Known as “Death Valley” by LSU fans who love it and visiting fans who hate it, Tiger Stadium is generally considered one of the nation’s toughest college football atmospheres in which opposing teams play.
The 102,321-seat venue, the third-largest stadium in the Southeastern Conference, sixth in the United States and seventh in the world according to Wikipedia, is particularly unnerving for the opposition at night, after legions of loyal LSU fans have had all day to fuel up for that evening’s festivities.
The chilling words over the P.A., “It’s Saturday night in Death Valley…and here come your Fighting Tigers of LSU” have unsettled many veteran of coaches and even more players many times since the school started playing nights games in 1931.
Even legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who had a 14-2 record in Tiger Stadium, is reported to have said, “Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It’s like being inside a drum.”
Since playing their first night game on Oct. 3, 1931 – a 35-0 win over Spring Hill – LSU is 329-107-13 (.747 winning percentage) under the Tiger Stadium lights. Even more incredible, since 1960 the Tigers are 248-66-4 (.786) in night games compared to 33-27-3 (.548) in day games over the same span.
Perhaps former ESPN analyst Beano Cook put it best when he said, “Dracula and LSU football are at their best when the sun goes down.”
Built in 1924, Tiger Stadium originally seated 12,000 and was expanded by 10,000 seats in 1931. When another expansion was considered in 1936, it was noted that money for stadium expansion had not been allocated in the state budget, but it had been to build additional dormitories on campus.
So LSU’s athletic director at the time, T.P. “Skipper” Heard, with help from Louisiana governor Huey P. Long, pushed through the idea that dormitories be built within the stadium walls, and enough rooms to house approximately 1,500 students were added below the east and west stands. The seating capacity also increased to 46,000 with this expansion.
Students continued to live in this dorms until the late 1980s, but they were later converted to office space for LSU athletic department staff and studios for the College of Arts & Sciences Fine Arts graduate students. Use of the space was discontinued completely in 2015.
The Tigers have recorded 14 undefeated home seasons in Tiger Stadium, are 82-11 in Saturday night home games since 2000, and posted a 22-game home winning streak from Oct. 24, 2009, to Oct. 13, 2012.
- First game played in Tiger Stadium, Tulane 13, LSU 0, Nov. 27, 1924 (last game of season)
- First game televised from Tiger Stadium, LSU 26, Rice 3, Sept. 19, 1959.
- Billy Cannon’s Halloween run, LSU 7, Ole Miss 3, Oct. 31, 1959.
- Charlie McClendon’s first game, LSU 21, Texas A&M 0, Sept. 22, 1962.
- Charlie McClendon’s last game, LSU 21, Mississippi State 3, Nov. 17, 1979.
- The Earthquake Game, LSU 7, Auburn 6, Oct. 8, 1988.
- Nick Saban’s first game, LSU 58, Western Carolina 0. Sept. 2, 2000.
- Nick Saban’s last game, LSU 27, Ole Miss 24, Nov. 20, 2004.
All photos courtesy LSU Athletics.