There are plenty of reasons to be excited right now about what the future may hold for Middle Tennessee State, and it starts with their move to Conference USA from the Sun Belt Conference for the 2013 season.
The Blue Raiders have played their football in Murfreesboro since 1911, and have been at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium since 1933.
Recent renovations have really made Floyd Stadium a respectable place to see a football game right in the middle of SEC territory. For that reason, sometimes Floyd Stadium gets lost in the shuffle.
Even though Floyd Stadium can only fit a modest capacity crowd of 31,000, it actually has never come close to selling out. With the move to Conference USA, that long drought of never selling out a home game could come to an end in the near future.
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You're not going to necessarily be blown away by the concession stands at Floyd Stadium, but there are several options to enjoy during the game.
All of the concession stands are located on the lower level, with only small food carts being offered on the upper level. It's not a long trek downstairs, but it is somewhat of an inconvenience to not have a full concession stand on the upper level for such a large stadium.
For starters, hot dogs are $3 with the option to add chili for an extra dollar. Pretzels and nachos are $4 each, and you can also add chili to your nachos for another dollar. There are two different sizes of popcorn served at $3 and $4. Peanuts ($3) and assorted candy ($2) are options if you're just looking for a small snack.
Drinks are pretty limited, but you can get a souvenir soda for just $4, and the smaller size is $3. Bottled water is available for $3. Options are limited, but the prices are pretty reasonable to make it acceptable.
The 2013 season is the first for the Blue Raiders as members of Conference USA, and there are numerous reminders throughout the game to get the fans amped up about that accomplishment. Just before kickoff, the stadium's main video screen reads "A New Era Starts Now", which really sets the tone for the game.
The Middle Tennessee band, called the "Band of Blue", is a great reminder of what makes college football so unique from any other sport. They break up a lot of dead air between timeouts to keep the energy level up.
Several things are done throughout the game to get fans involved, including the always hilarious dance cam and kiss cam.
As for the cosmetics, there's still a lot to be desired. The previously mentioned video screen is a recent addition that shows every live play, score updates, and player information. The sound system also is of crisp quality.
The metal bleachers are what the vast majority of fans have to resort to sitting in, and these things are not comfortable in the slightest sense. However, there is plenty of leg room to keep the seating from getting too cramped like some stadiums suffer from.
You're not far at all from some great places to hang out before and after the game. The main square is just a mile from the main parking lot, and it offers a fun night scene. One of those places that gets a big college crowd is Whiskey Dix, which is a saloon style bar that has become a staple of the Murfreesboro night scene.
Murfreesboro is a city of over 100,000 people, so there are plenty of restaurant options to satisfy pretty much anyone's needs. However, there aren't a ton of options within walking distance of the front gates, so plan on navigating a couple of miles after the game to find a place that suits you.
One highly recommended restaurant, a couple miles from the stadium, is Old Chicago. It offers over 110 beers and some excellent Italian food.
Another local favorite that is a fun place for the family to get a good meal is Toot's. They offer some great bar style food and a fun atmosphere. Other popular sports bars nearby are Hooter's and Buffalo Wild Wings.
If you have some time to kill while being in Murfreesboro, then checking out the Stones River Battlefield from the Civil War is a recommended thing to see.
Finally, an outdoor mall called the Avenue is a fun place for shopper's to go, and it has two college sports stores that are recommended to check out.
The turnout was a little smaller than expected during my most recent visit of the season opener in year one of being members of Conference USA. There is definitely a noticeable student section, but it isn't nearly as big as some of the other schools of similar size to Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders started the 2013 season off against Western Carolina, which didn't exactly create a lot of buzz for fans. With that said, I expected to see a stadium that was at least more than half full for a season opener.
However, the fans that did attend showed their excitement about the new season and made a lot of noise throughout the game. A large chunk of the original crowd stayed until the end, despite the score getting out of hand in favor of the Blue Raiders towards the end.
Most fans of the Blue Raiders know all about the M-T-S-U chant that is part of the fight song. It was chanted several times during the game.
With bigger opponents on the schedule during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, the Blue Raiders will need a much better fan turnout in the future to show that they belong in a bigger conference like Conference USA.
Simply put, there is no easy way to get to campus in Murfreesboro. Any local will tell you that getting to campus from the Interstate is usually a traffic nightmare.
It is no easy task to navigate your way through Murfreesboro, and that is mostly due to the enormous amounts of congested roadways.
