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Official Review by Patrick Westrick, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Nestled less than a half mile off of Interstate 20 sits Joe Aillet Stadium and Louisiana Tech University in the town of Ruston, Louisiana. Built in 1968 and originally named Louisiana Tech Stadium, the university changed the name to honor former Head Coach and Athletic Director Joe Aillet in 1972. As the Head Football Coach, Aillet compiled a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame career with a 151-86-8 record from 1940-1966 while also winning 9 Conference Championships along the way. Aillet is considered to be the father of football at Louisiana Tech and the fans will definitely tell you all about him should you ask for a history lesson.
'The Joe,' affectionately nicknamed by Bulldog fans, offers a nice place to see a game. Over the past decade Louisiana Tech has completed quite a few renovations to their home in order to keep up with many qualities modern sports fans have come to expect.
As of May 2016, Louisiana Tech announced more renovations to 'The Joe' with an $18.6 million project that will enhance and double the size of the existing Press Box and Suite Level, stretching it from one 10-yard line to the opposite 10-yard line. Other renovations include upgraded stadium entry points, LED lighting and renovations to the west side restrooms, and construction of a full-time Box Office on the west side of the stadium. These renovations will be completed before the 2017 season and will greatly enhance the game day experience in Ruston.
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".
While Louisiana Tech has done a lot to enhance the stadium, the Food and Beverage operations at Joe Aillet Stadium are still lacking. They have done better in recent years to offer more choices but it is still pretty far from an excellent experience. The stadium only has one true concession stand per side built into the design, which even for a stadium built in 1968, is quite odd. They do offer several different kiosk options however, including local and national chain restaurants. For basic stadium fair you can pick up an All-American Dawg for $4 with the option of adding chili ($1) or cheese ($1), nachos for $4 (also with the option of chili and cheese for an extra $1 a piece), large popcorn for $4, candy and peanuts for $3 and pickles and chips for $2. Louisiana Tech is a Pepsi house and offers bottled sodas for $4 and water for $3. A nice option they have added is a Souvenir Stadium Cup with ice for $1. This will allow you to just pour your bottled drink in while giving you a cheap souvenir from the stadium.
Besides the basics, 'The Joe' now offers a WingStop Chicken wings kiosk, McAlisters Deli Iced Tea for $3, Dippin' Dots Ice Cream for $5, Kona Ice and a Johnny's Pizza House stand which offers personal sized cheese or pepperoni pizza and brownies for $6.
All in all, with the addition of the kiosks it definitely helps. With more options, the lines are manageable even with large crowds and the prices are very low, considering some stadiums today.
Joe Aillet Stadium is nothing special when it comes to atmosphere but it's also not the worst place to see a game either. With the addition of the Charles Wyly Athletic Center in the south end zone in 2001, the stadium took on a very different look, adding a 70,000 square foot complex, which you can view from the seating bowl, and houses the team weight room, locker room, players lounge, auditorium, coaches offices, position meeting rooms and a Season Ticket Holder Club Level on top. The north end zone also adds to the atmosphere with the Dawgzilla Video Board which was added in 2009. The 1,485 square foot HD video board provides replays, stats, scores from around the country and adds to the entertainment with the standard fan promotions like the Hat Shuffle and trivia contests.
The buzz around campus and the stadium is lacking to say the least. About two hours from kickoff the Bulldogs arrive outside of the north end zone and are led by the marching band through the main tailgate area to the stadium. As far as the pre-game atmosphere goes, this definitely is not what you would come to expect with other local southern football tailgate scenes but given the size of the student body and the fan base it works well enough.
Joe Aillet Stadium sits on the western edge of the LA Tech Campus. Surrounded by parking lots, the basketball arena (Thompson Assembly Center), soccer fields and the track and field facility, 'The Joe' doesn't offer much in terms of bars and restaurants within a close walking distance. On Exit 84, about a quarter of a mile away, there are a few fast food options such as Zaxby's, Johnny's Pizza House, and a Waffle House. Across campus the local spots to check out would be The Dawg House Sports Grill which offers standard pub food with a LA Tech decor. Roma Italian Bistro, Firehouse Soulfood and Grillin' and Ponchatoulas Seafood are all highly acclaimed local restaurants to suit you if you are looking for more of a 'sit-down' pre or post-game meal that can be found right off campus between North Trenton and North Vienna Streets.
The fans of Louisiana Tech are very welcoming. You definitely get the "Southern Hospitality" feel as soon as you get on campus. Everyone is very polite, answering questions about where to go and what to do. The only issue is that there aren't a lot of fans to be had at a Louisiana Tech game. On a positive note the student section is usually packed; give the students some credit because they do show up in full force and are loud, rowdy and still respectful of the opposing team.
