Located in Starkville, Mississippi, Davis Wade Stadium and the Mississippi State campus are both found amidst the bucolic countryside just outside of Starkville. Davis Wade Stadium has bragging rights as being one of the oldest stadiums in Division 1-A football, originally opening in 1914. Major reconstruction in the 40's and the current renovations in 2002 have brought capacity to just over 55,000.
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".
With recent renovations have come upgrades to the stadium fare. Concession stands have themes to them, and besides the regular staples, Bully's Creole Cafe has jambalaya and spiced sausage, the Cluckin Bulldog offers fried chicken and chicken tenders, while the Dreamland Bar-b-Que sells brisket and pulled meat sandwiches. Add Little Caesars Pizza and Dippin Dots.
Cowbells are the signature thing which makes this venue unique and exciting. With the SEC banning noisemakers in all of their venues, the Bulldogs had to get special permission to allow cowbells into the stadium. To do so, the ringing of the bells can only take place at specific times, and they do a great job with the video board exhorting fans as to ring their bells, even involving the head coach into the process.
The stadium is situated smack dab in the middle of the campus, and the campus is kind of far out of town, but a massive tailgate scene is right outside the stadium. The tailgate area which is a must visit here is an area called "The Junction". It is named after a defunct railroad line that used to run through this area, and later, a convergence of streets called "The Malfunction Junction" where 6 streets converged onto one spot on the campus. Today it is a pedestrian park just beyond the south wall of the stadium, and here thousands of fans converge to tailgate via a maze of tents and canopies laid out in street grid fashion, without any cars or traffic.
It is actually a planned area, with another tradition, "The Dawg Walk", a parade where the marching band and players and coaches come through this area three hours before game time, cheered on by thousands of fans who are here to party.
"Southern Hospitality" reigns supreme here in Starkville, with fans welcoming out of town visitors and showing off their school spirit. The signature cowbells are the one thing that the occasional visitor will come away with from the game day experience.
One of the most disappointing aspects here was getting to the stadium. Lots nearest the venue are reserved for large donors, season ticket holders, and others lucky enough to snag a pass. Why one would want to park close by is a mystery however, as the post game gridlock is an absolute nightmare.
General parking is available in an office park about a mile away from the stadium, and they offer shuttle service back and forth. The ride to the stadium was seamless and easy, but after the game, the line waiting for shuttle buses was crazy, and the buses have no dedicated access to the parking lot, but have to mingle with the gridlock. We opted to walk, it's abut a half hour back to the car and that still was the better strategy than waiting for the bus.
Tickets are readily available on the MSU web site at about $55 each, not really too bad considering the escalating price of tickets in a major conference these days. Soda pop runs $3.50, hot dogs $4, and pizza $5, pretty much middle of the pack for concession prices. Oh, and the general parking and shuttle ride is free.
One can't help but marvel at the massive HD scoreboard, easy to see as one makes the trek towards the stadium. It is one of the biggest in all of football.
Tailgating in The Junction was a sea of tailgate tents, an electric atmosphere with students and fans tailgating side by side. The stadium towering over the tailgate scene helped to increase the anticipation for the game, and it was a quick walk to get in to the gate and to the stands from there.
In the stadium, cowbells rang in a deafening unison which kept the crowd involved throughout the game.
I agree with the official review that the postgame traffic was gridlock, so finding a parking spot farther out and walking is probably a good idea.
Lastly, I would recommend a place called Oby's in Starkville to go for a meal. Great hot sandwiches and a unique local atmosphere.
The experience you will have at Davis Wade Stadium is amazing. The best part about it is the cowbells. If you are a state fan you love them. If you aren't you hate them... The tailgating was great, way better than the Grove at Ole Miss. When you drive on campus you can see the GIANT HD jumbotron from there. Great.
The one thing you will notice about Mississippi State is the fact there are cowbells all over the place. Though when I went a few years back, it said on the ticket AND the stadium policy sign "no cowbells." Obviously that has changed. But overall besides the cowbells, there isn't anything that stands out at Davis Wade.
FOOD: Limited in variety, but what they do have is very tasty, such as their bbq pulled pork sandwich.
ATMOSPHERE: The place has a good college feel to it and with the Cowbells it does add another dimension to the place.
NEIGHBORHOOD: How I view it is simple: off the campus you have a McDonald's and a retirement community. That's about it.
FANS: They were into the game just fine and were pretty intelligent. Not overly friendly however.
ACCESS: Ha. Easy to get to the campus, but unless you have any kind of parking pass, you're going to be a very good while trying to find a parking spot. It seems if you don't have a parking pass, you're in a world of trouble.
ROI: If you get a cheap ticket (which they are easy to come by), you get what you pay for. If you pay a lot for tickets to Mississippi State, you won't get much.
EXTRAS: I loved their large scoreboard. One of the best around. Bathrooms are the cleanest I've been to and if you're on the sidelines on the road side, you have concourses that are climate-controlled.
There are no local food and drink entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!