Delaware Stadium, one of the finest football facilities in the country at the NCAA I-AA level, celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2002 football season.
Erected in 1952 and enlarged prior to the 1964, 1970, 1972 and the 1975 seasons, the 22,000-seat stadium is the largest in the Atlantic 10 Conference and one of the largest in the nation in I-AA football.
The University of Delaware recognized the event Oct. 5 when the Blue Hens host edNortheastern. A poster containing Delaware Stadium facts and photos was distributed to fans and a special halftime ceremony included the return of members of the 1952-55 Blue Hen teams that were the first squads to call Delaware Stadium home.
Another highlight was the dedication of the Delaware Stadium field as Tubby Raymond Field Aug. 29 in the season opener vs. Georgia Southern. The dedication honored Raymond, who retired in February, 2002 following a Hall of Fame career that saw him post 300 victories over 36 seasons.
The 22,000-seat stadium received a new look prior to the 2000 season as eight poles of permanent broadcast-quality lights were installed by Musco Lighting. In addition, the South End Zone bleachers were replaced.
As part of the new bleachers, the Blue Hen football team now enters Delaware Stadium from a brick runway underneath the stands directly behind the goalposts on gameday.
A plaque which lists the accomplishments of past Blue Hen football teams along with a football hangs from the runway. A new tradition was started in 2000 as Delaware players jump up to touch the plaque before entering the field.
Delaware Stadium also underwent extensive renovations in 1992-1993. The stadium's grass surface received a new drainage/irrigation system and new bleachers were installed in the East and West grandstands and the North End Zone.
The largest Delaware Stadium crowd was the 23,619 spectators that watched the Blue Hens host Temple, Oct. 27, 1973. Temple won that game 31-8.
Since the stadium opened, Delaware has drawn 22,000 or more fans 32 times, including a season-high 22,075 fans Sept. 9, 2000 vs. The Citadel in the first night game under the new lights.
Delaware established a new school record for average attendance during the regular season for the second straight season in 2000, averaging 21,154 fans per game, a mark that ranked fourth among all NCAA I-AA institutions.
The previous record was 20,371 set in 1999 when Delaware ranked seventh in NCAA I-AA. Delaware Stadium drew an average crowd of 20,504 during the 2001 season and 20,258 in 2002, a mark that ranked second among all I-AA institutions.
Delaware Stadium opened November 15, 1952, with the Blue Hens edging past Lafayette, 13-12, on two touchdowns by halfback Kenny Reith.
Prior to the 2003 season, the Blue Hens have played 305 games in Delaware Stadium &endash; posting a record of 234-73-4, a winning percentage of .759 over 50 seasons.
The Blue Hens are 12-5 in 17 NCAA playoff games played at Delaware Stadium, including a 2-1 mark during the 1997 and 2000 seasons.
The stadium is at the center of the David M. Nelson Athletic Complex that includes the $20.5 million Bob Carpenter Center, a 5,000-seat multi-purpose facility south of the stadium that opened in August, 1992, and the $3.3 million Fred P. Rullo Jr. Stadium, a 2,000-seat lighted ActionTurf field which opened in September, 1998.
Field hockey, men's lacrosse, and women's lacrosse play their homes games at Rullo Stadium, which played host to the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association North-South Senior Men's Lacrosse All-Star Game in June, 2000 as well as the US Lacrosse Team tryouts in 2001.
The Carpenter facility, named in honor of UD's longtime trustee and supporter, houses the Blue Hen football and basketball programs as well as offices, the Chuck Hall Memorial Weight Room, athletic training facilities for the football program, and a VIP center with a view to Delaware Stadium.
The Nelson athletic complex is named in honor of Delaware's longtime football coach, athletic director, and dean.
The BCC served as home to the NBA Philadelphia 76ers basketball club pre-season training camp in the fall of 1995 and 1996.
The University of Delaware athletic complex also includes 360-by-180-foot Delaware Field House, eight athletic fields - including the newly named 2,000-seat Bob Hannah Stadium, the Delaware Softball Field, the $4.5 million Ice Skating Science Development Center featuring two full-sized ice rinks, and an outdoor swimming pool.
The Delaware Mini-Stadium, located just east of Delaware Stadium, includes a newly-renovated grass field for soccer and a brand-new quarter-mile all-weather track. The new track was installed in 2000 along with permanent lights.
Two lighted football practice fields as well as the Delaware Field House Tennis Courts are part of the complex. New lights were installed on the practice field prior to the 2001 season.
Delaware Stadium's outstanding facilities earned it's selection as the host site for the 1984 and 1986 Division I NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship games and for two NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament first round games in May, 2002.
Source: University of Delaware