Players are frequently asked in interviews what their favorite stadium (other than their own) to play in is. Our question today is a variation on that and also goes along with our Summer Road Trip series: What is your favorite non-Gamecock college stadium to visit?
Despite only making the trip once, Oxford, Mississippi made an indelible mark on me. 2007 was a year in which I attended 14 college football games in 12 weeks time and while I can tell you fun things about every single week, the experience at Ole Miss is surreal. For reasons unbeknownst to me, fate would cause our group to miss South Carolina losing to Vanderbilt in an infuriating manner (starting the infamous 2007 slide) and would instead send us to endure another bizarre football game; Arkansas 44 - Ole Miss 8. No matter the football outcome, the experience is unlike anything you've ever seen. The stories are true: walk around The Grove for a couple of hours and you'll have been offered (and served) at least four adult beverages and three plates of food. The stadium is also a bonafide nice place to watch football. The overall experience is quite fine ( albeit low-key-ish for ESS-EEE-CEE) and while they're actually kind of a rowdy bunch, the hospitality and the venue are unique to the point that it warrants a trip no matter who is playing ball. Bring your Solo cup; you're gonna need it.
I've gotta say the old Alex Box Stadium was pretty cool. Growing up in Louisiana as a Gamecock we didn't get see our Gamecocks play often but when they made a trip to Baton Rouge we tried to go. My first real memory of watching USC play in person was at the old Alex Box Stadium, during the down years of Smoke Laval's tenure there, and absolutely mopping the floor with them. I'm pretty sure DeAngelo Mack (anyone remember him?) was a freshman in left field that night and my mom struck up a conversation with his mother. It was pretty neat that we got to sit with the pocket of Gamecock fans that weekend. Plus LSU had so much baseball history at that place it was one of the "cathedrals" of college baseball. Lots of mystique going on there before they moved to the new ballpark.
My travel to away football games is pretty limited, making visits to only The Swamp, The Fake Death Valley, wondrous Neyland Stadium, and the campus of UCF. So, while I'm tempted to say Clemson's Memorial Stadium due to the pretty nice view of the lake from the visiting side upper deck, I'll pass to keep everyone's tempers cool and go with a stadium out of left field.
As a Charlestonian biased to pretty much everything Charleston, I'm gonna go with Joe Riley Park when the Gamecocks are in town to the play The Citadel. In my eyes, there no better place to catch a minor league/college baseball game (other than Carolina Stadium, of course) as you're hit with the calming breeze coming off the adjacent Ashley River while enjoying a variety of gourmet hot dogs and bacon wrapped corn dogs. Based on my experiences of Gamecocks-Bulldogs match-ups there, you're sure to get a packed house of diverse fan bases ranging from die hard Citadel alums cheering on their scrappy Bulldogs, the Charleston-based Gamecock fans who do their best attempt to make it Carolina Stadium B, and the bitter Clemson fans using the game as an opportunity to hate on us. It's usually a pretty fun night depending how competitive the game turns out, which it pretty much always is.
Despite my love of attending games, I haven't actually been to a ton of other college stadiums (which is why there are a whole bunch of those on my sports bucket list). I've been to several football and baseball stadiums for other South Carolina schools, but none of them stick out to me as a favorite. My visit to Memorial Stadium was not fun, although I guess I can admit that being able to just walk onto the field after the game was kinda cool. Weirdly enough, the most fun I've had at another college stadium was at the smallest one I've been to: Furman's Paladin Stadium. My dad played football there, so we all went to a game there as a family several years ago. It was strange because the atmosphere was so different than what I'm used to, but it was a great time.