Bobcat Stadium (Montana State University)

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Bobcat Stadium
MSUBobcatStadium new turf.jpg
With new FieldTurf in 2008
Former namesReno H. Sales Stadium
LocationMontana State University
1 Bobcat Circle
Bozeman, Montana
Coordinates45°39′32″N 111°02′56″W / 45.659°N 111.049°W / 45.659; -111.049Coordinates: 45°39′32″N 111°02′56″W / 45.659°N 111.049°W / 45.659; -111.049
OwnerMontana State University
OperatorMontana State University
Capacity17,777 (permanent)
20,767 (total)
Record attendance21,527
(November 23, 2013)
SurfaceFieldTurf (2008–present)
Grass (1973–2007)
Broke ground1972
Opened1973 – Reno H. Sales
46 years ago
Renovated1998 – Bobcat Stadium
Construction costUS$500,000 original
$12 million upgrade (1998)
$10 million upgrade (2011)
ArchitectSink Combs Dethlefs

Bobcat Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium in the western United States, located on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. It is the home of the Montana State Bobcats college football team, a dominant program of the Big Sky Conference. At the south end of campus, the stadium has a seating capacity of 17,777 and a NW-SE configuration, with the press box along the southwest sideline. Originally natural grass, the playing field was switched to FieldTurf in 2008 and is at an elevation of 4,940 feet (1,510 m) above sea level.[1][2]


Reno H. Sales Stadium[edit]

The stadium opened in 1973 as Reno H. Sales Stadium, built for about $500,000. Reno Sales (1876–1969)[3][4] was a lineman on the first Bobcat football team in 1897 and was the college's only graduate in 1898.[5] Later in life he was an engineer and philanthropist. Born in Iowa, Sales moved with his family as a youngster to Montana in 1881 and they homesteaded near Salesville (now Gallatin Gateway); he was the chief geologist for Anaconda Copper for 41 years.[6] During his long life, Sales was widely known as "Mr. Bobcat," and for his generosity and devotion to his alma mater.[7][8]

Bobcat Stadium[edit]

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, the university was granted approval by the 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, an 18-by-37-foot (5.5 m × 11.3 m) LED video board in the north end zone, and a new scoreboard atop the new section. The new 7,200-seat end zone "bowl" connects the two sideline grand stands. The renovation was projected to cost $8–10 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 public 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 legend Sonny Holland.[9][10][11]

Ground was broken for the expansion on January 28, 2011,[12] and the work was completed in time for the home opener against UC Davis on September 10.[13][14]

2012 home opener; 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. An attendance record of 20,767 was established during the 2012 season opener vs. Chadron State on August 30.[15] Bobcat Stadium set a new record with 21,007 at the 2013 season opener against Monmouth on August 29.[16] The venue was further enhanced with floodlights through the use of donations obtained in the fall of 2011. Since 2012, MSU has had the capability to host night games and meet television broadcasting lighting requirements.[17]

Future Expansion[edit]

MSU is nearing the end of a fundraising campaign that began in 2017 to add a football operations facility, the Bobcat Athletic Complex, that will enclose the northwest end of the stadium. The approximate cost of the facility is $17 million with all funds coming from private donors. It will house training facilities, coaches offices, locker rooms, along with other football-related space. No start date for construction has been set.

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,[18] and is the site of the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center, opened in 1973.[19] Bobcat Stadium is approximately a half mile (800 m) due south.

The field was named for Cyrus J. Gatton (1894–1918),[20] a former Montana State football player from 1913–1916. Born in Iowa and raised in Bozeman, Gatton enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I and was killed in northeast France while flying for the 11th Aero Squadron on November 4, 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, and the request was honored ten years later.[19]

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.[21][22] Despite the change of venue, MSU lost just one home game, won the Big Sky title (5–1), and finished 8–3 overall.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Topographic map from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
  2. ^ – MSU to install FieldTurf – 2008-06-23
  3. ^ "Reno Haber Sales Papers, 1900-1968". Archives West. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "Reno H. Sales". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Mining man Reno Sales dies at 92". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. May 10, 1969. p. 6.
  6. ^ "Reno H. Sales". American Institute of Mining, Mettalurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  7. ^ campus buildings Archived December 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine – Sales Stadium
  8. ^ MSU Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine – Traditions
  9. ^ [1] – Bozeman Chronicle article re: donation
  10. ^ [2][permanent dead link] – Board of Regents Stadium expansion agenda item
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2010-10-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) – Conceptual Endzone seating design
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2011-09-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Monmouth Hawks vs Montana State Bobcats – Recap
  17. ^[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Construction starts soon on Montana State building". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 4, 1971. p. 12.
  19. ^ a b Bozeman Daily Chronicle – today in history – March 7 – 1972: Gratton Field...gone – accessed 2011-10-31
  20. ^ "Cyrus Gatton". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  21. ^ Payne, Bob (September 30, 1972). "Idaho seeks 're-starter' in Bozeman". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 10.
  22. ^ Payne, Bob (October 1, 1972). "Vandal title hopes lost: MSU gets 17-3 win". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 1, sports.
  23. ^ – results – 1972 – Montana State – accessed 2011-10-31

External links[edit]