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.
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".
As the score indicates, there is nothing good or bad about the concessions at Floyd Stadium. The prices are reasonable (in terms of sports arenas) and the food is average, too. Papa John's has a large presence in the stadium, so if you have been craving a Blue Raider football game with a cheese pizza courtesy of the Papa, you're in luck at MTSU's stadium.
There is no "Blue Raider" tradition when it comes to food and beverage. As simple as it seems, that small omission can mean the world in a stadium experience. Neyland Stadium, Floyd Stadium's big brother to the east, serves Petros at its games, but Floyd lacks that unique flair.
The atmosphere at Floyd Stadium is exciting when the team is doing well. Implied though, is the lack of enthusiasm as the team makes a mistake, falls behind or is having a subpar season, something that has haunted this "commuter campus" since its opening in 1911.
With an open endzone on its south, sound tends to escape the primarily aluminum stadium. The classic roar from the crowd on a 3rd and short down isn't as effective in Floyd Stadium.
While Murfreesboro is a pleasant Tennessee town, the nearby neighborhood around Floyd Stadium leaves a lot to be desired. A miniature sportsplex, the basketball and baseball stadiums are adjacent to Floyd but so are the music school, an elementary school and a Mexican restaurant. While none of those are a detriment to the overall campus life, they don't add the flavor that is so prevalent in college football in the South.
The traffic on MTSU's bordering road is easily heard from Floyd Stadium during a quiet moment, which shatters the fourth wall created by a good sports atmosphere. Indeed, the stadium seems to have been dropped in from the heavens to a location that had land to spare rather than carefully crafted by the powers that be.
I have to call out the MTSU fans here. As soon as the Blue Raiders began to fall behind their foe, Floyd Stadium fell silent. Neither the students nor the aging alumni that each dominated the attending fans voiced their support for the struggling team as soon as they fell behind.
It was as if they expected the loss all along and once the expectation had been realized, they quit. Numerous promotions have been implemented by the athletic department to garner large attendance and support for the team, but they have all been short-lived, and it was evident.
Even though Floyd Stadium is located at the eastern side of Murfreesboro, it has two large roads leading to it "" Greenland Drive and Rutherford Boulevard. Each of these roads stem from local highways and larger interstates, allowing traveling fans an easy entry into the MTSU campus.
Parking, a bane of many college football-goers existence, is not a problem at Floyd Stadium. The enormous Greenland Parking Lot can hold the vast majority of tailgaters and regular fans, and if that lot is full, nearby banks and restaurants offer parking at a relatively low price.
Technically speaking, return on investment can be increased by the enjoyment of the game or the lost cost of the investment. While I enjoyed the game, the score here comes from the very low cost of the ticket. An impatient fan can purchase a ticket online for less than $20, but good seats can be bought from scalpers the day of from half that price.
Getting in Floyd Stadium is cheaper than going to most movies. The only question is if you can wiggle into a better seat during the second quarter and if the game is a good one.
If there was a unique offering inside of Floyd Stadium, I didn't see it. For that reason alone, the score is quite low. Special attractions, intriguing promotions and one-of-a-kind traditions are non-existent at Floyd Stadium. Every college needs something extra!
There is nothing wrong with Floyd Stadium or its fans at the start of the game. They are hopeful and confident until that first break goes against them. After that, the students retreat to tailgating in the parking lot, older fans enjoy catching up with old friends and the team plays to a generally uninterested audience.
Before Floyd Stadium can conquer its lackluster football stadium experience, it must first dominate its "commuter campus" culture that has pervaded its students for decades.
**Photo from Wikimedia Commons, Raider ATO
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.
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