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Vanderbilt Stadium

Nashville, TN

Home of the Vanderbilt Commodores

3.3

2.5

Vanderbilt Stadium (map it)
Natchez Trace at Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212


Vanderbilt Commodores website

Vanderbilt Stadium website

Year Opened: 1922

Capacity: 40,350

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Vandy Saturday

Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field, completed in 1922, is the first stadium in the South to be built specifically for a college football team. With a capacity of 40,350, it is the smallest stadium in the SEC by a significant amount, but amazingly was the home field for the Oilers in their first season in Tennessee, and also the host of the inaugural Music City Bowl. Nowadays, the only football played at Vanderbilt Stadium is between the Vanderbilt Commodores and their opponent on a given Saturday.

The stadium is built in typical horseshoe fashion, with one end zone area entirely open, save the large replay screen that’s been added in recent years. The exterior is painted a dark grey, and is meant to resemble a battleship, although you would never guess that just by looking at it. However, the naval theme is a constant presence, with the “Anchor Down” cheer and hand sign, and the alarmingly loud foghorn after Vanderbilt scores. It makes for an atmosphere that is unique to anywhere, save perhaps the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Vanderbilt has had its moments since the arrival of James Franklin as head coach in 2011, but overall I would describe fan support as “meh”. It’s hard to blame them, as Vanderbilt is a small school, with just 12,750 students, and nearly half of those are graduate students who probably have allegiance to their first college. That being said, this is SEC football, and it’s not too great a task to fill its smallest stadium, even if a large percentage of fans are for the visiting team.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The stadium sells food, but you'd be better off grabbing something from one of the tailgates in the parking lot, or else waiting for a nice dinner downtown after the game. The concession stands sell all the stadium standards you would expect: nachos, peanuts, soft pretzels, hot dogs (with pretzel buns!), and several sizes of Coke products. Even on a cold day you will still see kiosks selling frozen lemonades. Hot chocolate and coffee, in souvenir mugs, are popular as the season progresses. Prices are average ($4 dog, $7 souvenir Coke). Bonus half-point because Chick-fil-A was slinging mini chicken biscuits from a trailer in the parking lot.

Atmosphere    3

Outside the stadium, the tailgating is pretty unimpressive. You can blame it on the lackluster performance of the Commodores, or maybe the dreary weather on my most recent visit, but the tailgating area is small and lightly populated.

The 30,000 or so fans get surprisingly loud, in particular when the big screen begs fans to "Anchor Down". The foghorn blares after every score, and when the clock hits 00:00, the victory flag is raised above the press box when Vanderbilt is able to pull off a victory. Also, no one in the stadium is more excitable than James Franklin.

Neighborhood    3

Vanderbilt Stadium is on the eastern edge of campus, and it's not a real scenic part of the university. This is clearly the sports section of Vanderbilt; the baseball stadium is next door to Vanderbilt Stadium and the basketball arena practically kisses its battleship grey bricks. There's not a "student ghetto" nearby, just a lot of parking lot space for tailgating. Parking lots are necessary, but it's more fun when students and alums are co-mingling in one area. The fraternities and sororities are all pretty close (two blocks), but aside from the Sigma Chi house, I think they were all still sleeping during my most recent visit. Outside the open north end zone, there is a Marriott hotel, which from the upper floors provides views of the field.

Fans    3

I have to hand it to them, many schools' fans would not attend an 11:00 game against a heavy favorite, especially with the surprisingly poor weather. Instead, the Vandy fans, and several thousand from Georgia, nearly filled the stands. I saw, and frighteningly, nearly bumped into, several students whose torsos were painted entirely black. Not overly creative, but dedicated anyway. At 27-14 in the third quarter, when it looked as if Georgia was going to run away with the game, the fans stuck around. As far as I could tell, the bleachers were as full at the end of the game as the beginning. They got loud at the right moments, although the big screen often had to coax it out of them. I also didn't see a ton of sartorial spirit. Vandy's colors are black and gold, it matches with everything, yet I saw a lot of neutral-dressed fans at the game. I'm giving an extra half a point because I like the Anchor Down hand sign.

