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Athlon Sports has polled league experts to rank the Big 12 stadiums for 2014.
Ranking anything in sports is subjective. We may all agree on certain things — like Michael Jordan is better than Kobe Bryant or that Lambeau Field is better than the Edward Jones Dome — but for the most part, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Ranking college football stadiums is not only subjective but also extremely intricate. General atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, the surrounding campus and the college town should all be considered when trying to rank college football stadiums.
Basically, there is no right or wrong answer. Athlon Sports polled Big 12 experts and asked them to rank their favorite Big 12 stadiums based on all of the above factors. Here is how things shook out:
Dan Hawkins, SiriusXM (@CoachHawk)
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chip Brown, HornsDigest (@ChipBrownHD)
Allen Kenney, BlatantHomerism (@BlatantHomerism)
Bill Connelly, SB Nation/Football Outsiders (@SBN_BillC)
Chris Level, RedRaiderSports (@ChrisLevel)
Geoff Ketchum, OrangeBloods (@gkketch)
Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline (@Sean_Callahan)
Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports (@AthlonSteven)
Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM (@BradenGall)
|3. Oklahoma State||3||5||2||3||6||2||3||3||5||3|
|4. Texas Tech||8||4||6||4||8||3||4||6||4||4|
|5. Kansas State||4||3||5||6||3||7||6||4||7||7|
|6. West Virginia||5||6||4||5||5||6||8||5||3||6|
|8. Iowa State||10||7||8||7||9||5||10||9||8||8|
1. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma
Opened: 1925 Capacity: 82,112
Easily the top spot to catch a game in the Big 12, Norman’s college football palace provides the loudest and most passionate fan base in the league. Regularly drawing over 100 percent capacity proves that. A recent round of renovations have added 8,000 seats, a massive new brick-lined video board, new luxury suites, a new press box and beautiful brick exterior. Large gaps in the end zone seating keep the capacity below that of a certain archrival in Austin, but the atmosphere in Oklahoma is more electric.
2. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, Texas
Opened: 1924 Capacity: 100,119
Everything is actually bigger in Texas and the Longhorns' stadium tops the Big 12 based on sheer size. It isn’t the loudest 100,000 fans in the nation, but the building is arguably the most imposing facility, as it dwarfs most every other stadium in the Big 12. After the most recent run of extensive exterior construction, the amenities are second to none in the league as well. Plans are also in the works to expand the south end zone that will push DKR’s capacity to upwards of 112,000 fans — which would make it the nation’s largest stadium. And finally, located in the heart of one of the world’s best cities, fans have a long list of attractions while pre- and post-gaming on Saturdays.
3. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State
Opened: 1920 Capacity: 60,218
The Cowboys' home stadium got a massive facelift, new additions, extra seats and a beautiful new façade in the last few years. The single-tiered, true horseshoe building is now flanked on the west by a 146,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility that contains all of the Pokes' football operations. The brick and mortar exterior creates a massive set of exterior columns that majestically climb above the Stillwater skyline. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and when packed, BPS is as raucous as any place in the nation. Keeping the seats full during down times as well as the overall lack of size is what keeps this gorgeous facility from competing with Texas or Oklahoma.
4. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech
Opened: 1947 Capacity: 60,862
Mike Leach had his issues departing Lubbock but he is largely responsible for the consistent growth and development of Texas Tech’s home venue. The stadium was improved and upgraded in 2005 (luxury suites, parking garage), '07 (master plan), '08 (Spanish façade), '09 (6,000 east side seats) and '13 (new jumbotron). The atmosphere is electric and the facilities have advanced dramatically from over the last decade. The trip to Lubbock makes getting to a game slightly more difficult than even some of the other Big 12 outposts.
5. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State
Opened: 1968 Capacity: 50,000
It’s small on three sides and has some quirky lines, but Bill Snyder Family Stadium will rock when the Wildcats are rolling. Like Iowa State, this building was over capacity on average two years ago as K-State clinched its first Big 12 title since 2003. A 2006 renovation expanded seating in the north end zone and also upgraded the locker rooms. It isn’t the biggest or fanciest building in the conference, but this place generally over-delivers on game day.
6. Milan Puskar Stadium, West Virginia
Opened: 1980 Capacity: 60,000
When it comes to rabid, passionate supporters, the Mountaineers are much closer to SEC levels rather than Big East or even Big 12. And the surrounding mountains of Morgantown are a fantastic setting for a college football Saturday. That said, the building isn’t one of the nation’s biggest and the stadium itself is a fairly straightforward facility that likely could use another round of renovations.
7. McLane Stadium, Baylor
Opened: 2014 Capacity: 45,000
For six decades, Baylor called Floyd Casey Stadium home. It wasn’t on campus, wasn’t normally filled and lacked stylish character or modern amenities. So after the three best years of football in program history, Art Briles and the Bears will open a brand-new, on-campus facility in 2014. McLane Stadium, in honor of business magnate Drayton McLane, cost $250 million and will be expanded from 45,000 to 55,000 in the near future. The plans look gorgeous and if Baylor keeps winning, the fans could make this one of the better places to watch a game in the Big 12. Track the construction progress in real time with McLane Cam.
8. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State
Opened: 1975 Capacity: 55,000
Iowa State is home to one of the most underrated home atmospheres in the nation in a building named after Iowa’s first black athlete. The passion of the fans cannot be questioned, as the Cyclones outdrew their capacity in 2012 on a team that barely reached the postseason the last two years. In the works are future expansions of the south end zone and east concourse that will move capacity to 61,000, making it the third biggest venue in the Big 12. The move will upgrade the facilities across the board and will add an upper deck to the end zone by August 2015.
9. Amon Carter Stadium, TCU
Opened: 1929 Capacity: 45,000
TCU completely rebuilt its home venue following the 2010 season. The $164 million renovation changed the quaint, worn-down stadium into a state-of-the-art football facility that provides more room to grow in the near future. The beautiful Southwestern art deco blends with the new football facilities as well as the popular design trend in the DFW area. The building is brand new and fans showed up in force last year (over capacity) but it is still small and will take time to build up the long-term tradition and pageantry that exists throughout college football’s blueblood venues.
10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas
Opened: 1921 Capacity: 50,071
A poor home win-loss record (212-203-16), the old-school athletic track circling the field and simple styling make this the worst venue in the conference. The last major upgrade took place over a decade ago, the attendance is fairly small and the building itself lacks tradition and character.