Vanderbilt Stadium

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Vanderbilt Stadium
at Dudley Field
Vanderbilt Stadium.jpg
Former names Dudley Field (1922–1981)
Location Natchez Trace at Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN
Coordinates 36°8′39″N 86°48′32″W / 36.14417°N 86.80889°W / 36.14417; -86.80889Coordinates: 36°8′39″N 86°48′32″W / 36.14417°N 86.80889°W / 36.14417; -86.80889
Broke ground 1922
Opened October 14, 1922 (rebuilt 1981)
Owner Vanderbilt University Board of Trust
Operator Vanderbilt University
Surface Grass (1922–1969)
Astroturf (1970–1998)
Grass (1999–2011)
Shaw Sports Turf (2012–present)
Construction cost $1.5 million
($21.1 million in 2014 dollars[1])
$10.1 million (1981 reconstruction)
($26.2 million in 2014 dollars[1])
Architect Walk Jones and Francis Man, Inc.[2]
Michael Baker, Jr. Corp.[2]
General contractor Foster & Creighton[2]
Capacity 40,350[3]
Tenants
Vanderbilt Commodores (NCAA)
Tennessee Oilers (NFL) (1998)
Music City Bowl (NCAA) (1998)

Vanderbilt Stadium is a football stadium located in Nashville, Tennessee. Completed in 1922 as the first stadium in the South to be used exclusively for college football, it is the home of the Vanderbilt University football team.[4] Vanderbilt Stadium hosted the Tennessee Oilers (now Titans) and the first Music City Bowl in 1998 and also hosted the Tennessee state high school football championships for many years.

It is the smallest football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, and was the largest outdoor stadium in Nashville until the completion of the Titans' LP Field in 1999.

History[edit]

Old Dudley Field[edit]

Vanderbilt football began in 1892, and for thirty years, Commodore football teams played on the northeast corner of campus where Wilson Hall, Kissam Quandrangle, and a portion of the Vanderbilt University Law School now stand, adjacent to today's Twenty-First Avenue South.[5]

The first facility was named for William Dudley, Dean of the Vanderbilt University Medical School from 1885 until his death in 1914. Dudley was responsible for the formation of the SIAA, the predecessor of the Southern Conference and Southeastern Conference, in 1895, and was also instrumental in the formation of the NCAA in 1906.[4]

Old Dudley was the site where legendary head coach Dan McGugin led Vanderbilt to both of its football national championships (Billingsley National title), in 1906 and 1911.[6]

In 1922, after a 0.742 winning percentage during the eighteen-year tenure of Coach McGugin, the Commodores had outgrown old Dudley Field.[4] It was time for a new stadium.

New Dudley Field[edit]

There was not enough room to expand old Dudley Field at its site near Kirkland Hall, so Vanderbilt administrators purchased land adjacent to what is today Twenty-Fifth Avenue South, on the west side of campus, for the new facility.[4] The new stadium, the first in the South built solely for football, was christened "Dudley Field," and its capacity was 20,000.

The old field was re-christened Curry Field, in honor of Irby "Rabbit" Curry, a standout football player from 1914–16, who left Vanderbilt to serve in the American Expeditionary Force to Europe in World War I and was killed while flying a combat mission over France in 1918.

The first game played at Dudley Field was between the home-standing Commodores and the powerful Michigan Wolverines. A goal-line stand by the Commodores preserved a 0-0 tie.[4] The following Friday, nearby Hume-Fogg High School played a game at Dudley. Senior Jimmie Armistead returned the opening kick for a touchdown, providing the first touchdown ever recorded in the stadium. Armistead would go on to a successful career at Vanderbilt and was the captain and starting halfback for the 1927 team.

In 1949, Vanderbilt officials built a modern press box at Dudley Field, replacing a platform that had been used prior to that.[7] Additional seating was also added to the western side of stadium, boosting capacity to 27,901.[7]

On September 25, 1954, Vanderbilt hosted the No. 10-ranked Baylor Bears in the first night game ever played on the Dudley Field surface.[7] The lights had been installed so that Dudley Field, Nashville's largest outdoor venue at the time, would be able to host the Billy Graham Crusade on campus.[7]

In 1960, nearly 7,000 more seats are added to the stadium, with an expansion on the east side of the stadium near Memorial Gym. Capacity jumped to 34,000.[7]

At a price of $250,000, officials installed what was then a state-of-the-art Astroturf synthetic surface to Dudley Field in 1970.[7]

Vanderbilt Stadium[edit]

Battleship gray[edit]

Over the winter and spring of 1980–81, most of the Dudley Field grandstand was demolished. The 12,088 seats on each sideline--the only vestige of the old stadium--were raised ten feet through the use of 22 hydraulic jacks on each side of the stadium. However, the playing surface is still called Dudley Field.

The stadium's maximum capacity after the 1980–81 renovation was 41,000, consisting of a single-decked horseshoe grandstand filled in with wooden bleachers from the original 1960 expansion. The project cost $10.1 million, and the Commodores celebrated a sold-out dedication by taking a 23–17 comeback win over Maryland on September 12, 1981.

The new stadium and its Fred Russell Press Box (named for Vanderbilt alumnus, former football player, and sports journalist Fred Russell), recalling Vanderbilt's naval themed-mascot the Commodore, were designed to resemble a United States naval vessel slicing through the water, and the color-scheme picked for the exterior of the stadium was battleship gray.

To enhance the gameday experience, officials increased capacity to 41,448 and added a Jumbotron video screen in the north end zone, adjacent to Kensington Place, in advance of the Tennessee Oilers playing their 1998 home games in the facility. The stadium served as Nashville's main outdoor stadium until the completion of what is now LP Field in 1999, when the Oilers — now the Titans — moved to their brand-new facility.

