College Football 2014: The 10 Worst Stadiums In The Land

By John Garces
July 30, 2014 7:14 am
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Every yin needs a yang, so as a nice little accompaniment to my last piece on college football's ten best stadiums, I would now like to take a look at the ten worst.

Because sadly, for every five-star stadium, there are plenty that miss the mark.

I had briefly considered putting ALL of the NFL stadiums where games are played on this list, but as I started to think about the ground that covers, I decided to only include one.

So without further ado, let's get to the list.

10. Kibbie Dome-Idaho

Since this domed home of the Idaho Vandals is the smallest FBS stadium in the country, it gets a pass as far as where it ranks on this list.

But, though I've never been to Moscow, Idaho (and nor do I ever want to...no offense if any of you actually do live there), I can't imagine an odd-looking stadium such as this would be good to promote a lively game-day experience.

And now that Idaho is an FBS independent, having a full house and some semblance of a home-field advantage is something I'm sure they desperately need.

Were this a larger stadium, I would have it much higher on the list, but since it holds only 16,000, it lands here, at the bottom.

9. The Alamodome-UT-San Antonio

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and as a nearly life-long resident, I would tend to agree.

But in this case, a start-up FBS program like UTSA isn't necessarily the best fit for a cavernous domed phenomenon like the Alamodome.

The Alamodome has been a staple of the San Antonio skyline off of I-35 for over twenty years, and, as the site of the Alamo Bowl, has proven itself to be a capable college football venue in that time.

But with a new program as it's full-time tenant, it sees many of the 65,000 seats empty on a weekly basis.

And seeing a lot of empty seats is never good fot anyone's morale.

8. Amon-Carter Stadium-TCU

Okay, I know what you Frog fans are thinking (and a lot of you I know personally, and will probably yell at me on Facebook after you read this), and that is that there's no way you belong on this list.

Except that you do.

I have been in the stadium before and after renovations, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that the "new" Amon-Carter sucks, and I suspect it is rubbing off on the fans, many of whom would now rather leave a game at halftime due to it being "too hot" or "too cold" as opposed to staying for the whole game.

Trust me on this one. I saw it first-hand at the last gme I attended, which saw many TCU "fans" leave as early as halftime in a loss to Iowa State, mostly because of the early-October cold snap in Fort Worth, not to mention the several instances since then that they have bailed on competitive games too early because of the heat.

Yes, I did kind of take that in a "rant"-y direction. But I'm done now. And that'a why you deserve a place on this list, TCU. And why you will keep it until the majority of the 45,000 who pack "the Carter" every game get their act together.

7. Martin Stadium-Washington State

Often referred to as being "on the Palouse," due to the number of Native Americans who lived in the part of Washington state that Pullman can be found in, the sad truth is that the stadium of the team now piloted by everyone's favorite pirate Mike Leach lacks a lot of luster.

With a capacity of only 35,117, which is one of the smallest of the former BCS conferences, it also lacks a lot of things that usually mark a major college football atmpsphere.

The weather also seems to be a wildcard at this venue, as it is fairly typical to have September day games hit the 90s and night games during the holday season to run the risk of freeezing weather and snow.

But in a conference that boasts an underrated line-up of stadiums to play in, this one is clearly the worst.

6. Memorial Stadium-Kansas

Much like the Jayhawks' moribund program itself, nothing really appears to stand out about their stadium that holds 50,071

I'm pretty sure the same can be said for Lawrence, Kansas, itself.

The thing that makes Kansas' stadium really earn it's stripes on this list is that they are clearly playing in the worst stadium in the Big 12 (and especially now that Baylor has left the antequated Floyd Casey Stadium for their shiny new digs at McLane Stadium).

Not sure how it was in person, but in the rare years in which Kansas is good (such as the year Mark Mangino led them to an Orange Bowl), the stadium doesn't really seem to come alive, either.

I am certain of one thing, though: as long as Charlie Weis is around Lawrence, this stadium will probably always have a place on this list.

5. Liberty Bank Stadium-Arkansas State

I might be biased, but any time I read a review that says that a stadium is smaller than several Texas high school stadiums, I know I'm not going to have any good things to say about it.

And yes, I know that the Red Wolves are saddled with playing in the Sun Belt Conference, and that by those standards, it probably isn't all that bad, but I have ten slots to fill and I don't see enough good things about it to warrant not putting it on here.

