Image of Stanford Stadium by Cory Suppes
Stanford Stadium, the largest privately owned college football facility in the United States, has been the home of Cardinal football and track and field for more than 70 years. Completed in 1921, Stanford Stadium is considered one of the most prestigious stadiums in the country.
In 1984 and 85, the Stadium received worldwide exposure as millions of television viewers watched both Super Bowl XIX and the Olympic Soccer competition, both held in Stanford Stadium.
The eyes of the world were again focused on Stanford Stadium in the summer of 1994 as the largest sporting event in the world came to The Farm. World Cup Soccer, which was held in the United States for the first time in the history of the event, came to Stanford for six days in June and July of 1994. Stanford Stadium was one of nine sites
nationwide selected to host the competition.
Almost 500,000 fans and a worldwide television audience witnessed six matches at Stanford Stadium. Four first round matches, one second round match and one quarterfinal match were held at Stanford Stadium last summer. Among the nations represented at Stanford were teams from Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Cameroon, Romania and the United States.
Initially sparked by a feud with the University of California to see which school could complete a new football facility sooner, the construction of Stanford Stadium was accomplished in just over four months. The original design, undertaken by engineering professors Charles Wing, Charles Marz and William Durand, called for a 66-row,
U-shaped structure. Seating capacity in the original stadium was 60,000, second only to the Yale Bowl at the time. The cost of construction, estimated at $200,000, was underwritten by alumni subscriptions and the gate receipts from the 1921 Big Game vs
California. Alumni subscriptions of $100 carried with them the privilege of buying choice seats, at discount, to all intercollegiate events for the next 15 years. Later, this right was extended to a lifetime guarantee. Over $100,000 was raised in this fashion.
The first game held in the new stadium, appropriately enough, pitted Stanford against the University of California on November 19, 1921. Although the Golden Bears, who later went on to win the Rose Bowl that year, spoiled Stanford's home opener by registering a 42-7 win, Stanford did manage to score the first touchdown in history on the newly christened field.
Continually undergoing renovation, the Stadium eventually grew to its present-day capacity of 85,500. In 1925, an additional 10,200 seats were added to the facility, partially closing the horseshoe-shaped structure. An unintentional by-product of this operation was the creation of Sunken Diamond, the Stanford baseball stadium, formed by the removal of dirt needed to fill the Stadium's new embankment. In 1927, 14 additional rows of seats were added, bringing the number of present total of rows to 80.
Additional renovations were undertaken in 1960 (the incorporation of a press box), 1973 (tunnel entrances on the west side), and 1978 (installation of a Tartan Track and the north and south scoreboards).
In 1978, a tartan track was installed, providing Stanford with one of the finest outdoor running surfaces in the nation. The all-weather track is red in color, with white lanes and white trim. All jump runways are also surfaced in tartan.
Called "the best of all worlds for every event" by former head track coach Payton Jordan, the track design features heavier texture on the inside lanes for distance running and harder, faster granules on the outside lanes for sprints.
On January 20, 1985, Super Bowl XIX brought with it further renovation of the press box as well as construction of brand new locker room facilities, officials' dressing rooms, a ticket complex and additional restrooms.
World Cup Soccer '94 provided Stanford Stadium with more renovations, including expanding the lower level of the G.A. "Dick" Richards Press Box, installing aluminum bench seating throughout the stadium and reducing the crown on the playing field.
The stadium's natural turf field, named the Louis W. Foster Family Field, is considered to be one of the finest playing surfaces in the country. It is composed of a mixture of rye and bermuda grass. During football season, grass height is maintained at an even three quarters of an inch. The addition of sand every other year increases absorption
of rainwater and provides for natural drainage more effectively than any other surface in the country. The ability of the field to absorb wetness allows for play under conditions which would force many other stadiums to reschedule their events.
In 1984, Stanford Stadium served as host to eight Olympic Soccer matches, including six preliminary matches, two quarterfinal matches and one semifinal match. In an 11-day period-July 29-August 6-over 465,000 fans jammed Stanford Stadium to witness Olympic Soccer.
A year later, Stanford Stadium made history by hosting Super Bowl XIX and becoming the first college stadium to host a Super Bowl. On January 20, 1985, 84,059 fans watched Bill Walsh and his San Francisco 49ers dominate the Miami Dolphins in a 38-16 victory. MVP Joe Montana completed 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three TDs in leading his team to its second World Championship in four years.
