One of the most aesthetic, dynamic, innovative and beautiful collegiate stadiums in the nation, Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium has played host to some of the best football games for more than four decades.
It has hosted Arizona State University football games since 1958, including the game on Sept. 21, 1996, when the playing surface was named Frank Kush Field as ASU upset top-ranked Nebraska 19-0. It has hosted four national championships - Notre Dame vs. West Virginia in 1988, Nebraska vs. Florida in 1996, Tennessee vs. Florida State in 1999 and Ohio State vs. Miami in 2003. And it played host to the NFL's ultimate showcase - the 1996 Super Bowl where the Dallas Cowboys pulled out a close win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The stadium, a favorite of television production crews, was the the home of the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl for 35 years and the NFL's Arizona Cardinals for 18 seasons. Beginning in 2006, Sun Devil Stadium became the new home of the Insight Bowl.
The facility, regarded since 1958 as one of the nation's outstanding collegiate football facilities, also boasts a spectacular, second-to-none setting.
A complete playing surface renovation was christened by ASU on Sept. 5, 1992, as the Sun Devils hosted Washington in the season-opener. At a cost of $2 million, the stadium addition accomplished four goals: 1) provided Sun Devil Stadium with a more durable playing surface; 2) provided better patron sight lines in the lower seating levels; 3) expanded sideline area for player safety; and 4) provided advantages to television and print photographers.
Constructed between two mountain buttes, the stadium literally was carved from the desert, and occupies a space between the Tempe buttes - actually small mountains that ideally have accommodated the growth of the structure.
Sun Devil Stadium addresses Phoenix to the west and the south end zone (formerly the open end) points to scenic Tempe, home of Arizona State University.
With the south end expansion completed and the press and sky boxes in place, and with an expanded cantilevered upper deck (1977), Sun Devil Stadium boasts a capacity of 71,706.
The expansion of 1988, which added a large seating section that completed the oval of the stadium, added almost 1,700 seats to the stadium's capacity. Also added was the Intercollegiate Athletic Complex at the structure's south end, which is now named the Nadine and Ed Carson Student Athlete Center. The building houses the entire realm of the ASU athletic department. A state-of-the-art scoreboard and four-color video replay board were also added.
During the 1978 expansion, design features enabled the stadium to be modernized without light supports, sound system supports, or construction pillars in the viewing line of the spectators. The dramatic proximity of every seat to the playing field is another feature that has made Sun Devil Stadium one of the nation's finest college football arenas.
Originally erected in 1958 (capacity 30,000), the stadium additions were begun in 1976 (boosting capacity to 57,722) and 1977. The latter raised the seating to 70,491.
The expansion effort was an $11 million undertaking, accomplished completely without the aid of state tax monies.
Assisting in a stadium financing plan unlike any other in the nation, the largest and oldest Arizona State support organization, the Sun Angel Foundation, provided $4.5 million of the necessary funding. The Sun Angel contribution was particularly important because it also helped pave the way for bond clearance.
Spectators at stadium events also have helped fund the expansion with their payment of a surcharge on each ticket purchased.
Arizona State has led the Pacific-10 Conference in average attendance seven times (1986, '85, '84, '83, '82, '80 and '79) since joining the league in 1978. ASU finished second six times and third twice. Last year, the Sun Devils drew a home total of 503,003 fans. On a single-game basis, Arizona State averaged 62,875 spectators, fifth in the league.
The first game was played in the original structure against West Texas State on October 4, 1958. The Sun Devils triumphed in the baptismal event, taking a 16-13 verdict over the Buffaloes.
Following the 1976 portion of the expansion, Arizona State took a 35-3 victory over Northwestern on September 17, 1977 to continue the winning tradition of stadium christenings.
When the 1977 expansion was completed, the Sun Devils prevailed 42-7 over Pacific to post a hat trick on stadium dedication contests. In 1988, ASU defeated Illinois, 21-16 on September 10, to win its fourth dedication game. In 1989, ASU beat Kansas State 31-0, in the expansion opener.
In 1987, the stadium was filled beyond capacity for the Papal visit, one of the few sites to play host to the Pope's tour of the United States. On April 4, 1976, the New York Cosmos (with Pelé) and the Los Angeles Aztecs played an exhibition soccer game in front of 15,000 fans in the stadium.
In 2008, the New England Patriots used the stadium as their practice facility in preparation for Super Bowl XLII.
THE CARSON STUDENT ATHLETE CENTER
With an excellent playing surface in place, Sun Devil Stadium is the one of the best college football facilities in the country.
The field facelift, along with the 165,000-square-foot Carson Student Athlete Center and the three-story, 60,000-square-foot press box and skybox additions, makes Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium one of the true showcases of college football.
