(Photo: Chad Ryan)
Nine National Championships have been won there, 166 All-Americans and Seven Heisman Trophy winners and have played there. Knute Rockne got it built, and he coached there. So did Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz.
And this week will be the 500th game played there.
It’s iconic views of the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus are staples of College football lore.
It’s a magical place simply known as Notre Dame Stadium.
Beginning in 1899, Notre Dame played its games on the near east side of campus at a place known as Cartier Field. By 1929, Limited capacity there, and the need for more modern amenities along with the persistence of the legendary Knute Rockne convinced the powers that be at ND to construct a brand new, much larger stadium at a cost of $750,000.00. Over 300 workers piled up over 2 million bricks working 6 days a week. The structure was completed in just 6 months.
The original capacity of Notre Dame stadium was 54,000 and the first game played there was on October 4, 1930. That day “Jumping Joe” Salvoldi ran a kickoff back 98 yards and Irish beat SMU 20-14.
Since then the Irish have won 375 more times.
The 100th game was played on opening day 1954, and 25-year-old Terry Brennan made his debut as ND’s head coach. Behind the sparkling two way play of quarterback/safety Ralph Guglielmi that day, ND shut out Texas, 21-0.
The 200th game was played on Thanksgiving Day 1973 and Air Force was the opponent. The Irish, who were en route to a National Championship were led by two first quarter Eric Penick TD runs. ND moved their season record that day to 9-0, the final: 48-15.
Game 300 came during Lou Holtz’s reign but was a heartbreaking 34-35 loss to Tennessee in 1991. After taking a 31-7 halftime lead on TD runs by Reggie Brooks, Jerome Bettis and Rick Mirer, ND’s offense was shut down in the second half. The Volunteer offense then came alive and a last second 27 yard ND field goal attempt that would have won the game, was blocked.
Game 400 was on opening day 2008. Charlie Weis was at the helm and Jimmy Clausen threw TD passes to Golden Tate, Michael Floyd and David Grimes. The Irish held on to defeat San Diego State 21-13.
Since the opening of the stadium it has been expanded and renovated twice. The 1997 expansion at a cost of $53 million added 20,000 seats. The three-year $400 million Campus Crossroads from 2015-2107 added many modern amenities including suites and a Jumbotron and resulted in today’s seating capacity of 77,622. Both projects thoughtfully preserved the original historic architecture and classic beauty of “The House that Rockne built” while positioning the stadium as one of the finest in all of football.
And that brings us to game 500.
This week, it’s Senior Day and a 7-3 ND team is looking to right their ship after suffering a tough loss on the road at Clemson. What better place to get that done than in the confines of one of the most iconic and magical sports venues in the world: Notre Dame Stadium.