Memorial Stadium (Lincoln)
Memorial Stadium, September 15, 2007
|Address||600 Stadium Drive|
|Owner||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Operator||University of Nebraska–Lincoln|
|Record attendance||91,585 (September 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)|
($6.45 million in 2019 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. The Cornhuskers had previously played home games at Nebraska Field 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 holds more people than all but two Nebraska cities (Omaha and Lincoln).
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 those 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 who died in Korea, and the 422 who died 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 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 31,000 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 65,000-seat bowl. The south end zone was expanded further in 1972, raising capacity to 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 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 87,000. 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.
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, the additional 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
- 2017: 85,458, North Stadium, row 80 and above, will have seats widened from 18 inches to 22-24 inches, resulting in seats being removed. Also, Section 14 in South Stadium, rows 16–98, will have seat widths increase as well 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.
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.
Permanent lighting was not installed until 1999, with their first use against Iowa State on Oct. 9, 1999. In 2018, due to limitations of the lighting system and lack of available parts for repair, the lights were replaced with a modern Musco LED system.
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.
Prior to the start of the 2017 football season, new Mitsubishi videoboards were installed within the existing structure of the previous HuskerVision screens. While the majority of the screens remained the same size, the pixel density increased from 20mm spacing to 10mm, dramatically increasing the quality of in-game content and scoreboard legibility. Memorial Stadium is one of two college stadiums with 10mm displays, the other being Notre Dame Stadium. Additionally, the project involved replacing the two north tower displays with "wrap-around" screens, lengthening existing ribbon displays, and adding an upper ribbon display to East Stadium. Before the addition of the tower wraps, fans seated in North stadium below the main videoboard couldn't see replays and other video content without taking their eyes off the game and turning around. Memorial Stadium was the first college football stadium to install videoboards.
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||91,414||September 17, 2016||Nebraska 35, Oregon 32|
|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|
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 small schools that play eight-man football (still played), which are usually on fields smaller than standard size. Prior to the move to Memorial Stadium, finals for each class were contested on the home fields of the high schools involved. The state's six-man football championship finals are played on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
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