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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn Tigers


Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

Jordan-Hare Stadium 251 S Donahue Dr Auburn, AL 36849


Year Opened: 1939 Capacity: 88,043

 

Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn University Tigers

Down on the Plains, Saturday afternoons take on a whole different feel than most college campuses in the country – Auburn, Alabama is transformed from a sleepy college town into one of the top college football game day experiences in the country.


The Auburn Tigers have been members of the Southeastern Conference since its foundation in 1932; Auburn had previously been a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Conference. Over the span of the program’s history the Tigers have won 17 conference titles and have laid claim to 5 National Championship crowns, in 1913, 1957, 1983, 1993, and 2010. The success the Tigers have achieved throughout their history goes a long way in setting lofty expectations from their fan base, which in turn helps drive one of the top college football experiences in the country.


Food & Beverage 3

There are plenty of food options around the concourses of Jordan-Hare Stadium; the drawback is that there is not much that stands out as being special. Most of the choices are going to be what you would find at just about any stadium around the country – it is fine to satisfy your hunger, but lacks unique and local options. One highlight though is the Bo Jackson burger, at the Bo Jackson Grill.


Jordan-Hare Stadium does have a handful of local regional options; similar to Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, Chicken Salad Chick makes an appearance with three specialized chicken salads and combination options centered around them. Another regional favorite, Mama Goldberg’s, slings their steamed subs to hungry fans. Both of these are fine options, but overall, the stadium lacks a touch of southern cuisine.


Auburn does provide fans with the convenience of mobile ordering, to pick up at specific windows and avoid having to wait in long lines.


Prices for food is pretty much consistent with what would be found at most stadiums, but for some inexplicable reason, Powerade and bottled water pricing is substantially more expensive than would be found elsewhere, by about $2. Luckily, large water containers are placed around the stadium for fans to get cold water from.


Alcohol is not sold inside Jordan Hare Stadium, but is plentiful at any of the tailgates around campus. The closer the tailgate areas are to the stadium, the more the spirits are flowing.


The best food around the stadium can be found at the Reggie’s stand, set up along The Tiger Walk – Reggie’s hand grills 1/2-pound burgers, butterflied pork chop sandwiches, and both Southern-style Polish and Italian Sausages. In fact, the line for Reggie’s backs up all the way to the gates of Auburn’s baseball stadium, Hitchcock Field.


Atmosphere 5

The Auburn game day experience starts well before the gates open. Campus opens to tailgaters at 4pm on Friday evenings before Saturday games. Many tailgaters set up their own encampments, while others opt for the Auburn tailgate services, which sets up tents just feet from the entrances of Jordan-Hare Stadium.


The pregame hype at Auburn is everything that is wonderful about college football. Outside the stadium along Donahue Drive, fans begin lining up an hour before the Tiger Walk as they give their Tigers one last word of encouragement before they enter the stadium. This is also the unofficial signal for fans to start making their way into the stadium. The area along Donahue and Heisman Drive that encircles Jordan-Hare Stadium remains rather packed, so the best bet might be to head through the gates on the northwest side of the stadium. This is the easiest time to enter and navigate the stadium, and to make sure not a moment of the pre-game festivities are missed.


If tailgating and the Tiger Walk are not enough excitement, the pre-game traditions continue as fans start settling into their seats. Call and response chants ring out as a prelude to the stadium speakers starting to play Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird. Nearly 80,000 fans sing along, foreshadowing the flying of Aurea, the golden eagle, as she swoops overhead from the upper levels of Jordan-Hare Stadium, eventually landing to an eruption of approval from the Tiger faithful.

In a stadium with a capacity nearing 90,000 fans, from some seats in the upper reaches of the second level the action on the field can almost seem like an afterthought. If sitting in an assigned seat is not a must, however, the switchback ramps in the corners of the stadium are a decent alternative – these are popular with many fans and provide a decent vantage point for the game.


There seems to be the perfect combination here of a respect for the traditions that make the Auburn football experience important, combined with a modern game atmosphere of piped in hype music, that goes a long way in the creation of a fun game atmosphere.


Neighborhood 5

Auburn is the classic college town where much of the draw to the town focuses around the university itself. The front of campus abuts College Street, with the famed Toomer’s Corner at the southeasternmost edge of campus. Home of Toomer’s Drug Store, fans pack in for the well-stocked shelves of Auburn apparel and souvenirs, but it might be the hand-squeezed lemonade that many flock to the store for. While Toomer’s Drug Store is the main draw to the area, there are also several restaurants and bars that make the area popular for pre- and post-game.

When looking for accommodations for a game day weekend, start planning far in advance as hotels in Auburn fill quickly, and also be ready to open your wallet wide, since rooms are going to run anywhere between $200 and $400 depending on the proximity to campus and the desired amenities. The best option for last-minute rooms might be the cluster of chain hotels just off Exit 51, College Street, or in neighboring Opelika just to the north. However, there is no way around the fact that hotels in the area are going to be expensive on an Auburn football weekend.