The closer you get to campus, the more congested it gets. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of extra time to get from Interstate 24 to campus, which is located more than a few miles into the heart of Murfreesboro.
The main stadium parking lot is located off Greenland Drive, which you can get to a handful of different ways. The more direct route is to get off of the Old Fort Parkway exit off Interstate 24, and take that all the way to East Clark. There are signs that will get you to campus from there.
Parking is ample as long as you don't mind walking. The game I attended was a thin turnout of fans, so parking in the main lot right next to the stadium didn't present much of a problem. Games with higher turnouts can force you to park somewhere on campus and have some walking to do.
Tickets for a non-conference game are pretty fair in this day and age. General admission tickets are $15 a piece, and reserved seating go up $5-$10.
Parking is usually no more than $5, and it puts you right near the stadium gates.
As popular as college football has gotten in recent years, paying $15 for seats right near the field is a decent bargain. The fact that the Blue Raiders have moved up the college football ladder so to speak by joining Conference USA makes the general admission prices even more of a deal.
A lot of attention was put towards the move to Conference USA, and that's something you definitely want to see to get the fan base excited about the future.
I'm giving out another extra for the sense of pride and togetherness you get from the fans. You can tell that they're truly proud of their Blue Raiders, and Murfreesboro as a whole. The fight song has a lot do with that, and the fans sing it with a lot of pride.
The future looks bright for the Blue Raiders, and they certainly have the stadium to generate a great home-field advantage if fans start showing a better turnout. More student support is needed to get the stadium closer to selling out, and notching up a few wins to start the conference schedule should help with that.
Who knows how far this football program can go if Floyd Stadium actually becomes a stadium that starts selling out. That's the next step for this stadium located less than a mile away from the geographic center of the state of Tennessee.
Just one year ago, in 2009, Middle Tennessee State University was heralded as the best college football team in the state. Coming off its first bowl win in 39 years, the Blue Raiders had reinvigorated its football program thanks in large part to the electric play of quarterback Dwight Dasher.
Instead, the 2010 MTSU Blue Raiders underachieved and earned a 6-7 including a bowl loss to Miami of Ohio. When the 2011 schedule revealed a home bout against perennial ACC contender Georgia Tech, MTSU's Floyd Stadium began buzzing with excitement: Could this be the program's first big victory in the new era of Blue Raider football?
When Floyd Stadium was expanded to its current 30,788 seat capacity in 1997, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that MTSU would join the ranks of the ACC or SEC within the decade, but that has not happened. Still, the campus has remained supportive during the big games, most recently at the record crowd on September 10, 2011 against Georgia Tech, when 30,502 were attendance.
Home to Middle Tennessee Blue Raider football since 1933, Floyd Stadium is a cozy facility for the Blue Raiders and a nice stadium to bring the family to for a casual game. The Blue Raiders have had relative success in recent years (excluding the painful 2-10 season in 2011) but haven't had any complete sellouts since expanding the stadium to hold around 31,000. It's only a matter of time until that happens, as big-name opponents are beginning to visit frequently. The Raiders have already scheduled a home game with nearby Vanderbilt in 2015.
Floyd Stadium has the normal selection of gameday snacks - hot dogs, popcorn in different sizes, soda products, and specialty foods located in various booths across the concourse. However, the atmosphere and fans leave things to be desired. Fans are often quiet as the Raiders never seem to fare well at home, and Middle Tennessee's renowned Band of Blue often receives more cheers than the football team. Fans can be loud, but any momentum doesn't seem to last for long as opponents typically don't find Floyd Stadium to be too challenging of a venue. Thousands of parking spots are nearby, tailgating is a Blue Raider tradition in nearby Walnut Grove (named, appropriately, for large numbers of walnut trees), and the stadium can easily accommodate sold-out crowds. If you're looking for a nice night with the family, Floyd Stadium has just about something for everyone. Just about.
Students have gradually lost interest since their 10-win season. Not sure why, but when big teams from power conferences come, Floyd Stadium can actually get pretty loud.
Was a little confusing getting in b/c they are no signs telling you where the parking is - a lot of stadiums have this problem, and I never understand it, b/c with 20K, 30K, 40K, etc. coming in for a game, why would you ever assume all of them know where to go? Surely not all of them have been to a game before, there has got to be a few new fans, right? At least one would hope...
302 W Main St
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
1835 Old Fort Pkwy
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
3501 Old Nashville Hwy
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
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