LSU’s Tiger Stadium has never been much fun for opposing teams to visit.
Alabama coach Bear Bryant famously once said that it “happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team” and that when the home crowd was at its loudest, standing on the field with the sound waves beating down was “like being inside a drum.”
If it’s possible, Tiger Stadium might get even louder this fall, once a nearly completed construction project at the south end zone encloses that end of the stadium.
“I suspect the noise will be a good, quality 10 decibels higher,” cracked Les Miles, who is 57-7 at home since taking over as the Tigers’ coach in 2005.
That kind of decibel increase is unlikely, but it makes sense that with roughly 100,000 people now able to occupy the stadium and with a completely enclosed south end, it will be more difficult for sound to escape. And that means the nation’s most hostile environment might become just a bit more difficult to endure than it was before.
LSU fans at the April 5 spring game were able to see the project in its finishing stages. What was once an open-ended south end will feature about 60 suites and 3,000 club seats by the time the 2014 season begins, plus 1,500 general public seats and a pair of video boards at the corner of either end zone.
Athletic director Joe Alleva recently wrote in a letter to fans that the expansion will push the stadium’s capacity from 92,542 to beyond 100,000 -- making it one of just seven across the country to surpass the century mark.
“It’s beautiful. It’s just rising up,” Miles said. “You can really see where the [video boards are] going to be. It’s always been magnificent, it’s just going to have more.”
The stadium’s reputation has expanded along with its seating capacity since it opened as 12,000-seat facility in 1924. It was at 78,000 by the time LSU completed its original upper-deck expansion in 1978. It reached its current capacity with the 2006 completion of a $60 million renovation of the west upper deck. Before the south end zone construction project -- which the Tiger Athletic Foundation said would be privately funded -- the most recent major renovation came in 2009, when LSU added a 27-by-80 high-definition scoreboard at the north end zone.
Such renovation projects sometimes have a way of altering the playing conditions within a stadium, particularly when it comes to the wind that affects kicks and punts. A reporter’s question on that subject actually provided Miles with an opportunity to deliver one of his trademark wacky responses after the Tigers’ spring game.
“We’re going to do a dynamic wind-change study. It’s going to have to do with confetti and confetti droppings,” Miles said with a grin. “For instance, you section it off -- and I just want you to know we learned this by how they’re searching for that plane [Malaysia Airlines Flight 370] -- basically you’re going to drop confetti in one area, the pieces are uniformly cut and then you watch where it goes and you film that. And one section over, you drop it. And one section over, you drop it. And you bring it out to the 50 and you map it all the way back.
“Certainly we’ll keep that to ourselves after we find that out. But I’m not certain we’ll do that, either.”
That was Miles’ unique way of saying that he doesn’t think the new addition will have much of an impact on field-goal tries, meaning that stadium aesthetics and game-day decibel level will be the most noticeable changes once the project is complete.
“For us, the 50-yard line has a pretty breezy feel. And then back in to both sides, [the wind] really quiets pretty comfortably, and I think that’s going to be consistent,” Miles said. “It just appears that way.”