In addition to the Super Bowl and Olympic Soccer, Stanford Stadium has served as the site of numerous other events - athletic and non-athletic alike. The stadium was the permanent home for the Shriners East-West College All-Star Football Game, played in January of each year (since moved to Pacific Bell Park). It has also been the site of a host of national and international track and field competitions, including the United States Olympic Trials in 1960. In 1962, a two-day meet between teams from the United States and the Soviet Union drew more than 150,000 spectators to Stanford Stadium.
One memorable non-athletic event which was held in the facility, was the delivery of Herbert Hoover's acceptance speech on August 12, 1928, following his nomination to run for president on the Republican Party ticket. The manager of Stanford's first football team, Hoover was later elected the 31st president of the United States.
The largest crowd ever to witness an event at Stanford was the audience at the 1935 Big Game. The attendance that day was an over-capacity 94,000, all of whom witnessed Stanford's 13-0 win over California. The Indians (later to become the Cardinal) went on to capture the 1935 Rose Bowl by defeating SMU.
Top-10 Crowds in Stanford Stadium History
|November 16, 1935||California||94,000||W||13-0|
|November 22, 1975||California||88,000||L||15-48|
|November 19, 1977||California||87,500||W||21-3|
|November 18, 1989||California||86,019||W||24-14|
|October 7, 1989||Notre Dame||86,019||L||17-27|
|November 30, 1971||California||86,000||W||14-0|
|October 10, 1970||USC||86,000||W||24-14|
|November 11, 1979||California||85,577||L||14-21|
|November 21, 1987||California||85,000||W||31-7|
|November 8, 1980||USC||84,892||L||9-34|
Source: Stanford University Sports Information Office
November 12, 1996 - It's still in the discussion stages, but Stanford Stadium has been mentioned as a possible site for a future bowl game. Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen and Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson have discussed possibilities for a new West Coast bowl game matching teams from their conferences, a game that would replace the defunct Haka Bowl if it cannot resurrect itself. Stanford athletic director Ted Leland said last week that Stanford might be agreeable to hosting such a game. A bowl game at Stanford probably could not receive NCAA certification until the 1998 season, although it could be granted for next year if it deemed an emergency situation. For Benson and the WAC, it might seem like an emergency, because the WAC is short on bowls.
Here, here for a site that had it there
John Crumpacker, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Herbert Hoover delivered his acceptance speech as the Republican Party
Jim Plunkett tossed his cookies before his first game there.
The Cold War thawed a little during a historic track and field meet there.
The 49ers won a Super Bowl there.
Olympic and World Cup soccer matches were held there.
Chelsea Clinton graduated there.
There was a lot of there, there at Stanford Stadium over the years.
Eighty-four years of there, to be exact, from the first football game held
there in 1921 to the last, Saturday night against Notre Dame.
Soon the old hulk will be no more, torn down to make room for a smaller,
modern, more fan-friendly stadium to be unveiled in September 2006. Where
spectators once got splinters in their britches from the ancient wooden plank
seats, they will be able to recline against seat-backs with cup holders for
After Stanford finished its 2005 football season Saturday night against
Notre Dame and everybody left the premises, the old leviathan of a stadium was
"decommissioned," in the words of school officials, as usable items such as
chairs, desks, television sets, phones and computers were hauled out.
Come Monday, the demolition begins. Nine months later, in the very
footprint of the old stadium, a new 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium will be
christened by the Cardinal football team in a Sept. 9, 2006, game against San
Though people who sat in the stands there, played there and coached there
have fond memories of events held in the 86,000-seat stadium, few if any are
mourning the passing of an archaic facility that featured stands too far from
the field and too few rest rooms.
"Certainly they need to do something about those bathrooms, don't they?''
said Payton Jordan, the 88-year-old former track coach who brought the historic
1962 U.S.-USSR dual meet to Stanford Stadium. "We used to line up at halftime
and never get back to see the rest of the game.''
Although Jordan is steeped in the stadium's lore, he said, "I don't think
tearing it down and rebuilding it will ever remove the history of it. It's
still going to have history and tradition. It won't change anything as far as
people coming to the game, the ambience, the tailgating. The move is a good
one, even though old-timers are saying, 'Oh, we're losing tradition.' I don't
think that's so.''
However, there was enough backlash against the new Stanford Stadium
project that the university hired spin doctors to assuage a segment of the
public resistant to change.
