The second youngest stadium in the Pac-12 is Sun Devils Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. At one point during the stadium’s rich history it was the host of the Fiesta Bowl, Arizona State Sun Devils (NCAAF) and the Arizona Cardinals (NFL). Some of the historic events to occur in Sun Devils Stadium are the 1996 Super Bowl
and five Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Championship Games. Currently the building is home to the Insight Bowl and the Arizona State Sun Devils.
For years the Bulldogs (ASU’s original mascot) played at Irish Field
. In 1927 the University decided enough was enough and the built wooden bleachers. In 1936 the number of bleachers increased to 4,000 and Irish Field changed names to Goodwin Stadium. Over the next few years the University expanded Goodwin’s capacity to 15,000. When the Devils’ started winning in the 1950’s it became clear to ASU that a new stadium needed to be built, and in an area where a larger footprint could be utilized. It was. Sun Devil Stadium (at a capacity of 30,000 people) opened its doors on October 4th, 1958 versus West Texas State
. The Devils won 16-13.
After winning their first game in Sun Devils Stadium the Sun Devils would go on to finish the 1958 season at 7-5(including a bowl victory over Marquette)
. In their first five seasons at their new home, the Sun Devils went 46-15-1 (that is a lot of winning). The Sun Devils dominance in the WAC, and the increased capacity of the stadium, helped make them attractive to the other major conference on the west coast. The Pac-8
expanded to the Pac-10 after the 1978 season, adding Arizona State and the University of Arizona.
|The Stadium before the sky boxes were added
The stadium underwent a massive renovation in 1976 that added 22,722 seats, increasing the capacity to 52,722. 19,000 more seats were added a year later bringing the capacity to 70,500. In 1986 a new press box and skybox were added bringing Sun Devils Stadium’s capacity up to its current number of 72,300. The size of Sun Devil Stadium, made it attractive to a NFL team who happened to be looking for a new home.
The Cardinals have done quite a bit of moving in their history. From their founding in 1898 (as the Morgan AthleticClub
) the Cardinals bounced around the Chicago Metropolitan area. They moved from their long time home, Chicago, to St. Louis before the 1960 season
. The St. Louis Cardinals played at the old Busch Stadium, splitting the stadium with the MLB’s Cardinals. By the 1980’s the Cards wanted a football only stadium built. They ran into trouble with the City of St. Louis and before anyone really had a grasp of what was going on, the Cards were pulling up stakes and moving into the recently expanded Sun Devil Stadium, that happened in 1987. So Sun Devil Stadium now was the permanent home to two football teams, the Cards and the Sun Devils. The stadium was also home to the BCS Fiesta Bowl Game.
The Fiesta Bowl’s history
traces back to when the Western Athletic Conference struggles in obtaining a bowl bid for its winners in the late 60’s and early 70’s (this is where I point out that the WAC Champ in 69’ and 70’ was ASU). The Fiesta Bowl was born, and it slowly grew into one of the nation’s biggest games, becoming part of the Bowl Alliance in 1992. When the BCS formed in 1998, the Fiesta Bowls was chosen as one of four bowl games to be named a BCS Bowl Game. The first BCS National Title was on January 4th
, 1999 the First BCS National Title was hosted at Sun Devils Stadium. The Fiesta Bowl and the Cardinals moved out in 2005 with the opening of The University of Phoenix Stadium, having caused major damage to Sun Devils Stadium during their tenures there.
Tempe, Arizona (home of the Sun Devils) is in the middle of the desert. The designers/engineers/contractors all knew this; they decided that they did not need to water-proof Sun DevilsStadium
. Makes since right? Well…not exactly. The maintenance and cleaning crews would hose down Sun Devils Stadium after every game……..woops. After 40+ years of high pressure water cleanings, the metal supports of the stadium began to rust, over stressing the stadium and causing buckling along the foundation. ASU spent $10 million on a temporary Band-Aid, and is now looking at either renovating Sun Devil Stadium or demolishing it and building an entirely new facility.
|What’s next for the aging, buckling, facility?