Memorial Stadium (University of Minnesota)

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Memorial Stadium
"The Brick House"
2009-0603-01-MN-McNamaraMemorial.jpg
Original entrance of Memorial Stadium, now located inside the McNamara Alumni Center
Location University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Coordinates 44°58′31″N 93°13′43″W / 44.975409°N 93.228575°W / 44.975409; -93.228575Coordinates: 44°58′31″N 93°13′43″W / 44.975409°N 93.228575°W / 44.975409; -93.228575
Owner University of Minnesota
Operator University of Minnesota
Capacity 56,652 (1970-81)
52,809 (1924-69)
Surface Natural grass (1977-81)
Tartan Turf (1970-76)
Natural grass (1924-69)
Construction
Broke ground March 6, 1924
Opened October 4, 1924
Closed November 21, 1981
Demolished 1992
Tenants
Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA) (1924-81)

Memorial Stadium, also known as the "Brick House", was an outdoor athletic stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. It was the home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team for 58 seasons, from 1924 until 1981. Before moving to Memorial Stadium in 1924, the Gophers played at Northrop Field. Starting in 1982, the Gophers played their home games in the new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and Memorial Stadium was demolished a decade later. After 27 seasons indoors, the Gophers returned to campus in 2009 at the new TCF Bank Stadium, a block from the site of Memorial Stadium.

History[edit]

The stadium opened on October 14, 1924. It was dedicated to 3527 students, graduates, and workers who served in World War I, which had ended six years earlier. The stadium sat on approximately 11 acres (45,000 m²).

While Memorial Stadium was its home, the football team won six national championships including three consecutive (1934–1936). The championship years were 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941, and 1960. The official capacity of the stadium during the 1970s was listed as 56,652. The stadium seated approximately 66,000 people with additional temporary bleachers, although many of the seats were far away from the field. The stadium's attendance record was 66,284, set in 1966 against Purdue on November 18.[1]

Memorial Stadium also served as the university's track and field venue, and was an occasional back-up venue for professional football and soccer. In 1969, the NFL's Minnesota Vikings played a regular season game against the Green Bay Packers at Memorial Stadium, due to a conflict with a Minnesota Twins playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium. The Vikings also played a 1971 pre-season game at Memorial. The Minnesota Kicks of the NASL played one game at Memorial Stadium, which was also their last. They played a 1981 playoff game there on September 6 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and lost 3-0. The game was moved due to a schedule conflict with the Minnesota Twins at Met Stadium.

Memorial Stadium served as the anchor for Stadium Village, a small commercial area at the southeast portion of the Twin Cities campus.

Move to Metrodome 1982[edit]

Pressured by downtown Minneapolis business interests and athletic boosters, the school elected to move out of the stadium to the new Metrodome, about two miles (3 km) away, during the spring of 1982. Athletic director Paul Giel cited the advantages of recruiting by playing in a new NFL venue. Also, the attendance was expected to go up in the late fall with protection from harsh weather.[2] The stadium had been neglected by this time, and was badly in need of renovation.[2] New coach Lou Holtz gave an impassioned speech when the time came in 1984 to decide whether to remain at the Metrodome, and declared that "Athletes want to play at the Dome."[2]

University Aquatic center[edit]

Following the move, the University of Minnesota proposed a new natatorium that would extend into the field at the open end of the horseshoe and ensure that there could be no return to Memorial Stadium. After legal challenges to halt construction of the natatorium failed, the Aquatic Center opened in 1990 and the stadium was torn down two years later. The original brick entrance arch was preserved, and when the McNamara Alumni Center was built on the same site it was installed in the interior atrium over the entrance to a small museum.

Aftermath[edit]

The move to the Metrodome proved to be disappointing in the long run, as the home games lost the charm of being on a college campus.[3] The Gophers had the lowest priority in scheduling, behind the Twins and Vikings, and had to move games if the Twins were in the baseball playoffs. The university also gave up most concession and parking revenue, although their portion of the rent was the lowest of the three Metrodome tenants.

On May 20, 2006, the Minnesota state legislature passed a bill providing funding for a new stadium on the university campus, to be named TCF Bank Stadium and completed in the fall of 2009. The original Memorial Stadium site could not be used, due to the construction of the aquatic and alumni centers. The new stadium is located about a block from where the old stadium once stood, and was designed so that the alumni center on the old site is visible through the open end of the horseshoe.

