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Notre Dame Stadium

Aerial View
Copyright 2003 by Aerial Views Publishing

  Venue Particulars  
Address Edison Road & Juniper Road
South Bend, IN 46600
Phone (219) 631-7246
Seating Weather
Satellite View
Fighting Irish Gear
  Venue Resources  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in South Bend

  The Facility  
Date Opened 1930
Major Renovation August 1, 1997
Notre Dame University
(Notre Dame University)
Surface Kentucky Blue Grass
Cost of Construction $750,000
Cost of Renovation $53 million
Stadium Architect (Renovation) Ellerbe Becket
Contractors /
Construction Managers
Casteel Construction Corp.
Capacity 80,795
Luxury Suites None
Club Seats None
  Other Facts  
Tenants Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(NCAA) (1930-Present)
Population Base 750,000
On Site Parking 20,000
Nearest Airport South Bend Regional Airport (SBN)

Championships 1st

Sources: Mediaventures

For all the legendary players and memorable moments it has hosted on its bluegrass turf over the years, Notre Dame Stadium has unquestionably developed a lore all its own. The stadium continues to be one of the most recognizable and revered structures in the world of sport.

It was the success of Knute Rockne's Notre Dame football teams - plus the legendary coach's own personal building blueprint - that prompted the addition of Notre Dame Stadium to the University's athletic plant back in 1930.

The spirit that was imbued by the Rockne era- and has been sustained by the seven Heisman Trophy winners and dozens more All-Americans who have competed on that turf- has changed little in those six decades of football in Notre Dame Stadium.

The Fighting Irish first played their games on Cartier Field, then located just north of the current stadium site. But as the University's national football reputation expanded, thanks to the coaching of Knute Rockne, the need for a new home for the Irish was voiced since no more than 30,000 fans could squeeze into the Cartier facility.

Architectural blueprints and bids were received from prominent contractors throughout the nation once plans became more specific by 1929. The Osborn Engineering Company, which had designed more than 50 stadia in the country-including Comiskey Park in Chicago, Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds in New York City, and facilities at Michigan, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota-was awarded the contract and excavation began that summer.

Actual labor on the foundations of the Stadium did not commence until April, 1930, but four months later Notre Dame Stadium opened its 18 gates and assumed its place as a campus landmark.

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The Stadium measures a half-mile in circumference, stands 45 feet high and features a glass-enclosed press box rising 60 feet above ground level and originally accommodating 264 writers plus facilities for photographers and radio and television broadcasters. There are more than 2,000,000 bricks in the edifice, 400 tons of steel and 15,000 cubic yards of concrete. The total cost of construction exceeded $750,000, and architecturally the Notre Dame Stadium was patterned, on a smaller scale, after the University of Michigan's mammoth stadium.

Though Rockne had a chance to coach in the new facility only in its initial season of use, he took a personal hand in its design. The sod from Cartier Field was transplanted into the new Stadium, but Rockne insisted on its use for football only. He kept the area between the field and the stands small to keep sideline guests, as he called them, to a minimum - and he personally supervised the parking and traffic system that basically is the same one in use today.

With a crowd on hand far less than the 54,000 capacity-the Irish opened the facility by defeating Southern Methodist 20-14 on October 4, 1930. Official dedication ceremonies came a week later against traditional foe Navy. This time, more than 40,000 fans cheered a 26-2 triumph over the Midshipmen. Frank E. Hering, captain of the 1898 team and the first Notre Dame coach as well as president of the Alumni Association, delivered the major speech during the ceremonies.

It took another year before the Irish played before their first capacity crowd (50,731 for the '31 Southern Cal game), but full houses and Notre Dame victories have been the rule rather than the exception. Since that 1930 opening, the Irish have compiled an impressive 243-70-5 (.772) mark in Notre Dame Stadium, while an average of 52,219 spectators have watched.

During 24 of those seasons the Irish did not lose a home game. Beginning with a 27-20 victory over Northwestern on November 21, 1942, and ending with a 28-14 loss to Purdue on October 7, 1950-Notre Dame won 28 consecutive games in Notre Dame Stadium.