The same year, in 1999, the playing surface was returned to grass, and Vanderbilt officials removed an aging bleacher section — from the 1960 renovation — from the north end zone, lowering capacity to 41,221 in 2002 and to 39,773 in 2003. The bleachers from the north end zone were replaced them with a visitors' concourse that affords any fan in the stadium a field-level, up-close experience with the playing surface. The metal frames for the bleachers were relocated to Mt. Juliet Christian School's football facility in suburban Nashville.

Brick-and-iron[edit]

After nearby Hawkins Field, Vanderbilt's baseball stadium, was constructed in a classic brick-and-iron style in 2002, Vanderbilt administrators began to look at giving Vanderbilt Stadium a similar flavor. They also began to consider the construction of a football facility in place of the present concourse and JumboTron in the north end zone.[8]

On July 24, 2007, Vanderbilt officials announced they were in the preliminary stages of a stadium renovation plan, with financing, design concept, and date of completion yet to be determined.[8]

Nine months later, on May 20, 2008, Vice Chancellor David Williams II announced, in a McGugin Center press conference, that the University was beginning a five-phased, multi-million dollar program of renovations to Vanderbilt athletics facilities, including extensive renovations and additions to Vanderbilt Stadium.[8]

Under the plan announced by Williams, Vanderbilt Stadium will be modified (in the first four phases) as follows:

Phase Date completed Estimated cost Renovation and construction
I
August 2008 $ 12 million Brick-and-iron fences, new ticketing facility,
renovation of east concourse, new paint scheme
throughout interior, exterior of stadium painted
gold, "VANDERBILT" and Star-V logos
added to exterior of press box
II
August 2009 $ 12 million Renovation of west concourse, brick-
and-iron fences added to
west concourse, addition of
brick to exterior of Natchez Trace (west)
facade of stadium, construction of
new entry plazas at Gates 2 and 3
on Jess Neely Drive
III
August 2010 $ 8 million Renovation of north concourse, brick-
and-iron fences added to
north concourse, completion of
bricking of exterior of entire stadium,
construction of new entry plazas at
Gates 1 and 4 on
Kensington Avenue
IV
August 2011 $ 18 million Construction of additional seating, football
offices, locker rooms, recruiting facilities, hospitality
facilities, and indoor/outdoor luxury suites
in north end zone,
with relocation of JumboTron, addition
of high-quality synthetic playing surface on
Dudley Field
Source: Vanderbilt Athletics Facility Upgrade Central

On February 6, 2012; Williams announced Vanderbilt would be adding new FieldTurf and a new JumboTron. A large “berm” was constructed in the open end of Vanderbilt Stadium as a place for fans to watch games starting fall 2012. The project, in addition to other renovations, began after the Black & Gold scrimmage on April 14, 2012.

With only 500 seats are available, the hillside is a first come, first serve area in terms of picking a spot to sit. The berm will not reach the permanent seating on the sidelines to leave space in the corners of the end zone for fans to enter.

The fourth major project set for the stadium was improved lighting. Renovations were also completed at McGugin Center, with new meeting rooms and Olympic sport locker rooms built. The work was completed in the summer of 2012.

Since the 2007 season, midshipmen of the Vanderbilt Naval ROTC sound a foghorn, nicknamed "The Admiral" whenever the Commodores take the field, as well as after every score and win.

Stadium panoramic during a Vanderbilt football game in the 2010 season.

[9]

NFL use[edit]

Upon moving to Nashville, the Oilers/Titans franchise initially played at the larger Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis while LP Field (then called Adelphia Coliseum) was under construction in Nashville. Initially, the Oilers were unwilling to play at Vanderbilt Stadium while LP Field was being built. Not only was it thought to be too small even for temporary use, but university officials were unwilling to allow the sale of alcohol.

However, dismal attendance during the 1997 season— due in part to both the unwillingness of many Nashville fans to make the trip to Memphis and Memphis fans unwilling to support a Nashville-based team after years of failing to secure their own NFL franchise— led the Oilers to play their last season under that name in Nashville at Vanderbilt Stadium, although the university forbade the franchise from selling alcohol at home games.

Vanderbilt Stadium thus became the smallest home venue in the NFL since several similar-size stadiums were used in 1970. The merger agreement with the American Football League led the NFL to declare stadiums seating fewer than 50,000 fans to be inadequate for league play.

Non-sporting events[edit]

Over its history, Vanderbilt Stadium has occasionally been used for concerts and major speakers.[10] Those events include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Institute, Prestressed Concrete (1983). PCI journal. 
  3. ^ Boettcher, Jerome (October 15, 2012). "Franklin Calls Commodores' Fans Too Quiet, Passive". The City Paper (Nashville). Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Vanderbilt Stadium". Vanderbilt Athletics. Retrieved September 8, 2007. 
  5. ^ See VUcommodores.com, "History of Vanderbilt Stadium," ¶ 7. Online at http://vucommodores.cstv.com/facilities/vand-stadium.html.
  6. ^ Gillispie, Rick (July 5, 2009). "The History of Vanderbilt Football: Part One (1890-1934)". Bleacher Report. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f See "Key Dates in the History of Vanderbilt Stadium," VUcommodores.com. Online at http://vucommodores.cstv.com/facilities/vand-renovation-history-timeline.html.
  8. ^ a b c See "Facilities Upgrade Central," VUcommodores.com. Online at http://vucommodores.cstv.com/facilities/vand-renovation.html.
  9. ^ "Vanderbilt Official Athletic Site". Vanderbilt Athletics. May 20, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ "JFK, The Stones...U2". Vanderbilt Athletics. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
Preceded by
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Home of the
Tennessee Oilers

1998
Succeeded by
Adelphia Coliseum