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Notre Dame Stadium set to Host 500th Game as Irish Face Wake Forest in Senior Day Tilt

Written By: Phil Kowalis |Writer|Twitter/X: @Phil Kowalis

Photo: University of Notre Dame


Saturday will not only be an important day for the 31 players participating in the Senior Day festivities prior to the game against the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons but it will also be a special day in the long illustrious history of Notre Dame Stadium, as the "House that Rockne Built" will host its 500th game.


From 1900 to 1928 Notre Dame played their home football games at Cartier Field which was located just north of the site of the current Notre Dame Stadium. Cartier Field served as the home of the university's football, baseball and track and field teams and seated 30,000 fans at its peak.


The success and popularity of Knute Rockne Notre Dame football teams led to the need for the construction of a larger home for the Notre Dame football team, so plans were put in place for the construction of a new stadium which was to be finished in time for the 1930 season. Cartier Field remained the home of Notre Dame baseball and track and field teams for more than 30 years after the construction of Notre Dame Stadium before it was replaced by the library quad in 1962.


With plans underway for the new stadium's construction, Rockne's 1929 squad played its entire schedule away from campus with the home games being played at Chicago's Soldier Field. Rockne's Irish finished the 1929 season with a perfect 9-0 record on the way to winning the national championship.


Construction on Notre Dame Stadium began in April of 1930 with Rockne himself playing a large role in the design of the stadium. Rockne requested that the sod from Cartier Field be transplanted into the new stadium and also insisted that the stadium be used for football only. Four months after construction on the stadium began the new facility was ready to open its gates with a capacity of 54,000 spectators.


Notre Dame Stadium hosted its first football game on October 4, 1930 as Notre Dame defeated SMU 20-14, one week later official dedication ceremonies were held as the Irish defeated Navy by a score of 26-2 in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 fans.



The stadium remained true to its original design until the end of the 1996 season when a stadium expansion project saw the construction of an upper bowl added to the stadium which added over 21,000 seats and increased capacity of Notre Dame Stadium to 80,795 fans.

From 2014 to 2018 Notre Dame Stadium underwent the Campus Crossroads expansion that transformed the stadium into a campus student hub by adding three buildings to the stadium, the Duncan Student Center which hosts student recreational and dining facilities, O'Neill Hall, which houses the university's music department and Corbet Family Hall which holds the Psychology and anthropology departments. The Campus Crossroads renovation reduced Notre Dame Stadium's seating to its current capacity of 77,622.


Notre Dame has been very successful in games played inside the "House that Rockne Built" over its 93-year existence having an overall record of 377-117-5 good for a .775 winning percentage entering this week's contest against Wake Forest.


As Notre Dame Stadium prepares to host its 500th game this weekend I thought I would share what, in my opinion, are the five greatest victories in Notre Dame Stadium history over the 50 plus years that I have enjoyed being a fan of Notre Dame football.




5. September 20, 1980: #8 Notre Dame 29, # 14 Michigan 27

Notre Dame kicker Harry Oliver kicks a 51-yard field goal as time expires to give the Irish the come from behind victory over the Wolverines. This game holds a special place in Notre Dame lore as fans in attendance swear that the persistent blustery wind that would have been in Oliver's face died just before his kick allowing the ball to just clear the crossbar and give the Irish the win.


4. November 14, 1992: #8 Notre Dame 17, #22 Penn State 16

In a game that would be dubbed "The Snow Bowl" for the persistent snow that fell throughout the game, Notre Dame scored their only touchdown of the game with 20 seconds left as Rick Mirer hit Jerome Bettis with a four-yard touchdown pass. Trailing 16-15 Lou Holtz decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Holtz was rewarded for his decision when Reggie Brooks made a diving catch of a Mirer pass for the winning conversion.


3. October 22, 1977: #11 Notre Dame 49, # 5 USC 19

"The Green Jersey Game" after warming up in their traditional home blue jerseys, the Irish come out of the locker room behind a Trojan horse wearing new green jerseys that had been waiting in their lockers. The "Green Machine" is born and the Irish go on to dominate the Trojans. Joe Montana would throw for two touchdowns and rush for two more in leading the Irish to the win. Notre Dame would wear the green jerseys six more times on the season as they went on to claim the national championship.


2. November 13, 1993: #2 Notre Dame 31, #1 Florida State 24

"The Game of the Century" Notre Dame defensive back Shawn Wooden knocks down Charlie Ward's desperation pass in the end zone to secure the Irish victory over the top ranked Seminoles. Led by Lee Becton's 122 yards rushing the Irish rack up 239 yards and four rushing touchdowns against a Florida State defense that had allowed only four rushing touchdowns on the season coming into the game.


1. October 15, 1988: #4 Notre Dame 31, #1 Miami 30

"Catholics versus Convicts" what more needs to be said. Pat Terrell knocks down a two-point conversion pass with 45 seconds remaining as Notre Dame ends Miami's 36 game regular season winning streak.


Those are my top 5 victories in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. Feel free to leave your thoughts on my list in the comment section or add a list of your own. Until next time, Go Irish.




1 Comment


Guest
Nov 16, 2023

My father and uncle were there for the opening game v SMU in 1930 and I will be there Saturday for the 500th. I have probably seen more than 200 of the 500.

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