Standing on the site where Vanderbilt has played football for more than
70 years, Vanderbilt Stadium rises proudly as the "Home of the Commodores."
After a $10.1 million construction project in 1981, the stadium was dedicated in September of that year in a game against Maryland. Vanderbilt posted a come from behind victory, beating the heavily favored Terrapins 23-17.
The 41,000-seat facility offers the latest in comfort and convenience for both fans and players. The home and visitor dressing rooms feature 10,000 square feet of space. Ten restrooms, seven concession stands, two vending rooms, one food preparation room and two first aid stations are also incorporated in the stadium.
A 17,000-square-foot pressbox, approximately eight times the size of the original, consists of four levels and is serviced by two elevators. The first two levels are for donors. One consists of 332 theatre seats enclosed on three sides, while the second offers 15 luxurious boxes, each seating eight fans. The third level is the working press area and the fourth is a huge photo deck.
Extensive landscaping, a concourse walkway around the stadium, three entry pavilions and six ticket booths are also part of the plan.
Perhaps the most astonishing fact about the facility is that the previously existing stadium was completely demolished (except for metal stands seating 12,088) and a new one built within the space of nine months.
The process began in December of 1980 when a giant steel ball began crashing-in the concrete stands in the horseshoe-shaped south end zone of Dudley Field. The east and west stands were demolished a little later and the debris hauled away. At the same time, the old press box was dismantled.
Perhaps the most spectacular feat came when the existing steel bleachers were raised some 10 feet through the use of 22 hydraulic jacks-each rated to lift 30 tons. The west stands were raised on Dec. 30, 1980, and the east bleachers on Feb. 3, 1981. Each set of stands weighed approximately 400 tons.
The steel sections had been sandblasted down to the bare metal, primed and painted gray during the summer of 1980. New aluminum bleacher seats had also been installed and a new AstroTurf playing surface placed down.
Construction on the new stadium began with the drilling of 277 caissons for the foundation. Concrete and reinforcing steel were placed in the caissons and 22-inch round columns then erected.
Once the columns were complete, pre-cast concrete beams, which had been produced and stored at the Breeko Industries plant in Nashville through the fall and winter months, were hoisted into place. Pre-cast concrete risers were then installed and aluminum bleachers firmly bolted into place.
Foster and Creighton Co., the firm that served as construction manager for the stadium, did a masterful job in bringing the project in on time and for a cost of of $260 a seat, a bargain price by today's standards. All told, 32,805,000 pounds of concrete and 1,400,000 pounds of new steel were used in building the magnificent facility.
The original Dudley Field was the first stadium erected exclusively for college football in the South. Dedicated on Oct. 14, 1922, the first game featured a scoreless tie between the Commodores and national power Michigan.
Before the game, the field was named for Dr. William Dudley, Dean of the Vanderbilt Medical College from 1885 until his death in 1914. Dr. Dudley was the outstanding academic leader of his day in Southern football and one of its foremost national leaders.
Dudley organized the old Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1893 and in 1906 helped organize the NCAA, of which he later served as vice-president.
In 1922, the concrete-tiered, horseshoe-shaped stadium seated 20,000 spectators, a magnificent structure for the time. Additional seating was added through the years, eventually bringing Dudley Field to a capacity of 34,000.
Source: Vanderbilt University Sports Information Office
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
September 11, 2010 - Football traditions here at Vanderbilt, located right in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, go way back to the 1890’s, but the current incarnation of Vanderbilt Stadium, home of the Commodores, is as recent as 1981.
That is the year when most of the old stadium was razed, hydraulic jacks were used to raise the remaining structure by 10 feet, and a new Vanderbilt Stadium was erected, a 41,448 seat horseshoe shaped facility, colored in battleship gray to replicate the nautical theme that is the Commodores.
The location of the stadium is woven into a tight and dense urban campus, with commercial areas, nearby hotels and residential areas just a stone’s throw away from the venue itself. As such, tailgating is somewhat sparse and random, although adjoining streets are all closed off before and after the game, and street vendors and outside music make for sort of a festive scene.
The stadium lays claim to being a former NFL venue. When the Houston Oilers moved to this region, they bounced around between Memphis and Nashville, and in 1998, the Oilers played their home schedule at Vanderbilt Stadium while they awaited the completion of their current stadium, LP Field on the waterfront in downtown Nashville. A jumbotron scoreboard was added in the open end zone along with several other facility improvements to make it NFL ready, but those amenities are sorely lacking in today’s day and age.
With the Vanderbilt program being so woeful over the years and decades, fan support here is somewhat muted, and on this day, the visiting LSU Tigers and their fans absolutely took over the place, and almost the entire grandstand was colored visiting purple and yellow, completely overwhelming the home team’s student section. On the field it was all LSU, delivering a 27-3 drubbing to Vanderbilt.
VANDERBILT ADDING BERM SEATING AREA TO STADIUM
April 12, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Nashville, Tenn. - Vanderbilt University's Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams
confirmed to The Tennessean that a large berm is to be constructed in the open end of Vanderbilt Stadium as a place for fans to watch games starting this fall. The project, in addition to other renovations, is scheduled to begin after the Black & Gold scrimmage on April 14.
"I wouldn't call it a hill, but it certainly won't look like it's looking now," Williams said.
While several ACC stadiums such as Clemson and Virginia have hillside seating, Vanderbilt's affinity for the idea stemmed from the team's 2011 visit to Wake Forest's BB&T Field, which features "Deacon Hill" in one end zone.
"Ours is on the line of, but not to the same effect, as Wake's. Wake's is a natural hill. Ours is something we're creating. With Wake's, I think you enter from the top. Ours won't be like that. I don't think there's any place that has it like this because ours is not going to be that huge."
Vanderbilt has begun selling season tickets for its hillside seating. Those general admission tickets cost $110 for the six-game 2012 home schedule. Only 500 are available. If all are sold - as is expected to be the case - then there will be no individual-game tickets for the area.
The university also will install a video screen in the open end zone that will showcase a significantly larger screen than the one above the closed end zone.
Vanderbilt hasn't released the dimensions of the screen. It won't rank with the SEC's biggest, but it helps the stadium reach a more "respectable" level, according to Coach James Franklin.