The press box and skybox facility, which sits atop the upper deck on the west side, contains two 30-suite levels of skyboxes renovated in 1999 and is topped by an ultra-modern press box and eight additional private suites. The facility also boasts its own television production room, complete with editing and chyron capabilities and camera equipment. The equipment is manned by a full crew on game day to give spectators live and replay views of the contest.
Served by four industrial-sized elevators - one for the media and three for the public - the facility has working space for more than 200 sportswriters, booth space for broadcasters, statistical crews, scoreboard operations and a rooftop camera deck in addition to suite seating for more than 900 fans.
The bowl (south) end was connected by the dramatic ICA Complex and the extension of the loge-level seats. Locker rooms also were added in the north end visiting teams. Two new scoreboards were put in place in 1999. The color video replay system, situated in the southeast corner, offers fans instant replays of game action. The original video screen was the first of its kind in an on-campus football stadium. A complementary matrix board for messages and statistical information sits in the southwest corner.
Located in the south end of Sun Devil Stadium, the $28 million, 165,000-square-foot Carson Student Athlete Center houses all of ASU's 21 varsity sport coaches, as well as athletic administration.
With the completion of the complex in 1988 and the additions in 2002, the athletic department was centralized in one facility for the first time. The goal was to have the entire department together to improve communication and operations between coaches and administrators.
With the expansion and renovation, the lower three levels are expanded almost to the street. The lower level features the recently improved Sun Devil locker room, a state-of-the-art weight training facility (expanded from 4,000 to 15,000 square feet), an equipment area and the sports medicine department, which includes a Swim-Ex underwater exercise device. One of the few schools in the nation to have the device, ASU's student-athletes have the ability to run, swim or engage in strengthening exercises in the training room. More than 5,000 square feet of working space is available to athletic trainers in the areas of rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, examination, x-ray and treatment, including physician's office with full capabilities such as a pharmacy.
The first floor features the Sun Devil athletic ticket office, a souvenir shop, the media relations office and Bill and Judy Schaefer Sports Hall of Fame, a tribute to former student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have influenced Sun Devil athletics.
The second floor houses ASU's Olympic sport coaches and staff as well as the Academic and Student Services operation. Academic and Student Services have vast study and tutorial areas on this floor as well as a computer lab for ASU's student-athletes. All offices have spectacular views of either Sun Devil Stadium or south Tempe.
The third floor is the headquarters for Sun Devil football, with the head coach, his coordinators, assistant head coach and assistants all on one floor. In addition to the football offices, the third floor also houses a 150-seat theater and offices for ASU's men's and women's basketball, volleyball and baseball.
The fourth floor accommodates the bridging of the loge level of the stadium. As part of the 1998 project, 1,677 loge level seats were added, and ticket holders in this level have concessions and restroom facilities as well as television monitors for replays.
The fifth floor houses a Stadium Club area, a Varsity A Conference Room as well as offices for the Sun Devil Club.
The sixth floor is devoted to the ICA administrative staff.
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
November 11, 2006 - How can it be that a football stadium that was really ill suited and dumpy by NFL
standards could by contrast be so cool and funky when it comes to college football? Well that would be an apt description for Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, home of the Arizona State University football program.
For about two decades, this venue served as home of the NFL Arizona Cardinals, until the team bolted for their own new digs in suburban Glendale. Sun Devil Stadium has also hosted the annual Fiesta Bowl through 2006, although that event will also be following the Cardinals to Glendale. In 1996, the Super Bowl was played here.
But the major tenant has been the Arizona State University Sun Devils, who have played here since 1958. The stadium opened with a capacity of 30,000 seats, but expansions in the 70’s and in 1988 brought the stadium to its current 73,379 seats.
One of the unique things about this stadium is its setting – the stadium is actually carved into the side of two mountains – called the Tempe Buttes, and fans arriving from the east side of the building will actually traverse a winding path between the mountains and the adjacent Well Fargo Arena as they make their way to the stadium. The large campus itself sprawls out towards the south, and a short walk to the west down West Fifth Street will take you into a cool downtown type college bar, restaurant and retail district.
The two deck seating bowl is configured horseshoe style, with a small seating deck and administrative building in the south end zone. Scattered along the balcony rim are the Sun Devils’ impressive list of bowl appearances and PAC-10 championships. Their ring of honor featuring their showcase players is displayed on the pressbox façade.
Sun Devil Stadium will now take over as host venue for the Insight Bowl and with ASU continuing to be a football force in the PAC-10, this should be a great place to catch some college football for years to come.
Game report – this was part two a day night football doubleheader for us and the game itself was a bit of a snooze. The Sun Devils scored early and often and rolled over visiting Washington State, 47-14.