"We do get that as well, no question,'' said Chris Hutchins, hired
recently as special assistant to the athletic director on the stadium project.
"It's the history and tradition and beauty of the old Stanford Stadium. We can
appreciate their feelings. There was a lot of historic events held there that
they cherish to this day.''
The old stadium was a vast repository of history for more than eight
decades. Its history began with the first football game in 1921 and continued
through the years with Hoover's acceptance speech in 1928, from weeds
overrunning the unused field during the World War II years to the 1962 dual
meet of super powers on the track to men's and women's World Cup soccer matches
in 1994 and '99, respectively.
Hoover, a Stanford graduate and student manager of the school's first
football team in 1891, delivered his acceptance speech in the stadium as
Republican party nominee for president on Aug. 11, 1928. On the verge of the
Great Depression, some of his comments were sadly ironic.
"We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than
ever before in the history of any land,'' he intoned before 68,000 in the
stadium. "The poorhouse is vanishing from among us.''
Notwithstanding his address, the most important political statement made
in Stanford Stadium was the U.S.-USSR dual track meet, July 21-22, 1962. The
Cold War held sway over the two countries, the starting gun had sounded on the
space race, the Cuban Missile Crisis was three months from reaching a
nerve-racking denouement and "the Russians'' were the object of intense
interest by Americans.
Despite the heightened tension, Jordan thought he could stage a little
track meet that symbolically might help to defuse the situation. His friendship
with a Soviet athlete who had become a government sports official, Gavriel
Korobkov, made the event a reality.
"Those two guys did things their state departments could not come close to
doing,'' said Bob Murphy, Stanford's longtime radio voice. "It was a monumental
diplomatic occasion. Athletes wrapped arms around one another and walked into
the stadium. It was absolutely magic.''
People who were there -- and there were 153,000 of them over two days
-- speak of the U.S.-USSR meet in mythic terms more than four decades after
the fact. It hardly mattered that the American men won their dual meet while
the Soviet women won theirs.
What mattered was the two countries got together in friendly competition.
Ralph Boston won a close long jump duel with the great Soviet jumper Igor
Ter-Ovanesyan, 26 feet, 9 inches to 26-63/4. Future football star Paul Warfield
was third at 25-93/4.
"I don't think I could appreciate it then as much as I appreciate it
now,'' said Boston, 66. "I just enjoyed the competition and those guys,
(Valeriy) Brumel and his teammate Ter-Ovanesyan. I can't remember if the Cold
War ever came into my mind at any time. All I was thinking was here was this
super track and field team from the other side of the world.''
Boston said he was struck by the long jump runways at the old stadium.
While the track was dirt (or cinders), the runways were grass like the football
field, cut very short.
"They were fast, oh, yeah!'' Boston recalled, all these years later. "I'd
never been on a surface like that. They cut it close. It was quick, it was soft
and you didn't worry about banging your heels. Oh, I really enjoyed that
Brumel, the famous high jumper in the old straddle style, set a world
record in the meet, scaling 7 feet, 5 inches. (It would be another six years
before an American, Dick Fosbury, revolutionized the event with his eponymous
flop technique.) Another world record was set in the hammer throw by American
Hal Connolly at 231-10.
Other familiar athletes who competed at Stanford Stadium were Bob Hayes,
Wilma Rudolph, Dallas Long, Al Oerter and the infamous Press sisters of the
USSR, Irina and Tamara. Irina won the 80-meter hurdles while Tamara took the
shot put and discus throw.
When sex tests of female athletes were instituted after the 1964 Olympic
Games, the Press sisters disappeared from international competition.
"I remember the Soviet women, the Press sisters,'' said Keith Conning, a
Cal student at the time, now retired as a Berkeley High School teacher and
coach. "They were huge athletes. ... There was a reason for that.''
The U.S.-USSR dual meet would be held in future years, notably at Cal's
Edwards Stadium in 1978 before the last capacity crowd at that facility, but
the 1962 version is the one people remember.
"The community welcomed the athletes, had them in their homes,'' said
Jordan, who served as meet director. "They had a wonderful time. It was
breaking down the Cold War friction that everyone had. We found them to be a
warm group. We ate together, danced together, played soccer together. It was a
real mixer. We found out they liked some of the same things we did.''
