Historic Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the Crimson Tide of Alabama, will soon become the fourth-largest collegiate sports complex in the country. This is the latest of Bryant-Denny's seven expansion projects since the stadium was built in 1929 by Davis Architects.
It is the second-largest sporting arena in the great state of Alabama and will most likely soon climb to the top of the list in the coming years. With the new expansions of upper decks in both end zones, the new maximum capacity of the stadium will be a staggering 101,000 fans.
In December of 1928, the ground was broken as Davis Architects began its construction of the complex that would replace Denny Field. In September of 1929, Denny Stadium was open for the season.
The new stadium held a maximum capacity of roughly 12,000 fans. Denny Stadium began its historic debut as the Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi College, 55-0, in their first home game. The next month, Denny Stadium was officially dedicated during Alabama's homecoming game against the Ole Miss Rebels.
The Tide won its homecoming game against Ole Miss, 22-7, under coach Wallace Wade. Wade was Alabama's first football coach in its first stadium. He only coached for one year, but had an overall record of 6-0. This brought a new chapter for the university.
In 1945, Denny Stadium reached a high point in its history as the Tide claimed a perfect season and a Rose Bowl win against USC. Designers soon drew up plans for an expansion of bleacher rows on the sideline lower decks.
Construction began in 1946 to commemorate a high note in the football team's career. Denny Stadium soon reached its capacity as 31,000 fans filled the stands for a home game against Southwestern Louisiana. The stadium was dedicated once again and Alabama walked away with a 54-0 win.
The year 1958 brought about a turning point in Alabama's already-decorated history as a collegiate football team. When head coach Paul Bryant first set foot on the field, he had visions of how Denny Stadium should attract more of a fan base.
That year, Coach Bryant started mapping out plans for an expansion of the Crimson Tide's home. The new additions included 12,000 new seats, a press box for the media, and a working elevator.
The Tide opened the doors to its new stadium in 1961 against North Carolina State. With an attendance record of 41,000, Alabama won, 28-7.
While renovations occurred, home games were held at Legion Field in Birmingham, including the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn.
In 1965, after winning the national championship the following year, coach Paul Bryant called for 17,000 more seats to be put into the stadium on both sidelines. Denny Stadium would soon hold a record 60,000 dedicated Crimson Tide fans.
With Frank Howard as coach for the game, the Crimson Tide opened their new field with a win against Clemson in 1966.
The game was a shut-out with the seats packed.
Denny Stadium made history as Paul "Bear" Bryant was recognized for his unwavering service as head coach of the Crimson Tide football team. State Senator Berk Bank called for a dedication ceremony for coach Bryant which would put his name in the title of Denny Stadium.
During the 1976 A-Day spring game, head coach Paul Bryant was dedicated. Everyone would soon refer to the Tide's home field as "Bryant-Denny Stadium."
In 1986, the Alabama Crimson Tide resorted to playing most of its home games at Legion Field in Birmingham once again. Legion Field became a historic chapter in the Tide's extensive legacy.
Bryant-Denny Stadium underwent drastic changes as new locker rooms were built, as well as new sideline upper decks. The historic Ivory Club was also constructed along with more press boxes. In all, the stadium would house a maximum 70,160 fans.
Now, Legion Field houses the University of Alabama at Birmingham Dragons, a fledgling Conference USA team which has large shoes to fill since the Crimson Tide took the field in the late 1980s.
From 1998-99, the Crimson Tide's home turf experienced huge changes to the architecture of the field. Heading the new expansion project was athletic director Hootie Ingram, who endorsed the modernization of the stadium.
In 1998, spiral walkways were added to the East side of the stadium which gave spectators an easy access point to the upper and lower decks of the bleachers. Another expansion were more bleachers on the upper East side which created an additional 11,000 seats.
The year 1999 kick-started the modernization of Bryant-Denny Stadium with the installation of a Jumbotron with a digital scoreboard. Along with this addition were the construction of two East side reception areas, and places where A-Club and Scholarship-level fans could watch the games.
After the Tide's 2004 season, designers began putting new plans into place for their North end zone renovation. This included 8,000 new bleachers, and premium seating arrangements along with new video screens.
The historic "Walk of Champions" was also added, which connects Bryant-Denny Stadium to University Boulevard. This soon became Alabama's centerpiece for the stadium, which displays 13 national championship titles and recognition of all the past Crimson Tide coaches.
After the "Walk of Champions" was added, 38 new skyboxes were built for club level seating, as well as a walkway leading to upper deck seating arrangements. The locker room was also reconstructed and a new sound system was added.
Under head coach Nick Saban and his 2010 BCS national championship team, upper deck end zone seating was designed and now under construction to add another 10,000 fans to the attendance record.
In 2009, plans were released for expansion in both end zones and progress of construction was showcased during the 2010 A-Day traditional spring game which was a packed house. The estimated attendance record with the new additions added will be around 101,000 fans.
The project is expected to be finished and open to the general public by the time Alabama plays its 2010 season opener against San Jose State.
With a 101,000 fan attendance record, Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium will roll into the fourth-ranked spot on the list of the largest collegiate stadiums in the country.