Welcome to "The Swamp"
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field -- the site of the largest football crowd (collegiate or professional) in state of Florida History (85,700+ November 25, 1995 vs. FSU) -- has moved into the national spotlight in recent years as one of collegiate football's best stadiums, from a player and fan standpoint.
The 1995 season marks the 66th year that Florida Field is the home of the Gators. Prior to the 1989 season, Florida Field took on the expanded name of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in honor of Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., a life-long Gator supporter and fan who has been extremely benevolent and generous to several sectors at the University of Florida prior to his passing in March of 1990. Florida Field was originally dedicated on November 8, 1930 when Florida met Alabama. Over the years, Florida Field has become a standing remembrance to all Floridians who have died in military service to our nation.
With the crowning jewel of Florida Field -- the north endzone expansion project - - completed prior to the 1991 season, capacity now stands at 83,000, making Florida Field one of the eight largest on-campus stadiums in the nation. With the addition of the 10,000 seats, the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons saw UF draw the top 18 crowds (collegiate, professional, bowl and Super Bowl games) in the state of Florida history.
The addition, which transformed Florida Field form a horseshoe to a bowl, cost $17 million and involved no state funding. The structure added 18 skyboxes to the stadium, which now has 46 skyboxes. Also, the structure has 2,000 clue-level seats, 1,300 covered chairback seats, 5,000 upper-level chairbacks, concession stands and a gift shop. The structure is home to Gator Boosters, Inc., which funds men's and women's athletic scholarships and capital improvement projects.
In August 1982, the south end-zone project was completed and raised the seating capacity of ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field to over 72,000 and gave the Gator football program one of the nation's top collegiate stadiums. Since that time, Florida has ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance for 11 consecutive years.
The 18,000 seats with the 1982 expansion and the addition of a athletic training center located beneath the stands in the south endzone, were all part of a master plan to develop athletic facilities at Florida that are second to none. The Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., Athletic Training Center, the luxury skyboxes and a spacious and highly-functional press box combined to make Florida Field the premier collegiate stadium in the state of Florida.
The original stadium, constructed in 1930, consisted of the lower half of the current stadium. Seating capacity was 21,769. The entire stadium was constructed below ground. In 1950, over 11,000 seats were added on the west side and another 7,000 were provided by bleachers on the east side. The additions brought seating capacity to 40,116. Additional bleacher seats were added during the 1950s, bringing capacity to 46,164 by 1960. In December of 1965, construction started again on further additions that added over 10,000 permanent seats on
the east side and temporary bleachers moved from the east side to the south endzone, providing a total capacity of 62,800 (56,164 permanent seats). The south endzone expansion in '82 enclosed the south end of the stadium, and brought the capacity to 72,000. The north endzone transformed the horseshoe into a bowl and raised capacity to 83,000.
The Swamp is the nickname for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field. A 67 year old stadium that has evolved over the years into a place only 2 of 44 opponents have survived in the last 6 years. It is the 4th most hostile crowd in NCAA Football according to ESPN, and the Atlanta Constitution called The Swamp "The loudest, most obnoxious and notorious piece of real estate in all of college football" (this is coming from those classy DAWGS....). It is the largest stadium in the state of Florida and top five in the country in college football attendance.
The original football stadium, initial capacity was 21,769, the lower half of the current stadium, was constructed in 1930. The completion of the South End Zone project in August of 1982 raised the seating capacity to over 72,000. The addition of the North End Zone brought the capacity over 84,000 seats and made Florida Field the largest stadium in the state of Florida and one of the largest and loudest anywhere in the country. Another couple of thousand squeeze their way in (I once climbed over the fence behind the athletic dormitory and watched the game from inside the rafters) and find themselves screaming for our beloved Gators.
Despite a no-alcohol rule, you can find the occasional leather boot, plastic baggie, or even re-cycled coke can containing booze of any sort (they do serve alcohol and great food in the skyboxes). Also, Florida is one of few schools that issue a "passout" so you can take a break from the sometimes hot and crowded confines, only to find most of the people "passing out" at the Purple Porpoise (a local bar famous for its wings on University Ave).
Florida Field is a bowl stadium with some openings, but for the most part it has seats all the way around. Due to this bowl configuration and its steep (believe me, when you sneak in... you must stand all the way up there) seating angle it gets very, very LOUD!!
