My 92,000 best friends

By Hunter Ford

I’ve been to movies alone, been out to lunch alone, but never have I been to an Alabama football game alone. Last weekend, I drove to Tuscaloosa by myself, but when I got to Bryant-Denny I watched the game with more than 92,000 of my best friends.

Going to an Alabama game is so much different than it used to be. Bryant-Denny used to be a 50,000-seat bowl. Now it is more like an amusement park, with gi-normous television screens, wrap around scoreboards and fancy new food concessions.

I’ve often wondered how large the stadium could be and still have sell out crowds. I also wonder how high ticket and concession prices can get before there is some effect on the crowds. The answer, for now, seems to be that the stadium could seat 200,000 and still be filled up and cokes could sell for $12 and people would still buy them.

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Gasoline in most areas of the state was going for more than $4 per gallon, but there were RVs and SUVs everywhere.

For an interesting break down of the cost of major college football visit this site:

I was shocked to find out that a Coke in a souvenir plastic cup cost $6. A barbecue sandwich was going for $8 and hotdogs were $4.

I spoke to some of the vendors selling T-shirts and hats outside of the stadium. A couple of them had complaints about the new parking and tailgating set up. They said it affected the traffic around their tents and was hurting sales.

Perhaps I’ll do some further research on this at another time.

For now, my lingering thoughts are about the great atmosphere in Tuscaloosa on game day. If there are 92,000 people inside the stadium, I would venture to say there are about 50,000 people who go to Tuscaloosa on game day simply to be part of the scene. It looks as though many fans never leave the comfort of their RV set-ups.

I left the Western Kentucky game at halftime, with the Tide leading comfortably 31-7. I passed by hundreds of cozy fans, eating, drinking and making merry by the light of a flat screen TV hooked up to a satellite on a roving condo.

There are also many Tide fans that rent or own actual apartments or “game condos.”

Some of these condos are literally a stone’s throw from the stadium.

Mark Ezell, a lawyer from South Alabama, is one of those condo dwellers. For the past couple of seasons, I have made a point to stop by Ezell’s camp. He always has several coolers full of cold drinks and a wide variety of food. It certainly helps defray the cost of the in-stadium concessions. Thanks to Mr. Ezell and his family.

Also, Ezell’s compound is a great place to meet some ex-Tide players.

Wes Neighbors, an All-SEC center from 1983-86 was tailgating with his dad Billy. Mr. Billy played tackle for Bear Bryant’s 1961 national championship team and later in the AFL and NFL for the Boston Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

A fan asked Mr. Billy for a Bear Bryant story.

“This kind of game would p*** him off,” he said, referring to the weak opponent. “If we didn’t win by three or four touchdowns, he’d have us out there practicing afterwards.”

Walking around the stadium, I also encountered former Tide great David Hannah, a member of the 1978 national champions and Tyrone Prothro the great receiver whose college career was cut short by a brutal leg injury.

Anyway, I took a camera with me and I think you’ll agree the stadium is beautiful inside and out. Check out the photo gallery.

14 Responses to “My 92,000 best friends” Subscribe

  1. Bama Fan in NYC September 16, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    Great article, Mr. Ford! Nothing beats T-Town on gameday, or any atmosphere containing nothing but Alabama fans.

    When I first moved to NY back in 2002, I had no friends, except for a few guys I had met through business relations. On occasion, I would see a guy or girl wearing an Alabama hat or shirt, or both and would always greet them with a big smile and “Roll Tide”.

    I managed to meet up with the alumni chapter for about one or two games each year, and by the time I walk out, I’ve literally met every Tide fan in the bar, and I’m sure the same can be said for all the out of state Alabama fans.

    I always receive emails from the NY alumni chapter president, and a few days after the UA/Clemson game, he sent me an email containing a link to a youtube video which was the alumni singing the Rammer Jammer cheer and it gave me chills!

    I can’t wait to get back there to see another game, but more importantly to T-Town for the Iron Bowl!

  2. Ballplay Indian. September 17, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    Ive never been to a game at Bryant-Denny. I may go to this years Iron bowl. Have lots of bama friends, and that would be a good trip. Yep, I may just have to go this year.

  3. OMNIPRESENT September 17, 2008 at 8:49 am #

    My 1st Football game was UATvsKEN
    back in the early 80s,My uncle took me (he WAS the bammer) his daughter fell to the right side of the family (AUbbos) and soon he did too since those checks were going ( he even took down his Daniel Moores) and then we started going to THE HOUSE ( Jordan Hare ) and THAT is ONE of the reasons I LOVE AUburn football and SEC football. GREAT READ HUNTER GREAT READ!!!!

  4. OMNIPRESENT September 17, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    OH yea! I wouldnt have took down the Daniel Moores….

  5. Ballplay Indian. September 17, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    Man , some of those things are worth some cababage now.

  6. TiderInsider September 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Ballplay, even though it is “Alabama territory” it’ll still serve as a life-changing experience. I’ve taken several of my Auburn buddies to Tuscaloosa during gamedays, and they say it’s by far one of the most exciting experiences they’ve ever had. When the game draws near, let me know your decision and if you decide to go, I’ll give you a list of things to keep you occupied during the day. Your trip won’t be a disappointment.

  7. tmc1 September 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    Best college gameday anywhere. Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

  8. Ballplay Indian. September 18, 2008 at 6:47 am #

    I got a joke for yall…Dont take it seriously, O.K.

    What is the difference between a pourcipine and Bryant-Denny stadium ?

    And no, the answer is not ” The pourcipine does not have 12 national championships.”.

  9. OMNIPRESENT September 18, 2008 at 6:50 am #

    YEA ITS COOL!!!!!

  10. Ballplay Indian. September 18, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    No guesses ?

    Come on Bama people, where is your sense of humor?

    Look, you can always reverse the joke to Auburn if you like. Whos first?

  11. Bamaman September 18, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    Well the difference at Auburn vs a porcupine is there are 87,000 pricks on the inside

  12. Ballplay Indian. September 18, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    Cha – chimggggg.

    You got it Bamaman.

  13. Bama Fan in NYC September 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    I’m loving this! Since both programs seem to be in denial, we’ve resorted to telling jokes.

    It surely beats slashing each others’ throats on who sucks and who doesn’t!

  14. Ballplay Indian. September 19, 2008 at 7:59 am #

    Have yall heard the one about Tubbs and Saban at the pay toilet ?

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