus two video scoreboards in the southwest and southeast corners of the stadium.
When complete, Tiger Stadium's capacity will go from 92,542 to approximately 100,000, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. If approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors at their April 27 meeting, construction would begin this fall with the target of for the 2014 football season.
"There are no real obstacles," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said. "They've done a real good job of testing the soil and finding out the things that have to be moved. We're getting all the approvals we need."
Funding for the project would come through a bond issue by the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF), a private fund-raising entity.
TAF's debt would be retired the lease of suites and seat licensing fees on the club seats. The athletic department would retain revenue from ticket, concession and souvenir sales.
"It's more than financially feasible," Alleva said. "The way I like to describe it is the revenue coming in will pay for the mortgage."
The expansion would make Tiger Stadium the third-largest in the Southeastern Conference behind only Neyland Stadium at Tennessee (102,455) and Bryant-Denny Stadium at Alabama (101,821) and the seventh-largest stadium in the country.
In 2000, LSU opened the east upper deck, which included 70 suites and a total seating of 11,600, bringing Tiger Stadium's capacity to over 90,000.
Despite those additions, demand for premium seating (club seats and suites) fueled by the most successful 12-year period in LSU football history has remained high. Alleva said none of the original suite owners have allowed their leases to lapse, and the waiting list for both suites and club seats has remained long.
APPROVAL GIVEN FOR LSU STADIUM EXPANSION
May 10, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Baton Rouge, La. - The LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an $85 million
expansion of the south end zone of Tiger Stadium, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported.
LSU Tigers Athletic Director Joe Alleva and other officials spent about 15 minutes discussing
the project, which will increase capacity by about 6,900 and be self sustaining from a $100 million bond issue by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, the athletic department's fundraising arm.
The remaining funds will be used for future projects to improve facilities for tennis, gymnastics and track, Alleva said.
The addition will include a 1,500-seat upper deck on top of a club level of about 3,000 seats, two levels of at least 60 suites and as many as 64, with room for 24 seats in each suite. There also will be an area for 400 to 500 standing-room ticket holders.
The expansion will increase capacity from 92,542 to about 99,500, which would make Tiger Stadium the seventh-largest in the nation and third-largest on-campus venue in the SEC, behind Tennessee (102,455) and Alabama (101,821).
The project is due for completion in time for the 2014 season.
The construction will force the stadium to do without the end zone scoreboard probably for the 2013 season, officials said. Two video boards will replace the aging scoreboard when completed.