Jordan–Hare Stadium (mispronounced as // jor-dən, properly pronounced [in central Alabama dialect] as // (listen) JUR-dən) is the playing venue for the Auburn University Tigers football team located on campus in Auburn, Alabama. The stadium is named for Ralph "Shug" Jordan, who owns the most wins in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn's first football team as well as Dean of the Auburn University School of Chemistry and President of the Southern Conference. On November 19, 2005, the playing field at the stadium was named in honor of former Auburn coach and athletic director Pat Dye. The venue is now known as Pat Dye Field at Jordan–Hare Stadium. The stadium reached its current seating capacity of 87,451 with the 2004 expansion and is the 10th largest stadium in the NCAA. By the end of the 2006 season, it was estimated that 19,308,753 spectators had attended a football game in Jordan–Hare. For years, it has been a fixture on lists of best gameday atmospheres and most intimidating places to play.
Aerial view of the stadium, 2008
|Former names||Auburn Stadium (1939–49)|
Cliff Hare Stadium (1949–73)
|Address||251 South Donahue Drive|
|Surface||Tifway 419 Bermuda Grass|
|Opened||November 9, 1939|
|Expanded||1949, 1955, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1987, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2018|
($26.6 million in 2019 dollars)
|Architect||Warren, Knight, and Davis|
|General contractor||Murphy Pond/R.M. Construction|
|Auburn Tigers (NCAA) (1939–present)|
Auburn High School Tigers (AHSAA) (1939–1947)
Alabama High School Athletic Association (2010–present, every three years)
Before 1939, Auburn played its home games at Drake Field, a bare-bones facility seating only 700 people in temporary bleachers. With such a tiny capacity, Auburn was only able to play one game on campus per year, and frequently had to play many of its "home" games at neutral sites. By the 1930s, school officials realized that Auburn had long since outgrown Drake Field, and felt chagrin at having to play "home" games at Birmingham's Legion Field, Montgomery's Cramton Bowl, and even Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Georgia. More or less out of necessity, they decided to build a permanent stadium.
The stadium, then known as Auburn Stadium, hosted its first game on November 10, 1939, between the Auburn and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football freshmen teams. While the school was officially known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute until 1960, it had been popularly known as "Auburn" for years, and the decision to name the stadium as such reflected this. The stadium was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day (November 30) 1939 before the first varsity game played in the stadium, a 7–7 tie with the University of Florida under Auburn head coach Jack Meagher. The Gators had to dress at their hotel in Opelika because the stadium's adjoining field house was still under construction. The Auburn-Florida game was originally scheduled for December 2, 1939 in Montgomery. The game was rescheduled in order for the stadium to be dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, Auburn officials seemingly wanting the significance of the occasion to dovetail with America's established Thanksgiving Day football tradition, a plan nearly thwarted by Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Franksgiving" decree. Had Alabama not chosen to observe Thanksgiving on its original date, the stadium likely would not have been dedicated until 1940.
The stadium is frequently said to have opened with a capacity of 7,500; however, that was only the number of seats in the west grandstand (the lower half of the current facility's west stands). This is usually cited as the stadium's original capacity because the west grandstands were the only permanent portion of the original facility. The actual original capacity of the stadium, taking into account the wooden east stand as well as bleachers behind each end zone, was approximately 15,000—a figure that was actually quoted by a number of official Auburn sources of the day. The official attendance of 7,290 for the dedication game, as quoted by then-athletics business manager and future athletic director Jeff Beard, came from the number of tickets printed for the game. However, a thanks-for-coming note from Meagher cited the actual attendance as 11,095, and newspaper accounts reported that anywhere from 12,000-14,000 people were in attendance.
In the fall of 1947, Auburn students lobbied to rename the stadium Petrie Stadium in honor of Dr. George Petrie, Auburn's first football coach, who died in October that year. The first major expansion came in 1949, when the wooden bleachers on the east side were replaced with permanent seats and more seats were added to the west grandstand. This brought capacity to 21,500, and the stadium was renamed Cliff Hare Stadium.
Shug Jordan became head coach of the Tigers in 1951. He was still coaching when his name was added to the stadium in 1973, making it the first stadium in the United States to be named for an active coach. The stadium's capacity more than tripled via three expansions during his 25 years at Auburn; it seated 61,261 when he retired in 1975. Under Jordan's watch, the stadium became a horseshoe in 1960, and a bowl in 1970.
With the addition of the west upper deck in 1980 and the east upper deck in 1987, the stadium became the largest in the state of Alabama until the 2006 and 2010 expansion of Bryant–Denny Stadium (capacity 101,821) at Alabama.
