Ranking the Best Stadium Atmospheres in The Valley
With spring ball approaching in the Missouri Valley, I break down my top 10 best stadium atmospheres from my time playing at Southern Illinois.
Spring ball is starting up for Missouri Valley teams and I can’t help but to start getting excited for the fall. That excitement got me thinking about the best atmospheres to play in the MVFC. Nothing beats getting to the tailgate, consuming good food and drinks with friends, then heading to the stadium to cheer on your favorite team. With that being said, lets get into the list starting with the top spot.
Disclaimer: SIU will not be included in my list. I will always say Saluki Nation provides the best atmosphere (shoutout to the Dawg Pound).
1. NDSU — Fargodome
Simply put, one of the only things to do in Fargo during the fall is to flood the Fargodome every Saturday, and the Bison faithful are the best to do it. Describing the atmosphere as loud is an understatement. The dome is deafening from start to finish. I remember sitting in the locker room while NDSU was introduced and the walls and ceiling were vibrating from the noise. The fans provide a serious advantage from start to finish (as if visiting teams don’t already have their hands full with the players on the field).
2. Northern Iowa — UNI Dome
For what the actual field lacks in quality, the fans make up for with noise. The UNI Dome is unique in the fact that the fans in the front row are located directly above the benches of the opposing team. It gets pretty tough to hear coaching adjustments in between drives with a bunch of lunatics screaming above you.
3. SDSU — Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium
Though they rank third on my list, the Jackrabbit faithful are the most impressive to me due to one fact: the cold. Unlike the other dakotas and UNI, SDSU voted against the dome and those games got COLD. Despite the cold, SDSU always brought a loud, energetic crowd and their band was always top notch (loved their uniforms too). I’m also convinced they had wind turbines running in that place because it always seemed to be gushing in at 30 mph plus.
4. Illinois State — Hancock Stadium
I always had fun playing in Bloomington-Normal. Their stadium in itself is beautiful to look at and their jumbotron is top notch. The Redbird fans always brought the noise and let you know when they were beating you.
5. North Dakota — Alerus Center
I went up to North Dakota in the 2021 spring season when they just joined the conference. Unfortunately, it was the first conference win for them. I was out with an injury so I got to take in the crowd a little bit more than if I had been on the field. Pregame music was bumpin' and the crowd brought the energy all game. Field was also the best quality out of the other domes in the Valley.
6. South Dakota — DakotaDome
People may be upset I don’t have the DakotaDome higher but they come in at 6 due to the fact that the visitor stands were under construction when I played there. Despite only being half full, I could feel the energy and would love to go back to a game sometime to see it at full capacity.
7. Missouri State — Plaster Stadium
I’ll say this about Missouri State, their fans knew how to trash talk, and they had a great memory. The guys behind our defensive bench were talking for all 4 quarters. I always had fun interacting with those guys and they made me laugh a lot.
8. Youngstown State — Stambaugh Stadium
I don’t have many good things to say about Stambaugh Stadium. It was always really cold and extremely windy. The stadium was fairly quiet unless it was a close game or Youngstown made a big play. On the bright side, the Youngstown crowd looks like an SEC crowd compared to these last two.
9. Western Illinois — Hanson Field
The only positive I have about Hanson field is that they had a group of students mouthing off to us during our entrance. The crowd doesn’t play much of a factor. Part of the reason may be that they sit 20 yards from the field due to the track that surrounds the turf. The worst part of Hanson Field is that the visitors locker room is damn near half a mile from the field. I thought we got lost on our way to the field pregame and the jog into the locker room at halftime could require an inhaler for some.
10. Indiana State — Memorial Stadium
One word to describe Memorial Stadium? Depressing. Crowds at my 5th grade games brought more energy. If it wasn’t for the Saluki parent section, I would have thought we were playing in an empty stadium. Granted, I haven’t been there since 2019 so hopefully the fans have improved because the players deserve it. Do better Sycamore Nation.