Memorial Stadium (Lincoln)
|Tom Osborne Field
"Sea of Red"
"The Boneyard" (student section)
|Location||600 Stadium Drive
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
|Owner||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Operator||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Capacity||Almost 92,000 (since 2016).|
|Record attendance||91,585 (vs. Miami (FL) - Sept. 20, 2014)|
|Broke ground||April 26, 1923|
|Opened||October 20, 1923|
|Expanded||1964, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1998, 2006, 2013|
|Construction cost||$430,000 (original structure)
($5.97 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||John Latenser, Sr. and Sons
Davis & Wilson
|Project manager||Earl Hawkins|
|Structural engineer||Meyer & Jolly|
|General contractor||Parsons Construction Co.|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers (NCAA) (1923–present)
NSAA state high school football finals (1996–present)
The stadium holds an ongoing NCAA record of 350 consecutive sellouts, which began in 1962. When full, Memorial Stadium holds more people than any Nebraska city except Omaha and Lincoln. Because most fans wear red apparel, the stadium is referred to as the "Sea of Red" on game days.
In the fall of 1922, a drive for $430,000 in funds to build a new football stadium was undertaken by faculty, students, alumni and friends of the university. Designed by John Latenser, Sr., a notable Omaha architect, the stadium was named Memorial Stadium to honor all Nebraskans who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars and the 751 Nebraskans who died in World War I. Later, the stadium would also honor the 3,839 Nebraskans who died in World War II; the 225 in Korea; and the 422 in Vietnam. Construction was completed in just over 90 working days; Memorial Stadium was dedicated on October 20, 1923.
- Southeast: "In Commemoration of the men of Nebraska who served and fell in the Nation's Wars."
- Southwest: "Not the victory but the action; Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory."
- Northwest: "Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."
- Northeast: "Their Lives they held their country's trust; They kept its faith; They died its heroes."
A statue of Nebraska former coach Tom Osborne and former Nebraska quarterback Brook Berringer can be found outside the north side of the stadium. Berringer was a quarterback on Nebraska's 1994 and 1995 national championship teams who died in a plane crash in April 1996, just two days before the 1996 NFL Draft where he was expected to be an early- to middle-round pick.
Since 1996, Memorial Stadium has also been the host for the Nebraska School Activities Association's state high school football championship finals (playoff games prior to class championship matches are played elsewhere), including the smallest schools that play the variant rule-sets of six-man football (until its disuse by the NSAA in 1998) and eight-man football (still played), despite playing on the larger, standard size field. Prior to the move to Memorial, finals for each class were played various local sites.
Memorial Stadium has undergone several phases of expansion and renovation since its original construction. In its original configuration, the stadium consisted of stands on the east and west sidelines. It was modeled after Ohio State's Ohio Stadium and had a seating capacity of around 31,000. A series of four additions between 1964 and 1972 enclosed the stadium by adding seats above the north and south end zones, more than doubling Memorial Stadium's seating capacity to nearly 74,000. A major renovation in 1999 added 42 luxury boxes above the west stands; the stadium was rededicated and the playing surface was renamed after retiring coach Tom Osborne. Reflecting Nebraska's rise to national prominence during his 34 years as an assistant coach (1964-1972) and head coach (1973-1997), the stadium almost doubled in size during his tenure.
In 2004, construction began to renovate and expand the north end zone stands. Memorial Stadium now features an additional 13 luxury boxes above the north stands called the "Skyline Suites" and an additional 6,000 seats, increasing seating capacity to 81,067. Nebraska has the twentieth-largest video screen in college football, at 33 feet (10 m) tall and nearly 40 yards (37 m) wide. (At the time it was completed in 2004, the scoreboard was the largest in a college football stadium.) Before the 2009 season two new high-definition video screens were added on the northeast and northwest pillars of the original stadium, bringing the total number of high-definition screens in the stadium to five. Concurrently, ribbon boards stretching the length of the field were installed along the east and west balconies of the stadium.
