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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Since 1966, Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, Tennessee has been the home of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles football team. The stadium seats 16,500 fans for Ohio Valley Conference football. The Golden Eagles have won 10 OVC football championships over the years, but only three have been won since opening Tucker Stadium.
The stadium is named after former football coach Wilburn Tucker. Under the guidance of Tucker, who coached the team from 1954-1967, the Golden Eagles won five OVC titles including four straight from 1958-1961.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concession offerings are fairly basic at Tucker Stadium. Food includes hot dogs ($3) and nachos ($3), and you can add chili to each for another $1. Cheese bread, cinnamon sticks, and pizza slices cost $3 as well. Popcorn and candy is also on hand.
Like most college venues no alcohol is served at Tucker Stadium. Pepsi products are available for $3. On colder game days you can also try some coffee or hot chocolate, available in three sizes ($1-$3).
With a capacity of more than 16,000, Tucker Stadium is mid-sized in comparison to the Ohio Valley Conference football venues. Seating is found along either sideline, with plenty of standing room behind each end zone. Whichever side you choose to sit, you'll find cold metal bleachers, with better than average leg room, but there are no backs to the seating, nor any cup holders.
In 2013, Tennessee Tech saw an average of more than 8,500 fans per game, their highest average attendance since 1987. Still, this leaves the stadium only about half full, which can't help but have a slightly negative impact on the overall atmosphere.
The school puts on a good show overall. The marching band is large and plays a pre-game concert on the west side of the stadium, about 40 minutes prior to kickoff. They also play on the field before the game, and at halftime. The name of the Tennessee Tech mascot is "Awesome Eagle," and he does a great job of engaging fans whether he is on the field or in the stands.
The scoreboard is rather basic, just showing what you need to know to follow the game, with no video capacity. There's a red track that encircles the synthetic turf field, making the field feel a little further from the stands, but is not a major hindrance to viewing the game action.
Cookeville, Tennessee is a small town of about 30,000 residents just about equidistant from Nashville and Knoxville in the central part of the state. The Bilmar Station is a decent sports bar with plenty of TVs. The Cookeville Cuban is the way to go.
Another favorite is Spankie's, about a mile from Tucker Stadium. They often have live music at night, and is a favorite of Tennessee Tech students.
The fans tend to clump toward the center of the large bleacher sections, helping to amplify the support of the home fans sitting behind the Golden Eagles bench. The home fans are very welcoming to visitors. You're likely to be invited in at the tailgating scene in the parking lot on the west side of the stadium. The team won the conference championship in 2011, and had a string year for attendance in 2013, so it looks as though support for the program is growing in Cookeville.
Parking is free and there is plenty of it in the lots surrounding Tucker Stadium. Inside the venue feels roomy as well. I enjoyed watching portions of the game while standing along the gate near the end zone.
If you live in the Cookeville area, you can purchase season tickets for only $36. With six home games that comes in at just $6 per game. Families can purchase season tickets for two adults and up to three kids for just $75 for the year. It's an unbelievable value to see FCS football. Individual game day tickets are only $10, so if you just happen to be in town, then it's still a great deal, especially when you factor in the free parking and cheap concessions.
The ROTC operates a small cannon in the south end zone, which is fired off prior to the opening kickoff and on Golden Eagles touchdowns.
One of my favorite aspects of watching FCS level football is the absence of TV timeouts. Games just sail along, and the increased pace makes the contest just that much more enjoyable to see.
One final additional point for the friendliness of the fans encountered at a Tennessee Tech football game.
Tucker Stadium and Tennessee Tech football provides the prototypical FCS experience. It's not one of those stadiums that you're going to need to add to a bucket list, but you won't feel disappointed if you're in the area and decide to go and see a game.
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1068 E 10th St
Cookeville, TN 38501
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