Access    2

This is an old stadium, and by the time I got to my seat I was old. Before kickoff, the rain was coming down pretty hard, so almost all the fans were standing in the concourses, making it nearly impossible to find an entrance. Once, I found my section (literally, 15-20 minutes to do so) it took me another several minutes just to get out of the hall and into the stadium. Once I stepped out into the open, the national anthem had begun, so everyone stopped, which was unfortunate because I had just stepped out from under the roof and into the rain.

Getting out of the stands is just as slow, especially because everyone stays to the final whistle. When I bought a Coke, I missed much of the third quarter. Unlike most stadiums, you can expect to see a men's room line that is longer than the women's. The only redeeming quality of the access is the ample parking around the stadium, in lots, garages, or for free on city blocks that are within walking distance.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets to a Vanderbilt game are probably the cheapest in the SEC (depending on opponent), food prices are reasonable, and you can park for free on a city street just a couple blocks away from the stadium. The investment here is minimal, which makes this the best part about going to a Vanderbilt game. It's cheap, easy, and it's still big time college football, so if you're not doing anything else on Saturday in Nashville, then go check out the Dores.

Extras    5

Does Vanderbilt get credit for the fantastic music scene in downtown Nashville? Of course! We went out to the Broadway Street honky tonks the Friday before the game, and it was awesome. This being Music City, nearly every bar and restaurant has live music a couple nights a week, and it's not exclusively country. Beer prices on Broadway are higher than at your normal bar, but don't sweat it as you won't pay a cover charge to enter. Tootsie's is probably the most famous Nashville stage not named Grand Ole Opry, so make sure to stop there for a few songs. The bar at Paradise Park serves $6 pitchers, which attracts a younger, rowdier crowd. On this night in fall 2013, the best band was at The Stage. They played country, but also some early 2000's pop songs (not talking about boy bands) as well as classic rock. But, down on Broadway, there's no bad music.

however, I\'d say that our fans are plenty loud/the ambiance is fine when the team truly give the fa

however, I'd say that our fans are plenty loud/the ambiance is fine when the team truly give the fans something to cheer about.

Auburn 08' was a perfect example of how loud it can get in there. Gameday was there, Vandy was
4-0, and it was insane in there/deafening. The atmosphere was amazing that evening, and when Vanderbilt puts a respectable product on the field, which is seldom, the fans respond. It can be just as imtimidating as most other stadiums in the SEC, imo, although granted it is not half that wild usually.

by bek7567 | Sep 17, 2010 04:25 PM

How do you miss the Parthenon?

Did you not notice the big, Greek temple half a mile from the stadium last time you were there? Sure, downtown Nashville is great, I'm not taking away from that. But the Neighborhood should get more than a 3 due to the fact that the only recreation of the Parthenon in the world is a mere 0.5 miles away, and it's a museum! Not to mention the huge lawn perfect for frisbee, pre-game picnic, football or whatever else you want to do.

by Joakes | Nov 06, 2013 12:19 PM

What;s the deal with the parking?

Love going to Nashville but when you try to find a park near the stadium you pass all these half-filled lots that are reserved for donors. After the game the lots are still only half-filled.

by pbt140 | Jul 31, 2014 03:39 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Dore to the Past

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

No, the present and recent past have not been glorious for Dudley Field at Vanderbilt Stadium, but dig back into history far enough and you'll discover a time when it was the place to be in the college football world.

Named for William Dudley, a Vanderbilt Medical School dean around the turn of the 19th century to the 20th, today's construct is actually the second home of Vanderbilt football. The first was literally just a field, also named for Dudley, close by.

But anyway, what makes all that significant is the man was responsible for the creation of the SIAA, the precursor to the Southern Conference (and therefore the SEC); and the stadium, when completed in 1922, was the first football-dedicated facility in the South.

So does it stand the test of time?

Vanderbilt Stadium- Bringing in a New Era

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

The 2012 college football season marks the beginning of a new era for Vanderbilt football, and the offseason renovations to Vanderbilt Stadium’s field surface and Jumbotron helps illustrate that.

Big changes have occurred numerous times to Vanderbilt Stadium since its construction in 1922, which was the first outdoor stadium built for the sole purpose of college football in the South.

Once you get past how small the stadium is for an SEC football program, it’s easy to be impressed by the experience you receive at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt Stadium’s current capacity is just over 41,000, giving it the smallest seating capacity in the SEC by 14,000 to Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium.

