5. Floyd Casey Stadium (Baylor)
Floyd Casey Stadium is about four miles from Baylor’s campus, but why should anyone make the trip? Well, the stadium’s namesake is trying to give supporters a reason. Floyd Casey has given $5 million toward an $8 million renovation project, which has helped build Grant Teaff Plaza, which honors the program’s legendary coach. The Bears also installed SportGrass for its playing surface. But the stadium itself remains a bit amateurish. It’s an oval shape with its large grandstands along the sidelines and open end zones. To top it off, Baylor hasn’t had great teams over the years. The Bears are trying to turn that around. They made their first bowl game since 1994 last December. That’s progress, too bad you feel a mile away from the game while watching. Hey, give ‘em a stadium to match.
4. Wallace Wade Stadium (Duke)
If you want to see a Duke basketball game – and we know you really, really do – then you have to promise to go to some Blue Devils football games. That’s part of the school’s football ticket sales plan. Yeah, we know it’s a bummer, right? Duke hasn’t made a bowl game or had a winning season since 1994. The last time the Devils truly were successful on the gridiron came in the 1980s under coach Steve Spurrier. That was a long time ago. But Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium is just as bad then as it is now. It holds just 33,941 people; we’ve seen top-tier FCS programs draw more fans. Plus, it’s still got a track around the field like you would see at the high school level. All you need to know: When the stadium is filled to the brim, it’s mostly with opposing fans.
3. Vanderbilt Stadium (Vanderbilt)
Vanderbilt Stadium is going through a multi-million dollar reconstruction, which is much-needed, to say the least. The Commodores are sinking money into a program that has been a laughingstock in the SEC. Maybe, Vandy’s stadium seems worse in comparison to its peer venues. How can Vandy, known more for its math department than football program, compete with the home-field advantages in Gainesville, Knoxville and Tuscaloosa? First off, the fans are muted; granted, they don’t have much for which to cheer. The school finally removed the unpopular wooden bleachers from the north end zone in 2004. Yeah, only about a half-century too late. But Vandy has a 39,790-seat stadium playing in a conference in which schools get that many fans to the spring game.
2. Ryan Field (Northwestern)
If you’ve ever been to Ryan Field, you know this thing is an abomination of a stadium aesthetically. Opening during the Roaring Twenties, it seats under 50,000 people. Can anyone explain the need for an upper deck in a stadium that seats less than 50,000 people? It was renovated in 1996 but has been woefully neglected since then. Renovation plans are in the works but if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. It was a part of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, so is there any surprise that the IOC went with Rio instead?
1. Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati)
“The Nip” has been renovated six times, but none have left the venue with an environment fit for a BCS conference program. After all, Nippert Stadium has been around since (wait for it) 1902. There have been calls for an expansion to the 35,097-seat stadium. Before Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, he was one of the biggest proponents of the improvements. The school has preliminary plans to add 15,000 seats to the stadium, according to reports, but that doesn’t change its amateur feel in its current state. Remember when Mardy Gilyard crashed into the stands in 2008? He’s lucky he wasn’t seriously injured and the university should be embarrassed by it. Bearcat football, which has surged recently, deserves better.
*Note: Texas Tech’s Jones AT&T Stadium was removed from this list
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