American Football Wiki
Husky Stadium
Husky Stadium in July 2015 as seen from Lake Washington
Location 3800 Montlake Blvd NE, Seattle WA 98105
Broke ground 1920
Opened November 27, 1920
Owner University of Washington
Operator University of Washington
Surface FieldTurf - (2000–present)
AstroTurf - (1968–1999)
Natural grass - (1938–1967)
Dirt - (1920–1937)
Construction cost $600,000
Tenants Washington Huskies (NCAA) (1920–present)
Seattle Seahawks (NFL) (1994, 2000–2001)
Capacity 72,500

Husky Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. It is the home of the Washington Huskies of the Pacific-12 Conference, hosting its football and track and field competitions. The university holds its annual commencements at the stadium. It is located at the southeastern corner of campus, between Montlake Boulevard N.E. and Union Bay, just north of the Montlake Cut. Husky Stadium opened in 1920 (the last major renovation occurred in 1987), and its U-shaped design was specifically oriented (18.167° south of due east) to minimize glare from the early afternoon sun in the athletes' eyes.[1] The open end overlooks scenic Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, including Mount Rainier. Its total capacity of 72,500 makes it the largest stadium in the Pacific Northwest.


The lower bowl portion was originally built by Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company in 1920 with a seating capacity of 30,000. The first game at the stadium was the final game of the 1920 season, a 28-7 loss to Dartmouth on November 27th. Husky Stadium replaced Denny Field, which was located on the north end of upper campus, south of the intersection of NE 45th St. and 20th Ave. NE.

Husky Stadium has gone through four remodels (two major, two minor) to expand the seating capacity. Just three years after its construction, the stadium was the site of President Warren Harding's final address before his unexpected death. In 1936, 10,000 seats were added around the rim. In 1950, an upper deck of 15,000 covered seats was added to the south side - the new structure covered a portion of the lower seats.

An aerial view of Husky Stadium as seen the day before the start of the 2011 renovation project.
"Go Huskies" and the "W" logo were painted on the
north and south decks in September 2008.[2]

In 1968, a few thousand more seats were added along the rim. In 1987, 13,000 covered seats were added with the upper deck on the north side. Similar to the south side with a cantilevered steel roof, this structure also covered a portion of the lower seats. The 1987 construction project made headlines in February when the first version of the grandstand collapsed.[3]

Husky Stadium was a primary venue for the 1990 Goodwill Games, where the crowd saw an address by former President Ronald Reagan, as well as an address by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a performance by the Moody Blues. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the track & field competition.

Following the ceiling tile incident at the Kingdome in July 1994, Husky Stadium was the temporary home of the Seattle Seahawks for five games (two pre-season and three regular season) in 1994. After the demolition of the Kingdome in March 2000, the Seahawks played at Husky Stadium for two seasons, 2000 and 2001, then moved into Qwest Field for the 2002 season.

The playing field at Husky Stadium was originally dirt, replaced with natural grass in 1938.[4] In 1968, Washington became one of the first major college team to play on AstroTurf; at the time the Houston Astrodome and Neyland Stadium were the only major facilities to use the surface. The AstroTurf at Husky Stadium was replaced in 1972, 1977, 1987, and 1995.[1]The next generation of synthetic turf, FieldTurf, was installed in 2000, paid for by the Seattle Seahawks. The first of its kind in the NFL, the surface was so popular with both the players that the Seahawks, who had planned to use natural grass at Qwest Field, instead installed their own FieldTurf surface in the new stadium. The university replaced the field after nine seasons in 2009.[5]

Husky Stadium under construction in 1920 in front of Union Bay

In addition to the new playing surface, other improvements were made to the stadium by the Seahawks before it became an NFL venue for two seasons. A larger scoreboard, with a 23' x 42' "HuskyTron" video screen, debuted in 1998. Improved lighting for television, including corner lights, was added in 1999, and official NFL goalposts (optic yellow, 40' (12.2 m) in height) were installed in 2000.

During the 1980's and early 1990's the end zones were painted gold. Starting in 1995 the endzones became purple, then were changed to natural green in 2000 with the FieldTurf installation. This last lasted until 2009 when the endzones reverted to gold. Purple end zones saw a return in the 2010 season. During the November 18th, 2010 game against UCLA the endzones were painted black to coincide with the Huskies first "blackout".

