It’s a long way from mid-terms, but after letting the win on the road soak in, it’s time to evaluate my adventure to Columbia, South Carolina.
Stadium Aesthetics – A+
Williams-Brice Stadium is without a doubt one of the best in the South. It’s always been big and loud, but their recent renovations put it over the top. The scoreboard is a monstrous video screen, surrounded by bright white lights that flash to the beat of Sandstorm. They also added exterior fencing to the parking lots and a “Game Day Central” building to make the exterior look more pleasant than its desolate surroundings.
Student Section – A+
LSU’s student section was rowdy, but these students go all in. It consumes a good chunk of the lower bowl, nearly filled 45 minutes before kickoff. As much as I hated Sandstorm before my trip, it was really cool to see them waving their towels and chanting “U-S-C” in person. Every time they did, the press box shook. Even though the Cats quieted them down for most of the game, they were the loudest I’ve ever heard.
Transportation – C
Absolutely the worst part of the trip was getting to the stadium. Getting around town is easy, but there’s only one, maybe two roads that you can access the stadium to from the city. It was too far to simply walk (with Kindsey’s blistered feet as evidence), and the traffic jam on Assembly Street was intolerable four hours before kickoff.
The only redeeming factor: I haven’t bought gas for less than $2.00 a gallon since I first started driving.
Tailgating – B-
I can’t lie, most of the tailgating area was pretty depressing to look at. It’s not like people weren’t having a good time, but the immediate area surrounding the stadium is sketchy and desolate. Railroad tracks divide a good chunk of the north side tailgating areas. The lack of sidewalks make it dangerous to walk around without feeling the presence of angry drivers. Their fairgrounds are also close by and not in the best shape. The best way to describe most of the area: it’s a place you don’t want to be walking around alone late at night.
Food – A+
They do NOT mess around with their food in Columbia. I would not have survived Saturday without a hot, melty sandwich from Groucho’s to start my day. The press box brisket was a delicacy, and even though it’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed chocolate pudding, it was on point. I don’t think I need to tell you how good the barbecue was, just look at it.
Night Life – A
A night out on the town in Columbia has something for everybody. Friday night I found myself at hipster bar in the basement of the ABC TV station, an oyster bar filled with a saxy Jazz band and exceptional people watching, and a hole in the wall with a shuffleboard table and $1.50 Natty Light bottles. The only thing I didn’t do was ride a mechanical bull; I let Kindsey take care of that.