In the past five to six years, many more NFL fans have hit the road to see their teams play. Whether it’s Lambeau Field, AT&T Stadium aka “JerryWorld” or Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, it has become a badge of honor for fans to take over the home team’s stadium. I have not traveled to EVERY NFL stadium (yet), however, I firmly believe the stadium with the best atmosphere in the Southern United States is…
What exactly goes into that? First of all accessibility. Car, walking and public transit are indeed the major factors. However, that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Then you must factor the environment. What surrounds the stadium? If parking lots surround the stadium, is the tailgating up to par? Is the venue family friendly? Last, but certainly not least, are the fans maniacal about their team?
When adding up Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, the best atmosphere is in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
First, the stadium opened in 1999 and the lower bowl was built outwardly, not upwardly; meaning the fan had great sight lines from anywhere in the 100 section.
Although, Nashville doesn’t have the sophisticated rapid transit Atlanta does, there are three bridges adjacent to Nissan Stadium. The John Sigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge was transformed in 1998 to connect Downtown Nashville to the East Nashville neighborhood as fans cross the Cumberland River each day. Meanwhile on Sundays, fans walk from the downtown bars and hotels to each Titans game, helping alleviate the traffic!
Next, the acoustics in Nissan Stadium are amazing. The bass booms and beats in your chest even though it is an open-air stadium. The in-game entertainment is on par with the Atlanta Falcons at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Cell phone service is great and there is wifi available at Nissan Stadium.
The Titans and the New Orleans Saints equally have fanatical, blue-collar fan bases that will show up early and get loud. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay, Miami and Carolina fans usually get hyped up whenever their team is winning. Moreover, a sizable portion of Atlanta, Miami and Carolina fans are more of a wine-and-cheese crowd. That group of fans are into “the social event” that is the football game. Showing their friends (and haters) that they’re at the game instead of cheering their team makes for a muted atmosphere. Meanwhile, most of the Titans fans are in their seats 10-15 minutes before kickoff and ready to roll. Mike “The Duke” Donegan is the PA announcer for the Titans and his dulcet tones get fans clad in two-toned blue riled up each and every time.
Lastly, the Titans staff and gameday workers are extremely friendly and hospitable. Everyone makes sure the fans are moved in and out of security, will-call, the ticket windows and the food lines as fast as possible. They know the sooner people get in their seats, the sooner fans can enjoy the game.
The Tennessee Titans have made great efforts to make the game day atmosphere uniquely Nashville by infusing it with Southern Hospitality. If anyone wants to make a road trip to Nashville in September or December, it’s money well spent.