15 College Football Stadiums in Need of Some Major Spring Cleaning
In the same way that players and coaches need the eight-month offseason to re-tool, re-charge and re-focus, the actual venues that host college football games need some time off, and frankly some need it more than others.
Indeed, when you host anywhere from 16,000 (Idaho’s Kibbie Dome) to 109,000 (Michigan’s Michigan Stadium) six or seven times over a three-month span, your facility is apt to need some TLC.
The following slideshow pinpoints 15 college football stadiums in need of some major spring cleaning during the offseason.
Though all 125 collegiate gridirons will require some measure of polish, the highlighted edifices have remained virtually the same for decades and it’s time to call in an architect, a planner and a number of generous benefactors.
It’s important to note that this is not a list of the worst stadiums in college football; instead, it’s a discussion of which venues are most overdue for major renovations.
Stadium capacity stats provided are via WorldStadiums.com.
Alumni Stadium, Boston College
Open for business for the 1957 season, Boston College’s Alumni Stadium hasn’t undergone a renovation since 1995, and its capacity of 44,500 makes it one of the smallest venues in the BCS ranks.
In fact, only UConn, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Cincinnati, Duke and Wake Forest have smaller seating capacities than does Boston College’s.
Perhaps most vexing is the fact that Alumni Stadium doesn’t have a permanent lighting scheme for night games, making it the only ACC stadium to lack this important feature.
Additionally, Alumni Stadium is one of only three ACC venues, along with Virginia Tech and Maryland, without a video board.
Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State
Bulldog Stadium has been welcoming Fresno State football fans since 1980 and currently seats 41,031.
Though the venue is a great place to see a ball game, it hasn’t been renovated or expanded since 1991, making it decidedly dated, especially relative to the new and/or improved stadiums popping up across the FBS landscape.
Cajun Field, Louisiana-Lafayette
Though Louisiana-Lafayette has added and improved some of the buildings included in its stadium complex, Cajun Field hasn’t been significantly overhauled since its original opening for the 1971 season.
The venue's capacity of 31,000 makes it one of the smallest stadiums in all of the FBS.
Coming off the best back-to-back performances in program history (the Cajuns have won nine games in each of the last two seasons); it’s high time to look at revamping Cajun Field.
Glass Bowl, Toledo
Though Toledo’s Glass Bowl is undoubtedly attractive from a purely historical perspective, it’s also small and old.
One of the stadiums erected as a Works Administration Project in the depression-riddled 1930s, the Glass Bowl (then dubbed University Stadium) opened for the 1937 season and last was renovated and expanded in 1990.
The official capacity of 26,248 makes Toledo’s football home among the 11 smallest stadiums in FBS ball.
Given all this evidence, it’s no surprise that the Glass Bowl, like Cajun Field, lacks a video display board.
Toledo is another program on the rise (the Rockets are 26-13 since 2010) and it will eventually need to revamp its home field in order to keep fans happy and attract recruits who can certainly see the difference between the Glass Bowl and newer MAC edifices such as Yager Stadium at Miami (Ohio).
Joe Aillet Stadium, Louisiana Tech
Despite the addition of an impressive video board in 2009 and other small yet beneficial tweaks, Louisiana Tech’s home field hasn’t been expanded since 1989 and needs some love.
The Bulldogs recent success and planned move “up” to Conference USA for 2013 means that eventually they’ll need to add seats to a current capacity of only 30,200.
To put this all into perspective, the last time La Tech revamped its home field was the same year it made the historic move from the FCS (then DI-AA) to the FBS ranks (then DI-A).
Overall, Joe Aillet needs major spring cleaning, and though there are plans to improve and add buildings connected to the stadium, the actual edifice itself needs a team of architects to attend to even bigger projects.
Kibbie Dome, Idaho
Personally speaking, I almost hate to hate on Idaho’s Kibbie Dome because, frankly, it’s probably the most unique venue in the FBS.
The Kibbie Dome opened at the beginning of the 1975 football season and though it’s dubbed a “Dome,” it looks more like an aircraft hanger or an old-school basketball field house.
Seriously, when you drive up to the Kibbie Dome, you wouldn’t think you were approaching a FBS-level college football venue.