Louisiana Tech does get extra credit for allowing their students to get in free to games just by scanning their student I.D. More schools need to offer this to their students for all athletic events.
Getting to and from the stadium is an absolute cake walk. Sitting less than a half mile from Interstate 20, you can get in and out of the stadium with less than a 10 minute wait for post-game traffic. However, finding a place to park is the issue. With parking lots surrounding the stadium you would think it would also be an easy affair, however, if you don't have a handicap sticker, season ticket pass, or an RV pass you cannot park in these lots. If these lots were filled up every game I could understand this, however, these lots are never more than 40% full the entire day. If you are visiting from out of town there is only one lot, the Softball Field Lot, in which you can park. This lot is literally uphill both ways from Joe Aillet Stadium so please take note if you are elderly or traveling with children. You will walk up a hill to get to the road that works itself back downhill toward the stadium and you will walk back up that same hill to work yourself downhill to the car after the game. Parking in this lot, which only holds 100-125 cars is $10. Given that most small schools don't charge for parking and even big schools like LSU allow fans to park for free as well, the $10 feels a little steep.
Once inside the stadium you will only get to see half of the stadium. If you buy a ticket on the west side seating area you can only access that side. Same for the east side of the stadium tickets. There is no wrap around concourse that allows fans to simply walk around the stadium and enjoy the whole thing.
If you are a fan of Louisiana Tech, a visiting team fan or just passing through Ruston, Joe Aillet Stadium does a good job at presenting C-USA Football to northern Louisiana. Ticket prices are low (Adult Tickets are $21-$36 while Youth Tickets are $16-$19) depending on the section. Concession prices are reasonable and even paying for parking is passable if you are only in town for one game. With students getting in for free this can be a very cheap place to see a game if you have a child attending LA Tech. The biggest negative here would just be the fact that you can't see the whole stadium but a trip to 'The Joe' is still a fun night out for you and your family.
With the renovations that have taken place over the years, Joe Aillet Stadium has held up to the times. The Dawgzilla Video Board as well as the Charles Wyly Athletic Center are both beautiful additions to the stadium and the new renovations in 2017 will only add to the game day experience.
One BIG extra is the support this school has for our military. Before the game they had parachuters fly in with the American flag and band played the first few notes of the National Anthem and then the student section, as well as the rest of the crowd, all sang aloud the rest of the song.
LA Tech provides a charming environment for college football but falls short of the high bar set by some of the more notable southern college football settings.
Member Review by act013
Louisiana Tech University, and the town of Ruston, La., is very quaint and traditional in every sense of the words. Joe Aillet Stadium sits in sort of a bowl shape, slightly below the ground. The stadium, named after legendary coach Joe Aillet, was opened in 1968 with a capacity of 23,000. Throughout the years the press box has seen various renovations and 7,600 seats were added, to stretch the seating capacity to over 30,000 and in 2006, field turf was installed to enhance the stadium.
Joe Aillet Stadium installed a $2 million high definition video board and new sound system before the start of the 2009 season. The stands are in dire need of replacing. Apart from the season ticket holders' chairback seats, fans can expect a run-of-the-mill experience as far as seats go at college football stadiums. Overall, the stadium is a fine place to watch a college football game on a sunny, fall afternoon in north Louisiana.
Member Review by NorthLAdawg on Feb 15, 2013
Food & Beverage: Tailgating is great. Friendly folks with great food.Often hold themed tailgates and it's fun to see the creativity. Concessions in stadium suck! Hot pepsi and little variety. Hit up the tailgating pre-game
Atmosphere: Hi-Def video board in North endzone adds to the atmosphere. Student participation is growing. Although sell-outs are hard to come by in rural north LA, the atmosphere is good. Definite home field advantage.
Neighborhood: Parking is widely available and free; no concerns with safety. Stadium situated half-mile south of I-20.
Fans: Rabid Dawg fans make the games fun
Access: Situated just of I-20. Easy walking from every direction
Return on Investment: Tickets are very affordable and games are very entertaining. The Nations top scoring offense last year.
Extras: Stadium exterior could use some renovations; plans in the works for a new South Endzone facility. Check out the display room in the fieldhouse (South endzone).
Super Bowl ring collection and Hall of Fame Best of Terry Bradshaw. History of Bulldog greats. Displays of Hall Famers Bradshaw, Fred Dean, and Willie Roaf.
Member Review by ayylmao on Feb 11, 2016
New Facilities have been added, newer turf has been added, and the bit about the Jumbotron being more exciting than the band is blasphemous.
102 N Homer St
Ruston, LA 71270
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