Notre Dame's largest crowd ever to witness a game, at the time, in the Stadium was 61,296 in a 24-6 loss to Purdue on October 6, 1962. However, attendance figures since 1966 have been based on paid admissions, rather than total in the house, thus accounting for the familiar 59,075 figure every week. Since that 1966 season every Irish home game has been a sellout, with the exception of a Thanksgiving Day matchup with Air Force in 1973. That game, won by the Irish 48-15, had been changed to the holiday to accomodate national TV and was played with students absent from campus.

Navy again was the opponent in 1979 when Notre Dame celebrated the 50th season of service of Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish prevailed 14-0 as commemorative edition tickets which were authentic reproductions of those used for the 1930 dedication game were used.

The final home game of 1991 against Tennessee saw two more stadium milestones reached. The 100th straight sellout crowd entered the stadium, which was hosting its 300th game since the 1930 opening. Since that day, 229 of the 318 games (including 166 of the last 167) played in Notre Dame Stadium have been viewed by capacity crowds for a .720 percentage. On the road the Irish have played before 208 capacity crowds among the 360 games (.578). The total .645 percentage includes 437 capacity crowds of 678 games.

Notre Dame Stadium has undergone an expansion that represents an increase of approximately 20,000 seats in the stadium's current capacity. Construction was scheduled to begin at the end of the 1995 football season and was scheduled to be completed for the 1997 season at the cost of approximately $50 million.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame approved a plan to expand the facility to a capacity of approximately 80,225 seats on May 6, 1994. The action of the Trustees culminated a long and comprehensive review within the University of the feasibility and desirability of stadium expansion.

"The need for additional seats never has been an issue," says Andrew J. McKenna, chairman of the Trustees. "Alumni in particular have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of opportunities to return to campus for football games. What was needed, however, was a plan of expansion which would not interfere in the rapid academic advancements being made by the University and which, in fact, would be capable of contributing to academic and student life needs."

The project was financed primarily by the issuance of bonds, according to Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., Notre Dame's executive vice president and chair of the faculty board for athletics.

"We have structured the financing of this project so that it will neither draw funds from other University purposes nor interfere with University fund-raising to meet other academic goals," says Father Beauchamp. "The plan conservatively projects sufficient revenues from expansion both to repay the debt arising from the bond sale and to generate additional income that can be devoted to the University's academic needs and student life needs."

Even without expansion, Father Beauchamp says, needed renovation and improvements to the stadium would have required a substantial investment. "In light of our increasing inability to meet alumni demand for tickets, it only make sense that we address both issues at the same time," says Beauchamp.

Stadium expansion was the subject of one of 43 recommendations submitted to the Trustees in May of 1993 by Notre Dame's president, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., in his final report of the Colloquy for the Year 2000. The Colloquy was a University-wide self-study carried out by committees composed of faculty, students and staff.

Father Malloy's report specified the conditions addressed by the approved expansion plan with regards to financing and use of stadium revenues, as well as matters of aesthetics, logistics, community relations and communications. The plan approved by the Board of Trustees addresses each of these issues, Father Beauchamp says.

Detailed design plans for the expanded stadium still are being finalized, but will remain a traditional bowl, with additional rows of seats providing the enlarged capacity. Other major improvements will include new restrooms and concessions facilities, as well as a new press box. The major construction effort will be carried out in the months between the 1995 and 1996, and 1996 and 1997 football seasons, with the stadium remaining in use during those seasons.

Image of Notre Dame Stadium by Joe Shepherd, thanks Joe

Notre Dame Stadium now ranks 44th in seating capacity among the 107 Division I-A football facilities. With capacity increased to 80,225, it would rank 14th. Since 1966, lotteries have been in use for alumni ticket sales, and in each of the last four years, more money has been returned to alumni in unfilled ticket orders than has been kept by the University in ticket sales to alumni. Even with expansion, lotteries will continue to be necessary to meet alumni demand, but the odds of success will improve markedly.

Alumni will be the major beneficiaries of the expansion, but the plan also envisions increased access to tickets for University benefactors, the parents of Notre Dame students and University employees.

