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Spartan Stadium, East Lansing


Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

Not to be confused with Spartan Stadium (San Jose).
Spartan Stadium
Former names College Field (1923–1935)
Macklin Field (1935–1948)
Macklin Stadium (1948–1956)
Spartan Stadium (1956–present)
Location 1 Spartan Way
East Lansing, MI 48824

42°43′41″N 84°29′5″W / 42.72806°N 84.48472°W / 42.72806; -84.48472Coordinates: 42°43′41″N 84°29′5″W / 42.72806°N 84.48472°W / 42.72806; -84.48472

Broke ground 1923
Opened October 6, 1923[1]
Renovated 2005
Expanded 1935, 1948, 1956, 1957, 2005
Owner Michigan State University
Operator Michigan State University
Surface Grass 1923 to 1968
TartanTurf 1969 to 1977
Astroturf 1978 to 2001
Grass 2002 to present
Construction cost $160,000[2]
($2.21 million in 2014 dollars[3])
Architect Edwyn Bowd (1923 field)
Orlie Munson (1957 stadium)
HNTB Architecture (2004 expansion)
Capacity 14,000 (1923-1934)
26,000 (1935-1947)
51,000 (1948-1955)
60,000 (1956)
76,000 (1957-1993)
72,027 (1994-2004)
75,005 (2005-present)
Record attendance 80,401
Michigan State Spartans (NCAA) (1923–present)

Spartan Stadium (formerly College Field, Macklin Field and Macklin Stadium) opened in 1923 in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. It is primarily used for football, and is the home field of the Michigan State University Spartans. After the addition of luxury boxes and club seating in 2004–2005, the capacity of the stadium grew from 72,027 to 75,005—though it has held more than 80,000 fans—making it the Big Ten's sixth largest stadium. Its atmosphere has been described by ESPN's Lee Corso as a that of a "snake pit."


In the early 1920s, school officials decided to construct a new stadium to replace Old College Field. The resulting stadium—the lower half of the current stadium—was ready in the fall of 1923 with a capacity of 14,000. Over the years, the stadium grew. In 1935, the seating capacity increased to 26,000 and the facility was dedicated as Macklin Field. John Macklin, football coach from 1911 to 1915, put Michigan State football on the map with a 29–5 record over five seasons with victories over big name programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. After admittance into the Big Ten in 1948, Michigan State increased stadium capacity to 51,000 and the field was renamed Macklin Stadium. With Spartan football attracting national attention under Clarence "Biggie" Munn and Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty, 9,000 seats were added in 1956. The following season upper decks were added to the east and west sides boosting the capacity to 76,000. That same season Michigan State dropped the name Macklin Stadium in favor of Spartan Stadium.[4]

In 1969, TartanTurf replaced the natural grass field and a modern scoreboard was added in 1973. Later in the 1970s, AstroTurf replaced the TartanTurf. A new modern video scoreboard was added before the 1991 season. Renovations improving sight lines, field security, handicap access, and club seats in 1994 reduced Spartan Stadium's capacity to 72,027. New turf was also installed in the summer of 1994. In 1998, Spartan Stadium's sound system was upgraded, adding a 21' x 27' Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video board to the south end and a message board to the north end. Home to one of the top turfgrass research programs in the nation, Michigan State installed a natural grass field in 2002. The most recent expansion was completed in August 2005. A new press box, 24 luxury suites, and 862 club seats were constructed on the west side of Spartan Stadium. This addition made Spartan Stadium the tallest building in East Lansing.

Homefield Advantage

Through the 2012 season until their game against Notre Dame, the Spartans had won 15 straight games in Spartan Stadium—the program's longest home streak since winning 19 straight from 1950-53. Michigan State went undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011) including marquee wins over Wisconsin, Michigan, and Notre Dame, marking the first consecutive perfect home seasons since 1955-56.[5]

Special events

For almost 9 years, the stadium held the world record for the largest ice hockey crowd in history. On October 6, 2001, a rink was constructed at the center of the stadium for Michigan State's season-opening game against archrival Michigan. Dubbed "The Cold War", 74,554 watched No. 1 nationally ranked Michigan State and No. 4 nationally ranked Michigan skate to a 3–3 tie. Country artist Shannon Brown sang during the second intermission. The game set off a wave of outdoor ice hockey games in large stadiums. The record for the highest-attended outdoor hockey game is now held by the University of Michigan where 104,173 came to Michigan Stadium to watch Michigan beat Michigan State 5-0 in The Big Chill at the Big House.

