By Hunter Ford
Are in-season neutral site games beneficial for college football fans? Or does it deprive season ticket holders of marquee matchups at their home stadium? Here’s a link to an article criticizing LSU for scheduling a bunch of cupcakes for the upcoming season at newly renovated Tiger Stadium.
Tiger Stadium now seats over 100,000 corndogs with room for a few guests. However, attendance figures are declining with LSU playing its best non-conference games in places like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.
I would love to pile on LSU along with the author of this piece, but Alabama has basically done the same thing. Since losing to Florida State in Jacksonville in 2007, The Crimson Tide has done well in neutral site games. Alabama has defeated Clemson, Virginia Tech twice, and Michigan either in Atlanta or Dallas. Besides winning, what good has come of it? It is really absurd to say it helps recruiting. The Alabama Crimson Tide, or the LSU Tigers for that matter, needs no introduction to high school football players. The name recognition has long been established. Just showing up in Atlanta, or Dallas, or wherever, will not elevate it.
The Tide is now set to face West Virginia in Atlanta, Wisconsin in Dallas in 2015, and USC in Dallas in 2016.
Are neutral site games a treat for fans? Atlanta is familiar and kind of ho-hum for most Tide fans. Been there, done that. Dallas is more exotic perhaps, but really, who can afford the trip these days? It’s hard enough to afford season tickets. If you do cough up the money for season tickets do you want to see Western Carolina?
A two-game series with USC, with a date at Bryant-Denny and a visit (if you can afford it) to Los Angeles would be a lot better investment for season ticket holders than a one-off visit to Atlanta or Dallas. There are some traditional neutral site games like Oklahoma-Texas and Florida-Georgia, but those games work because they are TRADITIONAL and located conveniently for the respective fan bases.
Alabama and LSU should give season ticket holders some marquee match-ups at the football Disney Worlds they have created. That’s why these pigskin Taj Mahals were built, right? Why should we go to somebody else’s park to get our football thrills?