Stanford Stadium History and Top-10 Crowds
Stanford Stadium, the largest privately owned college football facility in the United States, has been the home of Cardinal football and track and field for more than 70 years. Completed in 1921, Stanford Stadium is considered one
of the most prestigious stadiums in the country.
In 1984 and 85, the Stadium received worldwide exposure as millions of television viewers watched both Super Bowl XIX and the Olympic Soccer competition, both held in Stanford Stadium.
The eyes of the world were again focused on Stanford Stadium in the summer of 1994 as the largest sporting event in the world came to The Farm. World Cup Soccer, which was held in the United States for the first time in the history of
the event, came to Stanford for six days in June and July of 1994. Stanford Stadium was one of nine sites nationwide selected to host the competition.
Almost 500,000 fans and a worldwide television audience witnessed six matches at Stanford Stadium. Four first round matches, one second round match and one quarterfinal match were held at Stanford Stadium last summer.
Among the nations represented at Stanford were teams from Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Cameroon, Romania and the United States.
The Women's World Cup came to Stanford Stadium on July 4, 1999, excatly five years to the day after the memorable men's World Cup match between the United States and Brazil. In a rematch, so-to-speak, between U.S. and Brazil, the Americans came away with a 2-0 victory and went on to defeat China to capture the 1999 World Cup.
Initially sparked by a feud with the University of California to see which school could complete a new football facility
sooner, the construction of Stanford Stadium was accomplished in just over four months. The original design, undertaken by engineering professors Charles Wing, Charles Marz and William Durand, called for a 66-row, U-shaped structure. Seating capacity in the original stadium was 60,000, second only to the Yale Bowl at the time. The cost of construction, estimated at $200,000, was underwritten by alumni subscriptions and the gate receipts from the 1921 Big Game vs California. Alumni subscriptions of $100 carried with them the privilege of buying choice seats, at discount, to all intercollegiate events for the next 15 years. Later, this right was extended to a lifetime guarantee. Over $100,000 was raised in this fashion.
The first game held in the new stadium, appropriately enough, pitted Stanford against the University of California on November 19, 1921. Although the Golden Bears, who later went on to win the Rose Bowl that year, spoiled Stanford's home opener by registering a 42-7 win, Stanford did manage to score the first touchdown in history on the newly christened field.
Continually undergoing renovation, the Stadium eventually grew to its present-day capacity of 85,500. In 1925, an additional 10,200 seats were added to the facility, partially closing the horseshoe-shaped structure. An unintentional by-product of this operation was the creation of Sunken Diamond, the Stanford baseball stadium, formed by the removal of dirt needed to fill the Stadium's new embankment. In 1927, 14 additional rows of seats were added, bringing the number of present total of rows to 80.
Additional renovations were undertaken in 1960 (the incorporation of a press box), 1973 (tunnel entrances on the west side), and 1978 (installation of a Tartan Track and the north and south scoreboards).
In 1978, a tartan track was installed, providing Stanford with one of the finest outdoor running surfaces in the nation. The all-weather track is red in color, with white lanes and white trim. All jump runways are also surfaced in tartan.
Called "the best of all worlds for every event" by former head track coach Payton Jordan, the track design features heavier texture on the inside lanes for distance running and harder, faster granules on the outside lanes for sprints.
On January 20, 1985, Super Bowl XIX brought with it further renovation of the press box as well as construction of brand new locker room facilities, officials' dressing rooms, a ticket complex and additional restrooms.
World Cup Soccer '94 provided Stanford Stadium with more renovations, including expanding the lower level of the G.A. "Dick" Richards Press Box, installing aluminum bench seating throughout the stadium and reducing the crown on the playing field.
The stadium's natural turf field, named the Louis W. Foster Family
Field, is considered to be one of the finest playing surfaces in the
country. It is composed of a mixture of rye and bermuda grass. During
football season, grass height is maintained at an even three quarters
of an inch. The addition of sand every other year increases absorption
of rainwater and provides for natural drainage more effectively than
any other surface in the country. The ability of the field to absorb
wetness allows for play under conditions which would force many other stadiums
to reschedule their events.
In 1984, Stanford Stadium served as host to eight Olympic Soccer matches, including six preliminary matches, two quarterfinal matches and one semifinal match. In an 11-day period-July 29-August 6-over 465,000 fans jammed Stanford Stadium to witness Olympic Soccer.
A year later, Stanford Stadium made history by hosting Super Bowl XIX and becoming the first college stadium to host a Super Bowl. On January 20, 1985, 84,059 fans watched Bill Walsh and his San Francisco 49ers dominate the Miami Dolphins in a 38-16 victory. MVP Joe Montana completed 24-of-35 for 331 yards and three TDs in leading his team to its second World Championship in four years.
In addition to the Super Bowl and World Cup Soccer, The Stadium has also hosted regular-season NFL
and professional soccer games, other international soccer competitions,
and Stanford University's annual graduation ceremonies. It has also been the site of a host of national and international track and field competitions, including the United States Olympic Trials in 1960. In 1962, a two-day meet between teams from
the United States and the Soviet Union drew more than 150,000 spectators to Stanford Stadium. The stadium has also hosted regular-season NFL and professional soccer games, other international soccer competitions, and Stanford University's annual graduation ceremonies.
One memorable non-athletic event which was held in the facility, was
the delivery of Herbert Hoover's acceptance speech on August 12, 1928,
following his nomination to run for president on the Republican Party
ticket. The manager of Stanford's first football team, Hoover was
later elected the 31st president of the United States.
The largest crowd ever to witness an event at Stanford was the audience at the 1935 Big Game. The attendance that
day was an over-capacity 94,000, all of whom witnessed Stanford's 13-0 win over California. The Indians (later to
become the Cardinal) went on to capture the 1935 Rose Bowl by defeating SMU.
Top-10 Crowds in Stanford Stadium History
Date Opponent Attendance Result Score
November 16, 1935 California 94,000 W 13-0
November 22, 1975 California 88,000 L 15-48
November 19, 1977 California 87,500 W 21-3
November 18, 1989 California 86,019 W 24-14
October 7, 1989 Notre Dame 86,019 L 17-27
November 30, 1971 California 86,000 W 14-0
October 10, 1970 USC 86,000 W 24-14
November 11, 1979 California 85,577 L 14-21
November 21, 1987 California 85,000 W 31-7
November 8, 1980 USC 84,892 L 9-34