To provide a fair evaluation, we have employed the FANFARE rating system, which looks at all the components of a quality fan experience. These elements include atmosphere, fan base and attitude, accessibility (traffic, parking, flow within the stadium), the quality and variety of concessions, return on investment, and extras… those little things that make a stadium unique compared to its peers. To read the full review for a stadium, simply click on the name of the stadium. We hope you enjoy your stadium journey through the AAC, and we hope you’ll share your opinions with us through the forums section.
#1 Navy Midshipmen, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
There is a great sense of tradition at Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Memorials and the names of great naval battles are listed prominently throughout the stadium. The parade of midshipmen before each home game is not to be missed. Navy’s football team has shown it can compete with the best NCAA teams around as it plays a very tough non-conference schedule. It has also has won the Commander in Chief’s Cup several seasons in a row as the military academy with the best football record.
#2 East Carolina Pirates, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is well worth the visit for anyone looking for some true southern college football. Located in Greenville, North Carolina, it is very rare for a game not to sell out. The entire town and student body proudly wear the purple and gold colors of the Pirates each Saturday.
#3 Cincinnati Bearcats, Nippert Stadium
Nippert Stadium recently completed some renovations, making it an even more intimidating place to play. The Bearcats home field is a sunken bowl design with taller campus buildings surrounding it. This amplifies the noise of the fans and the band to a level where it affects the visitor’s ability to communicate calls.
#4 Memphis Tigers, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
One of the most historic stadiums in the AAC, the Liberty Bowl has hosted Memphis Tiger home games and the annual Liberty Bowl since 1965. The Tigers recent success on the field has resulted in a dramatic increase in attendance. Another plus is that the stadium is located very close to the Beale Street entertainment district and its famed jazz clubs.
#5 SMU Mustangs, Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Ford Stadium is one of the newest venues in the American Athletic Conference, opened in 2000. Tailgating on “The Boulevard” is a cherished tradition on the suburban Dallas campus, and once inside, fans have a great view of the action. Before or after the game, a visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library is worth a visit.
#6 South Florida Bulls, Raymond James Stadium
One of two AAC members to share a stadium with an NFL franchise, the Bulls play their home games in the same stadium as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This allows the team to offer professional–level amenities to their fans. Though not located on the USF campus, the school does a great job in creating a collegiate environment at these games. The annual game between USF and AAC rival UCF is known as the I-4 War in honor of the interstate that links the two schools.
#7 Houston Cougars, TDECU Stadium
The highly ranked Houston Cougars have a nearly brand new stadium to call home. TDECU Stadium opened in 2014, and provides the Cougars a technologically advanced facility to show off their high scoring team. Another plus for this stadium is the wonderful views it provides of the Houston skyline, especially at night.
#8 Tulane Green Wave, Yulman Stadium
Football has returned to the Tulane campus and it is a huge hit. This move has been heavily supported by both the alumni and student body, as it allows for tailgating on the lovely grounds of Tulane, instead of the concrete parking lots and parking decks of the Superdome. The stadium opened in 2014 and revives the long history of football on the campus. The distinctly New Orleans touches to the fan experience include a Cajun twist in the concession offerings and a band that really gets the jazz vibe of the city.
#9 UCF Knights, Bright House Networks Stadium
Somewhere in the sweltering heat of Orlando, Florida there is a prominent metal structure that bounces and shakes with the jumping of its college football fans. This, ladies and gentleman, is The Bounce House. Bright House Networks Stadium is the first official on-campus site of football for the University of Central Florida. The school boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the country and encompasses a huge mass of land just 45 minutes from Walt Disney World.
#10 Connecticut Huskies, Rentschler Field
Rentschler Field, located 21 miles west of the University of Connecticut campus, is located in East Hartford, Connecticut. The stadium was built on the site of a commercial airfield, also named Rentschler Field. The land where the stadium stands was donated to the state of Connecticut in 1999, and is rented out to the university for events. The stadium has also served as the home of the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League (UFL), and as host to several US national soccer team friendlies.
#11 Temple Owls, Lincoln Financial Field
Temple’s campus is located in a heavily urban section of Philadelphia, where space is at a premium. As a result, Owls home games are played at Lincoln Financial Field, which is also home to its primary tenants, the Philadelphia Eagles. This is an excellent facility as far as amenities, but it lacks any identification as to its affiliation with Temple. The color scheme and all signage refer to the Eagles. This in turn, results in all home games feeling more like a neutral site game. Typically, Temple games fill only about a quarter of the 68,000 seats at the stadium. There are studies underway to weigh the feasibility of constructing a stadium either on or much nearer to the campus.
#12 Tulsa Golden Hurricane, H.A. Chapman Stadium
The smallest venue in the AAC, Chapman Stadium holds approximately 30,000 fans. It is more than 89 years old and lacks many of the amenities of the newer stadiums in the conference. It celebrates its long football history with banners of elite Golden Hurricane players of the past. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing reorganization of many conferences it has wound up in a conference where it is a great distance from all the other members of the conference with the possible exception of the University of Houston. This isolation makes it highly unlikely that traditional rivalries can be established or that Golden Hurricane fans will venture to many of the away games due to distance.