Tulane Stadium
The Sugar Bowl
Location New Orleans, Louisiana (now demolished)
Opened October 23, 1926
Closed August 3, 1975
Demolished 1980
Owner Tulane University
Operator Tulane University
Surface Grass (1926-1970)
Poly-Turf (1971-1975)
Construction cost $295,968[1]
Tenants New Orleans Saints (NFL) (1967-1974)
Sugar Bowl (NCAA]]) (1935-1974)
Tulane Green Wave (NCAA) (1926-1974)
Super Bowl (NFL) (1970, 1972, 1975)
Pelican Bowl (NCAA) (1974)
Capacity 35,000 (1926)

Tulane Stadium was an outdoor football stadium located in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1926 to 1980. Officially known as the Third Tulane Stadium, it replaced the "Second Tulane Stadium" where the Telephone Exchange Building is now located.[1] The site is currently bound by Willow Street to the south, Ben Weiner Drive to the east, the Tulane University property line west of McAlister Drive, and the modular housing quad and the George G. “Sunny” Westfeldt Practice and Competition Facility to the north.

The stadium served as host for three Super Bowls (1970, 1972, 1975).

History[edit | edit source]

Opening[edit | edit source]

The stadium was opened in 1926 with a seating capacity of roughly 35,000 on the sidelines of the field. Tulane Stadium was built on Tulane University's campus (before 1871, Tulane's campus was Paul Foucher's Plantation, where Foucher's father-in-law, Etienne de Bore, had first granulated sugar from cane syrup).

Since the institution of the annual Sugar Bowl game, Tulane Stadium itself was often informally referred to as "the Sugar Bowl". It was also billed as "The Queen of Southern Stadiums". It was in a portion of Tulane University's main campus in Uptown New Orleans fronting Willow Street, with parking stretching to Claiborne Avenue. The original 1926 structure was mostly of brick and concrete.

The institution of the annual Sugar Bowl game[edit | edit source]

The first Sugar Bowl game was played on January 1, 1935 (Tulane vs Temple University) at Tulane Stadium. The term "Sugar Bowl" had been coined by Fred Digby, sports editor of the New Orleans Item, who had been pushing for an annual New Year's Day football game since 1927.[2]

File:Tulane Stadium Sugar Bowl This Week in New Orleans Dec 4 1948.jpg

Sugar Bowl in the late 1940s

Seating expansion[edit | edit source]

The stadium was eventually expanded to seat up to 80,985 fans. In its final configuration, the stadium included four concrete and steel sections (separated at the corners of the field), with a short steel upper deck wrapping around the sides and north end of the stadium. The press box was located on the western side of the field, and the main gate (pictured above) was at the southern end of the field facing Willow Street. The support structure for the upper deck was entirely open, exposing the ramps and lattice work, and hiding the original brick facade underneath with the exception of the Willow Street end of the stadium. Lights were installed in 1957. The record attendance for the stadium was set on December 1, 1973, when 86,598 watched Tulane defeat in-state rival LSU 14-0, ending a 25-year winless streak for the Green Wave against the Bayou Bengals. It was the last installment of the LSU-Tulane rivalry played on the Tulane campus.

Tulane's final game on campus[edit | edit source]

Tulane's final game on campus came 364 days later, a 26-10 loss to Ole Miss on a miserably cold afternoon November 30, 1974. One month later, Nebraska won the final college game in the stadium, defeating Florida 13-10 in the Sugar Bowl on December 31.

As the home of the New Orleans Saints[edit | edit source]

In addition to hosting Tulane University football games and the Sugar Bowl, the stadium was also home to the National Football League's New Orleans Saints from 1967 through 1974. The Saints' first game was a 27-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on September 17, 1967, although New Orleans provided fans with a memorable highlight when John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. The Saints won their last game in the stadium, 14-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals on December 8, 1974.

As the site of the Super Bowl[edit | edit source]

Tulane Stadium was the site of Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl IX. Super Bowl IX was the last professional league game ever played at the stadium.

Tom Dempsey's 63-yard field goal[edit | edit source]

Aside from the various bowls, the most memorable moment at the stadium might have been the Saints victory over the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970. In the NFL prior to 1974, the goal posts were on the goal line instead of the end line. With seconds remaining, the Saints attempted a place kick with the holder spotting at the Saints' own 37 yard line. Kicker Tom Dempsey nailed the 63-yard field goal with a couple of feet to spare, and the Saints won the game 19-17, one of only two games the Saints won that year. That record would stand alone for 28 years before it was tied by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos.

Usage following the opening of the Louisiana Superdome[edit | edit source]

In 1975, the day the new Louisiana Superdome was opened, Tulane Stadium was condemned. Upon appeal by the University, the older concrete and brick section was deemed fit to use, but not the newer metal seating section. The stadium then continued in more limited use for five years with the smaller seating area, used for football practice, high-school games, and other smaller events. The Denver Broncos used Tulane Stadium as its practice facility prior to Super Bowl XII, the first Super Bowl played in the Superdome.

Tulane Stadium's final game[edit | edit source]

The last game played in the stadium was a game between New Orleans Catholic League rivals De La Salle High School, located less than two miles (3 km) from the Tulane campus, and Archbishop Rummel High School on November 1, 1979. The last point scored in Tulane Stadium History was by Rummel High place kicker Gary Boudreaux.

Demolition[edit | edit source]


Final stages of demolition

On November 2, 1979, Tulane President Sheldon Hackney announced that the stadium would be demolished. The demolition started on November 18, 1979 and ended in 1980. While the storage areas underneath the seating in the stadium were being emptied prior to demolition, various neglected University possessions were rediscovered, including an Ancient Egyptian mummy couple[3].

The site is currently home to the Aron and Willow student housing complexes, the Diboll parking structure, the Reily Student Fitness Center and Brown Quad, a Fieldturf quad that roughly occupies the site of the football field.

Tulane Stadium is one of three stadiums that had hosted a Super Bowl that are no longer standing. Tampa Stadium, which hosted Super Bowls XVIII and XXV, was demolished in 1999 and the Orange Bowl, which hosted five Super Bowl games, was demolished in 2008.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tulane Stadium History
  2. Sugar Bowl History. Allstate Sugar Bowl. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved on 5 December 2006.
  3. A Tale of Two Mummies. Tulanian (1999). Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
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