(PHOTO/ Chris Wallace)
Trojan fans enjoy the atmosphere of the student section at Veterans Memorial Stadium during a home game earlier this season.
When walking into Veterans Memorial Stadium, fans enter the premier football stadium in the Sun Belt Conference, according to a Yahoo Finance report.
The article, titled “Best Stadiums to Watch a College Football Game in Every Conference,” wrote that Veterans Memorial Stadium is the best in the Sun Belt Conference.
The author of the article, Lauren Monitz, a travel blogger, discussed the method to her rankings.
She said the research team at GoBankingRates.com analyzed all of the stadiums in each conference by combining the Google rating, capacity and attendance rates, and Veterans Memorial Stadium ranked as No. 1 for the Sun Belt Conference.
The Vet has a Google rating of 4.6 and a capacity of 30,000. The average attendance is 24,527, which calculates to about 82% of the capacity.
Scott Watkins, a senior multimedia journalism major from Daphne who has traveled to four other stadiums in the Sun Belt Conference, says that Veterans Memorial Stadium sets Troy apart from the rest in the league.
“I think the biggest difference is the people,” Watkins said. “It’s one of two or three stadiums in the Sun Belt Conference that is bringing 24,000+ fans every week.”
Beyond the numbers, Monitz says that the Vet has seen “tremendous growth” in its history by tripling the seating capacity and being one of the first schools in the South to install AstroTurf.
Veterans Memorial Stadium was built in 1950 for a price tag of $65,000 and was named after the students and citizens of Troy who served in the recent World War.
At first, the stadium had a capacity of 5,000. The stadium expanded to 12,000 before moving to 17,500 in 1998.
Then, in the summer of 2002, the facility underwent its biggest upgrade yet, expanding to 30,000 seats and adding the stadium towers.
The Jesse H. Colley track used to be around the field at Veterans Memorial, but it was moved next door so the stadium could be for football only.
After the 2016 season, Troy began construction of the North End Zone Facility. It took $24 million and about a year and a half to make, and the stadium became completely enclosed.
Watkins says the stadium’s enclosure has made the structure distinct because of how it can trap noise within the stadium.
“Troy sets itself apart with its now completely enclosed noise-trapping design,” he said. “Both end zones are very unique within the conference.”
Along with the North End Zone Facility came a second video board, which is 3,150 square feet.
Brian Ross, known to Trojan fans on Twitter by his username, @HemiMan, describes the North End Zone Facility as “simply amazing.”
“(Veterans Memorial) now has a big-time look and feel,” Ross said. “You don’t get that at many G5 schools.”
Since 1998, Troy University has made five renovations to the stadium from the turf to the video boards.
Watkins attributes this to the university’s dedication to its athletic programs.
“The bar has been set very high by the school,” he said. “And it has shown time and time again that it’s more than willing to invest in athletic facilities to further the Troy brand.”
Though there’s no plan for another addition to the stadium at this time, according to Athletic Director Brent Jones, Veterans Memorial Stadium will continue to set a high bar for the rest of the conference.