Source: University of Notre Dame Sports Information Office

On July 16, 2003 J.G. Savoldi wrote: My grandfather-"Jumping Joe" Savoldi scored the first Notre Dame touchdown in the current stadium when he returned a kickoff 98 yards for a TD against SMU in 1930. The following week during the opening dedication game against Navy he was again the hero of the day with three more TD's on runs of 45, 23 and 5 yards. He carried the ball 11 times for 123 yards on the day.

Notre Dame Stadium's First Hero
Baltimore Sun
October 11, 1930

The first hero in the lore of Notre Dame's $750,000 stadium is non other than the renowned hod carrier from Three Oaks, Michigan, "Galloping Joe" Savoldi.

Piercing through the Navy's defense when all the rest of Knute Rockne's famous "shock troops" failed, Savoldi made the dedication ceremonies for the new stadium perfect by leading Notre Dame to a 26-2 victory over the Middies.

Three times did "Galloping Joe" crash through and around the Navy wall for touchdowns, and many more times did he back up a staggering line with a brand of unbeatable defensive play.

The rest of the Irish, at last with a home of their own, did their share and two others joined in the scoring, but Savoldi stood out of the fight like a man mountain. forty thousand home fans, who came to cheer Rockne and the stadium he built, cheered for "Galloping Joe."

Nearly 50,000 people crowed into the stadium to see the warriors of the Green open an era in their football history.

I'm building a tribute website called to honor my grandfather and also relaunch a product he sold in the 40's. The proceeds will be used to build and run a boy's camp. This was his dream prior to his early death.

#18 Notre Dame Stadium CNN/SI - Century's Best - SI's Top 20 Venues of the 20th Century - June 3, 1999
Touchdown Jesus keeps an eye on one end zone, and Knute Rockne watches over the rest of the field. Rockne built his dream stadium and coached here in 1930, its first season, his last.

Notre Dame Stadium, maybe the most renowned college football facility in the nation, now qualifies as one of the most up to date as well, thanks to a major addition and renovations that boosted its capacity to more than 80,000 beginning with the 1997 campaign.

The '96 campaign proved to be the final one in which the customary 59,075 fans gathered for Irish home games. Nearly two years worth of additions and improvements to the yellow-bricked arena were part of a $50 million expansion project that added more than 21,000 seats beginning with the '97 season.

The current capacity of Notre Dame Stadium is 80,795, a figure that was modified in 2001 from 80,232. In 1997, the figure was 80,225 which was based on computerized seating projections made prior to the completion of the construction of the new seating area.

Notre Dame's football team completed its '95 home schedule Nov. 4 against Navy - and by the following Monday groundbreaking ceremonies had been held and work had begun on the 21-month construction project that was completed Aug. 1, 1997.

Elements of the construction included:
* All field seating and the first three rows in the permanent stands were eliminated to improve sight lines.
* A new natural-grass field and a new drainage system were put in place.
* Two new scoreboards were erected on the north and south ends of the Stadium.
* A Jim and Marilyn Fitzgerald Family Sports and Communications Center, a new three-tier press box with views of both the field and the campus, was constructed on the west side - with seating for 330 media in the main portion of the press box, three television broadcast booths, five radio broadcast booths and an overall increase in square footage almost four times the original space.
* New landscaping created a park-like setting on the periphery of the Stadium.
* The lockerrooms for both Notre Dame and the visiting team more than doubled in size - with the Irish locker area also serving as a permanent area used by Irish players all year long for both games and practices. In addition, a new, expanded training room was constructed adjacent to the lockerroom.
* Lights were installed in each corner of the Stadium bowl and on top of the press box in time for use in the final month of the '96 season.
* Material for the project included 240,000 concrete blocks, 700,000 new bricks, 500 cubic yards of mortar, 25,000 cubic yards of cast-in-place concrete, five miles of new handrails and guardrails - and eight and a half miles of redwood seating.
* More than 3,500 sheets of drawings were used to build the project.
* Eleven new openings, for a total of 31, were cut into the old Stadium brick exterior to allow fans to connect the old and new lower concourse areas.
* The lettering at the north and south canopy as well as the interlocking ND logo at the top of the press box west face are gold laminate.
* Within the design of the entry gates, fans may notice the diagonal stripes of the end zone, hash marks and a football.
* All existing urinals were refinished as part of the renovation, and there are approximately two-and-a-half times more new women's toilets.
* Each of the approximately 44,000 old seating brackets was sandblasted and recoated with an epoxy primer.
* Glazed brick was salvaged and reused in the expanded varsity locker area.
* Notre Dame players continue to enter the field down a set of stairs past the "Play Like A Champion" sign, but stairs to the visiting locker room have been eliminated, with the top of the processional tunnel ramp now serving as the visiting team entrance.