Fans 5

Much of what makes football in the south so important to so many are the deep roots of tradition and history that accompany each program. College football fandom in the south is often generational and runs through families; the fandom runs deep through alumni and locals alike, especially fandom for the Tigers.


Auburn fans are just as passionate as any fan base you will find across the nation – their fandom falls into the category of football being a 12-month-a-year commitment. Auburn is a program that starts the year with conference and national Championship aspirations each season, having twice realized the ultimate prize, in 1957 and again in 2010. It is these annual goals that drive the passion of the fan base year in and year out.

Auburn fans are engaged in all the festivities, from the pregame to all the in-game engagements throughout, starting with the head cheerleader leading the Bodda Getta, Two-Bits, and War Eagle Chant. The highlight is 90,000 fans singing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird as a precursor to the release of Aurea, a golden eagle that soars above the crowd, who point and cheer as she swoops down to her target, triggering an eruption of approval. The Auburn fan base is the lifeblood that makes the Auburn football experience so special, and it is difficult for the average fan not to get caught up in the excitement Tiger fans create.


Access 3

Auburn’s campus is one of the closest to a major interstate you will find. Fans coming from Atlanta to the north, or nearby Montgomery to the west, have just a short trip off Interstate 85 to reach the Auburn campus. Alternatively, fans coming through Birmingham have a straight shot on US Highway 280. Either way, plan to arrive well ahead of kickoff, in order to avoid the headaches close to 100,000 fans being ushered into town on the roads leading in.


Fans flying in for a game can easily fly into Atlanta, and jump on I-85 to get to the Auburn campus in under two hours.


Parking is plentiful, both around the stadium and throughout downtown Auburn. Parking in proximity to the stadium does get a bit pricy, running about $45. However, downtown parking is only a short walk to Jordan-Hare Stadium and can be found for $25 to $30.


The best bet is trying to enter the stadium immediately following the Tiger Walk; the easiest access point will be the gates along Donahue Drive. The longer you wait to get into the stadium, the more congested the entry gates will become and the concourse nearly impassable. Both the internal and external concourses are narrow given the number of fans passing through. Leading up to the pregame festivities, both the entry and field concourses are wall-to-wall bodies, and will be very slow going. Once fans settle into their seats for kickoff, however, the walkways and concourses open up again, and traversing them is no longer a problem.


A test of patience once again faces visitors as they attempt to leave Auburn, as the roads out of town get very backed up. Some suggest parking at the Tiger Town shopping center and catching a shuttle bus back to your vehicle following the game, which might be a decent idea, but it does come with a lot of inconveniences. The best bet might just be to resign yourself to the fact that it is going to take a while, so find yourself a place for a post-game meal and give traffic time to subside a bit.


Return on Investment 3

Ticket pricing is the hardest thing to fully evaluate as it relates to return on the investment. If single game tickets are available, their price varies depending on the week’s opponent. Less desirable, non-conference games start at $20, which is a great deal for the experience, but games against neighboring Georgia or for the Iron Bowl against in-state rival Alabama start at $160 – tickets to other games against SEC opponents are going to start in the neighborhood of $60.


That said, there are some great ticket deals to be had; the question is, what do you want from the experience? The best bet might be to try to wait it out and buy on the secondary market; for example, recently the $160 tickets for the game against the two-time defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs were selling for under $60 the day before the game.


When factoring in concessions prices and parking, you will be shelling out a hefty amount, but it is not anything you wouldn’t be paying for a comparable experience. The highest levels of football experience throughout the SEC do tend to be a touch on the expensive side.


Extras 5

The rolling of the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner following an Auburn win is one of the great traditions in any sport. The tradition was first established in 1960 when employees at Toomer’s would use ticker tape to cover the oak trees at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street – the ticker tape was replaced by toilet paper in 1972.

Statues of Auburn’s three Heisman Trophy winners, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton welcome fans on the eastern side of the stadium. In addition, a bust of Heisman himself, a one-time Auburn football coach (1895-1899) sits at the formal entrance to the stadium along the aptly named Heisman Drive.


The basic scoreboard at the north end of the stadium is a welcome throwback to the simplicity of the game, when schools did not have a national scoreboard measuring contest. The north end scoreboard is simple, with only the score, down-and-distance, time left in the quarter, and yard line of the ball.


Fridays before home games, Auburn offers free tours of the Tigers locker room for fans starting at 4pm.


Fans wanting to get more up close and personal with Auburn’s famed war eagle have the opportunity Fridays at 4pm, prior to game days; for $8 fans can take part in the Southeastern Raptor Center's Football, Fans and Feathers experience.


Final Thoughts

You do not need to be an Auburn football fan to enjoy an afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. From the quaintness of downtown Auburn to the pregame tailgating, to the pageantry of the pregame traditions and those throughout the game, Auburn is a classic college football experience. It has everything Tiger backers or just fans of the sport might want and need to make a day on the Plains one of the top football experiences in the country.

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