SEC Sports Power Weekend: Auburn, Alabama, November 12-14
In the tenth installment of his 13-part series highlighting the SEC college towns and Atlanta, the site of the SEC Championship Game on December 4, SportsPowerWeekends.com
founder/editor Jared Cooper takes a closer look at Auburn, Alabama, home of the Auburn Tigers. Auburn will host the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium at 2:30 PM CT.
Previous SEC Sports Power Weekends: Athens, GA; Gainesville, FL, Baton Rouge, LA, Lexington, KY, Tuscaloosa, AL, Knoxville, TN, Oxford, MS, Starkville, MS, Columbia, SC
Auburn’s unofficial nickname, “The Loveliest Village on the Plains,” is reflected in the U.S. News and World Report ranking the city one of the top ten best places to live in 2009. With a number one ranking in the BCS and the Heisman front-runner at quarterback, Auburn doesn’t seem like a bad place to be in 2010 either.
Auburn boasts an impressive mix of the college town and city feel, combining to make this versatile city one of Alabama’s most precious. In addition, outside of the city limits there is Chewacla State Park for those interested in the outdoors, and for the golfers, it is hard to top the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National.
Without a doubt the Auburn Tigers are the shining star of this town, however. Auburn’s season-opener in basketball being played on Friday night is the perfect appetizer to the entrée that is the SEC-rival Georgia Bulldogs coming to town on Saturday to face the top-ranked football Tigers.
• Downtown Auburn Friday Night Block Party
• Momma Goldberg’s Deli
• Auburn Arena
• Lovelace Hall of Honor
• Magnolia Street
The whole town is overrun with school spirit on the night before a big football game, and this Friday night is no different. Start the night off at the Downtown Auburn Friday Night Block Party on East Magnolia Avenue. The street is closed off between College Street and Gay Street so that fans can mingle, listen to live music and preview tomorrow’s game. The free event is sponsored by Momma Goldberg’s Deli, which has a location just a few blocks from the party.
Use some of the excitement you’ve built up from the Block Party to cheer on the Auburn basketball team as they host UNC Asheville at 8 PM CT in the first game of the season and the inaugural game at Auburn Arena under first-year head coach Tony Barbee. The brand-spanking-new $92.5M arena seats 9,600 Tigers fans and will attract concerts and events that otherwise may not have come to Auburn. It is also the new home of the Lovelace Hall of Honor, an interactive walk through Auburn’s athletic history whose purpose is to “honor the past, define the present and inspire the future," says David Housel, former Auburn Athletics Director and the unofficial historian of Auburn Athletics.
After the game head back to Magnolia Avenue to have some fun at any of the number of establishments in the area. Take a mental picture of this area tonight; because it is going to look much different come tomorrow after the Auburn-Georgia game.
• Toomer’s Coffee
• Auburn Campus
• Jordan-Hare Stadium
• Toomer’s Corner
• Toomer’s Drugs
• Niffer’s Place
• Sky Bar
With the Auburn-Georgia clash kicking off at 2:30 PM local time, game time is going to be on us quickly. Wake up in a hurry with a visit to Toomer’s Coffee, a local roaster and Auburn-Opelika favorite. The coffee house is near the renowned Julie Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, which opened in 2003 at the south end of the Auburn campus. Stop in if you have time and take a look at the exhibits in the 40,000 square foot main building and in the 15-acre gardens.
Now switch gears a bit mentally as the game approaches and tailgating encompasses the campus. Walk north up Donahue Street towards Jordan-Hare Stadium through Auburn campus. Donahue Street is where fans line up two hours prior to the game for the Tiger Walk, which began in the early 1960s. The largest crowd recorded at the Tiger Walk – where the team walks from Sewell Hall into the stadium – was prior to the Alabama game in 1989 when more than 20,000 fans lined up to greet the team.
Auburn has had incredible success at Jordan-Hare Stadium since the stadium’s doors opened in 1939. The team has a 278-69-7 record (.795 winning percentage) in the building – the 10th-largest on-campus stadium in the country with a capacity of 87,451 screaming Tiger fans. Auburn’s tiger mascot, Aubie, will be dancing on the field – named Pat Dye Field after Auburn’s Hall of Fame coach and AD that led them to four SEC titles – and getting the crowd going. Aubie was an inaugural Mascot Hall of Fame member in 2006 after first being introduced by the university in 1979.
Overhead will be another animal inspiring the students – an eagle circling the stadium and intimidating opponents. The stadium will echo with chants of “War Eagle,” the Auburn battle cry.
If top-ranked Auburn can take care of business against Georgia, fans will be in for a treat once again this season. After Auburn wins, fans take to the streets and head towards Toomer’s Corner to “roll” the trees with toilet paper. Toomer’s Corner, at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue (did you take that mental picture I told you to take?) is where the Auburn campus meets the city of Auburn. After “rolling” the trees, stop in to Toomer’s Drugs for some of their famous lemonade.
All of that activity has surely built up quite an appetite. A short drive from Toomer’s Corner is Niffer’s Place, a spot known for their corn nuggets (comparable to hush puppies) and a variety of burgers. Once you have filled up and are feeling good, head back down Opelika Street towards campus and check out the nightlife once again. Sky Bar is a good spot on a Saturday night for some live music.
• Waffle House
• Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National
• Chewacla State Park
Sunday should be a relaxing day, and is a great day to hit the links. Golf Digest named Auburn the top city in the country for golf in 2005, and the course you don’t want to miss is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is the largest golf course construction project ever attempted, and is a collection of 468 holes across 11 different sites throughout Alabama.
Before setting out to the course to attempt your best “Caddyshack” impressions, grab some breakfast at the Waffle House. The Waffle House is a bit of a late-night spot on campus, but they serve some of the best breakfast in town and will get your day started on the right foot.
The Waffle House on South College Street is near Chewacla State Park, where visitors can hike and swim in the park’s 696 scenic acres. The Opelika Street location for breakfast will put you closer to the golf course.
In any case, Sunday will be a relaxing day away from the traffic and noise of the city and campus. Sounds like a great way to close out a Sports Power Weekend.
Jared Cooper worked for the National Football League’s PR department for four years before creating SportsPowerWeekends.com
. You can follow him on Twitter (@SportsPowerWknd
) or contact him at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com