Memorial Stadium (Lincoln)
|Address||600 Stadium Drive|
|Owner||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Operator||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Capacity||85,458 (since 2017)|
|Record attendance||91,585 (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)|
($6.53 million in 2020 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)
Memorial Stadium, nicknamed The Sea of Red, is an American football stadium located on the campus of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska. The stadium primarily serves as the home venue for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and a variety of other university and state activities.
Memorial Stadium was built in 1923 at a cost of $450,000 with a capacity of 31,080 to replace Nebraska Field, where the Cornhuskers played home games from 1909 to 1922. The first game at the new stadium was a 24–0 Nebraska victory over Oklahoma on October 13, 1923.
A series of expansions has brought the stadium's current capacity to 85,458, but attendance numbers regularly exceed 90,000. Nebraska has sold out an NCAA-record 375 consecutive games at Memorial Stadium, a streak that dates back to 1962. When full, Memorial Stadium famously holds more people than the population of Nebraska's third-largest city, Bellevue.
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 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 Nebraskans who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. 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 former head coach Tom Osborne and former quarterback Brook Berringer can be found at the main entrance of the Osborne Athletic Complex on the north side of the stadium. Berringer, a native Nebraskan and backup quarterback on Nebraska's 1994 and 1995 national championship-winning teams, died in a plane crash on April 18, 1996, just two days before the 1996 NFL Draft, where he was projected to be an early- to mid-round pick. In 2013, a statue of former head coach Bob Devaney was unveiled at the entrance of the newly renovated east stadium, just before Nebraska's season opener against Wyoming. Nebraska and Wyoming were the only two schools Devaney served as a head coach at the collegiate level at.
Memorial Stadium has undergone several phases of expansion and renovation since its original construction. The original stadium– the lower level of the current structure's east and west sideline seats– seated 31,080 people. It was modeled after Ohio State's Ohio Stadium.
Permanent seats were built in the south end zone in 1964, turning the stadium into a 48,000-seat horseshoe. The north end zone was enclosed in two stages from 1965 to 1966, resulting in a 64,170-seat bowl. The south end zone was expanded further in 1972, raising capacity to 73,650.
In the early 1980s, portable lighting was occasionally used to allow Memorial Stadium to host late afternoon games on national television, often against Oklahoma. The first official night game at Memorial Stadium took place on September 6, 1986, when Nebraska defeated Florida State 34–17. Permanent lighting was installed in 1999, which was replaced with an LED lighting system in 2018.
A major renovation in 1999 added 42 luxury boxes above the west stands; the stadium was rededicated and the playing surface was renamed after former head 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's capacity more than doubled during his tenure.
In 2004, construction began to renovate and expand the north end zone, adding an additional 6,000 seats and 13 luxury boxes called "Skyline Suites", which brought capacity to 81,067. At the time of its completion in 2004, the 33-foot (10 m) tall, 120-foot (37 m) wide scoreboard at Memorial Stadium was the largest in any college football stadium (it is now 20th). Before the 2009 season, two new HD video screens were added on the northeast and northwest pillars of the original stadium, bringing the total number of HD 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 anticipated to cost up to $65 million, increasing the stadium's listed seating capacity to 87,147. This expansion was built on the stadium's east side, and included 3,300 general admission seats, 2,119 new club seats and 38 additional skybox suites. The expansion totaled more than 6,000 new seats, and brought 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 expansion included creation of the first standing room-only area in Memorial Stadium, and was made 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.
Prior to the 2014 season, Nebraska completed a $12.3 million project to replace Memorial Stadium's 20-year-old sound system and add a wireless network system to provide Wi-Fi and cellular data access to fans. Additionally, a brick design was added to the base of West Stadium to match the appearance of the rest of the stadium. Nebraska installed new videoboards at Memorial Stadium prior to the 2017 season, two of which were wrapped around the existing structure to allow fans in North Stadium, seated directly in front of the stadium's largest videoboard, clear screen viewing. An upper ribbon display was added to the second level of East Stadium. In the 1990s, Memorial Stadium became the first college football stadium to include videoboards.
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 90,000, instead of over 91,000, as was commonplace in previous years.
In 2017, the university increased the width of seating in North Stadium row 80 and above from 18 inches to 22-24 inches and in South Stadium, Section 14 rows 16 to 98 from 18 inches to 20-22 inches. This resulted in an overall reduction in stadium capacity to 85,458.
- 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. Rest on 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. North stadium bleachers extended again, 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 stadium 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
- 2017: 85,458. North stadium, row 80 and above, had seats widened from 18 inches to 22-24 inches, resulting in seats being removed. South Stadium Section 14, rows 16–98, had seat widths increase from 18 to 20-22 inches
- 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.
Nebraska has sold out 375 consecutive games at Memorial Stadium, the longest streak in any collegiate sport. The streak began on November 3, 1962, a 16–7 Missouri win over Nebraska in Bob Devaney's first season as head coach. NU's home record during the sellout streak is 312–63, including a 47-game home winning streak from 1991 to 1998, the second-longest in modern college football history.
|1||91,585||Sept. 20, 2014||Nebraska 41, Miami 31|
|2||91,471||Sept. 14, 2013||UCLA 41, Nebraska 21|
|3||91,441||Aug. 30, 2014||Nebraska 55, FAU 7|
|4||91,414||Sept. 17, 2016||Nebraska 35, Oregon 32|
|5||91,255||Sept. 27, 2014||Nebraska 45, Illinois 14|
|6||91,186||Nov. 22, 2014||Minnesota 28, Nebraska 24|
|7||91,185||Aug. 31, 2013||Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34|
|8||91,140||Nov. 2, 2013||Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24|
|9||91,107||Nov. 1, 2014||Nebraska 35, Purdue 14|
|10||91,088||Oct. 25, 2014||Nebraska 42, Rutgers 24|
High School Championships
Since 1996, Memorial Stadium has been the host for the Nebraska School Activities Association's state high school football championship finals, including smaller schools that play eight-man football, which is played on fields smaller than standard size; the state's six-man football championship finals are played at University of Nebraska at Kearney's Cope Stadium. Prior to the move to Memorial Stadium, finals for each class were contested on the home fields of the high schools involved.
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