I have had the pleasure of being in every area of the stadium and there is not a bad seat in the house. During the off-season, its open to anyone. I have walked around the place. It is majestic and walking on that grass brought me chills. Between the 3rd and 4th quarter, their is a dizzying effect from fans singing "We Are The Boys From Old Florida". During a game its nothing but orange and blue. To listen at the alumni side compete with the student side in the traditional ORANGE AND BLUE chant is amazing. More importantly, lets not forget Mr. Two-Bits. George Edmundson has been Mr. Two-Bits for 40+ years. He goes around the whole stadium in the goofy yellow shirt and tie, getting everybody in a seating section all pumped up with "2-bits, 4-bits, 8-bits, a dollar.... all for the Gators get up and HOLLER!!!!!!"
Its an incredible experience that I dearly miss. I have not been there since we beat Tennessee in 1993 (We kicked their ass!!)
April 16, 1930
Construction begins on original Florida Field
October 27, 1930
Construction completed on original Florida Field (capacity 21,769)... The original stadium
consisted of the lower half of the current stadium
November 8, 1930
Dedication of Florida Field as sellout crowd of of 21,769 watches Florida vs. Alabama...
The legendary Red Barber, a UF student, calls the play-by-play
October 13, 1934
Florida Field dedicated to memory of servicemen who died in World War I
December 16, 1949
Plans drawn to add 11,200 seats to west stands... Expansion completed for 1950 season,
bringing total capacity including temporary bleachers to 40,116
September 23, 1950
The first night game is played at Florida Field versus The Citadel
Construction starts on east side 10,000-seat addition, bringing permanent seating to
56,164... Also temporary bleachers moved to south end zone for total capacity of 62,800
during 1966 season.
Artificial surface installed
Completion of south end zone, bringing capacity to 72,000... Also athletic training center
and skybox tower and modern press box involved in this project
September 9, 1989
Football stadium named Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field during dedication
ceremonies. The stadium is named in honor of Ben Hill Griffin Jr., a life-long Gator
supporter and fan who had been extremely benevolent and generous to several sectors at the
University of Florida
June 30, 1990
Natural grass replaces artificial turf at Florida Field
Construction completed on new north end zone... Capacity now stands at 83,000, making
Florida Field one of the eight largest on-campus collegiate football stadiums in the
nation and the largest in the state of Florida...The north end zone addition costs $17
million, but involves no state funding
November 30, 1991
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the site of the largest football crowd (collegiate or
professional) in state of Florida history (85,461 vs. FSU)... During the 1991 and 1992
seasons the stadium will be the site of the 12 largest crowds in state history
October 12, 1991
The official dedication of the new north end zone is held, as Florida meets Tennessee...
Red Barber, who called the original dedication game in 1930, is UF's special guest of
End of 1991 Season
Head Coach Steve Spurrier tags Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field "The
Swamp"... Spurrier says, "The swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable
there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be
From Ocala, Fl. (Interstate 75, State Road 441)
Take I-75 North to exit 76 (State Road 26, Oaks Mall, Newberry
Road) and make a right onto Newberry Road (State Road 26) heading East. Follow
Newberry Road (which turns into University Avenue) approximately 5-6 miles to North-South
Drive. Make a right onto North-South Drive, into the O'Connell Center parking lot.
State Road 441
Take 441 North (also called SW 13th Street) to West University
Avenue, and make a left turn on West University Avenue. Travel West to North-South
Drive. Make a left on North-South Drive, into the O'Connell center parking lot.
From Tallahassee, Fl. (Interstate 75)
Take Interstate 75 South to exit 76 (State Road 26, Oaks Mall,
Newberry Road) and make a right onto Newberry Road (State Road 26) heading East.
Follow Newberry Road (which turns into University Avenue) approximately 5-6 miles to
North-South Drive. Make a right onto North-South Drive, into the O'Connell Center
From Jacksonville, Fl. (Interstate 10)
Take Interstate 10 to State Road 301 South to Waldo. Take
State Road 24 West to East University Avenue in Gainesville (State Road 26). Make a
right on East University Avenue and follow through Gainesville. East University
Avenue will turn into West University Avenue at North Main Street. Follow University
Avenue West until you reach North-South Drive. Turn left on North-South Drive into
the O'Connell Center parking lot.
Source: Swamp Facts