Hayes: Ranking the ACC Football Stadiums

Great minds do think a lot. Yesterday, Dave Sez ran a piece on a topic that we also had started and were holding in our drafts box and waiting for the “slow days” of late July and August to use. We even had the link to Fansblog in our entry. Now that we are last to go with it…we might as well chime in a little bit on the topic —

If you’ve read StateFansNation for a while then you know that we hold Sporting News’ columnist Matt Hayes in high regard. Unfortunately, Hayes severely hurt his reputation with Wolfpackers in his recent assessment of Ranking the ACC Football Stadiums.

As with everything in ‘rankings’, one needs to be particularly careful in defining the criteria used to create the rankings. What exactly is Hayes using to create his rankings trying to rank? His following comment gives us some insight into his methodology:

The ACC can’t touch the SEC when it comes to stadium inhospitality. Some nice places, yes. Less than half are intimidating.

In addition to ^that, it looks as though Hayes is trying to blend the niceness of stadiums with the inhospitabitality of the fans. We’ll go with that.

To be fair, Hayes does a fine job of getting the names both at the top and at the bottom of the ACC relatively right. However, I feel as though he completely butchers the order of names in the middle – particluarly the placement of NC State. ( I truly wonder when was the last time he attended a game in Raleigh, Atlanta and Chapel Hill. )

I couldn’t agree more with Dave’s comments below:

I think you could debate Lane vs. Doak vs. Death Valley forever and never settle on on order. Doak is the toughest simply because the Noles are the best program. Lane is probably the nastiest and possibly most intimidating. Memorial is the biggest and has the most history.

I’d say he overrates the Orange Bowl. The program? Great. The stadium? Poor. Attendance sucks for any non-FSU game and that’s just embarassing for a program of Miami’s stature.

I’d also say that he rates Kenan stadium too high. Yes, it’s a pretty setting but even in the Mack Brown days, it just wasn’t a really nasty crowd. Nowadays, the stadium is never full and has a ton of opposing fans.

Hayes rankings are as follows:

(1) FSU
(2) Clemson
(3) Va Tech
(4) Miami
(5) GA Tech
(6) UNC
(7) UVa
(8) NC State
(9) Maryland
(10) Boston College
(11) Wake Forest
(12) Duke

Again…great minds think a like…as my rankings that follow are almost identical to Dave Sez’s rankings.

(1) FSU – Great facilities; 80,000+ and always filled; fans are alwasy nasty.

(2) Clemson – incredible atmosphere; very loud; loses a point for ‘niceness’ since the amenities are so dated, but generally has it all (indcluding tradition of rubbing the rock).

(3) Va Tech – it is hard to separate the top three, new guy on the block gets #3

(4) NC State – Renovations make huge difference and propel the facility amongst the top of the list of ‘niceness’; consistently packed with engaged fans; State fans are known for their inhospitality and how much they care. How the Pack could be much further than #4 or #5 is beyond the realm of reason.

(5) UVa – See comments about NC State and tone down the inhospitality.

(6) Miami – Orange Bowl is one of the worst stadiums in America. I struggle with their inhospitality quotient because of their horrible support for any game other than the biggest ones (like FSU). But, when they are ‘bad’…nobody is worse. Canes are lucky to be placed this high on my list.

(7) UNC-CH – it is hard to place them this high, but I have such a low opinion of Georgia Tech (based on their overall weak attendance) that I will give the nod to Carolina. Does “pretty” equate to “nice” when anyone over six feet can’t squeeze into a seat in the stadium?

(8) Georgia Tech – Nice facility; Small; good fan support for big/good games; but historical lack of attendance for mid-tier ACC games can only make the place so inhospitable. The other reason that I give the nod to the Heels over the Yellow Jackets is because I need to have some difference in my list from Dave’s list.

(9) Maryland – a dump with a facelift; support is spotty (at best), so it can’t be that inhospitable.

(10) Boston College – most New Englanders don’t know that Alumni Stadium exists. It can’t be that intimidating

(11) Wake Forest – a great and convenient place for visitors to take in a road game without much hassle

(12) Duke – just sad

Relatedly, how can Hayes ignore the relative passion of NC State fans (and therefore inhospitality) when taking into account State’s impressive attendance figures of the last few years where the Wolfpack program has ranked amongst the Top Five in the country in attendance as percentage of capacity. The schools Hayes chose to rank significantly above State were nowhere close…but, they are somehow more “inhospitable” in their more empty stadiums that are all older than Carter-Finley’s new $100MM+ makeover?

Makes no sense.

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16 Responses to Hayes: Ranking the ACC Football Stadiums

  1. choppack1 07/21/2006 at 11:18 AM #

    Yep – Hayes’ comments don’t make much sense. If he’s a journalist – his analytical skills are probably horrid – and he’s probably judging our atmosphere from an Middle Tennessee game or something or a game 7 years ago.

  2. T.A. 07/21/2006 at 11:55 AM #

    I agree choppack1. Half of the prople that right these have never been to a game and get the results from tv.

  3. Wulfpack 07/21/2006 at 12:26 PM #

    I echo the comments that ACC stadiums don’t come close to even sniffing most SEC stadiums. In our league, I say Clemson is tops, followed by Va. Tech, FSU, Miami, NCSU, UNC, UVA, Maryland, GT, BC, Wake and Duke.