For much of its history, Auburn played home games against their traditional rivals at neutral sites rather than Jordan–Hare Stadium. This was partly due to the larger capacity and better amenities available at other stadiums, as well as relative difficulty in traveling to Auburn for most of the 20th century and the lack of accommodations in town. For instance, at the time the stadium opened, there were only two gas stations in town with public restrooms. In its first decade after the stadium opened, for instance, Auburn only played a total of 12 true home games. Until 1960, all games against Georgia continued to be played in Columbus. Until the 1970s, Auburn played all home games against Tennessee and Georgia Tech at Legion Field. Georgia Tech first came to the Plains in 1970, while Tennessee came to Auburn for the first time in 1974.
As Auburn became more accessible and the stadium expanded in capacity, more games were moved to Jordan–Hare Stadium. By the 1980s, Alabama was Auburn's last major rival to have yet to play a game at Jordan–Hare Stadium. The yearly Iron Bowl clash between Alabama and Auburn had been played at Legion Field since it was renewed on a permanent basis in 1948. However, Auburn fans increasingly felt chagrin at facing Alabama in Birmingham, particularly after the 1980s expansions made Jordan–Hare the largest stadium in the state. Although Legion Field was ostensibly a neutral site, it had long been associated with Alabama football; until the 1980s, most of Alabama's "home" football history took place in Birmingham. Indeed, it was only 45 minutes east of Alabama's campus in Tuscaloosa. After years of negotiations, the two schools agreed to play the Iron Bowl in Auburn in odd-numbered years. Alabama first came to the Plains on December 2, 1989—a game that saw #11 Auburn upend undefeated and #2 Alabama 30–20. The 1991 game was played at Legion Field, but has been played at Auburn in every odd-numbered year from 1991 onward. Alabama continued to play its home games for the rivalry at Legion Field until 1998.
An expansion in 2004 extended the east upper deck by an additional section on each end, adding more luxury suites and additional general seating to reach the current capacity of 87,451.
In 1998, artist Michael Taylor was commissioned to paint ten large murals on the east-side exterior of the stadium. The paintings depicted the greatest players, teams, and moments from Auburn's football history to that date. In 2006, Auburn updated these murals, including images that recognized great moments in Auburn football history up to 2006. In 2011, Auburn once again updated the murals, recognizing the greatest coaches, players, and teams up until 2011.
Before the 2007 season, a $2.9 million, 30-foot (9.1 m) high by 74-foot (23 m) wide HD Daktronics LED video display was installed in the south end zone of Jordan–Hare Stadium. Auburn was the first Southeastern Conference school to install an HD video display and the second in the NCAA (after Texas' Godzillatron). In August 2015, a new LED videoboard that is 57 by 190 ft, 10,830 square feet (1,006 m2) was unveiled and is currently the largest videoboard in college athletics.
In 2015, Auburn considered a complete reconstruction of the north end-zone section of Jordan–Hare which would have included new premium club seating and lounges, as well as establishing a new home locker room to replace the existing factility in the south end zone. The cost of this project was estimated at $145 million. After surveying donors and the general fanbase, the university did not move forward with those plans and decided instead to build a $28 million gameday support factility in the southwest corner of the stadium. The project includes renovation and expansion of the existing home locker room, relocation of the press box, a new player recruiting lounge, and a new premium fan club providing overviews of the end of Tiger Walk. The existing 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) press box in the west upper deck is being converted to an additional premium club seating and lounge area. The coaches boxes and television box will in this area will remain and be renovated. The total cost for this project is $12 million and will be completed by the 2018 season.
While Jordan–Hare Stadium is known primarily as a venue for football, it has hosted a handful of other events including an appearance by Billy Graham and concert appearances by James Brown, The Beach Boys, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, and Blake Shelton.
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- The History of Jordan-Hare Stadium, Part One: The War Eagle Reader
- "3 Football games On Tap This Week For Local Fans; Auburn Hi Tilt Today", Lee County Bulletin, November 9, 1939.
- How FDR’s ‘Franksgiving’ fiasco nearly spoiled the dedication of Auburn Stadium: The War Eagle Reader
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- http://www.tidesports.com/article/20100804/NEWS/100809854/1011?Title=Bryant-Denny-expansion-brings-capacity-to-101-821[permanent dead link]
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- "Auburn To Install High Definition Video at Jordan–Hare Stadium". Auburn Athletics. March 27, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2007.
- James Crepea (December 16, 2015). "A look at Auburn's renovation plans to Jordan–Hare Stadium". AL.com. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- James Crepea (February 3, 2017). "What is the status of Auburn's North end zone renovation plans?". AL.com. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- Kara Coleman (April 30, 2018). "Game on: Auburn University athletics facilities get a facelift". Opelika-Auburn News. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- Jeremey Henderson (September 19, 2015). "Kenny Chesney concert will be at least the fourth—not the first—major concert held in Jordan–Hare Stadium". The War Eagle Reader. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- Amber Sutton (April 21, 2017). "2017 Music and Miracles Superfest: Complete guide to Saturday's concert at Jordan–Hare Stadium". AL.com. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
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