The stadium is notable for being the site of the 1942 Rose Bowl Game. Duke had won the invitation to the game as the eastern representative. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor, just weeks after the end of the 1941 season, led to fears of a Japanese attack on the West Coast. General John L. DeWitt, commander of the Western Defense Command, advised the Tournament of Roses Association not to hold the game at the Rose Bowl Stadium itself, since he was not willing to take a chance on the Japanese choosing to stage a bombing raid on a stadium with over 90,000 people in attendance. Soon afterward, the government banned all large public gatherings on the West Coast, which ruled out Bell Field on the campus of Oregon State, the host team from the PCC, as an alternative venue. The Tournament of Roses Association originally planned to cancel the game, but Duke officials invited the Rose Bowl and Oregon State to Durham to play the game. The offer was accepted, and on a cold, rainy January 1, 1942, 56,000 fans, 22,000 of whom sat on bleachers borrowed from nearby NC State and UNC, watched the heavily favored Blue Devils fall to the strong defense of the Beavers 20-16. It is still the only time the game has been played outside of Pasadena, California.
In 1972, Wallace Wade Stadium hosted the first edition of the Pelican Bowl, a short-lived attempt at a black college football national championship game between the winner of the MEAC and the winner of the SWAC. Grambling defeated NC Central by a score of 56-6 in front of 22,500 fans.
In October 2012, Duke announced major renovations that would eventually seat 43,915.
In September 2014, renovation plans were released. The new Wallace Wade Stadium will seat nearly 40,000 and have 21 luxury suites housed within a new five-story, 90,000 square foot tower along the stadium’s west side. A new LED video board will rise above the south end zone, featuring a high definition viewing surface 42 feet high by 75.6 feet wide, more than double the size of the current video board. It will also be 90 feet closer to the field than the current one. The stadium’s track will be removed so the field can be lowered, which will allow 4,000 additional seats to be added along the playing field. The concourses along the stadium’s north and west sides will be enhanced with new concession and restroom facilities and first aid stations. Integrated seating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be available for disabled guests and their companions.