Building on a new tradition

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 25, 2006

When the current construction to Bryant-Denny Stadium's north end zone is complete before the 2006 season, Alabama football fans will finally have the facility they have longed for.

Since the beginning of collegiate football, Alabama has always been one of the leaders, in terms of wins, but only in the past 20 years has the administration made strides to put the facilities on par with the team's success.

Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium had both upper decks before Alabama's west-side upper deck was built in 1988 and it would be another 10 years and a national championship later before the east-side upper deck was built.

When games were played at Legion Field, they were not just played in Birmingham because of tradition. Sometimes it made more sense, monetarily wise, to play the biggest games in the biggest venue, even if that meant being an hour away from your campus.

Grossly overdue would be an understatement.

A look around the SEC reveals just how productive it is for the football team's wins when a program decides to upgrade its facilities. Upgraded facilities brings large crowds, national exposure and better recruits.

Tennessee, Florida and LSU won national championships not long after major renovations and Georgia won its first SEC Championship in more than 20 years after upgrading Sanford Stadium.

The current construction will not only help the football program but it will also provide a more beautiful atmosphere overall, especially on game days.

Boating up the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium is about the best environment in college football anywhere, but the Tide should take a lesson from the neighbors in neon orange from the north and start boating up the Warrior River.

The plaza area being built in front of the north end zone will provide a breathtaking view from University Blvd., and could rival that of Neyland.

Bryant-Denny is already unique in the way the upper decks have an overhang, with the lights on top. The stands are close to the field and the lower seats are built high up. The addition to the north end zone, although not connecting, will blend nicely with the east and west decks.

Florida's Ben Hill Griffith Stadium shares a similar look and makes for an extremely intimidating environment. The Swamp sits a bit closer to the field than Bryant-Denny but its architecture looks like a poorly put together 3D jigsaw puzzle. I guess they ran out of those hard to find Lego connecter pieces.

One thing Florida utilizes with The Swamp's architecture is they place the band in the end zone with the upper deck so the sound amplifies out. Alabama should do the same.

LSU's Tiger Stadium is uniformly built but you can't appreciate its awesomeness from the outside. Once inside the stadium, especially when full or Ragin' Cajuns, you notice how high the end zones go up and just how short and steep the upper decks are. The height of the end zones helps the students provide a deafening noise as they bow to the defense.

While teams like Tennessee, Georgia and LSU will still have larger stadiums after the renovation to Bryant-Denny, they will no longer have trouble hearing Rammer Jammer.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor.

You can contact him by e-mailing or by calling 382-3111 ext. 122.