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Stanford Stadium on Reopening Day, 16 Sept 2006
Stanford Stadium after 2005 renovation

Stanford Stadium (capacity 50,000 as of 2006) is an outdoor athletic stadium on the Stanford Universitymarker campus, the home of Stanford Cardinal college football team. It originally opened in 1921 as a football and track stadium, an earthen horseshoe with wooden bleacher seating and flooring upon a steel frame. Its original seating capacity was 60,000, which grew to 85,500 by 1927 as a nearly-enclosed bowl. Immediately following the 2005 season, the stadium was completely rebuilt as a dual-deck concrete structure, without a track.


Built partly in competition with the University of California, Berkeleymarker to see who could build a football stadium first, Stanford Stadium was built in four months and opened its gates on November 19, 1921. The first game was against California, who defeated Stanford 42-7. Seating capacity was originally 60,000, with a 66-row, U-Shaped structure second only to the Yale Bowlmarker in size at the time. In 1925, 10,200 seats were added to the stadium, nearly enclosing the horseshoe while still keeping the overall height of the facility intact. Finally, in 1927, 14 additional rows of seating were added. [99098]

Renovations in the mid 1920s increased the stadium to its maximum capacity of 85,500, with 80 rows of seating. In 1960, a press box was added, while the first, and last athletics track was installed in 1978.

In 1935, Stanford Stadium set a record for single-game attendance, with 94,000 spectators filling the Stadium for a 13-0 victory over Cal.


In January 1985, Super Bowl XIX was held in Stanford Stadium, bringing a renovated press box, increased restroom facilities, and new locker rooms to the venue (in the game the Bay Area's own San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins 38–16). Stanford Stadium is one of two venues (the Rose Bowlmarker being the other) to host a Super Bowl without previously serving as the home stadium of an NFL or AFL team.

On October 22, 1989, a San Francisco 49ers home game was played here (against the New England Patriots) due to damage suffered to Candlestick Parkmarker following the Loma Prieta earthquakemarker.

Non-football events

Other high profile events hosted at Stanford Stadium include Herbert Hoover's acceptance speech for the 1928 Republican Presidential nomination, and international soccer matches for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics (as one of three venues outside Southern California for that Olympiad), the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. Each event resulted in additional changes to the stadium, including a new press box and aluminum bench seating.

2005 renovation

In June 2005, the university Board of Trustees authorized plans for the stadium's extensive renovation that would both reduce its size and bring it up to date with present standards for sporting venues. Various justifications for the renovation included poor sightlines in the existing stadium (rendering the bottom 14 rows unusable), long stairways, and lack of adequate restroom facilities. The track around the stadium had previously created a large distance between the field and the spectators.

The capacity of the renovated stadium was set to be approximately 50,000 seats made by Ducharme Seating. Work began literally minutes after the Cardinal's last home game of the 2005 football season, a close loss to Notre Dame on November 26th. Bulldozers began tearing out the natural field turf in a ceremony held while attendees were still in the stadium for the game.

The reduction in capacity was a strategic decision by Stanford's Athletics Program to boost season ticket sales and create a more intimate playing atmosphere without sacrificing the ability to host large world-class events, such as the FIFA World Cup or NCAA Football Bowl Games in the future. This is partially the result of San Franciscomarker's failure to secure a bid for the 2012 Olympics, which would have featured a renovated Stanford Stadium as the main Olympic Venue.

On June 22, 2006, a construction worker fell to his death on site. Emergency personnel responded within 5 minutes, but were unable to revive the worker.

The renovated stadium was originally to make its debut in Stanford's game against San Jose State on September 9, 2006, but the game had to be relocated to San Josemarker due to an unusually wet winter and resulting construction delays.

Renovated venue
The stadium opened on September 16, 2006 with Stanford losing their first game in the new stadium to Navy 37-9. Pre-game festivities included the following:
  • Ceremonial "World's Largest Ribbon-Cutting", featuring a stadium-wide card stunt.
  • Flyover by Navy Jet Aircraft
  • Parachute Jumps by the Official U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs
  • Fireworks and other Pyrotechnics

One noticeable omission from the pregame festivities was the Stanford Band, which was not permitted to play at any athletic events in the month of September due to accusations of vandalism to a temporary trailer which formerly served as their rehearsal facility. Instead, the Navy band performed at halftime and played throughout the game. As of August 22, 2006, 75% of the Stadium's 50,000 seats were accounted for via season ticket sales, amounting to a 136% increase over the previous year's sales. [99099]

The current Stanford Stadium occupies , with a footprint of ., a playing surface below ground level, and is now a rectangle shape stadium. The stadium has 43 rows on the sides, 22 rows on the endzones, and 30 rows below the skybox. The skybox also has 437 spectator seats, more than double the number of the previous press box.

The 2008 Stanford-USC game marked the first sell out of the renovated Stanford Stadium since it opened in 2006.


  1. Jon Wilner, USC 45, Stanford 23: The tactics, the turnovers and that strange final sequence, Mercury News, November 16, 2008, Accessed November 18, 2008.

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