Of the hundreds of football games held there, the Big Games, the East-West
Shrine Games, Super Bowl XIX in 1985, the one that Plunkett remembered most
vividly was the first game of the 1968 season, against San Jose State. He was a
sophomore starting his first college game.
"I literally got sick to my stomach,'' Plunkett said. "A little nervous
stomach, prior to the game.''
He settled down, or rather, his stomach did, and he led Stanford to a
"I thought it was a great place to play, a historic old stadium with a lot
of tradition. A lot of quarterbacks went through that stadium on the way to the
NFL. I thoroughly enjoyed playing in that arena. I remember walking down the
ramp for games coming from the old locker room. It was a great experience, one
I'll never forget.''
Plunkett plumbed his memory and came up with a 1957 game against Oregon
State that marked his first time in Stanford Stadium.
"I was there on a fifth-grade class trip to see a football game,'' he
said. "It left an impression on me even though they lost. It was the first
football game of my life. They got beat soundly, but I enjoyed the experience.
It might have planted a seed in my head that this is where I want to go.''
Years later, Plunkett would take part in one of the more memorable Big
Games held at Stanford Stadium, the 72nd version on Nov. 22, 1969. Stanford
needed every one of his 381 yards passing and two touchdowns to defeat the
Ten years earlier, Stanford's Dick Norman set a still-standing Big Game
record with 401 yards passing but the Indians, as they were called then, lost
to Cal on Nov. 21, 1959, by a 20-17 count.
"I always said it was the greatest non-winning performance in Stanford
history,'' radio man Murphy said.
Murphy has been behind the microphone for Stanford football since 1964. He
saw his first Stanford game in 1940. He recalled the genesis of the term "Wow
Boys,'' which is what Stanford teams of 1940-41 coached by Clark Shaughnessy
"I was nine years old,'' Murphy said. "They came out with the T-formation.
They came out with these white helmets, white pants and bright red jerseys.
Nobody had seen anything like it. Everybody said, 'Wow!' "
The 1963 Big Game at Stanford Stadium, scheduled for Nov. 23, was
postponed a week because of the assassination in Dallas of President John F.
Kennedy. The extra time allowed Stanford halfback Steve Thurlow to heal his
bruised thigh. He rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns in his team's 28-17
win over Cal.
Stanford Stadium was the site of hundreds of college football games, and
it also hosted two NFL games, both featuring the 49ers: Super Bowl XIX on Jan.
20, 1985, and an irregular regular-season game on Oct. 22, 1989. The Loma
Prieta earthquake that hit on Oct. 17 forced the 49ers out of their home for a
week as structural engineers examined Candlestick Park and assessed the damage.
So San Francisco's game against the New England Patriots was held at good
old Stanford Stadium, decades older than Candlestick but holding up just fine
(except for those accursed bathrooms).
The 49ers beat the Patriots that day 37-20 but what the game is remembered
for, sadly, is the play that left San Francisco safety Jeff Fuller partially
paralyzed, unable to move his right arm. He went to tackle New England running
back John Stephens and wrenched his neck to such an extent there was nerve
damage that left his right arm hanging limp afterward.
"Me and Jeff came in together as rookies,'' said Guy McIntyre, a guard on
both those 49ers teams. "The hit was loud. You knew something was wrong. My
rookie year, me and Jeff had a great experience (at Stanford in the Super
Bowl). Years later, it was the site of tragedy. Stanford Stadium holds some
highs and lows. Even though they're going to rebuild the stadium, the site will
always have highs and lows for me.''
That somber event stood in marked contrast to the euphoria five years
earlier of Super Bowl XIX and the 49ers' 38-16 "home field'' victory over the
Miami Dolphins. McIntyre was one of 11 49ers to see action in the only two NFL
games ever held at Stanford Stadium.
As a rookie, McIntyre played on the second line of the 49ers' kickoff
receiving team. In the second quarter of the Super Bowl, a kickoff came to him.
He fielded the ball and was hit by a Dolphin and fumbled. Miami recovered and
kicked a field goal.
"I remember thinking, 'Man, if we lose this game by less than three
points, I'm going to run out of the stadium in my uniform,' " said McIntyre,
now the club's director of player development. "Fortunately, we won the game. I
have a picture of myself pointing up to the stands. I was pointing to my mom
and I was hoping she saw me. I'm sure she saw me, being my mom.''
With the new stadium designed to seat a cozy 50,000, it is unlikely an NFL
game will ever again be held in the footprint of old Stanford Stadium.
