Camp Randall Stadium is an outdoor stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. It has been the home of the Wisconsin Badgers football team in rudimentary form since 1895, and as a complete stadium since 1917. It is located on the center-southern region of the University of Wisconsin campus. The stadium seats 80,321. It is the oldest and fifth largest stadium in the Big Ten Conference, and the 41st largest stadium in the world.
The stadium received its name because it lies on the grounds of Camp Randall, a former Union Army training camp during the Civil War. The camp was named after then Governor Alexander Randall, who later became Postmaster General of the United States.
Game day versus arch-rival Minnesota at Randall Field prior to stadium construction (Nov 12, 1904)
After an outcry from veterans over plans to turn the site into building lots, the state bought it in 1893 and presented it to the university. Soon afterward, it was pressed into service as an athletic ground. It was originally used by the track and field team before the football and baseball teams moved there in 1895. However, the wooden bleachers were very difficult to maintain, and a portion of them were actually condemned as unsafe in 1914. The university then asked for $40,000 to build a concrete-and-steel stadium, but only got half of the original request. However, after three sections of bleachers collapsed during a 1915 game, the state readily granted the additional money. The new stadium opened for the first time on October 6, 1917. It consisted of 7,500 concrete seats—roughly corresponding to the lower portion of the current stadium’s east grandstand—and 3,000 wooden seats from the old field.
After the wooden seats burned down in 1922, more permanent seats were added in stages until it consisted of a horseshoe opening to the south, with a running track around the field. The stadium was renovated at various points to raise the size of the horseshoe by nearly doubling the number of rows around the stadium in stages, placing south stands in front of the Wisconsin Field House (built in 1930), the removal of the track and addition of nearly 11,000 seats in 1958, the addition of the upper deck in 1966, and finally the 2005 addition of boxes along the eastern rim of the stadium.
The field was originally natural grass, and was one of the first in the United States to convert to artificial turf in 1968. A new AstroTurf field was installed in 1990. A new type of artificial grass field, infilled FieldTurf was installed for the 2003 season.
The stadium also houses athletic offices of the university. In 2002, a large-scale reconstruction project commenced, which added luxury boxes, a five-story office building, and separate football program offices. In addition, concessions, restrooms and other infrastructure items were upgraded, the walkway around the field was removed, and new scoreboards were installed. The construction was completed prior to the start of the 2005 season. The football team continued to play at the stadium throughout the construction.
Also during this period of reconstruction at the stadium, changes were made to the visiting team locker room. Known as one of the best visiting team locker rooms in the Big Ten Conference, it was initially painted a bright pink, a color thought to affect the play of the visiting team (similar to Iowa’s pale pink visiting locker room). The UW Athletic Dept. decided that the color may irritate the opposing team and had the room painted a pale shade of blue called “prison blue.” It is known in this way because it is the color used in Wisconsin state prison cells and is intended to have a “calming effect.” Since this change, the Badgers have had a 32-4 home record.
The numbers of Wisconsin’s two Heisman Trophy winners, Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne, are displayed on the upper deck façade. Both of their numbers (35 and 33, respectively) are retired; The retired numbers of Elroy Hirsch (40), Dave Schreiner (80), Allan Schafer (83), and Pat Richter (88) were added during the 2006 football season.
References: Wikipedia.org (Camp Randall Stadium)