American Football Wiki
Stanford Stadium
Stanford Stadium new
Location Arboretum Rd & Galvez Street, Stanford, California 94305
Broke ground July, 1921
Opened November 19, 1921
Renovated 1985, 1994, 2005
Owner Stanford University
Operator Stanford University
Surface Natural grass
Construction cost $200,000 (1921)
$2 million (1984 renovation)
$10 million (1995 renovation)
$90 million (2006 rebuilding)
Architect Hoover and Associates
(2006 renovation)
Tenants Stanford Cardinal (NCAA) (1921–present)
Games of the XXIII Olympiad - Football (soccer) (1984)
Super Bowl XIX (NFL) (1985)
FIFA World Cup (1994)
FIFA Women's World Cup (1999)
Capacity 60,000 (1921–1924)
70,200 (1925–1926)
85,500 (1927–2005)
50,000 (2006–present)

Stanford Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium on the Stanford University campus, the home of the Stanford Cardinal college football team. It originally opened in 1921 as a football and track stadium, an earthen horseshoe with wooden bleacher seating and flooring upon a steel frame. Its original seating capacity was 60,000, which grew to 85,500 by 1927 as a nearly-enclosed bowl. Immediately following the 2005 season, the stadium was completely rebuilt as a dual-deck concrete structure, without a track. Sportscasters and writers frequently make the false assumption that the stadium (and university) are within the City of Palo Alto, which is a separate entity, immediately to the north.

Early history[]

Built partly in competition with the University of California, Berkeley to see who could build a football stadium first, Stanford Stadium was built in four months and opened its gates on November 19, 1921, replacing Stanford Field.[1] The first game was against California, who defeated Stanford 42-7. Seating capacity was originally 60,000, with a 66-row, U-Shaped structure second only to the Yale Bowl in size at the time. In 1925, 10,200 seats were added to the stadium, nearly enclosing the horseshoe while still keeping the overall height of the facility intact. In 1927, 14 additional rows of seating were added, increasing the stadium to its maximum capacity of 85,500, with 80 rows of seating.[2]

In 1935, Stanford Stadium set a record for single-game attendance, with 94,000 spectators filling the Stadium for a 13-0 victory over Cal in the 38th Big Game.


In January 1985, Super Bowl XIX was held in Stanford Stadium, with the Bay Area's own San Francisco 49ers defeating the Miami Dolphins 38–16. Stanford Stadium is one of two venues (the Rose Bowl being the other) to host a Super Bowl without previously serving as the home stadium of an NFL or AFL team. As of 2012, Super Bowl XIX is the only Super Bowl where the host region saw their team win.

On October 22, 1989, a San Francisco 49ers home game was played here (against the New England Patriots), due to damage suffered to Candlestick Park during the 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake, five days before. The Niners defeated the Patriots, 37-20.

Non-football events[]

Other high profile events hosted at Stanford Stadium include Herbert Hoover's acceptance speech for the 1928 Republican Presidential nomination, and international football matches for the 1984 Summer Olympics (as one of three venues outside Southern California for that Olympiad),[3] the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. The stadium also hosted the 1962 version of the long-running (1958–1985) series of track meets between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Modern renovations[]

File:Louis W. Foster Family Field plaque.JPG

Plaque commemorating the dedication of Lewis W. Foster Family Field in 1995

The stadium has gone a number of significant renovations since the 1920s. In 1960, a press box was added, while the first, and last synthetic athletics track was installed in 1978 (replacing the dirt track that had been used for many years).

In 1985, prior to Super Bowl XIX, the press box was renovated, new locker rooms were installed, a ticket complex and dressing room for game officials were added, and the number of restrooms were increased.[4]

In 1994, prior to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the lower level of the press box was expanded and aluminum benches were installed throughout the stadium. The crown of the playing surface was also reduced.[4]

In 1995, a $10 million gift from Los Angeles insurance executive and 1935 Stanford graduate Louis W. Foster enabled further updates to the stadium, including widening the concourse, improving the restrooms, and replacing the remaining wooden seats. In honor of his gift, Stanford named the playing surface the Lewis W. Foster Family Field at Stanford Stadium.[4][5]

2005-06 renovation[]


The interior of Stanford Stadium as it appeared in May of 2004

In June 2005, the university Board of Trustees authorized plans for the stadium's extensive renovation that would remove the track, reduce the stadium capacity, and bring it up to date with present standards for sporting venues. Various justifications for the renovation included poor sightlines in the existing stadium (rendering the bottom 14 rows unusable), long stairways, and lack of adequate restroom facilities. The track around the stadium had previously created a large distance between the field and the spectators.

The capacity of the renovated stadium was set to be approximately 50,000 seats made by Ducharme Seating. The reduction in capacity was a strategic decision by Stanford's Athletics Program to boost season ticket sales and create a more intimate playing atmosphere without sacrificing the ability to host large world-class events, such as the FIFA World Cup or NCAA Football Bowl Games in the future. This was partially the result of the Bay Area's failure to secure a bid for the 2012 Olympics, which would have featured a renovated Stanford Stadium as the main Olympic Venue.

Construction began minutes after the Cardinal's last home game of the 2005 football season, a close loss to Notre Dame on November 26. Bulldozers began tearing out the natural field turf in a ceremony held while attendees were still in the stadium for the game. Construction proceeded quickly through the winter and spring with the goal of opening in time for Stanford's game against San Jose State on September 9, 2006, but the game had to be relocated to San Jose due to an unusually wet winter and resulting construction delays. In the summer of 2006, a construction worker fell 23 ft to his death.[6]

The stadium reopened on September 16, 2006, with Stanford losing to Navy 37-9. The Stanford Band was not present at the stadium opening, since they were not permitted to play at any athletic events in the month of September, due to charges of vandalism to a temporary trailer which formerly served as their rehearsal facility. Instead, the Navy band performed at halftime and played throughout the game.

The renovated facility occupies 18.4 acres, with a footprint of 601,128 square feet, a playing surface 29 feet below ground level, and is now a rectangular shaped stadium. The stadium has 43 rows on the sides, 22 rows on the endzones, and 30 rows below the skybox. The skybox also has 437 spectator seats, more than double the number of the previous press box.

The 2008 Stanford-USC game marked the first sellout of Stanford Stadium since it opened in 2006

  1. San Francisco Football Stadiums College Football Historical Society (February 2002).
  2. Stanford Stadium.
  3. 1984 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 1. Part 1. pp. 129-31.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Stanford Stadium. Stanford University. Retrieved on March 16, 2011.
  5. Template:Cite press release
  6. Template:Cite press release
  7. Wilner, Jon. "USC 45, Stanford 23: The Tactics, the Turnovers and That Strange Final Sequence", November 16, 2008. Retrieved on November 18, 2008.