New stadium or old, the facility still will be the site of graduation
ceremonies for Stanford students, one of whom was the First Daughter, Chelsea
Clinton, in 2001. It remains to be seen whether international soccer games will
be held in the new stadium.
The old Stanford Stadium drew huge crowds for nine Olympic matches in 1984
as part of the Los Angeles Games, six men's World Cup games in 1994 and a
women's World Cup semifinal in 1999.
The '94 World Cup forced long-overdue renovations to the old hulk,
including the installation of a press-box elevator, loge seats for the FIFA
swells and aluminum benches to replace the aging planks.
"You didn't go sideways,'' track coach Jordan said of the old wooden
seats. "You went straight up. Otherwise, you'd get impaled.''
The NFL attempted a cover-up for Super Bowl XIX when hundreds of high
school students were recruited to place 85,000 seat cushions on the old planks.
A year from now, fans will have chair backs with arm rests from goal line to
goal line. End-zone seats will have backs but no arm rests.
Most important, the $90 million project calls for 50 percent more toilets
in a facility that will have 30,000 fewer seats than the old one. Now, that's
progress. The only part of the old stadium that will remain is the relatively
new press-box elevator.
"You can't sit on tradition alone,'' Jordan said. "You've got to keep
Though the stadium will be razed for a modern reincarnation, its history
isn't going anywhere. It's right there, in the footprint of a giant.
stadium capacity to a 50,000 seat, two-tiered bowl, creating a more cozy and
electrifying game experience
-- Removal of track and fencing to enhance sightlines bringing spectators
70-100 feet closer to the field of action
-- More comfortable seating with increased leg room (convert benches to
armchair seats on sidelines; seatbacks in end zones)
-- Improved guest access with three new tunnels (seven total) and better
circulation via expanded lower bowl concourse and new upper bowl concourse
-- New and increased number of restrooms; all restrooms will have universal
-- Upgraded concessions with closed circuit TVs at all concession stands
-- An improved distributed sound system and a new matrix video board at
South End Scoreboard
-- New and expanded press box
-- More reliable, low maintenance synthetic turf
-- Improved ADA accessibility and increased seating for disabled
ceremonial dig started the project after Saturday night's Notre Dame game,
demolition begins in earnest on Monday.
-- The new stadium is to be ready for Stanford's first 2006 home game,
Sept. 9 against San Jose State
-- It will cost about $90 million.
Top 10 events hosted by Stanford Stadium
1. July 21-22, 1962 -- U.S. vs. USSR track and field
Dual meet, a historic diplomatic gesture amid the Cold War, drew 153,000
over two days. World records by Valeriy Brumel in high jump, Hal Connolly in
2. Aug. 11, 1928 -- Herbert Hoover acceptance speech
Stanford grad (and 1895 football team manager) accepted presidential
nomination of Republican party before 68,000.
3. Jan. 20, 1985 -- Super Bowl XIX
Joe Montana passed for 331 yards, three touchdowns as 49ers defeated Miami
38-16 in first of two NFL games held in stadium.
4. June 20-July 10, 1994 -- Men's World Cup soccer
Six matches, including a quarterfinal and a historic U.S.-Brazil
second-round game, drew 500,000 for the world's largest sporting event.
5. Nov. 19, 1921 -- First football game in stadium
Fittingly, it's the 27th Big Game, won by Cal 42-7. Archie Nisbet, Duke
Morrison and Charley Erb starred for the Bears.
6. Nov. 21, 1925 -- 31st Big Game
With Pop Warner coaching and Ernie Nevers running, Stanford defeated Cal
7. July 4, 1999 -- Women's World Cup soccer
U.S. beats Brazil 2-0 in front of 73,153, putting Girls of Summer into the
championship game, where they won the Cup.
8. Nov. 21, 1959 -- 62nd Big Game
Dick Norman passed for a Big Game-record 401 yards for Stanford, but it
wasn't enough as the Bears triumphed 20-17.
9. Nov. 22, 1969 -- 72nd Big Game
The next season's Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett passed for 381 yards
and two touchdowns as Stanford won a thriller 29-28.
10. July 28-Aug. 10, 1984 -- Men's Olympic soccer matches
A total of 465,000 fans watched eight preliminary games and one semifinal
as part of Los Angeles Olympic Games' program.
E-mail John Crumpacker at firstname.lastname@example.org.