Spartan Stadium is the home of Michigan State football. Originally dedicated as College Field in 1923, the stadium is the 20th largest college football stadium in the nation, and the fifth largest in the Big Ten Conference with a stated capacity of 75,005 people.

The Early Years

As Michigan State University’s football program began to outgrow its home at Old College Field in the early 1920s, university officials started work on a successor facility, and in fall of 1923 the 14,000 seat College Field facility was opened to Spartan football fans. Many additions were made to this facility to keep up with the growing popularity of the football program, starting in 1935 when capacity was increased to 26,000 people. The stadium was re-dedicated as Macklin Field in honor of John Macklin, who was theMSU head coach from 1911-1915, managing to keep a 29-5 record over the five seasons he was with the program. In 1948 MSU joined the Big Ten and nearly doubled the capacity of the facility to 51,000 seats, and changed the name of the facility to Macklin Stadium.

As the football program continued to flourish under the coaching of Clarence “Biggie” Munn and Hugh “Duffy” Daugherty, 9,000 seats were added in 1956. This was followed by the addition of the upper decks of the stadium (bringing total capacity to 76,000) and the renaming of the facility to Spartan Stadium.

Modernization and Expansion

The stadium was converted from its previous to an artificial turf system, Tartan Turf, in 1969. In 1973, a modern scoreboard system and public address system were added and the stadium floor was converted to Astroturf. 10 foot by 65 foot video and scoreboard system was added for the 1991 season. Major renovations to the stadium occurred in 1994, reducing the capacity of the stadium to 72,027. These renovations were designed to improve sightlines and comfort for fans, more wheelchair accessibility, better field security, and allow for the addition of club seating. Renovations that year also included installing another artificial turf system, similar to that used at the Meadowlands by the New York Giants and the Jets. In 1998 the stadium had its sound system upgraded, and a 21 foot by 27 foot Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video board was added to the south end zone.

In 2002, the playing surface was converted back to grass, allowing the Spartan football team to play their games on a natural playing surface for the first time since 1969. The surface was designed using a modular system that the MSU turfgrass management program scientists originally designed for use in the Pontiac Silverdome during the 1994 World Cup. In 2003 work began on a $64 million stadium expansion project, which was unveiled on September 3, 2005. The addition added twenty four luxury suites; eight hundred sixty two Club seats; new press/media facilities; office space for University Development, the MSU Alumni Association, and other MSU departments; new recruiting and training facilities for the MSU Athletic Department; a “grand entrance” to house the famed MSU Sparty statue; and an additional 3000 seats to the stadium.

Spartan Stadium Trivia

  • Spartan Stadium has been ranked the 8th most scenic Stadium in the US by Mel Kiper of ESPN.

Sources Spartan Stadium. . Accessed 11/4/07. Spartan Stadium. . Accessed 11/4/07. Trivia for Sparticus (1960). . Accessed 11/4/07.

Kiper Jr., Mel. “For scenery, check out Michie Stadium”. . Published 3/8/2002. Accessed 11/4/07.

Latham, Krista. “Game shatters records, players’ expectations”. The State News. Published 10/8/2001. Accessed 10/4/07.

Michigan State University. Spartan Stadium Field Conversion Update: The Science Behind the Sod. Published 6/10/02. Accessed 11/4/07.


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