Notre Dame Stadium

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Notre Dame Stadium
”The House That Rockne Built”
Notre Dame Stadium is located in Notre Dame, Indiana
Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Stadium
Location on the Notre Dame campus
Address2010 Moose Krause Circle
LocationNotre Dame, Indiana United States
Coordinates41°41′53″N 86°14′02″W / 41.698°N 86.234°W / 41.698; -86.234Coordinates: 41°41′53″N 86°14′02″W / 41.698°N 86.234°W / 41.698; -86.234
OwnerUniversity of Notre Dame
OperatorUniversity of Notre Dame
Capacity54,000 (1930–1965)
59,075 (1966–1996)
80,225 (1997)
80,012 (1998–1999)
80,232 (2000)
80,795 (2001–2016)
77,622[1] (2017–present)
SurfaceNatural grass (1930–2013)
Artificial turf (2014–present)
Broke ground1929; 92 years ago (1929)
OpenedOctober 4, 1930; 91 years ago (1930-10-04)
Construction cost$750,000
ArchitectOsborn Engineering
General contractorSollitt Construction Company
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA) (1930–present)

Notre Dame Stadium is an outdoor football stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana, the home field of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Located on the university's campus, it also hosts commencement.

Opened 91 years ago in 1930,[2] the stadium seating capacity was nearly 60,000 for decades. More than 21,000 seats were added for the 1997 season, which increased the capacity to over 80,000. After the Campus Crossroads renovation, the seat number decreased to 77,622. The playing surface was changed to artificial turf in 2014, after 84 seasons on natural grass.

The playing field has a conventional north–south alignment at an approximate elevation of 730 feet (225 m) above sea level.


Replacing Cartier Field, the stadium opened its gates on October 4, 1930, with a win over SMU.[2][3] The total cost of construction exceeded $750,000 and the original seating capacity was 54,000. Head coach Knute Rockne played a key role in its design, keeping the space between the playing field and the stands to a minimum. It is patterned, on a smaller scale, after Michigan Stadium, the main difference being the tunnel location. In 1929, plans were started by Osborn Engineering of Cleveland, selected for their experience in designing Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. The original stadium seated 59,075, measured a half-mile (800 m) in circumference, stood 45 feet (14 m) high, and featured a glass-enclosed press box rising 60 feet (18 m) above ground level. Initial stands reached 55 rows.[4]

Notre Dame stadium between circa 1930 and 1945

Sollitt Construction Company of South Bend was the general contractor, and earth preparation began in the fall of 1929. Due to an unusually cold fall and winter, above-ground construction did not begin until April 2, 1930, so it was effectively built in six months. Over two million bricks were used in the construction of the walls and the concrete was placed in a monolithic continuous placement by section. There were over 300 workers on the site at most times and they worked five 10-hour days and one six-hour day on Saturdays. The average worker was paid $1 a day plus lunch with the more skilled workers earning up to $5 a day.[5]

The construction of the stadium project was brought to a head by the actions of Rockne. The 1928 season had not been a stellar one at 5–4, but the net profits for that football season approached $500,000. Rockne was frustrated with the slow and cautious Holy Cross priests and their decision making process about spending money on the new stadium. He could not believe that a decision could not be made when there was such a large amount of money in the bank. Because of this and a number of other issues, Rockne submitted his resignation to Father O’Donnell, the president of the university. O’Donnell knew of Rockne's history of submitting his resignations and he also suspected that nothing would fully satisfy Rockne.

O’Donnell was willing to find a compromise but was also unwilling to put the university in debt to finance the stadium. He knew that the excess receipts from 1928 season and the projected receipts from playing all the away games in 1929 on neutral fields would bring adequate cash into the university to finance the construction of the stadium. O’Donnell also devised the scheme to finance 240 six-person “reserved box seats”. This precursor of the personal seat license would allow the buyer to purchase tickets at face value and guarantee the same prime location for ten years for an investment of $3,000 between the 45-yard lines, $2,500 between the 45 and 35-yard line and $2,000 between the 35 and the 25-yard line. The university raised over $150,000 on this idea alone.[6]

The Irish played their first game in the new stadium in 1930 on October 4, and defeated SMU 20–14. The first Notre Dame touchdown in the stadium was scored by "Jumping Joe" Savoldi on a 98-yard kickoff return.[2][3] The official dedication was a week later on October 11 against Navy, and Savoldi scored three touchdowns and was cited as "the first hero in the lore of Notre Dame Stadium."[7] G.K. Chesterton was present as a spectator for the game, and wrote the poem The Arena to commemorate the occasion.[8][9] The stadium was featured in the movie Rudy.