Don’t let the small seating capacity fool you. Vanderbilt fans can still make it very loud in this horseshoe style stadium that resembles a naval vessel with its concrete exterior.

Been to many games here

Total Score: 1.29

  • Food & Beverage: 1
  • Atmosphere 1
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 0
  • Access: 1
  • RoI: 1
  • Extras: 1

As a season ticket holder who has seen many games here over my lifetime, I must say that VU Stadium leaves so much to be desired. Our "fans" arrive late and leave early. It's actually a large feat if they even bother to show up. Most SEC games here at home seem like an away game for my 'Dores as opposing fans ALWAYS outnumber us. The seating layout can make for an atrocious atmosphere when it comes to getting to your seat and out of the stadium. If the crowd is large and the game stays close to the end, I don't even chance trying to leave as it takes an average of 30-40 minutes to simply hit the exit gates. Having a new scoreboard and end zone seating section is so wonderful and long overdue. If the team can continue its recent success then I have hope that we develop some diehard fans and more facility improvements. Overall, this is a small, outdated stadium that is unfortunately the worst in the SEC and needs a major overhaul.

VU Stadium

Total Score: 1.57

  • Food & Beverage: 1
  • Atmosphere 0
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 0
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 2

As a season ticket holder who has seen many games here over my lifetime, I must say that VU Stadium leaves so much to be desired. Our "fans" arrive late and leave early. It's actually a large feat if they even bother to show up. Most SEC games here at home seem like an away game for my 'Dores as opposing fans ALWAYS outnumber us. The seating layout can make for an atrocious atmosphere when it comes to getting to your seat and out of the stadium. If the crowd is large and the game stays close to the end, I don't even chance trying to leave as it takes an average of 30-40 minutes to simply hit the exit gates. Having a new scoreboard and end zone seating section is so wonderful and long overdue. If the team can continue its recent success then I have hope that we develop some diehard fans and more facility improvements. Overall, this is a small, outdated stadium that is unfortunately the worst in the SEC and needs a major overhaul.

Not an SEC Venue, but.......

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

Obviously, Vanderbilt has never been at the forefront of SEC football and is somewhat of the black sheep of the conference, having a stadium capacity way lower than any of the other teams. So going to a game thinking you will get the same feel of the SEC like you would at Alabama, Florida, Auburn, LSU, etc. is just not in the cards. It is too small and it feels like a glorified high school football stadium.

With that said, the place isn't bad to take in a game. You feel pretty close to the action, fans are good, and you still have a great college atmosphere (which stunned me). It isn't on a lot of people's bucket lists to run to Vanderbilt, but it is not the worst place to take in a game.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Nothing major to note. Very standard foods (the Anchor Down Dog is just a hot dog with Jalapenos and cheese on a pretzel bun) and nothing out of the ordinary. Food tasted average.

ATMOSPHERE: Was thinking Vanderbilt would be like Duke in terms of "oh we have a football game on our campus today?" mentality. But the campus and the area around was rocking. It had a nice feel in and around the area, knowing there was a game.

NEIGHBORHOOD: You have options around from the chains to some unique restaurants within walking distance, once you are away from the baseball stadium (which is sharing the concourse with the football stadium) and the basketball arena.

FANS: The fans I saw were very into the game and really enjoyed being there. That's what it was about. However, it wasn't too great they bolted at halftime.

ACCESS: No major interstates or highways near the place and they pretty much buried it with the other athletic facilities as well as hotels that were fairly taller than the stadium structure itself. Even when you could see it, you couldn't cut through the other venues to get it. But if you got lucky, parking was free, but on the other side of campus.

ROI: Tickets are easy to come by and you do get a good view of college football. Food prices were what you expect, but some of the souvenirs were on the high.

EXTRAS: The stadium and the campus itself was incredibly clean. I like how they are trying to get traditions built in with the whole "Anchor Down" bit, albeit somewhat cheesy. Besides that............

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http://thestageonbroadway.com/theStageOn/home.php

Lodging

Opryland Hotel  (map it!)

2800 Opryland Dr

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(615) 889-1000

http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland/

Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt  (map it!)

2555 W End Ave

Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 321-1300

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnaav-nashville-marriott-at-vanderbilt-university/

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