Husky Stadium Listed As Nation's Top Setting
Aug. 17, 2006
SEATTLE - It isn't a very well-kept secret that from the day Husky Stadium officially opened in 1920, the University of Washington has laid claim to having the most beautiful setting for college football in the country.
After all, the 72,500-seat stadium sits right on the banks of scenic Union Bay on Lake Washington with incredible views of the Cascade Mountains and majestic Mount Rainer. It is hard to imagine a more incredible scene to watch big-time college football.
So hard, in fact, that the most recent issue of Sporting News listed Husky Stadium as the best setting to watch college football. Writer Tom Dienhart, in the magazine's August 18, 2006 issue, calls the stadium 'almost' too pretty for football and cites the fantastic views from the north upper deck.
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A similar story written recently by ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel, mentions the tradition of the 'boats on Lake Washington anchoring at a Husky game' as one of the 20 reasons college football is better than the NFL.
Gameday at UW is certainly special.
Hundreds of fanatic Husky fans tailgate in unique style, arriving to the game by boat and mooring just a few yards away from the stadium at nearby Waterfront Activities Center. To make Husky fans feel right at home, members of the Husky rowing teams shuttle fans back-and-forth between their vessels and the docks adjoining the stadium grounds.
Once game time arrives, the setting turns intense. With nearly 70 percent of the seats located between the end zones, Husky Stadium can be one of the loudest stadiums in the nation. During a contest against Nebraska in the early 1990's (right after UW's won the national title), the first night game in Husky Stadium history, ESPN sideline crews measured the crowd noise at 130 decibels.
Originally built at a cost of $600,000, the stadium's initial capacity was listed at 30,000. The stadium was opened in the dedication game, November 27, 1920 and a student fund drive, in which students and businessmen sold plaques at $50 and $100 levels, provided the capital necessary to get the project off the ground.
Over the years, a number of improvements and capacity increases have transformed Husky Stadium into its current configuration. In 1936, 10,000 above-grade seats were added around the rim of the structure, upping capacity to 40,000.
In 1950, Husky Stadium was again expanded when roof-covered stands were added to the south side. Approximately 15,000 additional seats, at a cost of $1.7 million, offered excellent viewing between the goal posts.
A cantilevered steel roof partially covered all seats in the upper deck and approximately 6,000 seats in the lower stands. In the rear of the structure, two silo-shaped ramps provided access to the upper deck concourses.
The two-level press box and camera deck areas were also installed as part of the 1950 project. The view available for approximately 75 members of the press is 165 feet above the stadium floor. The south side elevator was also part of the 1950 construction project.
An additional 3,000 seats were added to the north rim and portable bleachers were installed beyond the east end zone in 1968. At that time Washington was the first major college to install an AstroTurf field. At the time, the Houston Astrodome was the only other facility to use the playing surface. The original artificial turf was replaced in 1972, 1977, 1987 and, mostly recently, in the summer of 1995.
In 1987, Husky Stadium expanded once again, adding 13,000 new seats. The $13 million project brought the capacity to 72,500. The hallmark facet of the construction was a glass-enclosed reception area with a field view from goal line to goal line. Besides serving as an entertainment center on game days, the Don James Center has the capabilities to host major banquets or social events.
From dockside tailgating, to the pre-game Husky Huddles and the post-game Fifth Quarter celebrations in nearby Dempsey Indoor, UW football gameday provides Husky fans a day to remember. And, at 86-years-old, Husky Stadium, is a majestic and historic part of UW's football tradition.