After more than 35,000 votes were cast in the quarterfinal round, our search for our readers' favorite stadium in college football is down to just four.
In the last round, Clemson's top-seeded Death Valley narrowly escaped an early death at the hands of Washington's Husky Stadium. It was the closest contest in the tournament thus far, but a late surge from the Husky faithful was not enough.
"Between the Hedges" (Georgia) was no match for "Along the Brazos" (Baylor). Texas A&M's Kyle Field was too much for The Big House. Meanwhile, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium looks to be the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. Neyland is the leading vote-getter through two rounds dispensing SEC rivals LSU and Alabama along the way.
Update: Athletic Business' Committee on Voter Compliance has issued a statement regarding Kyle Field's eligibility in the 2014 College Facility Playoff.
Voting in the semifinal round is open until 11:59 p.m. central time on Thursday. We'll announce the championship match-up on Friday morning.
(8) Tennessee's Neyland Stadium vs. (3) Texas A&M's Kyle Field
It's yet another SEC showdown for Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. Can Neyland defeat its third straight venue from the SEC West? With the country's largest video board, a nearly equal capacity and a whopping $450 million being invested into the stadium (the stadium's West side will be imploded this weekend and rebuilt), Kyle Field may be the toughest opponent yet.
Neyland Stadium Opened: 1921 Last Renovated: 2004-2010 (three phases) Renovation Cost: $136.4 million Capacity: 102,455 Thoughts from the Committee: One of college football's most iconic venues has received some major upgrades in recent years, most notably to its aging infrastructure, but no amount of money can change one of the stadium's best features, its location. The stadium sits along the banks of the Tennessee River where the "Vol Navy" tailgates via boat before games.
Kyle Field Opened: 1927 Last Renovated: 2013-2015 Renovation Cost: $450 million Capacity: 102,512 Thoughts from the Committee: To put Kyle Field's current $450 million renovation and expansion in context, consider this: Two of the newest and nicest stadiums in college football, Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium (opened in 2009) and Baylor's McLane Stadium (opened this year and in our playoff field), combined only cost about $100 million more than Kyle Field's renovation. That's a long way of saying Kyle Field, already considered one of the best venues in college football before the reno, is now off the charts.
(1) Clemson's Memorial Stadium vs. (3) Baylor's McLane Stadium
After edging out Washington's Husky Stadium by fewer than 200 votes, Memorial Stadium squares off with Baylor's McLane Stadium. It's a preference of taste in this match-up. Do voters prefer the tradition, size and history of Death Valley? Or is the sparkle of Baylor's brand new stadium the standard?
Memorial Stadium Opened: 1942 Last Renovated: Currently Renovation Cost: N/A Capacity: 81,500 Thoughts from the Committee: Clemson's "Death Valley" has the tradition and game day atmosphere to rival any in college football. "When Clemson players rub that rock and run down the hill, it's the most exciting 25 seconds in college football," says Brent Musberger. But the stadium itself is impressive too with plans to get even better. The school is currently improving the stadium's "WestZone," adding a new tower with a glass window embellished with a tiger paw. The north side's suites and club seats will also be revamped.
McLane Stadium Opened: 2014 Last Renovated: N/A Construction Cost: $266 million Capacity: 45,140 Thoughts from the Committee: Baylor's sparkling new home which sits along the banks of the Brazos River has several unique distinctions among stadiums in our field. It's the newest, the most technologically advanced, but also the smallest. The pedestrian access, especially the footbridge connecting it to campus (featured in this Athletic Business article) is another great touch. The Bears went undefeated at home and hosted ESPN's College GameDay for the first time in their first season in the stadium.
Which stadium is better?
Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. central time on Thursday.
Interesting facility flip: Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium will play host to the Miami Open for the first time after $70 million went into transforming the facility from a football-first venue to a world-class tennis facility. The facility features 29 permanent courts (11 competition and 18 practice), an entertainment plaza and a space for live music and dining. The 14,000-seat Stadium Court is a temporary structure built inside the stadium, between the football field’s 30-yard lines. Designed for intimacy, the temporary space uses none of the building’s permanent seats. —Miami Herald
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The University of Dayton has been hosting NCAA Tournament games since UD Arena was built in 1969. After this March, the arena will have hosted 125 games — the most in NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament history.
The University of Oklahoma announced a number of stadium improvements to the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, which are scheduled to be in place by the time the 2019 season kicks off. Among the planned improvements are upgraded Wi-Fi connectivity, new handrails installed throughout, and widening some seats. As part of the changes, the venue’s seating capacity will contract by about 3,000. — SoonerSports.com