The Rolling Stones performed at the stadium during their Voodoo Lounge Tour on September 9, 1994.

On June 26, 2011, U2 performed during their U2 360° Tour, with Florence + The Machine as their opening act. The show was originally to be held on June 30, 2010, but was postponed, due to Bono's emergency back surgery. This was the first time they had played in East Lansing since a bar show in 1981.[6] It was their first performance in Michigan since 2005.

Stadium expansion

On September 3, 2005, Spartan Stadium unveiled an 8-story, 268,947-square-foot (24,986.0 m2) expansion which had been under construction since 2003. At a total cost of $64,000,000 the project created:

  • 24 luxury suites
  • 800 club seats
  • The "Grand Entrance" featuring high ceilings, glass walls, marble floors and a new home for the original Spartan statue.
  • 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) luxury concourse
  • Office space for the MSU alumni association and Spartan Athletic Office.
  • State of the art recruiting lounge
  • Upgraded stadium wide bathroom and concourse renovations
  • An increase of 3,000 seats, bringing the total stadium capacity to 75,005.

The Stadium renovation was done under a joint venture of Clark Construction and Barton Malow Construction Company.

Video: Inside the new expansion

Video Board Renovation

On January 27, 2012, the Michigan State Board of Trustees voted for a Video Board Renovation and Audio Package upgrade. Cost is $10 Million. Features include:

  • One of a kind LED wall measuring 10'x450' spanning the North End zone Wall.
  • Two Auxiliary Video Boards in the North End zone to provide 1,654 SF of video area per board.
  • One South End zone Video Board, the largest in the Big Ten Conference with 5,412 SF, surpassing current leader Minnesota (5,184 SF).
  • Video board was built and installed by Panasonic
  • Video, graphic, and content control system installed by Click Effects
  • Video replay(control) room built by Comprehensive Technical Group (CTG) Atlanta

New Spartan Stadium Scoreboard

The new scoreboards were unveiled on August 31, 2012, when the Spartans defeated #24 Boise State 17-13. The game was the 12th night game in the history of Spartan Stadium.[7][8]


Game days at Spartan Stadium provide opportunity for tailgating. Popular locations include the tennis courts, with the exception of Munn field.

Stadium traditions

  • "The Spartan Walk" – On the morning of each home game, the team completes a 10-minute walk from their hotel at the posh Kellogg Center, crossing the Red Cedar River, passing the Spartan Statue and finally into the stadium. The sidewalks are lined with fans applauding and cheering "Go Green, Go White."[9]
  • "Zeke the Wonder Dog" – East Lansing's favorite frisbee-catching dog, debuting in 1977 and reemerging as a tradition in 2001. Tryouts for a replacement are held when Zeke becomes unable to wow spectators at halftime.[10]
  • "It's a beautiful day for football!" – Just before kickoff, the PA announcer gives the weather forecast and, with the help of the fans, declares that "it's a beautiful day for football!" This tradition takes place even during games played in poor weather.
  • 300 – Introduced in 2007, clips from the movie 300 were added to the "Thunderstruck" introduction sequence. A clip of Spartan King Leonidas shouting, "Spartans! What is your profession?" is played whenever the opponent is in a third down situation. The crowd responds with an emphatic "Ha-Ooh! Ha-Ooh! Ha-Ooh!" while thrusting their fists in the air as if they were carrying spears like in the movie. This is very popular with the football team. On October 16, 2010, 300 star Gerard Butler attended the Spartans' homecoming game. At the beginning of the game Butler walked onto the field repeating the familiar call to fans.[11]

