Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Tiger Stadium W Stadium Rd Baton Rouge, LA 70893
Year Opened: 1924
Saturday Night in Baton Rouge
Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium is home to the Louisiana State University Tigers football team; the stadium opened in 1924 with an original capacity of just 12,000. However, the increase in “Geaux” Tigers fans through the years has forced the historic venue to its fair share of remodels and renovations. Tiger Stadium now becomes the fifth largest city in the state of Louisiana on game days due to the venue’s capacity of 102,321. Tiger Stadium is the second largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference behind Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. Tiger Stadium sits on the campus of Louisiana State University less than one mile away from the Mississippi River, just south of Baton Rouge.
The most recent renovation to Tiger Stadium was completed in 2014 and included 66 luxury suites, 3,000 club level seats above the south end zone, and 1,500 public seats in the upper deck, making it the sixth-largest college football stadium in the nation – the 1,500 public seats are known as the Skyline Club. Purchase of a ticket in the Skyline Club (with beer garden) includes admission to the seating area, admission to a self-serve food buffet, and the ability to purchase beer and wine. In addition, starting in 2018 Tiger Stadium saw the appearance of an additional beer garden called The Chute; this new beer drinking area is located below the south end zone bleachers.
Over the past 99 years, Tiger Stadium is one of the toughest venues for visiting teams to win in (as of this writing LSU has a 439-154-18 record at Tiger Stadium). In 2005 Tiger Stadium also served as the playing site for four New Orleans Saints games, due to the devastation by Hurricane Katrina, to New Orleans and the Louisiana Superdome.
Food & Beverage 4
There are plenty of great options outside Tiger Stadium for local Cajun flavors such as meat pies, boudin and alligator, red beans and rice, and even shrimp etouffee. However, the food and beverage operation inside the venue is a second chance to enjoy a little Cajun flavor – Triple B’s New Orleans Cajun Corner stands can be found throughout the stadium and offer three Cajun items: Zatarain’s Cajun jambalaya, grilled alligator sausage po’boys, and Creole crawfish pie. Or if you aren’t interested in the local cuisine there is the basic stadium fare, for example, Tiger Dogs (hot dog with chili and nacho cheese), Swamp Sausage (bratwurst), BBQ Bengal Burgers (cheese, BBQ sauce and pickles) and Grande Nachos.
Besides these items the concessions stands are basic with hot dogs, nachos, bottomless popcorn, and Bavarian pretzels. The beverages at Tiger Stadium are Coca-Cola products. There are plenty of options when it comes to alcohol drinks, as the stadium has served a variety since 2019. The regional food menu, along with reasonable stadium prices, raises Tiger’s Stadium concessions to an above average ranking.
There are plenty of great atmospheres in college football, and many fans have legitimate reasons to think their school has the best atmosphere. LSU fans are no different, and if creating a list of the top three college football atmospheres, it would be hard not to list Tiger Stadium as one of them.
The LSU fan base is one of the best all-around in college sports, and obviously Tiger football fans are the harder core of the group. On game day in Baton Rouge, the reflection from the Mississippi River becomes a tidal wave of purple and gold. Just like every great college atmosphere, the atmosphere begins with tailgating – over two-thirds of Tiger fans tailgate for five or more hours before every game, and many begin more than 24 hours before kickoff. There are plenty of charcoal grills, tents, televisions, music, and other festivities for tailgaters.
It seems like all the tents, vehicles, chairs, and tables are decorated in Tiger apparel, and the signs around the tailgating are a warning to visiting fans that their team is about to be Tiger bait. Tiger Stadium becomes the fifth largest population in the state of Louisiana on game day, so the tailgating scene is quite a sight to see while walking around LSU’s campus. But it wouldn’t be a trip to Tiger Stadium unless you visit Mike the Tiger’s exhibit and witness LSU’s Tiger Walk.
The Tiger Walk begins on top of Victory Hill, from the top of the hill down past the basketball arena, next to and into Tiger Stadium. This is a huge moment in the game day experience for Tiger fans, as the crowd will be large, so get a spot on the barrier fence early – a good recommendation is to get there an hour before the Tiger Walk. The Tiger Walk starts about 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff and includes more than just the players walking from the buses to the stadium, but is also a celebration of LSU football. Past LSU players start the walk followed by the current team, LSU Golden Girls, marching band, and cheerleaders, all walking down Victory Hill.