Dedication above the main entryway.

Attendance[edit]

Year Total Games Season highest Average
1924 139,772 6 Illinois (35,341) 23,297
1925 193,707 7 Notre Dame (49,009) 27,672
1926 156,032 5 Michigan (58,362) 31,206
1927 166,848 5 Wisconsin (48,443) 23,126
1928 146,185 5 Chicago (53,016) 29,237
1929 204,083 6 Michigan (58,160) 34,014
1930 167,728 6 Northwestern (50,225) 27,955
1931 115,631 5 Wisconsin (48,443) 23,126
1932 113,956 5 Northwestern (52,426) 43,557
1933 164,301 6 Iowa (41,177) 27,384
1934 192,922 5 Michigan (59,362) 38,584
1935 217,785 5 Northwestern (52,426) 43,557
1936 247,653 5 Iowa (61,172) 49,531
1937 254,188 5 Notre Dame (63,237) 50,838
1938 237,000 5 Michigan (54,212) 47,400
1939 229,954 5 Northwestern (52,372) 45,991
1940 234,990 5 Michigan (61,976) 46,998
1941 239,227 5 Northwestern (61,784) 47,845
1942 231,307 6 Michigan (52,351) 38,551
1943 182,779 7 Purdue (38,709) 26,111
1944 179,979 6 Northwestern (39,997) 29,997
1945 246,931 6 Ohio State (55,789) 41,155
1946 328,003 6 Michigan (59,037) 54,667
1947 289,612 5 Purdue (61,087) 57,922
1948 308,556 5 Purdue (65,549) 61,711
1949 305,200 5 Wisconsin (63,139) 61,040
1950 267,015 5 Iowa (60,312) 53,403
1951 224,759 5 Nebraska (54,573) 45,152
1952 270,292 5 Iowa (60,376) 54,058
1953 293,313 5 Michigan (62,795) 58,663
1954 347,555 6 Iowa (65,464) 57,926
1955 305,581 5 USC (64,074) 61,116
1956 372,654 6 Iowa (64,235) 62,109
1957 314,769 5 Purdue (64,629) 62,954
1958 282,230 5 Iowa (63,726) 56,446
1959 256,039 5 Michigan (56,082) 51,208
1960 342,199 6 Iowa (65,292) 57,033
1961 361,929 6 Purdue (66,284) 60,322
1962 368,200 6 Iowa (65,061) 61,367
1963 286,797 5 Michigan (61,817) 57,759
1964 268,908 5 Iowa (62,514) 53,782
1965 302,747 6 Michigan (58,519) 50,458
1966 248,248 5 Iowa (62,631) 49,600
1967 237,798 6 Michigan State (56,334) 39,633
1968 312,806 6 USC (60,820) 52,134
1969 272,449 6 Ohio State (52,972) 45,417
1970 225,468 5 Nebraska (52,539) 45,093
1971 207,662 6 Michigan (44,412) 34,610
1972 222,079 6 Iowa (44,196) 37,013
1973 252,917 6 Nebraska (56,782) 42,153
1974 226,127 6 Ohio State (45,411) 37,688
1975 220,081 7 Wisconsin (37,578) 31,440
1976 262,878 6 Iowa (53,222) 43,813
1977 247,118 7 Michigan (44,165) 35,303
1978 231,411 6 Ohio State (52,209) 38,569
1979 241,952 6 Purdue (47,281) 40,325
1980 265,105 6 Iowa (58,158) 44,184
1981 301,248 7 Michigan (52,875) 43,035

References[edit]

  1. ^ Memorial Stadium Information from Gophersports.com The official athletic site of the University of Minnesota
  2. ^ a b c Brackin, Dennis - [Memorial Stadium: An unfair end? http://www.startribune.com/sports/gophers/55900867.html] Star Tribune, September 2, 2009
  3. ^ Wood, Bob (August 1989). Big Ten Country: A Journey Through One Football Season. William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0-688-08922-4. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Northrop Field
Host of the
Minnesota Gophers

1924 – 1981
Succeeded by
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome