Autzen Stadium

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Autzen Stadium
102707-Oregon-AutzenStadium-ext.jpg
Looking north in October 2007
Location 2727 Leo Harris Parkway
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
Coordinates 44°3′30″N 123°4′7″W / 44.05833°N 123.06861°W / 44.05833; -123.06861Coordinates: 44°3′30″N 123°4′7″W / 44.05833°N 123.06861°W / 44.05833; -123.06861
Owner University of Oregon
Operator University of Oregon
Capacity 54,000[1] (2002–present)
41,698 (1988–2001)
41,097 (1969–1986)
41,078 (1967–1968)[2]
Surface FieldTurf – (2002–present)
NeXturf – (2001)
OmniTurf – (1984–2000)
AstroTurf – (1969–1983)
Natural grass – (1967–1968)[3]
Construction
Broke ground 1966
Opened September 23, 1967[9][10]
Renovated 2002
Expanded 2002
Construction cost $2.3 million[4][5]
$80 million (2002 renovation)
Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill[4][6]
Ellerbe Becket (2002 renovation)
General contractor Gale M. Roberts Co. (1967)[6][7][8]
Tenants
University of Oregon Ducks – (NCAA)
(1967–present)
Pac-12 Football Championship Game (2011)
Autzen Stadium is located in United States
Autzen Stadium
Autzen Stadium
Location in the United States

Autzen Stadium is an outdoor football stadium in the northwest United States, in Eugene, Oregon. Located north of the University of Oregon campus, it is the home field of the Oregon Ducks of the Pacific-12 Conference. Opened 47 years ago in 1967, the stadium has undergone several expansions. The official capacity is 54,000, although attendance is routinely around 59,000 and has exceeded capacity for every game since the most recent expansion in 2002.[11]

History[edit]

Prior to 1967, the Ducks typically played only three games a year on campus at Hayward Field; the higher-attended games (against schools like Washington and USC) were played 110 miles (180 km) north in Portland at the larger Multnomah Stadium. With the recognition that the football team had outgrown the campus facility and with popular support to bring all the home games to Eugene, Oregon athletic director Leo Harris led a campaign to build a new stadium on 90 acres (0.36 km2) that the school had acquired for the purpose in the 1950s on his recommendation.[12][13][14]

The stadium, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill,[4] was built within an artificial landfill (over the refuse) to eliminate the need for multilevel ramps. As a result, construction took just nine months and cost approximately $2.3 million.[4] Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was contributed by the Autzen Foundation, headed by the son of Portland lumberman and philanthropist Thomas J. Autzen (1888–1958), for whom the stadium was named.[4][15] Ironically, Autzen was an alumnus of archrival Oregon State University. The foundation's donation to the University of Oregon was linked to his son's attendance at the school during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

In 1967, Oregon hosted Colorado in the first game played at Autzen Stadium, a 17–13 loss before 27,500 on September 23.[9] Four weeks later on October 21, 16,000 saw Oregon win their first game in the new facility; the 31–6 victory over Idaho was the Ducks' only home win of the season.[16]

The stadium alternates with Reser Stadium at Oregon State as host of the Civil War, the annual rivalry game.

Autzen hosted the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Championship game on December 2, 2011, as the Pac-12 North champion Ducks defeated the Pac-12 South champion UCLA Bruins.

Playing surface[edit]

Opened with natural grass in 1967, the field was switched to AstroTurf and lights were added for its third season in 1969.[17][18][19] After seven years, it was replaced with new AstroTurf in 1976.[20][21] Sand-based OmniTurf was installed in 1984 and 1991,[22][23][24][25][26] and infilled NeXturf in 2001.[27] The NeXturf was found to be overly slick when wet and lasted only one season,[28] and was transferred to an intramural field.[29] FieldTurf made its debut in Autzen in 2002,[28][30] and was replaced in 2010.[31]

With up to eight feet (2.4 m) of gravel fill underneath the field, the original crown of the natural grass field was moderate, with the center of the field approximately one foot (0.30 m) higher than the sidelines.[6] The crown was removed in 2010, and the surface is now flat.[31]

Renovations[edit]