Instead, you might think you were going to check out at a WWII era B-17 Flying Fortress or then again you might be taking your mother-in-law’s clock to be appraised at the Antiques Roadshow.
What compounds the unsettling feeling caused by the startling outer-shell is the fact that the Kibbie Dome seats a mere 16,000 Vandals fans, the lowest capacity in the FBS.
Though this makes the facility intimate, and very loud, it does so in a decidedly basketball kind of way.
Whether it’s spring cleaning, or a clean slate, Idaho will eventually need to address its stadium issue.
Legion Field, UAB
One of the old-guard stadiums still standing in college football, Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. was built in 1926 and cost a mere $439,000 when originally constructed.
Maximum capacity at Legion Field grew to the 83,000 mark before structural concerns in 2005 dictated the removal of upper-level seats bringing the seat count down to its current level of 71,500.
Legion Field, now home to UAB’s football program, played host to the Iron Bowl for 40 years and also served as an alternate home venue for both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers.
Though there is a lot to love about Legion as a historical site, the stadium hasn’t had much TLC over the last couple of decades and rarely fills to 50 percent during regular season Blazers’ games.
It’s no surprise that Legion Field lacks a video board, as bells and whistles aren’t really how the “Old Gray Lady” rolls.
Despite the reality of the economic downturn, college football is big enough in the state of Alabama to think that a revival of this significant venue would be both possible and desirable.
Liberty Bowl, Memphis
Another behemoth multi-use stadium that a smaller FBS program calls home, the Liberty Bowl was built on the grounds of the Mid-South Fair from 1963-65.
If you’ve ever wondered why both the Liberty Bowl game and stadium are in Memphis (not necessarily the bastion of historical independence), it’s because the annual postseason contest was moved from Philadelphia to Memphis in 1964 and the new edifice was meant to seal the deal on attracting the bowl westward.
The Liberty Bowl currently seats approximately 61,000 fans and hasn’t had a major renovation since 1987 (or nearly 26 years ago).
The advantage this venue has over other aging stadiums is the fact that the annual Liberty Bowl game means that the seats are filled to near capacity at least one time on a yearly basis.
Hopefully this means that at some point Memphis will have the funds and motivation to revamp the aging facility, add a video board and continue to ensure the shelf life of what are pretty cool digs, especially for a smaller FBS school.
Malone Stadium, Louisiana-Monroe
ULM’s home field, Malone Stadium, looks a bit more like a larger FCS stadium than a full-fledged FBS venue.
While it’s impossible to expect the Warhawks to expand and appoint their stadium to the tune of LSU or Alabama, this is yet another program that will eventually need to address issues of capacity and facility.
And, coming off the best season since 1993, now is a great time for ULM to consider how the condition of its stadium plays into drawing fans and attracting recruits.
Malone Stadium was built in 1977-78, and the current capacity of 30,427 puts it at the bottom rung of FBS venues in terms of seats.
Though Malone has been maintained and gently updated through the years, really there has been no major work done since construction.
ULM did add an impressive video board in 2011, meaning that spring cleaning is at least on somebody’s mind.
Memorial Stadium, Kansas
When your football venue was originally dedicated to World War I veterans, you’ve got an older stadium on your hands.
And this is precisely the case at Kansas, where Memorial Stadium has stood since 1921, the same year that Woodrow Wilson handed off the mantle of the US Presidency to Warren G. Harding.
Though Kansas has revamped and expanded the Jayhawks football home since that time, Memorial is now an aging unit with a mere 50,071 seats, making it the fourth smallest venue in the Big 12.
Though Kansas, like other schools on our list, has improved its football offices and training facilities, its stadium, despite the approval of actual funding, hasn’t been shown any love in a couple of decades.
It’s no wonder that stadium enthusiasts constantly list Memorial Stadium as one of the least desirable venues in major college ball.
Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame
Though undoubtedly one of the greatest venues in all of sport, Notre Dame stadium could definitely use a heavy round of spring cleaning.
Indeed, just because your venue is the font of tradition in a certain sport doesn’t mean that it can’t also be, in its own old-school way, a cutting edge center for sports viewing.
