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Memorial Stadium
"Sea of Red"
091507-USCNeb-MemorialStadium.jpg
Location Stadium Dr & T St, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Coordinates 40°49′14″N 96°42′20″W / 40.82056°N 96.70556°W / 40.82056; -96.70556Coordinates: 40°49′14″N 96°42′20″W / 40.82056°N 96.70556°W / 40.82056; -96.70556
Broke ground April 26, 1923 [1]
Opened October 20, 1923
Expanded 1964, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1998, 2006
Owner University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Operator University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Surface FieldTurf
Construction cost $430,000 (original structure)
Architect John Latenser, Sr. and Sons
Davis & Wilson
Project Manager Earl Hawkins
General Contractor Parsons Construction Co.
Capacity 81,067 [2]
Tenants
Nebraska Cornhuskers (NCAA) (1923–present)

Memorial Stadium is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, just north of downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.

The stadium holds an ongoing NCAA-record 304 consecutive sellout streak, which began in 1962. When full, Memorial Stadium holds more people than any Nebraska city except Omaha and Lincoln, a fact that is often used to point out Nebraska's devotion to Husker football. Because most fans wear red apparel, the stadium is often referred to as the "Sea of Red" on gamedays. On September 26, 2009, a Memorial Stadium record crowd of 86,304 watched Nebraska play Louisiana-Lafayette.

In 1987, Memorial Stadium hosted Farm Aid III.

On July 4, 2009, more than 50,000 were in attendance as Larry the Cable Guy put on a non-profit comedy show as a way to thank Husker fans for their support of the University.

Contents

History

In the fall of 1922, a drive for $430,000 in funds to build a new football stadium was undertaken by faculty, students, alumni and friends of the university. Designed by John Latenser, Sr., a notable Omaha architect, the stadium was named Memorial Stadium to honor all Nebraskans who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars and the 751 Nebraskans who died in World War I. Later, the stadium would also honor the 3,839 Nebraskans who died in World War II; the 225 in Korea; and the 422 in Vietnam. Construction was completed in just over 90 working days; Memorial Stadium was dedicated on October 20, 1923.

Inscribed on the four corners of the stadium are the following words, written by former Nebraska professor of philosophy Hartley Burr Alexander:

  • Southeast: "In Commemoration of the men of Nebraska who served and fell in the Nation's Wars."
  • Southwest: "Not the victory but the action; Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory."
  • Northwest: "Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."
  • Northeast: "Their Lives they held their country's trust; They kept its faith; They died its heroes."
  • A statue of Nebraska coach Tom Osborne (now the school's athletic director) and former Nebraska quarterback Brook Berringer can be found outside the north side of the stadium. Berringer was a quarterback on Nebraska's 1994 and 1995 national championship teams who died in a plane crash in April 1996, just two days before the 1996 NFL Draft where he was expected to be an early/middle round pick.

Expansion

The western facade of Memorial Stadium.
The eastern facade of Memorial Stadium.

Memorial Stadium has undergone several phases of expansion and renovation since its original construction. In its original configuration, the stadium consisted of stands on the east and west sidelines. It was modeled after Ohio State's Ohio Stadium and had a seating capacity of around 31,000 (the east side is still in its original state; it has not been expanded, and the original architecture is still visible from the outside). A series of four additions between 1964 and 1972 enclosed the stadium by adding seats above the north and south end zones, more than doubling Memorial Stadium's seating capacity to nearly 74,000. A major renovation in 1999 added 42 luxury boxes above the west stands; the stadium was rededicated and the playing surface was renamed after retiring coach Tom Osborne. Osborne, known for his trademark modesty, was notably embarrassed by this gesture.

In 2004, construction began to renovate and expand the north end zone stands. Memorial Stadium now features an additional 13 luxury boxes above the north stands called the "Skyline Suites" and an additional 6,000 seats, increasing seating capacity to 81,067. Nebraska has the ninth-largest video screen in college football, at 33 feet (10 m) tall and nearly 40 yards (37 m) wide. (When announced, the scoreboard was to be the largest in college football.) Before the 2009 season two new high definition video screens were added on the northeast and northwest pillars of the original stadium, bringing the total number of high definition screens in the stadium to five. Concurrently, ribbon boards stretching the length of the field were installed along the east and west balconies of the stadium.

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Seating capacity

  • 1923: 31,080, original stadium, with stands on both sides
  • 1964: 48,000, south end zone bleachers erected, making stadium a horseshoe
  • 1965: 53,000, center section of north end zone bleachers erected
  • 1966: 62,644, the rest of the north stadium bleachers finished
  • 1967: 64,170, New press box
  • 1972: 73,650, south end zone bleachers extended
  • 1994: 72,700, reduced capacity for handicapped seating, HuskerVision video screens installed
  • 1999: 74,056, new press box that included new skyboxes, and club seating
  • 2000: 73,918, reduced capacity for more club seating
  • 2006: 81,067, bleachers extended again for north stadium, new skyboxes, new video boards, Tom and Nancy Osborne Training Facility, ADA-compliant seating and additional coaching offices for football and athletic department administration

Surface

  • 1923–1969: Natural grass
  • 1970–1976: AstroTurf
  • 1977–1983: AstroTurf (replaced 1970 turf)
  • 1984–1991: All-Pro Turf
  • 1992–1998: AstroTurf-8
  • 1999–2004: FieldTurf
  • 2005–present: FieldTurf (replaced 1999 turf), crown lowered

Memorial Stadium was the first college football stadium in Division I-A to install FieldTurf, in 1999. A second FieldTurf installation featuring an alternating light green/dark green "mowing" pattern every five yards was put in place prior to the 2005 season, to coincide with a removal of a fairly significant crown that had been in place for decades.

Lighting

Starting in the early 1980s, portable lighting was occasionally installed for late-autumn games shown on national television, usually those against the University of Oklahoma.

The first proper night game at Memorial Stadium took place on September 6, 1986, when Nebraska defeated Florida State 34–17.

Permanent lighting was finally installed in 1997, as the construction of the new press box and West stadium luxury boxes. It is now common practice for non-conference home games early in the season to be played at night to avoid the late summer heat.

References

External links

Preceded by
Nebraska Field
Nebraska Cornhuskers
home stadium

1923 – present
Succeeded by
Current

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