A Gamecock Fan’s Experience Visiting Ben Hill Griffin Stadium AKA “The Swamp”

Last Saturday, I made my first trip ever to the Swamp, to watch Carolina, lose by 32. Many experts claim that it’s a bucket list trip, and many others desire to visit.

Therefore, I have created and given the entire experience a rating based on Tailgating, Infrastructure, Fans, Atmosphere, and overall experience. 

Tailgating (C-) 

I may be a little bias and hard to please, as South Carolina has a great tailgating scene. But I don’t think I could have been more disappointed with my tailgating experience in Gainesville.

Fans basically just use the campus to tailgate. There aren’t any lots set aside for tailgating. Fans park in dorm parking lots, in front of student unions, on tiny patches of grass near busy streets. Many of the spots used to tailgate were taken by fans who used the spot simply to park, and walk into the game nearly 2 hours early. 

As far as tailgating set ups go, I really didn’t see anything impressive at all. The saddest thing I saw all day (saying a lot because the game itself was depressing), was 4 people sitting outside of the library in chairs sharing a bag of chips and guacamole that sat on the ground. And that was it. That was their tailgate… 

I think what really saved them from a lower rank, was deeper into the University, they had different tents set up for different clubs and organizations, and I had a decent time there. Found a gamecock alumni tent (Orlando Gamecocks) and had a great time. It felt like a mini Gamecock park in a way. Was a lot better than nothing. 

Infrastructure (B+) 

The Swamp is massive as you probably know already. Actually visiting and seeing it in person though, is really something else. I was definitely shocked once I got inside and looked at the opposite end of the stadium. 

With that being said, the swamp is definitely in need of some renovations. The stadium is cramped, several parts feel just outdated. Probably the most annoying part was how long the rows were. You’d have to stand up and let people past you every 5 minutes. 

It definitely had some good aspects as well. Ample bathrooms and concession stands near each row. Even during halftime you could get in and get out no problem. The stadium also has a unique shape compared to most stadiums, and I definitely don’t hate it. 

Was about what I expected. Well designed stadium. Pretty nice, definitely will need some renovations soon. 

Fans (D+) 

Florida fans weren’t the worst, but they by no means were the best either. For a southern state, any form of southern hospitality was non existent. 

As I made my way to my seat, I quickly got the idea that I wasn’t wanted there. Every time the Gators scored, a very pleasant Gators fan felt the need to get in my ear and yell, “U…S…C… SUCKS” (completely sober by the way). This went on until about the 5th score, when I finally got fed up and asked him to stop. 

Ended up moving down to field level to sit with my cousin. Again… people didn’t seem to happy that I was there. Any time I yelled out any South Carolina chants (U…S…C… Go Cocks etc…) or cheered on my team, people got very annoyed. We were losing by 30 at one point so I decided to make some jokes and cut up with people around me, none of them were having any of it.

They were either really short or ignored me altogether. 

Pretty hostile group and not very fun. I definitely hold a different look on the Florida fan base after last Saturday.  

Atmosphere (A) 

I thought Florida had a great atmosphere and I really believe it was a factor in the outcome of the game. The stadium was very loud at several points during the game. I have heard louder, but this wasn’t anywhere near the biggest game on their schedule and it ended up being a blowout early. 

Despite the sellout, many seats were visibly vacant, and their upper deck looked about 1/8th of the way full. Regardless, they really made it a difficult environment and were loud for all four quarters. 

The traditions were also really cool as well. The stadium would erupt with chants while the band would play. Tom Petty’s, “I won’t back down” was actually really cool to see and experience at night. 

Aside from going to see your team play, the atmosphere should be the main reason you visit the swamp. 

Overall (B-) 

I’ll agree with most analysts, that The Swamp should be on your list of stadiums to visit. However, unless you have family or friends that live near Gainesville, it wouldn’t be a trip that I would recommend every other year. 

Gainesville as a city doesn’t have much to offer, Gators fans kinda suck, and the tailgating is below average. 

Go to experience the atmosphere, and see the swamp in person if you can. See it once and call it a day. 

Maybe return if South Carolina and Florida have a top 10 matchup or something. As always, Go Cocks

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