Notre Dame Stadium was built and opened in 1930 with an original capacity of just shy of 60,000, a number that was jacked up all the way to 80,795 with an expansion project in 1996.
Since then not much has happened in terms of vested stadium improvements, making the Irish’s home field overdue for at least some minor tweaks.
Many folks would rightly argue that when you go to see a game at Notre Dame, you expect things to look like they have for years and years, paying tribute to tradition and the throng of dedicated fans that came before them.
But, the addition of a video board (which Brian Kelly has mentioned) and a few minor updates could surely enhance the fan experience, put the stadium on the modern map and still honor a rich and storied history.
Rice Stadium, Rice
While the history of Rice Stadium is stellar, the current state of the facility is not.
Located in Houston, Rice Stadium was built in 1950 and its original capacity was a whopping 70,000, a number that has diminished to a mere 47,000.
Among Rice Stadium’s somewhat amazing claims to fame is first the fact that it served as the venue for Super Bowl VIII (1973-74) when Miami bested Minnesota 24-7.
Secondly, and perhaps less well known, is the fact that Rice Stadium was the site for John F. Kennedy’s famous “We choose to go the moon” speech in September 1962.
Proving that college football is always applicable, Kennedy actually compared the challenge of getting to the moon to Rice playing Texas every season in football.
Despite these amazing tales, Rice Stadium’s current condition is quite poor, especially relative to FBS stadiums in general.
This is another venue that would be worth revamping and keeping, but this is a city that still seems bound and determined to blow up the Astrodome, which I believe was once referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Ryan Field, Northwestern
Northwestern’s home base, Ryan Field, is yet another older stadium that hasn’t been renovated in a couple of decades.
Ryan Field dates back to 1925 and was last revamped in 1997, bringing the current capacity to 47,130, a figure that makes it the smallest venue in the Big Ten.
The Wildcats field is often listed among the least desirable of BCS stadiums, a brazen statement that is quantified by the fact that Northwestern is planning to play a significant number of future regular season games at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
What’s intriguing about this move is that the Cubs are planning renovations to its edifice while the Wildcats are not.
All-in-all, Northwestern may have the biggest need for stadium “spring cleaning,” as does any on our list, especially with the improvement in results provided by Pat Fitzgerald and company.
Spartan Stadium, San Jose State
Though the West Coast version of “Spartan Stadium” is pleasing to the eye, this is an edifice that hasn’t received any major work since an expansion project in 1985.
Yes, the stadium was reworked in 2000 (with the seat count actually going down) for the MLS San Jose Earthquakes, who now play their home games at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
And, again yes, in 2011 a sizeable video board was added, but even these tweaks don’t change the fact that the venue is aging and relatively small.
Spartan Stadium was erected in 1933 and boasts a current capacity of 30,456; though it doesn’t need near the attention of other venues on our list, it would benefit several parties to put even a minimal overhaul effort on the books.
Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke
Even though Duke has finally announced that it plans to expand Wallace Wade Stadium, it is impossible to leave it off this kind of list until the money is raised and construction actually begins.
Wallace Wade hasn’t really had any major work done since it opened in 1929 with a capacity of 35,000 making it one of the oldest, unexpanded venues in the FBS.
Current seating capacity, after fluctuations over the years, is 33,941, making it only marginally bigger than Wake Forest’s BB&T Field (31,500), thereby avoiding the tag of the “smallest venue in the BCS ranks.”
Of course, we should quantify that statement by saying that Washington State’s field, Martin Stadium, comes in between the two with a current capacity of 32,248.
The expansion project, announced in October of this past season, calls for 44,000 seats, which though not mind blowing, is a huge improvement.
Worth noting is the fact that Wallace Wade is the only college football venue outside of Pasadena, Calif. that can lay claim to hosting a Rose Bowl.
Indeed, Wallace Wade was the site of the 1942 Rose Bowl between Oregon State and Duke. The game was set to be cancelled due to security threats brought on by the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but was saved with Duke offering to host the game.
Interestingly, in a show of patriotic solidarity that transcended in-state rivalry, Wallace Wade was temporarily expanded to 55,000 seats for the game due to the lending of bleachers by North Carolina and NC State.