Throughout the history of football, only six games have registered on a seismograph, which is the instrument used to measure earthquakes. Among them, three took place at Lane Stadium (Miami at Virginia Tech in 2011, Ohio State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Virginia Tech in 2016).
Ask anyone who’s been in Blacksburg on a Saturday in the fall and they’ll tell you that they’re not surprised. With a seating capacity of 66,233 and one of the rowdiest student sections in all of college football, the venue can reach ear-shattering volumes.
While the stadium is well-known for the noise that the fans bring, one of the most defining and unique characteristics of a Virginia Tech game is the team’s entrance. Moments before the start of each game, deafening chants of “Let’s go! Hokies!” fill the air. The cheers continue until Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blasts over the loud speakers, signaling the fans to start jumping up and down until the team rushes onto the field.
“The players wait in the tunnel, and while that builds up it’s like a bull being held back by a chain while the fans on the outside jump up and down and they get fired up and more fired up and they can’t wait. And then there’s a little bit more and the song builds up and all of the sudden, BAM! The song explodes full-throttle, and here comes the team and all of that tension is released in a cheer,” ESPN college football analyst Trevor Matich said during a live broadcast.
“Enter Sandman” was first used at Lane Stadium in the 2000 season opener against Georgia Tech, but it didn’t catch its mystique until later on in the season. Before one particularly cold night game, members of The Marching Virginians began jumping around to keep warm while the song played. It didn’t take long for everyone else to copy, and thus, the tradition was born.
The entrance combined with the sheer volume of fans makes Lane Stadium one of the most intimidating venues in all of college football. Former Miami tackle Matt Pipho told the Washington Post that it gets so loud that “you can’t even hear yourself thinking.”
Simply put, the environment is a nightmare for opposing teams. Virginia Tech legend Michael Vick describes Lane Stadium as the ultimate home-field advantage.
“When you fly into Roanoke and then you take that 40-minute bus ride into Lane Stadium, you’ve got to deal with that team for four hours. It’s not easy. The Hokies swarm you and it’s loud. There’s nowhere to run. You’ve just gotta find a way to get up out of there. It’s like a hornet’s nest,” Vick said.
All of these factors play a role in not only the outcomes of games, but they also help the team in the recruiting category.
“I remember when I was first being recruited and coach (Jim) Cavanaugh took me up in the stadium on the 50-yard line and I took a five-step drop because I wanted that to be a reality. I’m thankful that I got a scholarship and was able to start as a redshirt freshman. I had some great moments and some great seasons in that stadium and did some great things for our fanbase.”
Vick added that when he first saw Lane Stadium, he was won over by “the elevation of the seats and how many fans they could fit in the stadium.”
The historic venue has been the home of Hokie football since 1965. Through the years, the stadium has seen massive renovations take place and has had millions of dollars poured into it to make it what it is today. Improvements will continue to shape Lane Stadium and further weave it into the fabric of college football.