This week we’re writing about some of our favorite stadiums. Today we’re taking a look at Sun Devil Stadium, the home of Arizona State football.
Carved from nature
The first thing that you notice is that it seems wedged between hills, and it is. Sun Devil Stadium was constructed between two mountain buttes. According to the ASU website, the stadium literally was carved from the desert occupying a space between the Tempe buttes which are actually small mountains. The stadium opened in 1958, and was expanded in 1976 and 1977.
It’s hot in the desert
Last fall, when Arizona State hosted Wisconsin in a night game, the kickoff temperarture was 98 degrees, and it was several degrees hotter during the day. That’s not that unusual for Tempe, where the average September high temperature is 100 degrees. In October, the highs cool to 89 degrees and in November 78 degrees. I’ve been told that it can be baking hot on the east sideline, which gets direct afternoon sun. That doesn’t work into homefield advantage for the Sun Devils however, as they have occupy the east sideline due to a Pac-12 Conference rule that requires the home team to on the sideline opposite the press box. Basking in the sun doesn’t seem to have hurt the Sun Devils however, as the have won more than 70 percent of their home games in Sun Devil Stadium.
Used by more than just Sun Devils
Sun Devil Stadium was the site where four NCAA National Champions claimed their titles including Notre Dame, Nebraska, Tennessee and Ohio State. It’s also where in 1996, the Dallas Cowboys defeated Pittsburgh to win the Super Bowl. In 1987, the Sun Devil Stadium was filled beyond capacity when Pope John Paul II visited Tempe.
Frank Kush Field
The playing surface at Sun Devil Stadium is named after legendary Arizona State head coach Frank Kush. In 22 years at Arizona State, he led the team to a 176-54-1 record, including a 6-1 record in bowl games. During that time, the Sun Devils won nine conference championships moving from the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) into the Pac-10. In 1975, the Sun Devils won the Fiesta Bowl finishing the season 12-0, with a No. 2 national ranking. Standing 5’7″ and weighing just 150 pounds, was named an All-American defensive linemen on a National Champion Michigan State team in 1952. After college, he served in the Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant. He employed a military-like atmosphere in regards to training, and would eventually be dismissed from incidents that arose from allegations that he mistreated his players.
Seating and atmosphere
With its unique setting, fans walk up a ways up fairly steep hills to get to just the lower level of Sun Devil Stadium. The stadium design is two levels, shaped like a letter “U” with limited seating in the other endzone. That endzone contains a building that includes locker rooms, gyms, business offices, and offices for coaches of several ASU teams. All of the standard seating in Sun Devil Stadium is bleacher style benches, with seatbacks in prime seating areas. There was plenty of room in our seats, though I heard complaints from fans in other parts of the stadium. The stadium has twin scoreboards which are small by today’s standards, both located in the same endzone. One other thing that I haven’t seen anywhere else is the band sitting on the opposite side of the stadium as the student section. I saw more groups with fans supporting both teams in Tempe than I had anywhere else.
Read yesterday’s countdown story about Michigan Stadium — The Big House