    With the likes of Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Alabama and LSU its easy to see how the SEC takes the cake.

  4. packbackr04 07/21/2006 at 12:29 PM #

    how can Hayes say the problem with Carter Finley is keeping it full? he has no idea. does anyone else here remember throwing footballs around on the grass hill as a child, holding up signs that read “HOLT FOR HEISMAN”… while your mom scowls at your father for getting so drunk in the middle of the day? anyone?

  5. ncsslim 07/21/2006 at 1:12 PM #

    packbackr… you must be my son….

  6. RickJ 07/21/2006 at 1:27 PM #

    “(7) UNC-CH – … Does “prettyâ€? equate to “niceâ€? when anyone over six feet can’t squeeze into a seat in the stadium?â€?

    I remember once reading UNC-CH’s stadium called “Kenan Memorial Stadium for Midgets” and it cracked me up – Jeff may have written this.

  7. Trout 07/21/2006 at 1:33 PM #

    I agree with the GT assessment. The reason why GT’s stadium is usually ranked higher than where it should be is:

    1)Age: If I’m not mistaken, Grant Field is the oldest on-campus D1 facility in America.

    2)Location: In the heart of downtown Atlanta. You just dont see many stadiums with impressive skylines as backdrops.

    Fan support at GT is terrible, unless UGA, FSU or the occassional close SEC school is in town (ie, Auburn).

  8. BJD95 07/21/2006 at 2:11 PM #

    I agree with Jeff, except that I would put UVA ahead of us. Great backdrop, and a truly unique gameday experience. Think that GT’s stadium is a soulless dump.

  9. vtpackfan 07/21/2006 at 2:44 PM #

    “most New Englanders don’t know that Alumni Stadium exists. It can’t be that intimidating”
    Top three on both lists I fimrly agree with. The next “tier” of great stadiums are these three schools in no particular order. NC ST, UVA, and BC. We know that eagles play on campus, in Chestnut Hill, which is an easy ride out of Boston by mass transit. Problem is that Boston is a great city and you get hung up doing , well, everything. Newcomers to the ACC, the Eagles a going to win alot of home games when the leaves start to fall in NE. I will never forget the look on some of the Wolfpack recievers and DB’s when last years game was played in the cold rain. Also I remember Stone being hit so many times that he looked like he would rather sit on the ground then drop back for a pass, and he’s from PA.

  10. choppack1 07/21/2006 at 4:04 PM #

    vtPackfan – I was in Boston – and we started out great. The game totally changed when TJ Williams dropped the sure TD pass. (That would have put us up 14-0 or 14-3 – I forget which.) After that, I think it got a lot colder – I know I did.

  11. tooyoungtoremember 07/21/2006 at 4:48 PM #

    There’s a difference between filling a stadium and inhospitality. If you want to see an inhospitable fan base, go to a Georgia game. Opposing fans get cussed and barked at by drunk rednecks before they even enter the stadium. It’s a regular occurrence to see a Bulldog fan six inches away from the face of an opposing fan barking like a rabid dog and looking rather stupid in the process. During my days as a student going to all the home football games in Raleigh I don’t remember visiting fans getting harassed anywhere near as much as they do here in GA, if at all. Of course, I could have been too drunk to realize it was going on.

  12. bTHEredterror 07/21/2006 at 8:09 PM #

    Bobby Dodd is great, it’s the fans are soulless. We’ve all seen just how quiet the Doak can get. The Orange Bowl is great, but it is never full because there are a lot of things to do in Miami on a Saturday, and they have a love affair with the Dolphins. Kenan has a great setting, but they rarely fill up either and they shut up when they are down and their team needs them most. Scott Stadium is great but small, Lane Stadium is fantastic and LOUD, and Memorial is AWESOME. I was on the sidelines for a game there, as a lowly walk-on in Blue jeans and a Jersey, and I was not spared heckling. When they came running down that hill, man I got goose bumps. Carter-Finley is becoming top tier, and we are not inhospitable in an uncourteous way. But boy we can give ’em noise when we try.

    Just wondering SFN. Have you already e-mailed this hack the story on per capita attendance? He may have to print a retraction.

  13. johnny 07/22/2006 at 8:49 AM #

    filling the stadium???? Thought the last few years we were over capacity
    and consistantly ranked at over 100%. On a side note–Does anybody know if the stadium type seats under the scoreboard are being built which
    will take CF close to 60,000??? All I have seen on the subject is that they will be built if demand is there.

  14. Wulfpack 07/22/2006 at 11:49 AM #

    ^”Selling out” a stadium and filling a stadium are two different things. I have personally been to games that were officiallly “sold out”, only to find plenty of empty seats. The games I am referring to here is our cupcake OOC games, not conference games.

  15. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/24/2006 at 12:26 PM #

    Doesn’t CF have a smaller capacity than it did prior to updates? I think once the new seats are completed it will have about the same capacity as it did when the hill was festival seating.

    My childhood memories from the 70’s include this man (and his wife) that had seats behind our family for years. His face was purple and the man drank Jack from kickoff to the clock showed zero. I will always associate the smell of whiskey with college football. I’m guessing that guy is dead now.


  1. Stadiums of the ACC (Carolina March) | Sports Leader - 07/10/2007

    v9rtkI Very good blog post.Really looking forward to read more.

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