Sun Devil Stadium hosting the 2013 Pac-12 Football Championship Game
500 East Veterans Way|
Tempe, Arizona 85281
|Owner||Arizona State University|
|Operator||Arizona State University|
|Broke ground||January 1958|
|Opened||October 4, 1958|
|Expanded||1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1989|
$1 million (original stadium)|
($8.48 million in 2017 dollars)
|Architect||Edward L. Varney Associates|
|General contractor||F. H. Antrim Construction Company|
Arizona State Sun Devils (NCAA) (1958–present)|
Fiesta Bowl (NCAA) (1971–2006)
Arizona Wranglers (USFL) (1983–1984)
Arizona Outlaws (USFL) (1985)
Arizona Cardinals (NFL) (1988–2005)
Cactus Bowl (NCAA) (2006–2015)
Alliance Phoenix (AAF) (2019–) planned
Sun Devil Stadium is an outdoor football stadium on the campus of Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, United States. It is home to the Arizona State Sun Devils football team of the Pac-12 Conference. The stadium's seating capacity as of 2018 is 53,599, reduced from a peak of 74,865 in 1989, and the playing surface is natural grass. The gridiron within the stadium is named Frank Kush Field in honor of the former coach of the ASU football team in 1996. Sun Devil Stadium is undergoing a $304 million renovation that is scheduled to be completed by the June 2019. It was the only major football stadium in the Phoenix metropolitan area until the construction of University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2006.
Sun Devil Stadium was also home to the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) from 1988 through the 2005 season. Following the 2005 season, the Cardinals moved to University of Phoenix Stadium.
Built in 1958, the stadium's original capacity was 30,000. The first addition in 1976 substantially raised the capacity to 57,722. Seating was added to the south end zone, along with press and sky boxes. A year later, in 1977, the upper tier was completed to bring seating to 70,311. In 1988, 1,700 more seats were added. During that time the Carson Student Athlete Center was added to the south end. The building is the home of the ASU Athletic Department.
In 2007, engineers realized the stadium's concrete base was buckling due to the rusting of structural steel supporting the foundation. Stadium designers had neglected to waterproof the structure when it was built, assuming a stadium in the desert would not need waterproof concrete. However, cleaning/maintenance crews for the Sun Devils and Cardinals hosed down the seats after every game, introducing substantially more water to the stadium than the designers had envisioned. Engineers estimated $45 million in repairs would be needed to maintain the stadium beyond 2010.
A new Arizona bill allows the Arizona Board of Regents to set up a district on ASU property to collect revenue from local businesses. Money from the fee will go toward the funding of renovation projects of ASU's athletic facilities, including the stadium. It was estimated the fund would accumulate enough money to begin planning renovations within 2–5 years (2012–2015).
In April 2012, Sun Devil Athletics unveiled an estimated $300 million plan for renovated Sun Devil Stadium that entails reduced stadium capacity (55,000–60,000 seat range), field turf and fabric roof shading. The plan to cover the stadium with fabric was later scrapped. In October 2013, Sun Devil Athletics announced the removal of approximately 5,700 north end zone upper deck seats that reduced the stadium capacity to 65,870 for the 2014 season. The 2016 and 2017 Cactus Bowls, which are usually played in Sun Devil Stadium, will be played in nearby Chase Field until the renovations are completed.
The renovations were originally intended to consist of three phases that would each take place between football seasons, thus removing the need for the team to play one or more years at a temporary home venue during construction. Initial plans called for the entire project to be completed in time for the start of the 2017 season, but modifications to the renovation schedule have postponed the anticipated completion date to 2019.
The first game played at the stadium was on October 4, 1958. Arizona State defeated West Texas State 16–13.
On September 21, 1996, the playing surface was named in honor of former ASU football coaching great Frank Kush, and the name of the stadium was changed from Sun Devil Stadium to Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field. That night ASU shut out #1 Nebraska 19–0. The largest crowd ever seated for a college football game at the stadium was 80,470 for the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, where the Tennessee Volunteers beat the Florida State Seminoles, 23–16 on January 4, 1999 to win the National Championship.