Notable games

  • 1951 – v. Notre Dame – No. 5 ranked Michigan State blanks No. 11 ranked Notre Dame 35–0 before a national audience on NBC. The dominant victory propels Spartan football into the national spotlight.
  • 1953 – v. Michigan – Michigan State defeats Michigan for the first time in Spartan Stadium history 14–6 earning MSU a co-Big Ten championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
  • 1966 – v. Notre Dame – "Game of the Century" ending in 10–10 tie. ND was ranked No. 1 and MSU was ranked No. 2 for several weeks prior to the game.
  • 1972 - v. Ohio State - unranked MSU (3-4-1) upset undefeated #4 ranked Ohio State, 19-12, spoiling the Buckeyes' hopes for an undefeated season and national title.
  • 1974 – v. Ohio State – unranked MSU upset undefeated and No. 1 ranked Ohio State, 16–13, ruining the Buckeyes' national title hopes.
  • 1987 - On Labor Day night, unranked MSU knocks off #19 USC in a nationally televised season opener, 27-13. The Spartans would go on to win the Big 10 title and defeat USC in a rematch in the Rose Bowl, 20-17.
  • 1987 – v. Michigan – Spartans defeat Michigan 17–11 for their first victory over the Wolverines in East Lansing since 1969.
  • 1987 – v. Indiana – MSU defeated Indiana 27–3 to win the Big Ten title and earned their first Rose Bowl bid since the 1965 season. Lorenzo White rushed for a then NCAA record tying 56 attempts for 292 yards (267 m).
  • 1995 – v. Michigan – Tony Banks led an 88-yard (80 m) drive and threw the winning touchdown to Nigea Carter with 1:24 left in the game to win 28–25 over No. 7 ranked Michigan.
  • 1998 – v. Notre Dame – before a national ABC prime time audience the Spartans jumped out to a 42–3 halftime lead en route to a 45–23 win.
  • 2000 – v. Notre Dame – Wide receiver Herb Haygood catches a 68-yard touchdown pass on 4th down late in the 4th quarter, lifting the (#20) Spartans past (#18) Notre Dame.[12]
  • 2001 – v. Michigan – Quarterback Jeff Smoker finds T.J. Duckett in the end zone on fourth down on the final play of the game in a 26–24 victory. A timekeeper controversy resulted in the game being named clockgate.
  • 2004 – v. Wisconsin – Michigan State executed 2 fourth down goal line stands, and two 99-yard touchdown drives, to stun the 9–0 (#5) Badgers 49–14, ending their hopes of a National Championship. The victory marked the 300th win at Spartan Stadium.
  • 2006 - v. Notre Dame - Michigan State blows a 16 point fourth quarter lead in heavy rain, leading to Mike Valenti's famous "Choke on Applesauce" on-air radio rant the following Monday.
  • 2007 – v. Penn State – Halfback Jehuu Caulcrick leads Spartans from a 17-point deficit to a 35–31 point victory. MSU scored on 4 of 5 second half possessions, ensuring a trip to their first bowl game since 2003.
  • 2009 – v. Michigan – The Wolverines scored two late touchdowns to force overtime, the second with 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. After Wolverine quarterback Tate Forcier was intercepted on Michigan's overtime possession, Spartan running back Larry Caper rushed 23 yards for a touchdown to lead Michigan State to 26–20 victory.
  • 2010 – v. Notre Dame – Michigan State wins 34-31 when punter Aaron Bates threw to tight end Charlie Gantt on a fake field goal for the game winning touchdown in overtime. The play was named "Little Giants."
  • 2010 - v. Purdue - Trailing 28-13 after 3 quarters, the Spartans scored 22 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Boilermakers 35-31 and finish the season undefeated at home, with an 11-1 overall record.
  • 2011 - v. Wisconsin - Keith Nichol catches a 44-yard Hail Mary pass from Kirk Cousins as time expires to defeat the undefeated and #5 ranked Badgers 37-31.
  • 2013- v. Western Michigan - A 60 minute delay due to lightning in the area forced thousands of fans to crowd into the concourses.


External links

  • Spartan Stadium - Michigan State Athletics
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