This is probably the best time to head into the stadium. The team begins warmups about 90 minutes prior to kickoff, and about half an hour before kickoff and right before the Tigers leave the field after practice, the PA system, along with the video board, presents Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge”, which adds more excitement as over 100,000 Tiger fans can join in the singing of the song. It is also hard to beat a night game in Tiger Stadium, especially before kickoff, when the public address announcer announces, “It’s Saturday Night in Death Valley…and here come your Fighting Tigers of LSU".
LSU fans are engaged and loud throughout the game, with chants of “Geaux Tigers” and “Tiger Bait”, especially for an SEC rival. The LSU student section is the conductor in leading the charge, in making Tiger Stadium one of the loudest in college football.
The LSU campus is a few miles south from downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The campus enrollment is close to 31,000 and consists of more than 250 buildings constructed in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio; the campus occupies a 650-acre plateau on the east banks of the Mississippi River. The area just off the interstate isn’t much to see, but on the north end of campus is Chimes Street – Chimes Street is a good place to find many local bars and restaurants to enjoy yourself.
There are plenty of food options available here with Chinese food, sushi, BBQ joints, southern cuisine, and sports bars where you can watch other games. Obviously any options close to campus and the stadium will be crowded, so arrive and be prepared an hour or more before heading towards Tiger Stadium. The Chimes on the corner of Chimes Street and Highland Road is a good spot to begin the day, because a trip to Baton Rouge is worth eating at a southern cuisine restaurant. This restaurant offers delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine including gumbo, crawfish etouffee, po’boys, boudin balls, alligator, and some fantastic pasta options.
There is also a Buffalo Wild Wings just up from The Chimes, if you just want an alcoholic beverage. But for fans who enjoy local breweries, try visiting Tin Roof Brewing Company near the Magnolia Mound Plantation – Magnolia Mound Plantation is a wonderful tourist spot to visit if you get a chance while in Baton Rouge, and on the south side of campus there is the Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, a good spot for pregame meet ups.
Baton Rouge has plenty of lodging, but there are a couple of places within walking distance from campus. On the south side there is 3-star hotel, Staybridge Suites Baton Rouge off Nicolson Drive, while back on the east side of campus is Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU – these hotels will get full and pricey if not booked in advance. As a matter of fact, the Baton Rouge area lodging prices will be higher on football weekends, so planning to stay further out might save on your wallet.
Baton Rouge, being the state capital, means it has tourist attractions. I mentioned the Plantation, but downtown has both the old and new capitol buildings, the latter being one of the tallest buildings in Baton Rouge. Or one of my favorites is the USS Kidd, a Fletcher-class destroyer from WWII, now a National Historic Landmark/museum ship berthed on the Mississippi River.
LSU fans are one of the loudest, most dedicated, and in a simple word, awesome, fan bases in the country. Tiger Stadium becomes the fifth largest population in the state of Louisiana during a Tigers home game. Tiger fans are very knowledgeable about their LSU history and are always willing to talk football with you. The southern hospitality is alive and well throughout the campus. However, there are always the cat calls of ‘TIGER BAIT’ to visiting fans wearing the other team’s colors.
The atmosphere of Tiger fans tailgating is incredible; they are dedicated and love the purple and gold, but to hear the echoes of “Geaux Tigers” throughout the live oak tree campus is a credit to all LSU fans. Inside the stadium, just get ready for one of the loudest fan experiences of your life. There could be a moment that surprises you when the LSU marching band plays “Talkin’ Out the Side of Your Neck”, but this comes from the student section, and anyone that has been around college students in a hostile environment knows the students go beyond being politically correct.
Tiger Stadium is on the campus of Louisiana State University; LSU is located just south of downtown Baton Rouge. There are exits off Interstate 10, so the access getting to the stadium is a breeze, especially if you go early to soak up the LSU game day atmosphere. The parking can be prepaid which costs between $20 and $40 for reserved lots around Tiger Stadium, but there is also free parking available in a multitude of places; the LSU golf course near Alex Box Stadium (LSU baseball) is really the best option for non-parking pass holders. Like most sports venues, the best thing is to plan in advance for your trip, and this is even more true when making a trip to Tiger Stadium. Parking maps and fan guides can be found on LSU’s website, which highlight the best areas to park on game day.