As originally built, the seating capacity was 54,000, but could hold as many as 61,000 with additional temporary bleachers. By 1966, its capacity increased to 59,075, mainly by reducing the average seat width from 18 to 17 inches (45.7 to 43.2 cm). In 1997, 21,000 new seats were added to the stadium, bringing the seating capacity to 80,795. The playing surface had always been natural grass through 2013, but it was announced on April 12, 2014, that after the commencement weekend, the playing field would be replaced with an infilled artificial turf.[10] Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, in making the announcement, cited recent difficulties with maintaining an acceptable grass surface, and added that the change would allow the stadium to be used for football practices and non-football events.[10] During 2013, the university replaced the grass surface four times, including twice during the football season.[11]

The main entrance of the stadium after the Campus Crossroads project
Notre Dame Stadium Panorama

On January 29, 2014, the university announced plans to attach three new buildings to the stadium, totaling more than 750,000 square feet (70,000 m2) in expansions and costing about $400 million, with a timetable of 33 months for completion. After the completion of the Campus Crossroads Project the official seating capacity of the stadium was listed at 77,622.

The artificial turf installation, as scheduled, began after Commencement Weekend on May 16–18, and the university sold 2-by-5-foot (61 by 152 cm) sections of the old turf to the public for $150 each.[11]

Structure and architecture[edit]


Prior to the 1997 expansion, Notre Dame Stadium lacked permanent field lights. In 1982, portable lighting by Musco Lighting was used for the first night game in the stadium's history on September 18 versus Michigan. Permanent lights were installed as part of the expansion. The lights were paid for by NBC, which has held the exclusive television rights to all home games since 1991. The permanent lights were added primarily to ensure sufficient lighting for mid-afternoon games in November; the university's agreements with NBC from 1991 to 2010 stipulated that there be no home night games.[12] However, the stadium hosted its first night game in 21 years on October 22, 2011 when the Irish hosted USC.[13] It was announced in 2015 that Musco would be installing a LED field lighting system as part of the 2014–2017 stadium renovation and expansion project.[14]

Touchdown Jesus[edit]

The Word of Life mural, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus, is visible from inside the stadium

The stadium is known for its view to the north of Touchdown Jesus, a nickname given to the large mural entitled The Word of Life by Millard Sheets of the resurrected Jesus.[15] Installed in 1964 on the Hesburgh Library, the mosaic wall looms over the stadium. The mural's nickname is derived from Jesus' upraised arms, which are similar in appearance to the raised arms of a referee signifying a touchdown. The expansion of the stadium in the late 1990s partially obscured the view of the mural from the playing field. The Word of Life mural was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard V. Phalin of Winnetka, Illinois.

Campus Crossroads[edit]

The Duncan Student Center, part of Campus Crossroads

In January 2014, the University announced a $400 million enhancement of the stadium, the Campus Crossroads project. This expansion features three 8-story high buildings, on the west, south, and east sides of the stadium. The expansion added more than 750,000 square feet (70,000 m2) of teaching, research, and performance space. The enhancement added new premium stadium seats. The three buildings are called the Duncan Student Center on the west, O'Neill Hall on the south, and Corbett Family Hall on the east. The project was completed in January 2018.[16]

Duncan Student Center[edit]

The Duncan Student Center serves as a student center hosting a gym and climbing wall, meeting and event spaces, several dining and food options, student media and club offices, and the career center. In addition, the seventh floor is home to Dahnke Ballroom, which overlooks the stadium and is widely used for student dances throughout the year.

O'Neill Hall[edit]

O'Neill Hall hosts the Department of Music and Sacred Music, including a 174-seat innovative interdisciplinary recital and performance hall, the music library relocated from the Hesburgh Library, lecture halls, classrooms, rehearsal and seminar rooms, offices, faculty offices, a music lab for studio production, and practice rooms. It also houses stadium and sport-related spaces and a club lounge.

Corbett Family Hall[edit]

Corbett Family Hall houses the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology. It also houses the Rex and Alice A. Martin Media Center, with 2,000-square-foot studio, and teaching space for the Department of Film, Television and Theatre. It also houses stadium and sports-related spaces, including the press box.


