Memorial Stadium (Texas A&M–Commerce)
|"Memorial" or "Home of The Lions"|
|Location||Frontage Road & University Drive, Commerce, Texas, 75248|
|Owner||Texas A&M University-Commerce|
|Operator||Texas A&M University-Commerce|
|Record attendance||14,481 (Vs Carson-Newman College) 1972 NAIA Division I National Football Championship|
|Surface||FieldTurf (2006-present), Natural grass (1950–2006)|
|Broke ground||September, 1949|
|Opened||September 23, 1950|
|Renovated||1973, 1980, 1987, 1999, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013|
|Construction cost||$ 325,000 (1950) (Costs would be roughly 4.25 Million dollars in 2010)|
|Texas A&M University-Commerce Football -(1950–present) Texas A&M-Commerce Men's & Women's Track and Field, Commerce High School Football (1960-Present)|
Texas A&M Commerce Memorial Stadium is a stadium in Commerce, Texas. It is primarily used for American football, and is the home field of the Texas A&M University–Commerce Lion Football, Texas A&M-Commerce Men's and Women's Track and Field, and the home field for the Commerce High School Tigers Football team of the Commerce Independent School District.
Memorial Stadium began as a project of the Ex-Students Association in the fall of 1945. The ESA and friends of the University raised a portion of the funds before the University itself received a state appropriation for the rest of the $300,000 to build the facility. Construction on the facility was started in the fall of 1949 and work continued fast and furious to have the stadium ready for the start of the 1950 season.
The stadium was opened and dedicated on Sept. 23, 1950. The dedication ceremony featured U.S. Speaker of the House and Texas A&M Commerce alumnus Sam Rayburn and former lieutenant governor Walter Woodul. General Douglas MacArthur, while not in attendance, wrote to then University President James Gee that "I am delighted and honored," to have his quotation affixed to the plaque honoring the Lions fallen comrades. That quote, also chisled on the stadium at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is a famous one:
"Upon the fields of friendly strife, are sown the seeds that, Upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory."
The Lions opened the stadium by playing regional rival The University of North Texas before 12,000 fans that night, but the Eagles came out on top 42-20. It has proven over the history of the Stadium to be one of the few home losses for Lion football, as they have won nearly 70 percent of the games they have played at home. The stadium had not changed radically over the 62 years it has been in existence, however there have been some modifications in the past 2 decades that has seen the stadium become one of the best in North Texas and one of the best in the Lone Star Conference. In 1973, a President's suite and box was added to the press box, along with 4 other rooms for viewing the game, making 5 suites in all. In 1980, due to the changing Lone Star Conference and the proximity of the schools becoming larger, the school athletic department found it no longer necessary to have the 2,000 visitor seats on the east side of the stadium, as they were torn down and replaced with tennis courts, reducing the capacity to 10,000 fans, and a new track was put in. In 1987, a new ticket booth was put at the main entrance and an iron fence was built around the stadium for extra appeal.
Modern renovations that were badly needed came starting first in 2006 when the natural grass surface was replaced with Fieldturf and the track was replaced once again to collegiate championship standards. A new scoreboard was also put in that had a digital message board, sponsor boards, and banner notating the 1972 national championship team. A new locker room was installed for both home and visitor teams in 2009. The next set of the renovations would come in 2010 and 2011, when the visitor side of the stadium was rebuilt with reserved seating, and there was also a renovation of the home side's concession stands and restrooms, and the stadium's capacity was upgraded to 13,500. The outside facade was renovated, new uprights were brought in, along with new lighting that were built in a four corner style. The biggest and most impressive part of the renovation was a Daktronics video scorboard that was built, putting up corporate sponsors such as Nike, Holiday Inn, Brookshire Grocery Company and Dominos Pizza. The video board captures replays and live in game action and is the second largest in all of NCAA Division II athletics. In the Summer of 2013, new turf was laid in that features the TAMUC Lion logo that stretches from 50 yards long and 50 yards wide. It is the largest on field logo in the nation, and possibly in the world. The original plan was to put the turf in blue color, but having blue turf is a trademark of Boise State University's Bronco Stadium.
Some of the best games in Lion football history have been played at Memorial Stadium. During the 1966 season, the Lions defeated Texas A&M University-Kingsville on a 4th and goal pass play that resulted in a touchdown that gave the Lions one of its 24 Lone Star Conference football championships. Another marquee win came against Stephen F. Austin State University 3 years later on another miraculous closing seconds pass from James Dietz to George Daskalakes for a touchdown and again for a two-point conversion to beat the Lumberjacks, 36-35 and force SFA to share the conference title with the Lions. A record crowd of over 14,000 turned out to see the Lions defeat Carson-Newman College, 21-18 for the 1972 NAIA Division I national football championship on a bitterly cold December afternoon. Texas A&M-Kingsville's 46-game unbeaten streak crashed in 1977 when Lion kicker Tom Hay split the uprights with an extra-point to defeat the Javelinas, 7-6. Pittsburg State University visited Commerce in 1991 with 56 conescutive regular season victories. However, the Lions sent the team that would go on to the NCAA Division II championship home with a 20-13 defeat.
In addition to football games for Texas A&M Commerce and Commerce High School, it also hosts college and high school track meets, including the Lone Star Conference's track and field championships, and the University Interscholastic League's Conference AAA Region II track meet, which is a precursor to the Texas High School State Track meet in Austin. It also hosts Texas High School football playoff games for mainly class AAA schools and under with Commerce's proximity to the Dallas, Texas metro area and also to the far northwestern parts of East Texas.