All gates open 2 1/2 hours prior to kickoff, and waiting until the last minute can cause you to miss some of the pre-game activities, or part of the game itself. Although there are plenty of gates to enter Tiger Stadium, not every gate will allow access to your seat – Tiger Stadium can be a maze for finding your seat, as the stadium expansion over the years never created full access to other parts of the stadium in some areas. The best advice is to look at your ticket and use the gate printed on it to prevent frustration and time lost in entering Tiger Stadium. This is a good warning for buying your ticket because if you have an upper deck ticket, be aware that you do NOT have access to anywhere else in the stadium. This can be another frustrating fact in terms of Tiger Stadium access – many visiting fans want to go in early and watch the teams warm up or want to take pictures in other areas in of the stadium, so those that want to get the full experience may be quite disheartened, especially considering that other SEC stadiums such as Texas A&M and Alabama allow fans down near the field (or between the hedges in Georgia’s case) not only during pre-game but during the ENTIRE game.
LSU Athletics enforces a clear bag policy at Tiger Stadium, due to it being a conference-wide policy for the Southeastern Conference (SEC), meaning that clear bags measuring larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″, or non-clear wristlets/clutches/wallets/bags measuring larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″, are not allowed into the venue. The access at Tiger Stadium is probably not as bad for frequent visitors to LSU games as it is for occasional visitors, for whom it can really be a huge negative to an otherwise wonderful place to watch college football.
All of this said, even leaving the stadium is a nightmare. There are 100,000+ fans being directed down one-way streets away from campus, so the problem is that trying to reach the highway can take an hour when campus is only four miles from the interstate. There hasn’t been a venue that can be more frustrating when it comes to access, but this should not keep any football fan from visiting Baton Rouge, the beautiful LSU campus, or taking in the incredible atmosphere of LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Return on Investment 5
There are five tiers of seating prices inside Tiger Stadium, and of course, any SEC game will cost more than a non-conference game. Non-conference games against opponents such as Nicholls, South Alabama, or Louisiana Tech will be between $20 and $70 when buying from the box office, and the atmosphere will still be a great experience for these games, but for a lot less money. The rest of the schedule is the SEC, so, there will be a higher demand, especially the years that Alabama visits Baton Rouge. Expect ticket prices for premier games to range from $200 to $275 per ticket, which makes the other SEC games seem not as bad, since their ticket prices range from $50 to $85.
The justification for all of this is that there is free parking and great food to offset the expense of the ticket. Compared to other big programs, LSU keeps their ticket prices cheap for football games, except for premier games.
However, if you are a fan of bargains, then LSU’s Louisiana Fish Fry Products Skyline Club (south upper deck) is an area that may peek your interest – the Skyline Club is an open-air seating premium club area able to accommodate up to 1,500 fans in sections 650-658. Included in the ticket cost for this is an all-you-can-eat buffet of rotating menu items and one free beverage. Beer and wine are also available for purchase at an additional cost.
LSU has a strong travel fan base, so there aren’t many atmospheres in college football that beat LSU football in Tiger Stadium. Parking can be free, concessions are reasonably priced, and the overall atmosphere is worth the price of admission.
The amazing history of Louisiana State University football is storied with success over 125 college football seasons, and Tiger Stadium has been named as one of the best college stadiums to visit by many media outlets throughout the years. In addition, the city of Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s state capital and the third-southernmost capital city in the continental US after Austin and Tallahassee, which are truly the definition of southern hospitality.
There are also so many things to experience in and around the LSU campus, with the most popular on game day being Mike the Tiger’s habitat, one of the true highlights of traveling to LSU. The habitat has an Italianate tower (campanile) as a backdrop that creates a visual link to the Italianate architectural vernacular of LSU’s campus. The new habitat ranks among the largest and finest tiger preserves in the United States.
Mike the Tiger is the official mascot of LSU – Mike is the name of both the live and costumed mascots. The current live tiger, Mike VII, was recently introduced on August 21, 2017, which was the first day of classes for LSU’s fall semester. LSU fans are also amazingly supportive as they travel to away games, but to see them line up for the Tiger Walk prior to games at Tiger Stadium illustrates the passion and loyalty that Tiger fans possess.
For 130 seasons, LSU football has been bringing fans together to watch college football in Baton Rouge. There are many reasons that LSU is voted one of the best atmospheres in college football to watch a game, but the biggest reason is that LSU is more than a football game – for fans, students, and alumni, Death Valley on a Saturday (night) becomes a way of life.