Photo by Prange Aerial Photography, Lincoln, Nebraska

History of Memorial Stadium

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska's continuing NCAA record of consecutive home sellouts reached 361 with seven home sellouts in 2017.

During that time, the historic stadium has gone through many transformations. In 2013, a major renovation on the East side of Memorial Stadium was completed, adding approximately 6,000 new seats. Each new seating area include dedicated restrooms and concessions areas. A new grand lobby, expanded concourse and additional first-aid areas also were added. Fans are greeted by a new grand entrance at Gate 20 complete with a statue of Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney. An exciting aspect of the expansion is the Nebraska Athletic Research Facility. where cutting-edge imaging technologies and research to better understand foundations of behavior that contribute to health, injury and disease from childhood obesity to college performance.

In 2006, more than 6,500 seats were added to the stadium's North end, along with a massive HuskerVision screen and Skyline Suites.The additions sit atop the Osborne Athletic Complex, which houses the Huskers' technologically advanced athletic medicine facility, massive weight room, and football locker room, football offices and administrative offices. The first phase of the project also provided the Huskers with a second indoor workout facility, the Hawks Championship Center.

In Nebraska's 300th consecutive sellout against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 26, 2009, a then-school-record 86,304 fans watched the Huskers roll to a 55-0 win. A school-record 91,585 fans attended Nebraska's game against Miami in 2014, and NU's average home attendance was a record 91,249.

NU's streak of consecutive sellouts started on Nov. 3, 1962, when 36,501 attended the Homecoming game against Missouri. The last non-sellout came Oct. 20, 1962, when NU and Kansas State drew 30,701.

In the fall of 1922, a drive for $430,000 in stadium construction funds was undertaken by faculty, students, alumni and friends of the University. The quota was over subscribed.

The stadium was named Memorial Stadium to honor all Nebraskans who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars; the 751 Nebraskans who died in World War I; the 3,839 in World War II; the 225 in Korea; the 422 in Vietnam; and those in Iraq. Construction was completed in a few more than 90 working days and Memorial Stadium was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1923, at the Homecoming game in which Nebraska was held to a scoreless tie by Kansas.

Inscribed on the four corners of the stadium are the following words, written by former UNL professor of philosophy Hartley Burr Alexander:

  • Southeast: "In Commendation of the men of Nebraska who served and fell in the Nations Wars."
  • Southwest: "Not the victory but the action; Not the goal but the game; In the deed the glory."
  • Northwest: "Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."
  • Northeast: "Their Lives they held their countrys trust; They kept its faith; They died its heroes."

As part of the continuing improvement of athletic facilities at the University of Nebraska, several major projects have been completed over the past eight decades enhancing the facility. The $1 million Hewit Center dining/study hall area was opened in March of 1985, underneath the West Stadium adjacent to the strength complex. The weight room and the Hewit Center were expanded and remodeled in 1989. 

Before the fall of 1994, NU installed two 17 feet high, by 23 feet wide replay boards, now known to Nebraska faithful as HuskerVision screens. In 2006, one of the largest screens in a college venue was unveiled as part of the new construction project.

Following the 1997 season, construction began on a $36-million improvement project completed in 1999. The project included the Don Bryant Media Facility and 42 suites, each of which house 25 fans. Club seating rose from approximately 350 to 1,500 per game. The improvement project tripled the number of restrooms on both the East and West sides of the stadium, doubled the number of concessions in both East and West concourses and included concrete repair and waterproofing throughout the stadium. FieldTurf was also introduced at Memorial Stadium in 1999. The renovations raised the capacity of Memorial Stadium from 72,700 to 73,918. Capacity reached above 80,000 for the first time in 2006, and now is more than 85,000.

94 Years In Memorial Stadium
For the past 93 years, Nebraska football teams have gladly called Memorial Stadium home with an impressive 417-132-13 (.754) record posted by the Huskers in their home since it was opened in 1923.

Under the Lights
Nebraska's first night football game was Nov. 30, 1951, at Miami's Orange Bowl when the Huskers lost to the Miami Hurricanes, 19-7. Ironically, NU's first night football home game came in the 1986 opener against another team from the "Sunshine State", Florida State. Nebraska is 92-39-3 all time under the lights, including 40-7 at home

Memorial Stadium Improvements
A chronological listing of Memorial Stadium expansion and improvement from the original 31,000-seat structure built in 1923: 

1946–Completed Schulte Field House (construction began in 1941, but was interrupted by World War II).
1964–South end zone section installed, making the stadium a horseshoe, raising capacity to 48,000
1965–Center portion of north end zone section added, raising capacity to more than 53,000.
1966–Both wings of the north end zone added, raising capacity to more than 65,000 and making Memorial Stadium into a bowl.
1967–New press box and guest section added.
1970–Installed new AstroTurf playing surface.
1972–South end zone extended, 9,400 seats added, raising capacity to 73,650.
1973–Athletic office building completed with dressing and training facilities for varsity football.
1977–Replaced AstroTurf and added new scoreboard over the North Stadium.
1981–New West Stadium weight room and new visitor's locker room in the North Field House.
1982–Expanded North Field House indoor practice area.
1984–Artificial All-Pro Turf installed.
1985–Completed Hewit Center (dining area/study hall) in West Stadium.
1989–Expansion of strength complex and Hewit Center.
1992–New Astroturf-8 artificial turf installed.
1994–Installed Mitsubishi Instant Replay boards and completion of Michael Grace production studio (HuskerVision) in West Stadium. Remodeled Section 14 for disabled, reduced seating to 72,700.
1995–South Stadium training room remodeled and new interview room and player lounge completed.
1997–Groundbreaking began on a $36-million stadium improvement project to take place over a two-year period. East concourse was renovated with new restrooms and concessions and stadium lights were installed on the east side.
1998–Stadium was rededicated on April 24, and the football field was named in honor of Hall of Fame Coach Tom Osborne, who retired as the winningest active coach in college football with a 255-49-3 career record. Lights installed on the west side.
1999–Stadium Improvement project completed with 42 suites, club seating, stadium view lounge, new press box and renovated concourses, concessions and restrooms. Seating raised to 74,056. FieldTurf installed in August, making NU the first Division-I program to use the synthetic surface.
2000–Increased club seating reduces capacity to 73,918.
2001–Expanded team meeting room/players' lounge in South Stadium. Expanded HuskerVision and Hewit Center in West Stadium.
2004–Additional lockers added to South locker room to house entire football squad during construction of Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex on north end of stadium. North Field House torn down in summer 2004, and work on new project begins.
2005–Replaced FieldTurf, changing subsurface of field.
2006–Completion of the Osborne Athletic Complex and Hawks Championship Center on North end of Memorial Stadium. Addition of Skyline Suites and seating for disabled in North Stadium and addition of giant HuskerVision screen in North end zone.Tunnel Walk entrance of Huskers moves from South end zone to North end zone. Nebraska's football offices, locker room and administrative offices move from South to North Stadium.
2009-Addition of two HuskerVision replay screens on the North towers and upgrade of all HuskerVision screens to high-definition format. Ribbon boards also added on East and West sides of stadium.
2010-Addition of Student Life Complex in West Stadium. Expansion of Nebraska football trophy displays in North Stadium.

2011-Work begins on East Stadium Expansion in the spring of 2011. Approximately 6,000 seats will be added along with an athletic research facility. It opened for the 2013 season, raising Memorial Stadium's capacity near 90,000.
2013-Replaced FieldTurf at Memorial Stadium and East Stadium expansion completed.
2017-Wrap-around video boards on the northeast and northwest towers. 


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