The new digital score board
in the east end-zone in 2014

In 1982, a $650,000 meeting room complex, the Donald Barker Stadium Club, was opened on the east rim above the end zone. It gave the stadium its first meeting facilities,[11] and was dedicated at the home opener in September.[32]

A proposal to enclose the stadium within a dome was given serious consideration in 1985.[33][34][35] New tax laws on contributions altered the feasibility, and the overall project was scaled back.[36] In 1988, a $2.3 million renovation built a new press box on the south side of the stadium and converted the original north side press box to luxury suites.[36] The renovation was designed by architecture firm Ellerbe Becket.[11]

In 1995, the field was named Rich Brooks Field, after the Ducks' coach from 1977 to 1994. Brooks led Oregon to its first outright Pac-10 championship, and its first Rose Bowl appearance in 37 years, in his last season. Brooks left Oregon after the 1994 season to become head coach of the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.

In 2002, a $90 million facelift and expansion added seating and luxury boxes to the south sideline, bringing the stadium seating capacity up to its current level.[11]

In 2007, the large yellow "O" was added onto the south end of the stadium exterior when ESPN's College GameDay was on location. That season, "Gameday" originated two of its Saturday shows from Eugene.

In 2008, a new, 33-by-85-foot (10 by 26 m) high-definition LED scoreboard and replay screen—known as DuckVision or "Duckvision 2.0"—was installed; it replaced the original video screen installed prior to the 1998–1999 football season. It is the 32nd largest video screen in the NCAA.

In 2010, the field was replaced with new FieldTurf that featured the new Pac-12 logo (even before the logo was officially revealed to the public). During the process, the crown was removed to make the field flat.[31] In addition, new paneling was added to the walls surrounding the field.[citation needed]

In 2014, the east end-zone scoreboard was updated to include a digital screen, the addition of 150 flat screen monitors throughout the concessions areas, additional culinary options in the form of food trucks on the north side of the stadium, increased cell phone repeaters and an upgrade to the sound system. Additionally the sideline wall graphics were updated from the new panels installed in the 2010 season.[37]

Stadium records[edit]

The Ducks take the field against USC in front of 59,277 in 2007

The Ducks have a current streak of 101 straight sellouts at Autzen Stadium, dating back to the 1999 season. The highest attendance at Autzen was 60,055 on October 15, 2011, when the Ducks beat Arizona State, 41-27.[38] This stands as the largest crowd for a sporting event in the state of Oregon.

From 1997 to 2001, the Ducks had a 23-game home winning streak at Autzen Stadium, which ended with a 49–42 loss to Stanford.[11] In 2011, the USC Trojans defeated the Ducks 38-35, ending a 21-game home winning streak as the Trojans handed Chip Kelly his first loss at Autzen as head coach.

Opponent Attendance Rank Date Outcome Note Reference
1 #18 Arizona State 60,055 9 October 15, 2011 W 41–27 ESPN College Gameday [39]
2 Washington 60,017 1 November 6, 2010 W 53–16 Oregon–Washington Rivalry [40]
3 #21 Arizona 59,990 1 November 26, 2010 W 48–29   [41]
4 #18 USC 59,933 4 November 19, 2011 L 35–38   [42]
5 #9 Stanford 59,818 4 October 2, 2010 W 52–31 ESPN College Gameday [43]
6 #13 Oregon State 59,597 7 December 3, 2009 W 37–33 Civil War rivalry [44]
7 #4 USC 59,592 10 October 31, 2009 W 47–20 ESPN College Gameday [45]
8 #7 Michigan State 59,456 3 September 6, 2014 W 46–27 ESPN College Gameday [46]
9 #6 Arizona State 59,379 4 November 3, 2007 W 35–23 ESPN College Gameday [47]
10 UCLA 59,277 1 October 21, 2010 W 60–13   [48]
#9 USC 59,277 5 October 27, 2007 W 24–17   [49]

Attendance[edit]

