Bobcat Stadium (Montana State University)

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Bobcat Stadium
MSUBobcatStadium new turf.jpg
Former names Reno H. Sales Stadium
Location 1 Bobcat Circle
Bozeman, Montana 59717
Coordinates 45°39′33″N 111°2′58″W / 45.65917°N 111.04944°W / 45.65917; -111.04944Coordinates: 45°39′33″N 111°2′58″W / 45.65917°N 111.04944°W / 45.65917; -111.04944
Owner Montana State University
Operator Montana State University
Capacity 17,777 (permanent)
20,767 (total)
Record attendance 21,527 (November 23, 2013)
Surface FieldTurf - (2008– )
Grass - (1973–2007)
Broke ground 1973
Opened 1973 - Reno H. Sales
Renovated 1998 - Bobcat Stadium
Expanded 2011
Construction cost $12 million upgrade (1998)
$10 million upgrade (2011)
$500,000 original
Architect Sink Combs Dethlefs

Bobcat Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium in Bozeman, Montana, on the campus of Montana State University. It is home to the Montana State Bobcats college football team of the Big Sky Conference. The stadium has a seating capacity of 17,777; its football field runs in a NW-SE configuration with the press box along the southwest sideline. The playing field was natural grass until 2008, when FieldTurf was installed; it sits at an elevation of 4,940 feet (1,510 m) above sea level at the south end of campus.[1][2]


The stadium opened in 1973 as Reno H. Sales Stadium, built for about $500,000. Reno Sales was a member of the first Bobcat football team in 1897 and was the college's only graduate in 1898. Later in life he was an engineer and philanthropist. Originally from Salesville (now Gallatin Gateway), he was the chief geologist for Anaconda Copper for 41 years. During his 90 years, Mr. Sales was widely known as "Mr. Bobcat," and for his generosity and devotion to his alma mater.[3][4]

Prior to the 1998 season, the stadium was renovated for about $12 million and renamed "Bobcat Stadium." The facility was designed to accommodate further expansion in the southeast end zone.

On October 6, 2010 Montana State University was granted approval by the State of Montana Board of Regents to proceed with the planning, design and eventual construction of new endzone seating and related enhancements to Bobcat Stadium. Some of the enhancements include new visiting team and referee locker rooms, restrooms, 18' x 37' LED video board in the north endzone, and a new scoreboard atop the new section. The new 7,200 seat endzone "bowl" connects the two sideline grand stands. The renovation was projected to cost between $8 million and $10 million. $4 million was required to be raised privately with the remaining amount to be financed and paid for through ticket and other athletics related revenue. No new student fees or other State money was to be used for the project. A day before the project was presented to the Board of Regents, it was an announced that an anonymous individual donated $1 million to the project in honor of former Bobcat playing and coaching legend Sonny Holland.[5][6][7]

Ground was broken for the expansion on January 28, 2011.[8] Work was complete in time for the September 10, 2011 home opener against UC-Davis.[9][10]

2012 home opener and the first night game in Bobcat Stadium history

The upgraded stadium has 17,777 seats, but capacity is routinely expanded through the use of standing room only areas and temporary bleachers in the north endzone. A Bobcat Stadium attendance record of 20,767 was established during the 2012 season opener vs. Chadron State on August 30.[11] Bobcat Stadium again broke the August 30, 2012 attendance record with 21,007 in attendance in the 2013 season opener against Monmoth on August 29, 2013.[12] The venue was further enhanced with floodlights through the use of donations obtained in the fall of 2011. Starting the 2012 football season, Montana State University gained the capability to host night games and meet television broadcasting lighting requirements.[13]

Previous venues[edit]

Gatton Field[edit]

Through the 1971 football season, the Bobcats played home games for four decades at Gatton Field. It was located directly south of the Romney Gym, across Grant Street and northeast of the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, which opened in 1957. The playing field ran east-west and had lighting as far back as the 1940s. (photos) It was razed in early 1972 and is the site of the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center, opened in 1973.[14] Bobcat Stadium is approximately a half mile (800 m) due south.

The field was named for Cyrus J. Gatton (1894–1918), a former Montana State football player from 1913-16. A native of Iowa who was raised in Bozeman, Gatton enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I and was killed while flying for the French on November 4, 1918, just a week before the Armistice. The class of 1917 voted in 1920 that when the school built a new football field it should be named for Cyrus Gatton. The request was honored 10 years later.[14]

Van Winkle Stadium[edit]

The new stadium was not completed for the 1972 season; the Bobcats played their home games at Van Winkle Stadium at Bozeman High School, with expanded temporary seating.[15] Despite the change of venue, MSU lost just one home game; they won the Big Sky title with a 5-1 conference record and finished 8-3 overall.[16]


  1. ^ Topographic map from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
  2. ^ - MSU to install FieldTurf - 2008-06-23
  3. ^ campus buildings - Sales Stadium
  4. ^ MSU - Traditions
  5. ^ [1] - Bozeman Chronicle article re: donation
  6. ^ [2] - Board of Regents Stadium expansion agenda item
  7. ^ [3] - Conceptual Endzone seating design
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Monmoth Hawks vs Montana State Bobcats - Recap
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b Bozeman Daily Chronicle - today in history - March 7 - 1972: Gratton Field...gone - accessed 2011-10-31
  15. ^ Spokesman-Review – Vandal title hopes lost: MSU gets 17-3 win - 1972-10-01 – p.1 sports
  16. ^ - results - 1972 - Montana State - accessed 2011-10-31

External links[edit]