The Cactus Bowl (formerly called the Buffalo Wild Wings, Insight and Copper Bowl) moved to Sun Devil Stadium from Chase Field in 2006, after the Fiesta Bowl relocated to the newly opened University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The Cactus Bowl temporarily moved back to Chase Field in 2016 to accommodate the 2015–2018 renovation project; the game will return to Sun Devil Stadium once renovations are complete.
The seating capacity has been as followed:
The first professional football game played in the stadium was a National Football League (NFL) preseason game between the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. The NFL returned to the stadium in 1987 when the Green Bay Packers played the Denver Broncos in a preseason game.
The facility became an NFL stadium in 1988 when the St. Louis Cardinals moved west to Arizona and became the Phoenix Cardinals, renamed the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. The Cardinals' first regular season game in the stadium was a 17–14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in a Monday Night Football game on September 12, 1988. The Cardinals won their next home game, defeating the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins 30–21. The Cardinals intended to only play in Sun Devil Stadium temporarily until a new stadium could be built in Phoenix. However, the savings and loan crisis derailed plans for a permanent home, and the Cardinals remained in Tempe for 18 years. In the latter part of that time, the Cardinals began chafing at being merely a tenant in a college-owned stadium; they felt it denied them access to revenue streams that other NFL teams took for granted. The 18 seasons the Cardinals spent at ASU are by far the longest a professional football team has been a tenant in a college stadium since the formation of the American Football League in 1960.
On October 27, 2003, the Monday Night Football game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins was moved to Sun Devil Stadium because the Cedar Fire in the San Diego area forced the teams to vacate Qualcomm Stadium, which was being used as an evacuation site. Tickets for the game were free and the capacity crowd saw the Dolphins win 26–10. It was the first Monday Night Football game in the stadium in four years.
The Cardinals ended their tenancy at Sun Devil Stadium with a 27–21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve 2005. In 18 seasons, the Cardinals compiled a 64–80 (.444) record at the facility, their best home record being 5–3 which they achieved four times: 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2004.
Whenever the Cardinals struggled, Sun Devil Stadium was frequently one of the quietest stadiums in the league. Cardinals home games often did not sell out in time for them to be aired locally, in compliance with NFL blackout policy at the time. The few fans who did show up for games were most often rooting for the visiting team, creating what amounted to "home games" on the road for many opposing teams. A significant percentage of the state's residents only live there during the winter and live elsewhere for the rest of the year, and many of Arizona's permanent residents either grew up in other states or have roots outside the state. In 2005, for instance, all home games (except for the 49ers game which was held at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City) failed to sell out and could not be broadcast on local television.
In 2006, the Cardinals moved from Sun Devil Stadium to University of Phoenix Stadium in another Phoenix suburb, Glendale, located on the opposite side of the metro area from Tempe (although the Cardinals' training facility is in Tempe). The new stadium also hosts the Fiesta Bowl, and hosted the first stand-alone BCS National Championship Game in January 2007.
Sun Devil Stadium has been the setting for several movies over the years. Some of them include Cameron Crowe's 1996 blockbuster film Jerry Maguire, U2's 1988 rockumentary Rattle and Hum, The Rolling Stones' 1982 concert film Let's Spend the Night Together, 1976's A Star is Born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, the Coen Brothers' 1987 film Raising Arizona, and the 1980 film Used Cars. In 2003, the stadium was also featured on the Finale episode of The Amazing Race 4, and in 2009 The U in ESPN's 30 for 30.
Pope John Paul II visited Phoenix on September 14, 1987, as a part of his whirlwind tour of the United States. In Tempe, he held Mass for 75,000 at Sun Devil Stadium, which had all images and textual mentions of the Sun Devil mascot and nickname removed or obscured in his presence.
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