The Notre Dame Stadium is an outdoor football stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana, the home field of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It is located on the university's campus, just north of South Bend.
Opened in 1930, the stadium seating capacity was nearly 60,000 for decades. More than 21,000 seats were added for the 1997 season, which increased the capacity to over 80,000. The playing surface was changed to FieldTurf in 2014, after 84 seasons on natural grass.
The stadium opened its gates in 1930, replacing Cartier Field. The total cost of construction exceeded $750,000 and the original seating capacity was 54,000. Head coach Knute Rockne played a key role in its design, keeping the space between the playing field and the stands to a minimum. The stadium is patterned, on a smaller scale, after Michigan Stadium, the main difference being the tunnel location. In 1929, plans were started by Osborn Engineering of Cleveland, selected for their experience in designing Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. The original stadium held 59,075 people, measured a half-mile (800 m) in circumference, stood high, and featured a glass-enclosed press box rising above ground level. Initial stands reached 55 rows.〔http://stadiumdb.com/news/2015/09/new_stadiums_old_gray_lady_and_others〕 The building was built by the Sollitt Construction Company of South Bend. Earth preparation began in the fall of 1929, but due to an unusually cold fall and winter, above ground construction did not begin until April 2, 1930. This building was effectively built in six months. Over two million bricks were used in the construction of the walls and the concrete was placed in a monolithic continuous placement by section. There were over 300 workers on the site at most times and they worked five 10 hour days and one six hour day on Saturdays. The average worker was paid one dollar a day plus lunch with the more skilled workers earning up to five dollars a day.〔Notre Dame archives〕
The construction of the stadium project was brought to a head by the actions of Knute Rockne. The 1928 season had not been a stellar one for the football team, however the net profits from football for that season approached $500,000. Rockne was frustrated with the slow and cautious Holy Cross priests and their decision making process about spending money on the new stadium. Rockne could not believe that a decision could not be made when there was such a large amount of money in the bank. Because of this and a number of other issues, Rockne submitted his resignation to Father O’Donnell, the president of the university. O’Donnell knew of Rockne’s history of submitting his resignations and he also knew that nothing would ever completely satisfy Rockne. O’Donnell was willing to find a compromise but was also unwilling to put the university in debt to finance the stadium. He knew that the excess receipts from 1928 season and the projected receipts from playing all the away games in 1929 on neutral fields would bring adequate cash into the university to finance the construction of the stadium. O’Donnell also devised the scheme to finance 240 six-person “reserved box seats”. This precursor of the personal seat license would allow the buyer to purchase tickets at face value and guarantee the same prime location for 10 years for an investment of $3,000 between the 45-yard lines, $2,500 between the 45 and 35-yard line and $2,000 between the 35 and the 25-yard line. The university raised over $150,000 on this idea alone.〔Being Catholic, Being American The Notre Dame Story, 1842-1934, Robert E Burns, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame Indiana,1999〕
The Irish played their first game in the new stadium in 1930 on October 4, beating SMU 20–14. The first Notre Dame touchdown in the stadium was scored by "Jumping Joe" Savoldi on a 98-yard kickoff return. The official dedication was a week later on October 11 against Navy, and Savoldi scored three touchdowns and was cited as "the first hero in the lore of Notre Dame Stadium." Over the years, its capacity was gradually increased to 59,075, mainly by changing the average seat width from . In 1997, 21,000 new seats were added to the stadium, bringing the seating capacity to the present 80,795. The playing surface had always been natural grass through 2013, but it was announced on April 12, 2014, that after the commencement weekend, the playing field would be replaced with FieldTurf, an infilled artificial turf. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, in making the announcement, cited recent difficulties with maintaining an acceptable grass surface, and added that the change would allow the stadium to be used for football practices and non-football events.〔 During 2013, the university replaced the grass surface four times, including twice during the football season.
On January 29, 2014, the university announced plans to attach three new buildings to the stadium, totaling more than 750,000 square feet in expansions and costing about $400 million, with a timetable of 33 months for completion. According to a published statement by university president John I. Jenkins, "the integrated nature of this project will maintain the compact walkability of campus, facilitate deeper connection and collaboration across the various units of the university, and offer an exciting addition" to the campus.
The FieldTurf installation, as scheduled, began after Commencement Weekend on May 16–18, and the university sold sections of the old turf to the public for $150 each.〔
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