Year Head Coach Capacity Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Game 7 Game 8 Average % of Capacity
1997 Mike Bellotti 41,698 38,035 38,288 43,516 42,314 39,389 45,735 41,213 98.84%
1998 Mike Bellotti 41,698 43,634 41,868 43,948 45,807 46,031 43,723 44,169 105.93%
1999 Mike Bellotti 41,698 40,938 41,374 45,660 45,445 44,090 46,115 43,937 105.37%
2000 Mike Bellotti 41,698 43,371 43,770 45,470 46,153 45,950 45,845 45,093 108.14%
2001 Mike Bellotti 41,698 45,919 45,712 45,765 45,258 46,021 46,064 46,075 45,830 109.91%
2002 Mike Bellotti 54,000 56,386 56,357 55,187 56,066 56,432 56,754 56,436 57,112 56,341 104.34%
2003 Mike Bellotti 54,000 56,471 59,023 57,473 57,627 57,511 58,102 57,701 106.85%
2004 Mike Bellotti 54,000 57,550 57,912 58,208 58,237 58,101 58,344 58,058 107.51%
2005 Mike Bellotti 54,000 58,169 58,201 59,129 58,269 58,309 58,525 58,433 108.21%
2006 Mike Bellotti 54,000 58,450 59,269 58,618 57,493 58,408 58,029 58,377 108.11%
2007 Mike Bellotti 54,000 57,662 HOU 48–27 58,525 FRES 52–21 59,273 CAL 24–31 58,749 WSU 53–7 59,277 USC 24–17 59,379 ASU 35–23 59,050 OSU 31–382OT 58,845 108.97%
2008 Mike Bellotti 54,000 58,778 WASH 44–10 58,060 USU 66–24 58,713 BSU 32–37 58,728 UCLA 31–24 58,013 STAN 35–28 58,369 ARI 55–45 58,443 108.23%
2009 Chip Kelly 54,000 57,772 PUR 38–36 58,017 #18 UTAH 31–24 58,975 #6 CAL 42–3 57,378 WSU 52–6 59,592 #4 USC 47–20 58,475 ASU 44–21 59,5971 #13 OSU 37–33 58,543 108.41%
2010 Chip Kelly 54,000 59,104 UNM 72–0 58,086 PRST 69–0 59,818 #9 STAN 52–31 59,3721 UCLA 60–13 60,017 WASH 53–16 59,9902 #20 ARI 48–29 59,397 110.00%
2011 Chip Kelly 54,000 58,818 NEV 69–20 58,874 MOSU 56–7 58,7961 CAL 43–15 60,055 #18 ASU 41–27 59,126 WSU 43–28 59,933 #18 USC 35–38 59,802 OSU 49–21 59,3762 UCLA 49–31 59,344 109.90%
2012 Chip Kelly 54,000 56,144 AKST 57–34 55,755 FSU 42–25 57,091 TNTC 63–14 58,334 #22 ARI 49–0 58,792 #23 WASH 52–21 57,521 COLO 70–14 58,792 #14 STAN 14–17OT 57,490 106.46%
2013 Mark Helfrich 54,000 57,769 NICH 66–3 57,895 TENN 59–14 56,987 CAL 55–16 56,949 WSU 62–38 59,206 #12 UCLA 42–14 56,481 UTAH 44–21 58,3302 OSU 36–35   57,659 106.78%
2014 Mark Helfrich 54,000 57,388 SDU 62–13 59,456 #7 MSU 46–27 56,533 WYO 48–14 56,0321 ARI 24–31 57,858WASH 45–20 58,974STAN 45–16 COLO   57,712 106.87%

Sellout Conference Championship Game Attendance Record 1 - Thursday Night Game 2 - Friday Night Game

Location and configuration[edit]

Autzen Stadium as seen from the summit of Spencer Butte.

The stadium is located just north of the Willamette River, next to Alton Baker Park. Students typically walk to the stadium from the University of Oregon campus over the Autzen Footbridge, which passes over the Willamette, then through Alton Baker Park. The FieldTurf playing field is at an elevation of 420 feet (130 m) above sea level and is laid out in a non-traditional east-west orientation, slightly skewed so that players will not have the sun shining in their eyes in late fall.

