Sun Devil Stadium

Sun Devil Stadium

Sun Devil Stadium at night
Location 500 East Veterans Way
Tempe, Arizona 85281
Coordinates 33°25′35″N 111°55′57″W / 33.42639°N 111.93250°W / 33.42639; -111.93250Coordinates: 33°25′35″N 111°55′57″W / 33.42639°N 111.93250°W / 33.42639; -111.93250
Owner Arizona State University
Operator Arizona State University
Capacity 56,232 (2016–present)[1]
64,248 (2015)[2]
65,870 (2014)[3]
71,706 (2004–2013)
73,379 (1996–2003)
73,473 (1992–1995)
74,865 (1989–1991)
70,491 (1987–1988)
70,021 (1983–1986)
70,330 (1980–1982)
70,311 (1978–1979)
57,722 (1976–1977)
50,300 (1970–1975)
41,000 (1966–1969)
30,450 (1958–1965)
Surface Bermuda Grass
Broke ground December 1957
Opened October 4, 1958[4]
Expanded 1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1989
Construction cost $1 million
($8.22 million in 2016 dollars[5])
Architect Edward L. Varney Associates[6]
General contractor F. H. Antrim Construction Company[7]
Arizona State Sun Devils (NCAA) (1958–present)
Fiesta Bowl (NCAA) (1971–2006)
Arizona Wranglers (USFL) (1983–1984)
Arizona Outlaws (USFL) (1985)
Arizona Cardinals (NFL) (19882005)
Cactus Bowl (NCAA) (20062015)
Sun Devil Stadium at the southeast entrance
Sun Devil Stadium Press Box, 1998

Sun Devil Stadium is an outdoor football stadium located 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 current seating capacity is 56,232 and the playing surface is natural grass. The gridiron within the stadium was named Frank Kush Field in honor of the former coach of the ASU football team in 1996.[8] Sun Devil Stadium is currently undergoing a three-phase $256 million renovation set to be completed in time for the 2017 season.[9]

Two annual college football bowl games have been located at Sun Devil Stadium: the Fiesta Bowl from 1971 to 2006, and the Cactus Bowl since 2006.

Sun Devil Stadium was the initial home stadium of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals following the team's arrival to the Phoenix metropolitan area prior to the 1988 season. The Cardinals moved across the Valley to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale following the 2005 season.

Construction and upgrades

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 of the stadium, 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 to bring the facility. 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 that the concrete base of the stadium 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 that a stadium in the desert would not need waterproof concrete. However, cleaning/maintenance crews for the college and professional football teams hosed down the seats after every game, introducing substantially more water to the stadium than the designers had envisioned. Engineers estimated that $45 million in repairs would be needed to maintain the stadium beyond 2010.[10]

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).[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] The seat removal is not part of ASU's greater Sun Devil Stadium renovation plans. The 2016 and 2017 Cactus Bowls, which are usually played in Sun Devil Stadium, will be played in nearby Chase Field while the renovations are completed.

The renovations will be completed in three phases:[9]

College football

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.

Sun Devil Stadium hosted college football's Fiesta Bowl from 1971 to 2006 including two national championship games after the 1998 and 2002 seasons. 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 moved to the University of Phoenix Stadium in nearby Glendale; the bowl will return to Tempe once the stadium renovations are complete.

Pro football

The first pro game played in the stadium was a pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. The Green Bay Packers also played the Denver Broncos in a preseason game in 1987.

Sun Devil Stadium was the home stadium of the Arizona Wranglers/Outlaws in the USFL a spring-summer league 1983–85.

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 played in Tempe for 18 years.

The stadium hosted Super Bowl XXX in 1996 as the Cowboys won their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17 in front of 76,347 spectators. 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.

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.[14]

The Cardinals ended their tenure on the ASU campus with a 27-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve 2005. In 18 seasons in Sun Devil Stadium, the Cardinals compiled a 64-80 (.444) mark, with their best single-season mark being 5-3 in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2004.

Whenever the Cardinals struggled, Sun Devil Stadium was frequently one of the quietest stadiums in the league. Frequently, games didn't sell out in time for them to be aired locally. 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.[15] 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. The new stadium also hosts the Fiesta Bowl, and hosted the first stand-alone Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game in January 2007.

Satellite image in 2002

Film appearances

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,[16] the Coen Brothers 1987 film Raising Arizona,[17] and the 1980 film Used Cars. In 2003, the stadium was also featured on the Finale episode of The Amazing Race 4.

Historic appearances

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.[18]


  1. Haller, Doug (August 23, 2016). "Renovated Sun Devil Stadium Ready for Sept. 3 Opener". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  2. Boivin, Paola (July 17, 2015). "ASU Has High Hopes for Splitting Student Section". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  3. "A Closer Look at the Pac-12's Football Stadiums". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. August 1, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  4. – Sun Devil Stadium
  5. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  6. "Bids for New Sun Devil Stadium to Be Accepted". Prescott Courier. November 15, 1957. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  7. Solliday, Scott (December 1, 2001). "Tempe Post-World War II Context Study". City of Tempe. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  8. Arizona State Athletics – Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field
  9. 1 2 Metcalfe, Jeff (February 11, 2016). "See what Sun Devil Stadium will look like after renovation". Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  10. "Sun Devil Stadium Repairs Planned". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. June 24, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2007.
  11. Ottens, Cale (September 26, 2010). "Business Fee to Fund Sun Devil Stadium Renovation". State Press. Arizona State University. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  12. Boor, William (April 4, 2012). "ASU Unveils Plans for Renovated Sun Devil Stadium". State Press. Arizona State University. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  13. Metcalfe, Jeff (October 3, 2013). "ASU to Demolish Upper-Deck Seating in North End Zone at Sun Devil Stadium in January". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  14. Baum, Bob (October 28, 2003). "Dolphins 26, Chargers 10". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  15. Boeck, Greg (October 23, 2003). "Cardinals Feel the Heat". USA Today. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  16. "Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe Arizona 1976". Barbra Streisand Archives. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  17. "Raising Arizona Movie Filming Locations". The 80s Movies Rewind. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  18. Komiya, Emi (23 September 2015). "Only Pope to ever visit AZ held mass at Sun Devil Stadium". KPNX-TV. Retrieved 4 September 2016.

External links

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Home of the
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

1971 2005
Succeeded by
University of Phoenix Stadium
Preceded by
Chase Field
Home of the
Insight Bowl

2006 present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Busch Stadium
Home of the
Arizona Cardinals

Succeeded by
University of Phoenix Stadium
Preceded by
Joe Robbie Stadium
Host of the Super Bowl
XXX 1996
Succeeded by
Louisiana Superdome
Preceded by

first stadium
Rose Bowl
Home of the
BCS National Championship Game

Succeeded by

Louisiana Superdome
Louisiana Superdome
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