Casteel Construction Corp. of South Bend was the general contractor for the project. Ellerbe Becket, Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., was the architect.

The expanded Notre Dame Stadium was dedicated on the weekend of Notre Dame's 1997 season-opening game against Georgia Tech, with events including a three-day open house, a first-ever pep rally in the Stadium the evening prior to the first game (more than 35,000 fans attended), plus a Saturday morning rededication breakfast followed by a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. Every former Notre Dame football player was offered the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Georgia Tech game and prior to the game the '97 Irish team ran through a tunnel of those former players in attendance (those practices continue for the first home game every season).

Other elements of the weekend included a specially-designed rededication logo, a commemorative video and coffee-table book detailing the construction project and an official flip coin for the game against Georgia Tech. The official game program included a 24-page reproduction of the 1930 dedication game program and a 16-page color insert highlighting the expansion.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame approved the plan to expand the facility on May 6, 1994. The action of the Trustees culminated a long and comprehensive review within the University of the feasibility and desirability of stadium expansion.

The project was financed primarily by the November 1994 issuance of $53 million in tax-exempt, fixed-rate bonds. The bonds were sold in 26 states and the District of Columbia, with more than 20 percent sold to retail buyers and almost 80 percent to institutional buyers.

The incremental revenues from the expansion will exceed the debt service on the bonds by $47 million over the next 30 years, allowing the project not only to pay for itself, but also to generate $47 million for academic and student life needs.

Stadium expansion was the subject of one of 43 recommendations submitted to the Trustees in May of 1993 by Notre Dame's president, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., in his final report of the Colloquy for the Year 2000. The Colloquy was a University-wide self-study carried out by committees composed of faculty, students and staff.

Father Malloy's report specified the conditions addressed by the approved expansion plan with regards to financing and use of stadium revenues, as well as matters of aesthetics, logistics, community relations and communications. The plan approved by the Board of Trustees addressed each of those issues.

Impetus for the Stadium addition came in September 1991 when the national board of directors of the Notre Dame Alumni Association adopted a resolution encouraging the University to study the feasibility of expanding the Stadium.

Notre Dame Stadium, at 59,075, previously ranked 44th in seating capacity among the 107 Division I-A football facilities.

With capacity increased to 80,795, it now ranks 15th - with Notre Dame ranking eighth nationally in attendance in 1997, 11th in '98, 10th in '99, 13th in 2000 and 14th in 2001. Notre Dame's average per-game increase of 21,150 fans in '97 ranked second nationally and helped contribute to record attendance figures of 36.9 million in '97 for all of college football, including 27.5 million for Division I-A games.

Alumni are the major beneficiaries of the expansion, with about 16,000 of the 21,000 new seats allocated to Notre Dame graduates, with access primarily through the lottery. Increased access to tickets also is in place for University benefactors, the parents of Notre Dame students and University employees. Full-time University support staff now enjoy the same access to tickets as faculty and administrators. Ticket allotments for alumni clubs and class "mini-reunions" also have increased.

Ticket Breakdown
Season Tickets20,000
University Allotments7,000
Contributing Alumni30,000+
June 2007
+Includes University Trustees, advisory council members, alumni board, alumni clubs, major benefactors and others.

Source: University of Notre Dame Sports Information Office

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Cartier Field
Cartier Field

Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Stadium

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