Georgia Tech's historic football facility has been a cornerstone of college football for nearly 90 years. Cozily nestled among Atlanta's skyscrapers, Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field is easily one of the nation's most unique settings for college football.
Originally built in 1913 by members of the Georgia Tech student body, Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field is the oldest on-campus stadium in NCAA Division I-A, but the venerable stadium will soon add another chapter to its storied history with a new look, beginning in 2002.
Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field will be expanded to an approximate capacity of 55,000 seats as the lower East and North end zone seating areas will be rebuilt and permanent seating will be added in the South end zone. The $70 million endeavor includes the expansion and renovation of Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field and Russ Chandler Stadium, Tech's baseball facility.
In the late 1980s, substantial renovations were done to the west side of the stadium, and now the other parts will be rebuilt. The lower East structure will have a new concourse as well as 2,200 club seats between the 25-yard lines and a private air-conditioned lounge for those patrons. The lower East seating will extend closer to the playing field.
The popular upper East stands will remain in place with cosmetic improvements.
Plans call for a new North end zone structure, which will seat more than 16,000 spectators. The structure will also contain a new locker room, sports medicine facility, equipment room, and football coaches' offices. The North end zone will also feature a seating area and lounge for the Georgia Tech Letterwinners' Club.
Field level improvements include shifting the playing field approximately 30 feet to the north and 15 feet to the West. This will allow for the addition of a new seating area in front of the Wardlaw Building in the South end zone that will accommodate nearly 3,000 spectators. In effect, the new South end zone seating and the lower levels of the East and North stands will form a three-sided bowl.
Construction of the football stadium will be completed in two phases, beginning after the 2001 home finale against Georgia and continuing through September of 2002. The second phase of construction will resume at the conclusion of the 2002 football season, and will continue through completion in the fall of 2003. Tech will continue to play in Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field during the construction process.
Program management is being provided by Carter/Turner, a joint venture of Carter & Associates and Turner Construction, while Populous is the project's architect.
Georgia Tech's football facility was known as Grant Field until April of 1988, when the Georgia State Board of Regents voted to add the name Bobby Dodd Stadium in honor of the legendary coach who guided the Rambling Wreck to its most illustrious football era. The "Gray Fox," a member of the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame, compiled a 165-64-8 record from 1945-66, and tutored 21 all-Americas as he led Tech to 13 bowl trips during his 22-year stay as head coach.
Dodd served as Tech's director of athletics from 1951-76 and then worked as a consultant for the alumni association until his death in 1988 for a 57-year association with the Institute.
The name change was the first for the facility since it was named Hugh Inman Grant Field in 1914 after a gift from John W. Grant, a member of the Tech Board of Trustees and a well-known Atlanta merchant.
The Grant family did not give the land on which Grant Field is built. However, they did give the initial $15,000 used in 1913 to build the first permanent concrete stands on the west side of the field. In gratitude for the gift, the Board of Trustees named the field Hugh Inman Grant Field in memory of Grant's deceased son.
The students who built Grant Field nearly 90 years ago wouldn't recognize the home of Georgia Tech football if they saw it now. Not only has the skyline around the stadium changed dramatically, but the facility has steadily grown and improved during its rich history.
A recent major renovation of the stadium was completed prior to the 1992 season with the construction of the Bill Moore Student Success Center behind the West Stands, as well as the addition of 32 executive suites and the renovation of the President's Box and press level.
This project also included the Roy Richards Festival under the West Stands, a unique concession and concourse area modeled after the design of Underground Atlanta. The Georgia Tech Letterwinners Club is currently housed on the Terrace Level of the Richards Festival.
The original concrete West Stands were largely built by Tech students and seated 5,600. The concrete East Stands were completed in time for the 1924 season. A year later, the South Stands were finished, bringing the seating capacity to approximately 30,000.
Growth of the stadium has been steady through the years. In 1948, the West Stands were rebuilt, which raised the capacity to 40,000, and a new press box, then the largest in the South, was constructed. The all-steel North Stands were erected in 1958 to bring the seating to 44,105.
A second deck was added to the East side in 1962, increasing the stadium capacity to 53,300. The facility was expanded again in 1967, when the West Stands were double-decked to bring capacity to its high of 58,121. That project also included new press and photo levels, including an elevator. New scoreboards were added prior to the 1982 season.
Following the 1985 seasons, the historic South Stands, which formed the familiar U-shape on North Avenue, were razed. In their place is the William C. Wardlaw Center, a multi-purpose facility for Georgia Tech's athletic and academic departments that was opened for the 1988 football season. Seating capacity was reduced to 46,000.
The current natural grass surface was installed in 1995 at a cost of approximately $1 million, replacing the artificial All-Pro Turf that had been in place since the 1988 season. The field was originally surfaced with Astroturf in 1971 and then resurfaced in 1979.
Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field is located at the heart of the Georgia Tech campus on Techwood Drive, bordered by North Avenue on the south and Bobby Dodd Way on the north.
Georgia Tech has hosted numerous crowds which have exceeded capacity, the largest of which was the 60,316 spectators for the Georgia game in 1973. The largest crowd in the stadium's current configuration was 46,450 fans for the Georgia Tech-Georgia game on Nov. 27, 1999.
Bobby Dodd Stadium is named after the late great Tech coach Robert Lee Dodd. Coach
Dodd led the Yellow Jackets through the 1950's and 60's. Grant Field is the
stadium's original name. It is currently the nation's oldest collegiate stadium
used for its original purpose. It is the home of the Yellow Jacket football squad.
* Tech football coach Bobby Dodd is a member of the national Football Hall of Fame. He led the Rambling Wreck to an overall 165-64-8 record from 1945-1966.
* The first football team was fielded in 1893.
* The Stadium also hosts outside events such as annual Georgia State Games, for athletic competition from around the state. Concerts are also held in the arena.
* Facility was the site of a visit by civil rights leader Nelson Mandela on his first trip to the U.S. after his release from a South African prison.
Bobby Dodd Stadium Expansion
Scope: Expansion of stadium to seat 55,000.
Renovation of east stands and replacement of north stands.
Start: December, 2001
Completion: August, 2003
Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium
Project Budget: $63 Million
Contractor: Turner Construction
Source: Georgia Tech Alumni Association