Prior to 1966, attendance figures were based on an actual count of patrons through the gates. The largest crowd to attend a home game prior to expansion was 61,296 in 1962, against Purdue on October 6. Since 1966, attendance figures have been based on paid admissions with a fixed number of tickets available, accounting for the familiar 59,075 figure through the 1996 season. Until Ara Parseghian arrived as coach at Notre Dame in 1964, sellouts were not the norm. Since then, tickets for Notre Dame football have been notoriously hard to come by. As of the end of the 2015 season, there have been 249 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium, and 294 sellouts in the past 295 games dating back to 1964. The lone exception was a 1973 game against Air Force which had been moved midseason by ABC to Thanksgiving Day and was played with the students absent. The announced attendance was 57,235. Attendance at all five home games in 1965 exceeded 59,000 as well. It is expected that this streak will end at the Navy game on November 16, 2019. The University cites an unusual schedule of 3 home games in November as a factor.[17]

A view from the east side of the Notre Dame Stadium showing (from left to right) the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Golden Dome atop the Administration Building and the Hesburgh Library with the mural of "Touchdown Jesus"

The official capacity was listed at 80,225 when the stadium was first expanded. A subsequent computer revision put it at 80,012 in 1998 and 80,232 in 2000. Sideline bleachers, which had been removed during expansion, were put back in after a few years, bringing the figure to 80,795 in 2001. In January 2014 the University of Notre Dame announced the campus crossroads project. A $400 million renovation would add luxury boxes and increase the stadium's capacity to around 85,000, but after the project was completed in 2017 the seats were made wider and the number decreased to 77,622 which is the present capacity of the stadium.[18] The project began after the conclusion of the 2014 football season and finished in time for the 2017 season.

Other events[edit]

A football stadium with a hockey rink in the center
The 2019 Winter Classic


The stadium had never hosted a music concert until 2018, with Garth Brooks being the first artist to hold a concert to be held at the stadium.

Date Artist Opening act(s) Tour / Concert name Attendance Revenue Notes
October 20, 2018 Garth Brooks N/A Garth: Live at Notre Dame N/A N/A First concert at the stadium[19]
June 25, 2022 Billy Joel N/A Billy Joel in Concert TBA TBA [20]

Ice hockey[edit]

The stadium hosted the 2019 NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, and four days later longtime rivals Michigan and Notre Dame clashed on the same ice, with the nickname "Let's Take This Outside" being applied to the game.

Date Away Team Score Home Team Attendance
January 1, 2019 Boston Bruins 4–2 Chicago Blackhawks 76,126
January 5, 2019 Michigan Wolverines 4–2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 23,422


Date Away Team Score Home Team Attendance
June 9, 1984  Canada 1-21  United States -
July 13, 2002  Canada 36-13  United States 2,500


Date Away Team Score Home Team Attendance
July 19, 2019 England Liverpool F.C. 2-3 Germany Borussia Dortmund 40,361

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fighting Irish". Twitter. 2 September 2017. Archived from the original on 11 May 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2017. @NDFootball opens the enhanced Notre Dame Stadium to a packed crowd of 77,622.
  2. ^ a b c "Savoldi in a 98-yard run as Irish win, 20–14". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. October 5, 1930. p. 1, sports.
  3. ^ a b "Notre Dame pushed to win". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. October 5, 1930. p. 15.
  4. ^ "New stadiums: Old Gray Lady and others –". Archived from the original on 2015-09-25.
  5. ^ Notre Dame archives
  6. ^ Being Catholic, Being American The Notre Dame Story, 1842–1934, Robert E Burns, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame Indiana,1999
  7. ^ Mickelson, Paul (October 12, 1930). "Notre Dame swamps Navy". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. p. 13.
  8. ^ J., Hope, Arthur (1978). Notre Dame, one hundred years. Icarus Press. ISBN 0-89651-500-1. OCLC 918183324.
  9. ^ "THE ARENA (1930)". Retrieved 2021-03-21.
  10. ^ a b "Synthetic Turf to be Installed in Notre Dame Stadium by 2014 Football Season" (Press release). Notre Dame Athletics. April 12, 2014. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Notre Dame sells turf for $150". Associated Press. May 19, 2014. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "Notre Dame, NBC agree to deal through 2015".
  13. ^ "Notre Dame Football Official Schedule". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2011-04-05.
  14. ^ "Musco Press Release University of Notre Dame – Musco Sports Lighting -". Archived from the original on 2016-01-08.
  15. ^ University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries, Hesburgh (Main) Library Word of Life Mural Archived 2006-08-07 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Tribune, Caleb Bauer South Bend. "Notre Dame puts finishing touches on $400 million Campus Crossroads project". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  17. ^ Tribune, Eric Hansen South Bend. "Sellout streak at Notre Dame Stadium ends at 273 games". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  18. ^ Columnist, Bill Moor Tribune. "Seats are two inches wider at new Notre Dame Stadium. Yes, it's a big difference". South Bend Tribune.
  19. ^ Bonaguro, Alison (October 22, 2018). "Garth Brooks Makes History at Notre Dame". CMT News. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  20. ^ "Billy Joel to play Notre Dame Stadium in 2020". Notre Dame News. October 10, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2020.

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