It does hold 30,964 (and yes, that is smaller than your average 5A (now 6A) Texas HS stadium), but I tried to look at the big picture when ranking these things.

And nothing about "Jonesboro, Arkansas" suggests that this is going to be a tough place to play, crowd-wise.

But I have been wrong before.

4. H.A. Chapman Stadium-Tulsa

The website that I used as a guide for this piece (as well as my "top 10 best college stadium" article), stadiumjourney.com, gave Tulsa's home the lowest "fanfare" score I've ever seen them give an FBS stadium at 1.9

With all due respect to the fine people of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I'm not all that surprised by it, either.

Unlike it's Big 12 brothers in Norman and Stillwater, Tulsa has seen better days as a football power, and the stadium is nothing to write home about, either.

Fortunately, they don't top this list because they play in Conference USA, which in and of itself has a dearth of iconic stadiums, and it's seating capacity of 35,542 does put it right in line with most schools they share the confernence with.

3. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome-Tulane

I could go on and on about how I feel about colleges that play games in an NFL stadium, but I don't want to bore you with those details.

I will say that the clear "loser" of those that do is Tulane.

The Superdome has gained a reputation in recent years, thanks to Katrina damage and the Super Bowl blackout, as a bit of a dump, but it was far from a good fit for the Green Wave even before all that happened.

With a capacity of 72,003 and a penchant to fit maybe 25% of that into it for a Tulane game on a good day, I've never understood why Tulane has never returned to on-campus games.

Seems like the perfect way to solve ever being on this list again.

2. Wallace Wade Stadium-Duke

Perhaps one of the drawbacks to Duke's recent football success is the increased TV time that their woefully inadequate football stadium is getting.

Which is why Wallace-Wade stadium comes in at #2 on this list.

The ACC, despite often falling short of expectations on the field, is home to many of the most well-known stadiums in the country.

And then there's this 33,941-seat monument to a basketball school just trying to keep their football fan base satisfied.

Not saying that's a bad thing, You'll just probably never see a "Cutcliffeville" in Durham any time soon.

1. Ryan Field-Northwestern

Seen through the eyes of someone who didn't know what the other mostly grandiose Big Ten stadiums looked like, one might not see much wrong with the Wildcats' 49,256-seat stadium.

But when you compare it to vast expanses of the other Big Ten powerhouses, you start to see the shortcomings in Evanston.

Perhaps that's not all that surprising, either, since it has been open since 1926.

But despite being renovated in 1996, it still lacks a lot of modern amenities that all of their conference mates can give their fans.

Which seems oddly fitting for a school that always seems to be one step away from the big time.

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By John Garces
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Previous Comments (6)

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3 months ago
Maybe I'm missing something here, but how does the fact that Tulane does not play before a large crowd make the Superdome one of the worst stadiums?
3 months ago

You're not necessarily missing anything. I have a personal belief that college teams shouldn't play in NFL stadiums, and I'm also not a big fan of the Superdome.

For what it's worth, most of the other "worst" lists I looked at for comparison mentioned it, too.

Thanks for reading.
3 months ago

How do either of those statements answer my question?
2 months ago

"For what it's worth, most of the other "worst" lists I looked at for comparison mentioned it, too." <-- Nice reason there.

Have you even been to most of the venues you've reviewed? And if you've not, there's subtler ways to dally around it, rather than, "The website that I used as a guide for this piece.."
and "Not sure how it was in person.." than just flatly agreeing with the opinions of others who have on stadiumjourney.com?

How can you use secondary sources to compile a list? This is borderline high-school journalism. Even there a journalism teacher would have a field day with this one.

Also, if you'd mentioned some legitimate concerns about the Superdome, I'd concur but: "I have a personal belief that..." and "I'm also not a big fan of the Superdome". Who cares?
3 months ago
Hey if you think Northwestern has the worst stadium in America you have to get out and visit more stadiums. Take a trip to Birmingham(UAB),Houston(Rice),Atlanta(Georgia State) to see some empty stadiums on game day. Knocking Arkansas State for having a stadium that seats on 31,000 is kind of silly.Quite a few stadiums seat less.I myself would only rate stadiums I have visited. Otherwise you are basing it on what other people say.
3 months ago
Northwestern has only 7,000 students.How big of a stadium do they need? Tulane,thankfully, is moving to a new outdoor on campus stadium.Winner all the way round.

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