Crowd noise[edit]

Autzen is known for its crowd noise. Due to the stadium's relatively small footprint, the fans are very close to the action, and the field is sunken. These factors contribute to the loudness of the stadium even though it is smaller than other 'noise comparable' stadiums.[50] According to many in the Pac-12, it was actually even louder prior to the most recent expansion because the noise reverberated all the way up the stadium and bounced back down to the field—the so-called "Autzen bounce." Oregon officials say that any future expansions will trap more noise.[51]

On October 27, 2007, during a 24–17 victory against the USC Trojans, a then-record crowd of 59,277 fans was recorded at 127.2 decibels. A similarly loud 31–27 upset of third-ranked Michigan in 2003 prompted a Michigan Daily columnist to write[52]

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr later said that Autzen Stadium was the loudest stadium he'd ever been in.[53]

A view of the field during the 2007 USC game. The new press box on the south side, built in 2002, is visible to the left

In 2006, a Sporting News columnist named Autzen the most intimidating college football stadium in the nation.[54]

Lee Corso of ESPN College Gameday frequently says, "Per person Autzen Stadium is the loudest stadium that I have ever been in my entire life!"[55]

Longtime ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson called Autzen "Per square yard, the loudest stadium in the history of the planet."[51]

Jahvid Best, a former starting running back for the Detroit Lions, visited Autzen while playing for the California Golden Bears in 2007. He later said, "The biggest thing I remember about that game is the crowd. The crowd noise is crazy up there. Honestly, any other away game I don't really even hear the crowd. Oregon was the only place where it really got on my nerves."[56]

Following the September 6, 2014 game against the Michigan State Spartans, Michigan sports reporter Mike Griffin of MLive.com accused Oregon of piping in artificial noise that contributed to the Ducks' victory over the Spartans. [57]

Traditions[edit]

Since 1990, Don Essig, the stadium's PA announcer since 1968, has declared that "It never rains at Autzen Stadium" before each home game as the crowd chants along in unison. He often prefaces it with the local weather forecast, which quite often includes some chance of showers, but reminds fans that "we know the real forecast..." or "let's tell our friends from (visiting team name) the real forecast..." If rain is actually falling before the game, Essig will often dismiss it as "a light drizzle," or "liquid sunshine" but not actual rain by Oregon standards.[58] Also, because of the use of Autzen Stadium and the University of Oregon campus in National Lampoon's Animal House, the toga party scene of the movie featuring the song "Shout" is played at the end of the third quarter, with the crowd dancing to the song.

Prior to the football team taking the field, a highlight video of previous games is shown on the jumbotron, nicknamed "Duckvision". The last highlight on the clip is almost always Kenny Wheaton's game-clinching 97-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies in 1994. "The Pick" is often seen as the turning point for Oregon football, which went on to the Rose Bowl that year and have enjoyed success for the most part ever since after years of losing records.

After the video, the team takes the field behind a motorcycle with the Oregon Duck riding on back to the strains of Mighty Oregon. This is followed by the north side of the stadium chanting "GO" with the south side chanting "DUCKS!".

After every Duck score and win, a foghorn blares. In addition, the Oregon Duck mascot does as many pushups as Oregon has points at that time.

ESPN College Gameday[edit]

ESPN's College GameDay program has come to Eugene for games played in Autzen Stadium six straight years, from 2009 through 2014, the most of any other school. Overall, Gameday has made nine visits to Oregon, and the Ducks have been a part of nineteen Gameday broadcasts either at Autzen or as a visiting team.[59]

Other uses[edit]

Autzen Stadium is the largest sports arena in the state of Oregon. State high school football championship games were played at Autzen Stadium until 2006. Four Eugene high schools played their home football games in the stadium from 1969–2001.[citation needed] It also hosts football camps, coaches' clinics, marching band competitions, and musical concerts.

The Grateful Dead used the stadium as a tour stop ten times between 1978 and 1994,[60] including a 1987 show with Bob Dylan during which portion of their collaborative live album entitled Dylan & the Dead was recorded.

It was also used as the location for the fictional Faber College football stadium in the 1978 movie, National Lampoon's Animal House. There is a well-known geographical error made during a scene set inside the stadium when Pacific-10 conference banners can clearly be seen in the background, even though the fictional Faber College is supposed to be located in New England.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]