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Stadiums of the ACC

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Fellow blogger Ramblin' Racket has gone and ranked the ACC stadiums and gives Kenan the credit it's due, which is rare. UNC plays football in quite possibly the most beautiful location in the country - in front of some damn beautiful people, I might add - but most looks at these sort of things mistake the team for the field of play, and the Tar Heels haven't been nearly as impressive on that front in recent years.

I figure this is a good enough place to re-run something I wrote on the old blog, doing much of the same thing. It was geared towards a mixture of stadium hospitality and home-fan inhospitality, which is why Kenan isn't as high on this list, as beauty takes a back seat to the imposement factor. But here it is:

A month-old article in the Sporting News has generated a fair amount of response debating the relative merits of the various ACC stadiums. The Sporting News bases it on the intimidation factor, while the StateFans Nation appears to judge more on general home field advantage. I'm late to the party, but since I disagree with the consensus, I'll toss them up anyway.

First a caveat. I've been to ten of the twelve stadiums in the ACC, all between 1994 and 1998, when UNC was good enough to bring out rival crowds. As Lane and Alumni are the two I've never seen, we'll leave them where everyone else placed them.

(1) Clemson's Memorial Stadium. I've been here twice and Doak once, and this was just the more imposing place. For stadium surroundings, Tallahassee holds the edge, what with Clemson being in the middle of nowhere, but once you get to where the game is played Memorial gets the nod. There's just to me more tradition, a better setting, and a slightly more intense crowd. Even during the Tiger's long slow decline.

(2) Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium. I was down there for the 1996 early season game, which may color my judgement, but I never got the same sense of awe I did at memorial. It may have been the game, it may have been the way the stadium was built, but there you go.

(3) Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. Never been. I'm not all that impressed by a tradition that begins with Enter Sandman and ends with the Hokey Pokey, but everyone else seems to think they're in the Top 3, so there you go.

(4) Virginia's Scott Stadium. Superman's a mean drunk and so are Wahoo fans. And believe me, they're drunk. I've seen state troopers directing traffic wave through cars with open fifths of Daniels. There's a reason Florida State lost its first ACC game here.

(5) North Carolina's Kenan Stadium. I'm horribly biased, and I realize the crowd doesn't show up for games with sub-0.500 teams playing, even if it's the home team that fits that description. But I've been there for the good years, and there's no other crowd I'd want at my back. But again, biased.

(6) Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. It's a decrepit, concrete blight in a city not known for its architectural beauty, but the fans show up. It's just not quite as scary for visiting teams as the thought of having to play there as the home squad.

(7) Miami's Orange Stadium. A good place for Dolphins games. A good place for bowl games. It just wasn't that great for Miami games unless there's another local team at the door.

(8) N.C. State's Carter Finley. They can tailgate, they can drink, they can't keep the grass from dying before October. This from a school with a turf management program. I've been there when bowl games are on the line, I've been there for their biggest rivalry game of the year, and I've never heard the place come close to shake.

(9) Maryland's Byrd Stadium. Someday, an enterprising college student will boost the tortoise statue outside the stadium. That will be the most exciting thing to ever happen at Byrd.

(10) Boston College's Alumni Stadium. Like I'm going to make it up to Boston.

(11) Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium. While typing this an ad for some bed manufacturer came on TV, claiming to have been proven better in studies performed at Stanford and Duke. I think this is where they tested the beds on campus. But even though it's now a place to hold folks suffering from battered football fan syndrome, the onetime Rose Bowl site has rocked in my lifetime. And at least its a somewhat senic place to spend an afternoon, unlike...

(12) Wake Forest's Groves Stadium. Seems like a nice enough place to play a game of high school football, I guess.