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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Mention fall sports and Auburn University in the same sentence, and most people immediately think of the football Tigers and Jordan-Hare Stadium. However, there is another very successful team playing in a stadium just down the street.
The Auburn University women’s soccer program has been in existence since 1993, and in that time has made 19 SEC Tournament appearances and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances. Since the Southeastern Conference does not participate in men’s soccer, the Lady Tigers are the only team on campus playing the world’s version of “football.”
The program is headquartered in the Auburn Soccer Complex, located on-campus on Biggio Drive. The complex includes a two-story building containing locker rooms, training facilities, team meeting rooms, coaches’ offices and support services for the soccer program. Adjacent to this building is the home pitch for the Lady Tigers. The soccer stadium was built in 1994, and has bleacher seating for more than 1,500 fans. The stands overlook the field and are on the west sideline. Across the natural grass playing surface on the east sideline are two dugouts, with one for the home team and one for the visiting team.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Food concessions are served from a very professional portable trailer which is immediately beside the playing field, so you won't miss any of the action. Choices of beverage include Coca-Cola products including Powerade ($4), and water is also available ($2). Food selections consist of hot dogs ($3), pretzels ($4), peanuts ($4), nachos ($4), popcorn ($4) and candy ($3).
The school bookstore also has a fine selection of Auburn soccer merchandise available at each game.
The soccer complex is decorated in Auburn's vibrant colors of blue and orange and utilizes soccer graphics on the fences to promote the team's success over the years, share the social media addresses for the team and promote Auburn as a whole. The seats are all aluminum bleachers with no seatbacks, so you might want to bring a seat cushion or seatback to increase your comfort. The bleachers are elevated, so you get a great view of the game, regardless of where you sit. There is no reserved seating or special suites in the soccer complex. The scoreboard is in the southeast quadrant of the stadium, and does a great job of providing the stats, such as shots on goals and saves. The lighting and PA system are excellent. They stick to the game facts and only play "War Eagle" when the Lady Tigers score a goal. No ads are announced during the game, which is a blessing. This is a very enjoyable atmosphere in which to enjoy a game.
Auburn's sports complex is on the southwestern quadrant of the Auburn campus. It is surrounded by the track facility, the athletic department, and the football team's inside practice facility. Though still on the campus, it is not nearly as congested as the central academic core facilities and residential areas. Actually, the soccer complex is adjacent to the Agricultural Heritage facility, saluting the land grant origins and purpose of the school. A bright red barn overlooks the stadium as a constant reminder of Auburn's origin as an agricultural school. By being in the southwestern quadrant, the restaurants and lodging opportunities provided allow you to use the facilities near I-85, rather than deal with the traffic and congestion found downtown and on the academic campus. That being said, you do need to make a pilgrimage to Toomer's Corner, where the pharmacy serves up great milkshakes and its own special lemonade formula that are sure to please.
Auburn fans are among the most loyal in the country and turn out for all sports. The game I attended was a "friendly" (soccer terminology for an exhibition) match. School was not yet in session. The first thing you will see before even entering the stadium are people tailgating outside the entrance. A great spread of food is available, and the partiers call out a friendly "War Eagle" (Auburnese for "Hello" or "Howdy") to anyone who passes by. Plan to get to the stadium early, as typically the stands will be full 30 minutes before the game starts. Since this was the first home appearance for the team in the season, the fans formed a corridor for the team to pass through as it entered the field. You can also expect to hear either the cheer War Eagle! on every good Tiger play or the full War Eagle fight song on every Auburn score. Auburn fans are raucous, but they are also classy people, as they show respect for the visitors and you will seldom hear any trash-talking.
Getting to the Auburn Soccer Complex is much easier than either Jordan-Hare Stadium or the Auburn Arena. If you are coming from I-85, you would simply turn left on South Donohue until it intersects with West Samford Drive. Then turn left onto West Samford Avenue and the soccer field will be on your left. Make sure you turn left onto Biggio Drive, as this directly leads to stadium parking, which is free. The only drawback once you get to the Soccer Stadium is that you have to utilize an outside restroom facility in the Intramural building.
There is no admission charged for attending a women's soccer game, and the parking is free, as well. A majority of people from Birmingham and Atlanta choose to drive home after a game. For these reasons, attending an Auburn women's soccer game is an excellent value.
Auburn is truly a college town (the main street in town is College Avenue), but for a small town it does have some nice extras on or adjacent to the campus. You will definitely want to visit the Auburn Arena, home to the Auburn Sports Hall of Fame. Just off campus is the famed Toomer's Drug Store, an Auburn institution and site for many postgame celebrations. Next door to the Auburn Soccer Complex is the Agricultural Heritage area. This facility salutes the origin of the university as a land grant school.
Here is a more personal look at the Auburn Soccer Complex, led by two members of the Lady Tigers soccer team. Enjoy the visit!
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