The Vanderbilt Commodores have been playing football for over 125 seasons. Gaining the Commodores nickname after the 1897 season, this is a venerable university that locks horns with other SEC teams on a weekly basis in the fall. The school colors of gold helmets, black jerseys, and black or gold pants just seem to fit this school and their mascot. You can bet that Mr. C will be there on the sidelines with the famous mascot cheering the Commodores on, no matter how the game is going.
The 'Dores are well worth a visit on a trip through Nashville and this is especially true if you can catch them playing a rival like the Tennessee Volunteers or the Georgia Bulldogs. When football matters, that also means that tailgating matters. The tailgating scene at Vanderbilt when the Commodores play at Vanderbilt Stadium is up there with the best celebrations in the SEC.
After taking in the tailgate, it is time to enter the first stadium in the South that was used exclusively for college football. Vanderbilt Stadium, formerly Dudley Field, was completed in 1922, though it was rebuilt in 1981 and has gone through extensive renovation work since then. The result is a modern facility that seats just over 40,000 people, enough to get the stadium rocking when the 'Dores are having a good year.
The Vanderbilt ticket office is the place to go to in order to find your tickets for any of the many Commodores' sporting events. Football is the hottest ticket in town, so make sure that you book your spot in the stands in advance. This is especially true if the 'Dores are having a good season. Prices have averaged around the $50 mark in recent seasons, but tickets can vary wildly depending on the opponent.
Heading towards Vanderbilt is easy enough as Nashville is a huge city that is signposted on the Interstates for hundreds of miles in any direction. Vanderbilt Stadium is located on the main campus in Downtown Nashville and the route into the facility will see you driving past the main University entrance before turning onto Jess Neely Drive. This area will get clogged pregame so give plenty of time to get to the stadium.
Parking for football games can be a bit tricky due to the lack of parking lots, so if you can get your hands on a parking pass to be close to the stadium, that is going to be your best option. On game day, look for a church or business around the stadium that may charge you a small fee (usually no more than $10) for a spot in their lot.
There is no RV parking on campus, so be prepared to leave larger rigs at your campsite if needed and bring your tow vehicle. If you still want to tailgate then using a turnkey tailgating package endorsed by the school is an ideal solution.
Walking to the stadium is never a bad option as you will get to see plenty of the city while doing so. There are also excellent public transit options in Nashville, with a number of buses and shuttle links directly to campus. If these services don't reach the point where the RV is parked, then consider a ride-share service to guarantee to be on time for kickoff.
Vanderbilt does not offer places to stay onsite at the stadium or on campus. This is true if you have an RV or if you have a tent and are just looking to camp for the night. The best option is to find a place to stay nearby, either inside or outside of Nashville, and enjoy game day before getting back out into exploring Tennessee.
The Nashville Fairgrounds are located around three miles from Vanderbilt Stadium and this is the most popular spot for campers looking for a Nashville RV campground. The price for the fairgrounds facility has been around $35 per night in recent seasons with no reservations being required. Nashville KOA offers RV stalls with full hookups.
If you are in the Opryland area for the trip, a shuttle may be available on game day to take you to the campus and other downtown areas. Inquire with your Opryland RV park to find out shuttle times will coincide with your game day plans. Walking is also always an option, so be prepared for a city stroll.
A long trip requires proper clothing, so load up the RV before you head out on the road. For the game, make sure to wear Vanderbilt black and gold and be creative. T-shirts, polos, ball caps, and whatever else you might need can all be bought online prior to departure. It helps that the Vandy logo and color scheme is a popular one and fun to wear. Remember that if the game is in winter, layers may well be needed.
A shade tent would be smart if you are planning to tailgate at the back end of summer or early in the fall. This is another area where black and gold is required and remember to avoid the orange and white of the Tennessee Volunteers at all costs. That is a rivalry that you don't want to be on the wrong side of when grilling out with the home team fans!
A first-aid kit in the RV is a must as you never know when an accident is going to happen. Be sure to take any daily or weekly medications with you as well. Pain relievers and band-aids should certainly be included in the kit, while prepping for minor emergencies is also never a bad idea. Also, remember to use sunscreen liberally and hydrate throughout the day.
Preparation is a huge key when making sure your tailgating day goes off without a hitch. Having an RV gives the benefit of prepping before game day, so head to a grocery store in town and get the ingredients you need for sides and meat to grill. Both gas and charcoal grills are permitted; but check individual campsite rules, as fire pits are often banned. Jack Daniels based marinades are always a favorite in this part of the world!
Nashville is a city full of flavor, be it cool and hip places or joints that have been around for decades. If you have the time and the budget, then a food tour is an amazing option here, where a guide will take you through the tastes of the city. Be sure to check out Nashville hot chicken when in Music City for an original taste of the town.
If eating through Nashville on your way to a tailgate and then the BBQ and burgers outside the stadium somehow aren't enough, then eating inside Vanderbilt Stadium is also a good option. Concessions areas were recently overhauled, adding more local options to the usual chains you fins inside a stadium. Don't worry, though, because stadium classics like pizza slices, hot dogs, and funnel cakes are all still available!
Vanderbilt follows the same clear bag policy put into place by the SEC in all football stadiums. In recent years, that has meant that approved bags are clear and no larger than 12" x 12" x 6." The only exceptions are stadium cushions (16" x 16" without pockets) and small clutches. Anything else must be returned to your vehicle before entry will be permitted. Commodore Stadium does not allow re-entry, and fans may be asked to leave for fighting and abusive language.
Make sure to check your weather app to see what the weather conditions will be like on game day before your trip begins and also on the day of the game. The heat index in Nashville in the late summer can be intense, so preparing properly with the right clothing and fluid intake can prevent health concerns. In Tennessee, electrical storms can hit suddenly, so have a plan in case the heavens open.
Heat-related illnesses can be a problem at Vanderbilt games in August and September. Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and limit alcohol intake if the heat index is at a dangerous level. Getting out of the sun if you feel fatigued and dizzy is vital, and there are aid stations around the stadium to help with heat or any other medical problems. Event staff is trained to direct you to the nearest aid station promptly.