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Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 7 mins

Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience

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To many sports fans across the country, nothing beats a College Football Saturday. Nowhere is that sentiment stronger than in Southeastern Conference country. 

The SEC is widely regarded as the top college football conference in the land. But that’s only part of the experience. It’s also often considered a hot spot for some of the wildest and best pregame experiences for any sports fan. 

For many, Saturdays in the fall mean hitting the lots for epic tailgating, hitting local establishments or getting the kids involved in the grandeur of college football. There is much to see, to do, to take in before kickoff, maybe even time to lay down a little college football betting action, now that wagering is legal in several states. 

For the second year in a row, Bookies.com has compiled a comprehensive list of the top SEC pregame destinations. The list is borne from an algorithm based on multiple factors. Among them: 

  • Location: Close to the action, accessible to fans
  • Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a crisp fall day with a beverage and grill
  • Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat
  • Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?

Here are all SEC football pregame destinations, ranked.  

Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience 2

2nd Annual Best SEC Stadiums To Visit By Pregame Experience

14. Vanderbilt Commodores

Everyone can find a good time to have in Nashville, which has become one of the nation’s ultimate party weekend destinations. Vandy football, however, isn’t by the main drag, and isn’t on the radar for some weekend visitors. 

There is a party to be had on campus, but it’s dictated by whichever team is in town that weekend, and the fans it brings. (2022 ranking: 14th)

13. Arkansas Razorbacks

Some may be surprised by the lower rankings for the Razorbacks, especially those who have hit the lots for tailgating or have visited Victory Village. It ranked dead-last on location and accessibility, and in overall family sentiment. 

The bar scene is a modest 15 minutes away, though Dickson Street is worth the walk. Most of the Fayetteville fun is reserved for after kickoff. (2022 ranking: 13th)

T-12. Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky’s stadium is in a good location for pregame fun, but tailgating and overall entertainment ranked only behind Vanderbilt. 

The in-stadium product has improved, which should help, and most fans are likely just excited about the ability to purchase alcohol inside Kroger Field for the first time this fall. (2022 ranking: 12th)

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T-12. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Bulldogs games didn’t rank in the bottom-three in any category, but they didn’t get into the upper-half in anything, either. The bar scene isn’t near the stadium, but MSU does an admirable job of ensuring families have a positive experience. 

Tailgating in Starkville again gets mixed reviews. Some believe it’s among the best, others among the least-enthralling. (2022 ranking: 11th)

10. Missouri Tigers

Missouri puts on a show for Saturday home games, but a lack of real tailgating crushes the Tigers’ chances of climbing higher in SEC Country. The bar district is nearly 1.5 miles from Faurot Field. 

The university makes up for some issues by adding considerable entertainment options around the stadium. (2022 ranking: 10th)

Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience 1

9. Florida Gators

The bar scene is right there, but the crowds (and lines) are often massive. Tailgating is limited and, perhaps surprising, the Gatos don’t rank high when it comes to traditions. 

If you have a boat, Florida ranks higher. Florida ranked middle of the road in three of the four categories. (2022 ranking: 9th)

8. South Carolina Gamecocks

Space to roam is ample around Williams-Brice Stadium; tailgating is the draw. It’s tough to rank in the top-five in that category in the SEC, but Gamecocks fans make it happen. Gamecock Village is a destination for families and fans of all interests. (2022 ranking: 8th)

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7. Auburn Tigers

Tailgating, even finding a convenient place to park, can be an expensive endeavor. But Auburn games ranked in the top five in every other category. 

Auburn as a city proved to be a big part of what made Auburn a football experience, where small-town charm is doled out by friendly folks who value their traditions. The bar scene is a good-enough 15 minute walk. (2022 ranking: 7th)

6. Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss pregame action is known for The Grove, the on-campus tailgate extravaganza that propels Rebels games to the No. 1 tailgating spot in the SEC for the second year in a row. 

Those interested in hitting the bars are practically out of luck unless you’re OK hiking nearly a half-hour to the nearest scene. For the majority, they’re in hanging nearby at The Grove or The Circle. (2022 ranking: 6th)

5. Texas A&M Aggies

There are so many things to do and experience on Saturdays in the fall at College Station. That starts with the night-before Midnight Yell and extends to kickoff, a slew of events that pushes the Aggies to No. 3 in the SEC in both entertainment options and overall location. 

Perhaps surprisingly, A&M ranked simply average for actual tailgating. Bar-hoppers must travel a mile from Kyle Field to hang. (2022 ranking: 2nd)

4. LSU Tigers

If anywhere can challenge Ole Miss on tailgating bragging rights, it’s LSU. The Tigers probably put on the best overall pregame spread around, ranking No. 2 in the SEC in tailgating and No. 1 in overall entertainment. 

If you’re a college kid or older, LSU is the place to be, especially for the occasional night game. Families and those with kids push LSU’s overall score down; getting close to the stadium is a chore and safety issues keep it outside the top 2. (2022 ranking: 4th)

3. Tennessee Volunteers

Overall entertainment options keep the Vols a not below the Big Two. That said, Knoxville comes in the top-four in all other instances. Neyland Stadium is in the center of the action, with a bar scene a modest 15-minute walk, with tailgating and kids options that offers something for everyone. 

Tennessee’s traditions, many sparked by the Pride of Southland band, offers to the ambience. (2022 ranking: 5th)

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Tailgating at The Quad is a must-stop SEC locale. For those who want to hit the bars and restaurants, they’re just a block in the other direction of Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

Families rank Alabama games No. 1 as well. In fact, the Crimson Tide ranked fourth or better in all four major categories; no other school did that. It helps that pregame fun typically precludes a win. The Tide have seven home losses in the last 15 years. (2022 ranking: 3rd)

Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience 3

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Tailgating by your car at Sanford Stadium is considered the least-exhilarating activity in Athens on gameday. That’s because everything else available is bucket-list worthy. Georgia ranked No. 1 in location – the stadium sits in the center of campus, with an accessible walk to the bar and entertainment scenes. 

More than 100,000 converge for home games, and it ranks No. 2 in both entertainment options and sentiment for those with kids. It’s tough to make everyone happy, but Georgia football games have it all. (2022 ranking: 1st)

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.