On October 15, 2010, the university announced that its Board of Regents had approved an expansion project that is anticipated to cost up to $65 million, increasing the stadium's listed seating capacity to 87,000. This expansion was built on the stadium's east side, and includes 3,300 general admission seats, 2,119 new club seats and 38 additional skybox suites. The expansion totals more than 6,000 new seats and brings the total number of private suites inside the stadium to 101. The original east facade of the stadium, plus Gate 20, was preserved within a new entrance lobby. The creation of the first standing room only area in Memorial Stadium was also built; an area available for companies and private parties to host events on a game-to-game basis. In addition, the university created a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) cutting-edge athletics research facility in addition to another 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) dedicated to campus research. The expansion project was completed and dedicated on August 22, 2013. The project was initially voted on by fans of the football program, who were asked if they preferred expanding the stadium capacity, or preserving the stadium's ongoing NCAA-record sell-out streak. The outcome of the polling was overwhelmingly in favor of expansion while maintaining the sellout streak.
In 2015, the university replaced bleachers along the top sections of the North Stadium and in doing so increased the width of the seats from 18 inches to 22 inches. Also, some seats were removed in the southwest corner of the stadium in order to put in a new aisle to aid in crowd congestion. The result of the seat widening and removal saw a decrease of about 1,100 seats in Memorial Stadium. When filled to capacity, crowds will now be around the 90,000 mark instead of the 91,000 to 92,000 that were common place in previous years.
- 1923: 31,080, original stadium, with stands on both sides
- 1964: 48,000, south end zone bleachers erected, making stadium a horseshoe
- 1965: 52,455, center section of north end zone bleachers erected
- 1966: 62,644, the rest of the north stadium bleachers finished
- 1967: 64,170, New press box
- 1972: 73,650, south end zone bleachers extended
- 1994: 72,700, reduced capacity for handicapped seating, HuskerVision video screens installed
- 1999: 74,056, new press box that included new skyboxes, and club seating
- 2000: 73,918, reduced capacity for more club seating
- 2006: 81,067, bleachers extended again for north stadium, new skyboxes, new video boards, Tom and Nancy Osborne Training Facility, ADA-compliant seating and additional coaching offices for football and athletic department administration
- 2013: 87,147 east stands expansion, new skyboxes, new covered/heated club seating, new general admission seating
- 2015: 86,047, top sections of north end zone seats widened, several seats in southwest corner removed for addition of an aisle, resulted in roughly 1,000 to 1,100 seats being removed
- 1923–1969: Natural grass
- 1970–1976: AstroTurf
- 1977–1983: AstroTurf (replaced 1970 turf)
- 1984–1991: All-Pro Turf
- 1992–1998: AstroTurf-9
- 1999–2004: FieldTurf
- 2005–2013: FieldTurf (replaced 1999 turf), crown lowered, black pellet layer
- 2013–Present: FieldTurf, "Cool Play System", cork layer
Memorial Stadium was the first college football stadium in Division I-A to install FieldTurf, in 1999. A second FieldTurf installation featuring an alternating light green/dark green "mowing" pattern every five yards was put in place prior to the 2005 season, to coincide with a removal of a fairly significant crown that had been in place for decades. A third FieldTurf installation was put in place prior to the 2013 season. The new turf features new construction materials for a "lighter and cooler" playing surface incorporating cork into the top layer of the traditional recycled tire surface.
Starting in the early 1980s, portable lighting was occasionally installed for late-autumn games shown on national television, usually those against the University of Oklahoma.
The first proper night game at Memorial Stadium took place on September 6, 1986, when Nebraska defeated Florida State 34–17.
Sound system and WiFi
For the 2014 season, a $12.3 million project was completed that replaced the 20-year-old sound system in Memorial Stadium. A new single-point system was installed on the video board in North Stadium that pushes sound throughout the entire facility. A new state-of-the-art wireless network system was also installed throughout the stadium, to provide WiFi and cellular data access for fans to enhance the gameday experience. Additionally, the exterior of the West Stadium was bricked in order to match the appearance of the North and East Stadiums.
The following are the top ten highest attended games at Memorial Stadium:
|1||91,585||September 20, 2014||Nebraska 41, Miami 31|
|2||91,471||September 14, 2013||Nebraska 21, UCLA 41|
|3||91,441||August 30, 2014||Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7|
|4||91,260||November 29, 2013||Nebraska 17, Iowa 38|
|5||91,255||September 27, 2014||Nebraska 45 vs. Illinois 14|
|6||91,186||November 22, 2014||Nebraska 24, Minnesota 28|
|7||91,185||August 31, 2013||Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34|
|8||91,140||November 2, 2013||Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24|
|9||91,107||November 1, 2014||Nebraska 35, Purdue 14|
|10||91,088||October 25, 2014||Nebraska 42, Rutgers 24|
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