The Wave

Many claim that the first audience wave originated in Husky Stadium on Halloween 1981, at the prompting of Dave Hunter (Husky band trumpet player). Contrary to Hunter's account, former Washington yell leader Robb Weller has also claimed credit for the first wave. Weller was the guest yell-king during the Huskies' homecoming football game against the Stanford Cardinal (led by junior quarterback John Elway). His initial concept for the wave was for it to travel vertically, from the bottom of the stands to the top, within the UW student section. He claimed to have done this at games when he was yell king. When that was met with limited interest, he then came up with the idea to move the wave from top to bottom. This failed miserably, as it was necessary to turn backward to see the wave progressing downward. Weller then gave up and returned his attention to the game. However, some fans toward the open (East) end of the stadium on the student side started yelling "sideways". Weller did not hear them, but the students tried to initiate a "sideways" wave on their own. After a few attempts, and more yelling of "sideways" by students, Weller took notice. He instructed the crowd to stand as he ran past. He moved along the track toward the open end of the stadium, explaining to the student crowd what he would do, then ran along the track toward the closed end of the stadium, in front of the student section. After a couple of tries, this caught on, and continued around the entire Husky Stadium, and was repeated throughout the rest of the game and the season. Longtime UW band director Bill Bissell also claimed co-creator credit with Weller, suggesting that the wave was devised by both of them prior to the game. The following week Bill Scott (known as "Bill the Beer Man") started the wave in Husky Stadium and then also started it at the Seattle Seahawks professional football game in the Kingdome and has been a staple of sports ever since.

Loudest Stadium In College Football History

File:Apple Cup Crowd 1.jpg

Capacity crowd in the south stands
at the 100th Apple Cup in 2007

Husky Stadium has the recorded loudest game in college football history. This is in part due to the stadium's design; almost 70 percent of the seats are located between the end zones, covered by cantilevered metal roofs.[6]

During televised games, the cameras appear to be shaking due to fans stomping their feet in the bleachers. During the 1992 night game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, ESPN measured the noise level at 135 decibels, well above the threshold of pain. This was the highest decibel level ever recorded for a college football stadium.[7]


File:Apple Cup tailgaters Husky Stadium 1.jpg

Tailgaters in the Montlake parking lot, north of the stadium, before the 100th Apple Cup in 2007

Husky Stadium is unusual in that fans can go to the football games by boat (other stadiums with this feature include Neyland Stadium at Tennessee and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh). There can be upwards of 12,000 more people out on Lake Washington next to Husky Stadium, some of which stay on the lake the entire weekend camping out.[8] Right before kickoff, the UW crew team offers shuttles to anyone that wants to go to and from the boats and docks for the game.[9]

The north and south parking lots are packed with cars and tailgaters. There is currently controversy surrounding the south parking lot because the Pacific Interchange Option for expansion to the SR 520 Floating Bridge would effectively eliminate the south parking lot for tailgating.

Fans also gather at the Dempsey Indoor Facility just north of the stadium for Husky Huddles. After the game, the Tyee Sports Council and the University of Washington Athletic Department put on the 5th Quarter where fans can gather and hear analysis of the game from UW Coaches and Husky Legends, and listen to the Husky Marching Band. They can also enjoy refreshments and a raffle for prizes.

2011-2013 renovation

The new Husky Stadium is the first and primary income source of a completely remodeled athletic district which includes a new $15 million dollar Husky Ballpark, a new track and field stadium, renovated soccer stadium, $20-40 million basketball operations and practice facility and recently completed projects such as the Husky Legends Center, the Connibear Shellhouse and Alaska Airlines Arena renovations, and the construction of the Dempsey Indoor facility. This major remodel of the athletic village is coinciding with construction for an underground station for a northern extension of the Link Light Rail system and a planned replacement of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. The stadium project is expected to consist of a new grand concourse, individual student entry and seating section, enclosed west end of the stadium, replacement of bleachers with individual seating, removal of the track, new press box, private lodge and suite seating, lowering of the field by 4ft, video and audio system, football offices, permanent seating in the east end zone, and new and improved amenities, concession stands and bathrooms throughout. Previous plans have called for open concourses allowing spectators to still view the action on the field while browsing the concession stands. The new seating capacity will be lowered to 71,900. Along with the Husky Stadium remodel, new parking garages will be constructed as well as renovated facilities throughout the athletic village.[10]

The stadium has developed numerous structural problems, particularly in the lower bowl, caused by age and the continually moist weather. Renovation plans are slated to begin on November 7, 2011 with the goal of being completed in time for the 2013 season. The team will play at Qwest Field until construction is completed. This $250 million (previously $300 million due to falling construction costs) remodel of Husky Stadium will be the most expensive renovation of a sports facility in NCAA history. [11]

The new stadium will be developed by Wright Runstad & Company, designed by 360 Architects, and constructed by Turner Construction company. Plans were set to be released in Fall of 2010.

Seattle Seahawks

The first residency of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks at Husky Stadium was due to repairs to the interior ceiling of the Kingdome in the summer of 1994. The second residency (2000-01) was because of the demolition of the Kingdome in March 2000. The Seahawks' new stadium (now CenturyLink Field) would take over two years to complete, and was built in the Kingdome's footprint.

In order to evaluate its suitability for use in the NFL, Seahawks' owner Paul Allen paid to install a FieldTurf surface at Husky Stadium in the summer of 2000. Visiting players were so impressed with the surface at Husky Stadium that it was rated as the best non-grass field in the NCAA, and rated higher than many of the grass fields.[12] Originally, natural grass was to be installed in the new NFL stadium, but the Seahawks' management and players were so impressed by the performance of FieldTurf that it became the original playing surface at Qwest Field in 2002.

Husky Stadium is the northernmost facility ever to serve as a home field in the NFL.


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