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  • Writer's pictureAaron S. Terry

Joe Aillet Stadium – Louisiana Tech Bulldogs


Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Joe Aillet Stadium 1450 W Alabama Ave Ruston, LA 71270



Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 28,019

 

The Bulldogs and Dawgzilla


Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston, Louisiana opened in 1968, replacing Tech Stadium, which had been home to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs football team since their inception in 1901. Joe Aillet Stadium was part of Louisiana Tech’s new athletics complex, which now includes a baseball stadium, softball field, and soccer field across the street, as well as the track and field right next to the football stadium. The football stadium was originally named Louisiana Tech Stadium, but was renamed in 1972 after former head coach and athletic director Joe Aillet.


The Lousiana Tech Bulldogs currently complete in Conference USA, and provide a great atmosphere for football, drawing lots of fans and providing a high level of energy during games. Joe Aillet Stadium includes the Davison Athletics Complex, Charles Wyly Athletic Center, and Dawgzilla, the 25 foot by 45 foot high def LED video board in the north end zone.


Food & Beverage 4

Joe Aillet Stadium’s concessions offer plenty of options to fit most tastes – perhaps not everything you could want, but plenty of choices to meet your needs while attending a game here.


Main dish options include hot dogs, Cajun sausage, nachos, pulled pork, burgers, pizza and chicken wings from Johnny’s Pizza House (a local favorite), Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches, sandwiches from McAllister’s Deli, and tacos from The Truppy Taco food truck. These items range from $4 up to $8, with the best deal being the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich for $4 – a bargain given this is barely more than they charge normally.


Besides the above, you can also find snack and dessert items such as popcorn, peanuts, chips, pickles, kettle corn, packaged candy, Dippin’ Dots, shaved ice, cookies, and Rice Krispies treats for $2 to $7. You can also find bottled water, soda in bottles and from the fountain, and several flavors of iced tea and lemonade for $3 to $7; I did not see any alcohol for sale inside the facility.


Atmosphere 4

Joe Aillet Stadium provides a great atmosphere for football, drawing large crowds wearing blue, with a little red sprinkled in (both colors are technically acceptable, but blue is much more prevalent) – you may even get gently hassled by Bulldog fans inside the local Walmart, if you try to choose the less dominant color.


From the outside the facility may look a little dated, but once you walk in the bold, blue end zones, the colorful signage, the antics of La Tech’s Band of Pride, and the sound of 28,000-plus screaming fans will bring a smile to any football fan’s heart.


Joe Aillet Stadium has grandstands with metal bench seating along both sidelines, with additional seating for donors and other VIPs at the top of the Davison Athletics Complex behind the south end zone. The north end zone is reserved wholly for La Tech’s video board, which is named “Dawgzilla”. The venue gets pretty full on gameday, and the fans bring a lot of energy, so this stadium is definitely worth a visit despite not being in one of the Power Five Conferences.

Dawgzilla, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey


One of the best aspects of attending a game here is that, for night games, the staff puts on a pretty spectacular fireworks show at halftime, which is nice because that means you don’t have to stay late to watch it – check out the video below for a sneak peek:


Neighborhood 3

Joe Aillet Stadium is located on Louisiana Tech’s campus, so there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity except campus buildings and other athletics facilities, such as La Tech’s basketball arena, soccer field, baseball diamond, and track. There are a couple of fast food places within a few blocks, but if you are looking for something more interesting, there are a number of local places about 10-12 blocks east along Alabama Ave, such as Nana’s Soulfood, RAW Restaurant (sushi and sashimi), and Sundown Tavern, which features craft beer and live bands. There are also some more traditional eateries, such as Applebee’s, on 1-20 at exit 85 (either exit 84 or exit 85 would be your choice to get to Joe Aillet).


If you plan to be in town for the day or for the weekend, in the same area as Nana’s Soulfood are a couple of museums, the Louisiana Military Museum and the Lincoln Parish Museum. Neither is very big, and both have limited hours (the Louisiana Military Museum is only open from 10-4 Tuesday thru Saturday, and the Lincoln Parish Museum is only open from 10-4 Tuesday thru Friday), but both are worth a look if you have some time. The Eddie G. Robinson Museum in nearby Grambling is also worth a look, as it celebrates the career of one of college football’s most successful coaches.


The closest hotel to Joe Aillet Stadium is the Super 8 on Tech Drive, but exit 85 has several others, including a Fairfield Inn and Suites, a Courtyard by Marriot, and a Hampton Inn.


Fans 4

La Tech fans are solid – though the stadium can’t hold that many, most of the seats are full, and fans here bring a lot of noise and energy. As mentioned previously, most of the fans wear blue, and many of them stay in their seats until the end, even if their team isn’t performing particularly well that day.


The student section here at Joe Aillet is particularly worthy of note – you can find them on the east side seated next to the Band of Pride, who are easy to spot thanks to the lettering over their tuba bells spelling out L-O-U-I-S-I-A-N-A T-E-C-H. In the student section, you will of course find a few diehards with their chests painted in support of the Bulldogs, but also a couple of students waving homemade flags, along with my personal favorite, the whole section waving their cell phones back and forth during night games, in tribute to classic rock bands of old.

Band of Pride, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey


Access 4

Getting to Joe Aillet Stadium is pretty easy, thanks in part of the small capacity and general lack of traffic in Ruston. Located only about half a mile off the freeway, there is plenty of parking next to the stadium or across the street for $10 if you get there early; if not, you should be able to park for free about 5-6 or 6 blocks away, either on neighborhood streets or at the cemetery on Colvin Street.


Note that will call is located on the west side, so if you don’t have your tickets with you, you may want to park on that side; otherwise you will have to walk all the way around.


Once you get inside Joe Aillet Stadium, there is plenty of room to walk around beneath the grandstands, and there are plenty of restrooms and concessions stands, so lines shouldn’t ever be too long. Also, there is a walking path on each side between the upper and lower levels of the grandstand, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to your seat, or getting out for a snack during the game. There is also a ramp at the end of each grandstand for those who need it.


Return on Investment 4

Single-game tickets to games at Joe Aillet Stadium start at $25, which is pretty reasonable for this caliber of football, and there are plenty of concessions options for fans on a budget. In addition, $10 (or free) parking is also very reasonable, so all in all, seeing a game here represents a great value for football fans of any stripe.


Extras 3

The halftime fireworks are a big plus, and the fans deserve mention for their strong support of the team. The vivid colors on both the field and in the concourse also add to the pageantry that is college football today.


Final Thoughts

If you live in or near northern Louisiana, you actually have your choice of 3 different college football stadiums along the I-20 corridor between Shreveport and Ruston – the Independence Bowl, Malone Stadium (home of the ULM Warhawks), and Joe Aillet Stadium. For my money, the latter is the best of the bunch, so if you are in the area, take a trip down to Ruston to see the Bulldogs in action, and be sure to wear blue. Go, Dawgs!

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