The Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis tops Dr. Bo's list as the least appealing college football stadium.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Miss., doesn't headline those Ten Must-See Places In College Football lists. Unless Brett Favre is planning a visit.
But it had special appeal for me last weekend, especially because I remembered to pack my raincoat.
It was the 50th college football venue where I had covered a sports event.
From Florida to Connecticut to Arizona to Oregon, I've zigzagged America to stadiums tiny (Robertson Stadium in Houston) and mammoth (Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee). I've been lost in more stadium traffic lines than my Aunt Sonia.
My journey began on Nov. 18, 1967, when I traveled across northwest Indiana to watch Georgia Tech play Notre Dame. I've been fortunate to see most places in the SEC, Big Ten and Big East.
My plan is to push the number to 60, 70 and beyond, making my way to enchanting venues that I've missed but always wanted to see, like Auburn, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and Oregon.
If you're a college football fan, I'm certain you have your favorites. And I know everybody enjoys lists. They give us something to compare – and debate, including you, Paul Ryan (Miami-Ohio, No. 42), before you make your way to Centre College next week.
It's time to drop Dr. Bo's 50 Stadiums into 50 slots, counting them down from 50 to 1.
I'll begin with the Bottom Ten, move to the Middle 30 tomorrow and finish with the Top 10 Thursday.
Enjoy. Feel free to disagree – or agree.
50. THE METRODOME (Minnesota) – Hold the e-mails. I know the University of Minnesota doesn't play there any more, making the sensible move back to campus for an open-frostbite stadium.
But the Twinkie Dome was the Gophers' home for several decades. In fact, I covered a Michigan State-Minnesota game in downtown Minneapolis late in the 1986 season, back when Lorenzo White was running wild for the Spartans. (Whatever happened to Lorenzo White?)
I entered the press box working for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I exited the press box convinced I was returning to Louisville – a mission I accomplished the following day.
Urban legend has it that Gophers' football drove me back to basketball country. That's only 1 percent accurate. But I saw enough of the dreary, artificial concrete palace to remember that I wasn't going to miss it.
49. ROBERTSON STADIUM (University of Houston) – They say everything is bigger in Texas. Cougars' football misplaced the memo.
I remember five things about the place from my visit to watch Louisville play there in 2000:
A). It was tiny (capacity 32,000, although it seemed like 25,000 in 2000); B. It was empty (the announced crowd was 3,006); C.) That number was wildly inflated. There were actually fewer than 2,000 fans when the game started and then less than 100 in the second half after the school finished its truck giveaway promotion; D) it was as lively as watching a game at a bus stop; and E) the press box roof leaked and the windows kept steaming up all around me and Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was one of the hardy 3,006.
48. LIBERTY BOWL (Memphis) – Nothing about the place says college football. No dorms. No frats and sororities. No pageantry. Imagine going to a game in the parking lot of a strip mall where everybody is more interested in what's going on in the SEC. Pretty exciting?
47. RENTSCHLER FIELD (Connecticut) – Another spot with major atmosphere issues. The stadium sits 25 miles from the UConn campus in Storrs. But it's less than a half-mile from a jumbo Cabela's sporting goods store, so if you arrive early I have discovered it's a great place for Christmas shopping. I talked with parents of a current Louisville football player this weekend. They attended the Cards' game there last year – and couldn't get a cab to come pick them up after the game. Not surprising.
46. BYRD STADIUM (Maryland) – I made the journey in 1988 for a season opener during the Schenellenberger Era. I don't remember it being awful. And I don't remember it being terrific. Truthfully, I don't remember anything worth sharing, which isn't a good thing for any stadium.
45. VANDERBILT STADIUM (Vanderbilt) – In real estate, you don't want to own the most expensive home in your neighborhood. But you also don't want to live in the place that says you don't belong. Vanderbilt Stadium (which seats less than 40,000 and typically has large pockets of empty seats) makes you wonder about Vandy's credentials in the SEC.
44. DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM (East Carolina) – If your favorite team is playing at ECU this season, here's my advice: Leave right now.
It's a long and indirect journey from the Raleigh-Durham airport, and when Louisville played there in November 2001 something about the lights gave it that high school stadium feel. A very nice high school stadium. But still a high school stadium feel.
43. MEMORIAL STADIUM (Illinois) – The Big Ten has a long string of historic venues – Camp Randall, Michigan, Ohio and Beaver stadiums. This isn't one of them. I closed my eyes and tried to envision Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski playing there. It didn't help.
42. YAGER STADIUM (Miami-Ohio) – With apologies to Tom Lane, Kent Taylor, my good friend Phil Coffin and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, your Redhawks have a clean, bright and functional facility on their post-card campus. But I expected something more captivating than 24,286 seats from the land of Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and the rest of the Cradle of Coaches. The 117th largest facility in FBS football. Really, Miami?
41. CARRIER DOME (Syracuse) – I started the Bottom 10 with an old-school dome. That's the way I'm going to finish it. If you build a gray stadium in a gray climate and stretch a piece of Teflon across the roof, you're not going to remind many people of Pasadena or Tuscaloosa – even on days when the sun peeks out. Mission accomplished, Orange.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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