Saturday’s crowd was the largest ever

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Saturday night’s football game in Memorial Stadium between Alabama State and Troy State was witnessed by the largest crowd to ever watch a sporting event in Southeast Alabama.

The crowd of 21, 381 is the largest in Troy State history. Only Ladd Stadium in Mobile, Jordan-Hare in Auburn, Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Legion Field in Birmingham, the Talladega International Race Track in Talladega, Shoal Creek Golf Course in Birmingham and possibly Greystone Country Club in Birmingham have accommodated more people at a sporting event.

The 21, 381 was great but could have been even better if the 1,500 or so who stayed in the tailgate area for whatever reasons would’ve walked into the stadium.

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I would easily estimate 23,000 people were in and around Memorial Stadium Saturday night for the game. The student body was well represented. In fact, over 2500 students were at the game.

The new tailgate area located in the new parking lot adjacent to Sartain Hall was a big hit. With all 18 RV hook-ups being used, TSU football got a big time look in the new parking area. With the individual parking spots, the Green Davis Tailgate Terrace looked much more organized and accessible.

I had the opportunity Saturday to ride around campus on my golf cart and found tailgater’s all the way down University Avenue. In fact, the Bibb-Graves’ Quad was full of tents.

I could tell early that the crowd was going to be big by the amount of people that were already in the tailgate areas at 1 p.m. I knew it was going to be really big when a friend of mine, who had driven down from Montgomery, was complaining about the huge traffic jam on the 231 bypass. Believe it or not, he said traffic was backed up from Memorial Stadium to Kentucky Fried Chicken. That’s about four miles.

People are very excited about Troy State football.

Right now we’re going through growing pains. The traffic problems need to be looked at. It’s great to know that people will walk a mile to see Troy State play football.

When TSU gave out of bleacher seats, they started selling grass seats on the banks. Over 3,500 were sold.

I say this is a good reason to build more stadium seating. A football fan that wants to watch the Trojans play should not have to sit on the banks even though it’s a good view. Yes, it was Alabama State and yes, they did bring a huge crowd and yes, we only play them at home every other year, but we still need more seats.

Homecoming is scheduled for Oct. 28. We’ll have the same problem again.

We’re moving up next season to Division 1-A. Why not start building our stadium up to a 30,000 person capacity, so that we can have teams like Louisville, Tulane, Southern Mississippi, Memphis and Houston play in our stadium? We could play Georgia Tech at Grant Field in Atlanta for two years and then get them to come here on the third year. Believe it or not, bigger teams will come to Troy for a two-to- one year swap if, and only if, you have a 30,000 seat stadium.

Troy State, in the future, will be forced to play more home games in Montgomery and Mobile, if we don’t enlarge our stadium.

"How ’bout them Trojans?" I don’t know if any team in America is playing any harder right now than our Trojans. All this means is that Larry Blakeney and his staff are motivating their players.

The Trojans take off this week, but will be back in action on Sept. 30 against powerful South Florida in Tampa.

The Troy State Alumni Affair’s office is offering a "Bus Trip" to Tampa which includes a hotel room and tickets to the game. Cost is only $125 per person. The bus will leave Troy at 8 a.m. that Saturday morning and return home around 9 p.m. Sunday night. It should be an exciting football weekend.

Call Alumni Affairs at 670-3318 for more information. Deadline is Friday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m.

It’s great to be a Troy State Trojan and your support on Saturday made me even prouder!