Kroger Field, formerly known as Commonwealth Stadium, is a stadium in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, located on the campus of the University of Kentucky that primarily serves as the home field for the Kentucky Wildcats football team. The stadium is located at the corner of Alumni Drive and University Drive in Lexington. The playing surface is named C.M. Newton Grounds in honor of retired UK athletic director and former baseball and basketball player C.M. Newton. Built in 1973, it is the newest football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, as measured by date of original construction. The original capacity for the stadium was 57,800. In the stadium's first game, played on September 15, 1973, the Wildcats defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 31–26
C. M. Newton Grounds
Exterior of the stadium
|Former names||Commonwealth Stadium (1973–2017)|
|Location||1540 University Drive, Lexington, Kentucky 40506|
|Owner||University of Kentucky|
|Operator||University of Kentucky|
|Surface||S5 Synthetic Turf (2015–present)|
Kentucky bluegrass (1973–2014)
|Broke ground||July 23, 1972|
|Opened||September 15, 1973|
|Construction cost||$12 million|
($67.7 million in 2018 dollars)
|General contractor||Huber, Hunt & Nichols|
|Kentucky Wildcats (NCAA) (1973–present)|
Both ends of the stadium were enclosed in 1999 and 40 suites were added, 10 in each corner of the stadium, resulting in a symmetrical oval bowl seating 67,530. The total cost of the expansion was $27.6 million. Seating adjustments over the next decade brought capacity to 67,942. During the 1999 season, Kentucky's average home attendance for football games was 67,756. Attendance for the game against Tennessee that year was 71,022, which remained the record attendance until the Wildcats' 2007 game against Florida drew 71,024. For much of the next decade, Wildcat football games frequently attracted crowds in excess of 70,000.
The University of Kentucky announced an audio and video upgrade to the stadium in July 2011. These upgrades included two LED video boards each measuring approximately 37 feet (11 m) high by 80 feet (24 m) wide (2,960 square feet), making each display the 20th-largest scoreboard in the country. Combined, the 5,920 square feet (550 m2) make the new video boards one of the largest scoreboard systems in the country. Additionally, a new custom audio system and over 1,800 linear sq/ft of video ribbon board were implemented by September 10, 2011. The approximate cost of the upgrades totaled close to $6 million.
The stadium underwent a $110 million renovation in 2015. The renovation included a new press box, loge box seats, club seats, recruiting room, suites, concourses, bathrooms, lights, and exterior facade while reducing capacity to around 61,000. The project was completed before the start of the 2015 season. It was referred to as "The New Commonwealth Stadium". On May 1, 2017, the university, along with marketing partner JMI Sports, announced the stadium's name change to Kroger Field, part of a 12-year, $1.85 million per year naming rights deal with Cincinnati-based retailer Kroger. This agreement makes the University of Kentucky the first school in the Southeastern Conference to enter into a corporate partnership for the naming rights to their football stadium.
In May 2017, Kroger Field was announced as the new site for Kentucky's high school football championship games. The event was moved from Western Kentucky University's Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium due to conflicts with WKU's hosting of two recent Conference USA championship games (2015 and 2016), which led to rescheduling of high school title games on short notice. The current contract with the state's high school sports governing body, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, will run through the 2018 season. The 2017 championships will be the first held in Lexington since 1976.
Since 1999, fireworks have been shot from atop the suites whenever the Wildcats take the field, as well as after every Wildcat score and win.
|Record description||Record||Record holder(s)||Date||Opponent||Final Score|
|Most rushing yards, game||272 yds||Moe Williams||November 11, 1995||Cincinnati||33–14|
|Most passing yards, game||528 yds||Jared Lorenzen||October 21, 2000||Georgia||30–32|
|Most receptions, game||16||Craig Yeast||November 14, 1998||Vanderbilt||55–17|
|Most receiving yards, game||269 yds||Craig Yeast||November 14, 1998||Vanderbilt||55–17|
|Longest run from line of scrimmage||88 yds||Jalen Whitlow||November 2, 2013||Alabama State||48–14|
|Longest pass play||91 yds||Buck Belue^ to Amp Arnold^||October 25, 1980||Georgia||0–27|
|Longest field goal||54 yds||Hap Hines^||October 26, 1996||Georgia||24–17|
|Longest Punt||86 yds||Donnie Jones^||November 9, 2002||LSU||30–33|
|Longest Kickoff Return||100 yds||Willie Shelby^
|September 22, 1973
October 9, 2004
September 19, 2009
|Longest Punt Return||84 yds||Rafael Little||November 18, 2006||Louisiana-Monroe||42–40|
|Longest Interception Return||91 yds||Greg Long||September 5, 1981||North Texas State||28–6|
|Most Points Scored||77||Kentucky||September 7, 2002||UTEP||77–17|
|Most overtimes||7*||Kentucky||November 1, 2003||Arkansas||63–71|
|Longest winning streak||16||Florida||September 14, 2019||Kentucky||21-29|
^ Denotes Non-Kentucky Player
* Tied the NCAA record for most overtimes
The stadium hosted no concerts in its first 46 years of use, whether as Commonwealth Stadium or Kroger Field. The first concert is scheduled for 2020.
|Date||Main performer(s)||Tour / Concert name||Tickets sold||Total gross
|April 25||Chris Stapleton||A Concert for Kentucky|
- "2014 Kentucky Football Media Guide" (PDF). University of Kentucky Department of Athletics. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- "University of Kentucky Selects UBU Sports Synthetic Turf for Their New Stadium Improvements". UBU Sports. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
- "Commonwealth Stadium 35th anniversary". Kentucky Sports Network. July 28, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
- "Commonwealth Stadium". University of Kentucky Department of Athletics. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
- Smith, Jennifer (May 1, 2017). "After 44 years, Commonwealth Stadium has a new name: Kroger Field". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
- "Board of Control Addresses Championship Sites for Football, Girls' Basketball, Dance" (Press release). Kentucky High School Athletic Association. May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Stunson, Mike (October 2, 2019). "Kentuckian Chris Stapleton to headline first concert at Kroger Field in Lexington". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved October 14, 2019.