Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience
Adam Thompson | 7 mins
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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.
Bookies.com has compiled a comprehensive list of the top SEC football pregame destinations, ranked in order from best to worst. 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.
Best SEC Stadiums To Visit By Pregame Experience
14. Vanderbilt Commodores
Everyone loves a good excuse to get to Nashville for a weekend. But Vanderbilt is in a different region of the city than you see on the postcards; not a bad location, just not the one with Tootsie’s on the corner. The stadium and outside pregame festivities are dictated by opposing team fans. There just isn’t much excitement brought by the school itself. Vandy ranked last in tailgating and overall entertainment.
13. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas is known for having one of the top fan bases around, but most of the revelry is saved for inside the walls of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. There isn’t a lot of space for tailgating. There is a lively bar scene on legendary Dickson Street, which is 15 minutes from the gates.
12. Kentucky Wildcats
The football program has made huge strides lately and the fans are coming out to see the games now in this large college town known more for hoops. When it comes to traditions, there isn’t much here to get you in the mood. There is no good central location by Kroger Field to get your drink and food near the stadium, either. Adjacent parking lots are plentiful for tailgating, however.
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11. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Family fun is the category the area around Davis Wade Stadium ranked highest in. It doesn’t hurt that kids love cowbells. The social life in Starkville isn’t close to Davis Wade and the campus itself is a maze of pathways. Tailgating was considered vastly underrated by some sources and bottom-five in the SEC by others.
10. Missouri Tigers
Missouri puts on a show for Saturday home games, which is why it ranked a solid sixth in entertainment options. While Columbia is considered a great college town in many aspects, the stadium location ranked second-lowest in this ranking. The bar scene near campus is about 1.3 miles away from Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, and nearly zero parking or tailgating options crushed the overall score.
9. Florida Gators
Those interested in some beverage-partaking likely have gamedays in Gainesville ranked higher. The area boasts a vibrant bar scene and a few good tailgating locations. The top bar scene around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is close but not big so huge crowds are all but guaranteed. The Gators did lack when it comes to the pomp and circumstance often seen around SEC football.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks
Tailgating spots are ample at Williams-Brice Stadium, with the stadium located on the state fairgrounds in Colombia. Families enjoyed the open areas, though there wasn’t a true entertainment scene around it that competed with some of the other SEC stadium scenes. South Carolina is more considered a spot for in-stadium craziness, not pregame.
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7. Auburn Tigers
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. Entertainment was a key part of the allure of Jordan-Hare Stadium, but getting your pregame drink on can be a challenge. The bar scene is a good-enough 15-minute walk away. Parking and tailgating are fairly limited.
6. Ole Miss Rebels
The Grove, Mississippi’s on-campus tailgate spot, is considered by many to be the No. 1 tailgating spot, not just in the SEC but the entire college football country. It should be of little surprise, then, that Ole Miss ranked No. 1 in tailgating here. It also came in at No. 4 in family fun, the only program to rank top-four in both. The town itself exudes small-world charm. The Grove is adjacent to Vaught Hemingway Stadium but those looking to bar-hop face a 50-minute round trip hike.
5. Tennessee Volunteers
Knoxville has a lot going for it, and the nearest bubble of bars is a 15-minute walk from Neyland Stadium. Location, in fact, was the top grade for the stadium and the action. Tailgating options were solid and families felt safe, offering more high grades for the Vols. Tradition runs high and you can hear the Pride of Southland band blaring songs all pregame. Entertainment options ranked comparatively low.
4. LSU Tigers
LSU night games are an entirely different animal; there’s nothing like it in all of sports, let alone just SEC football. But it’s most fun for those of a certain age and above. Games at Death Valley ranked below average for families, but No. 2 for both tailgating – one can imagine the awesome spreads of local cuisine – and overall entertainment. The bar scene is a bit of a hike from the stadium, and parking is a top-tier pain.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
As it should, Alabama’s stadium scene reeks of tradition and history. Tailgating at The Quad is a top-tier SEC spot to catch the local fare, and other good food and drink options for gameday are just one block west of Bryant-Denny Stadium. No spot was better ranked for families, either. Alabama was one of only four SEC destinations to rank in the top-half in every category.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
Football in College Station is known for the Midnight Yell, where fans get together to practice chants, and that’s a full night before the games. No SEC locale ranked better on Saturdays for overall pregame entertainment value, and A&M was one of just two schools to rank top five in every category. The lone qualm may come from bar-hoppers; the nearest scene is one mile away from Kyle Field.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
The stadium sits right in the center of the campus and Athens itself displays a level of old school southern charm, even with a team that crushes opponents more often than not. It’s part of why Georgia ranked No. 1 among all SEC pregame locations. Sanford Stadium is a 15-minute walk from the area’s big bar and restaurant scene. Still, the area holds the ultra-rare trait of being not just top five in the tailgating scene and in overall entertainment, but No. 2 in best experiences for those with kids.