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Archive for Tuesday, October 13, 1992

STADIUM FULL OF TRADITION

October 13, 1992

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Track legends Jim Ryun and Glenn Cunningham competed there. So did football greats Gale Sayers, John Riggins and John Hadl. Thousands of Kansas University students have descended into it on their way to graduation.

Memorial Stadium is indeed a place steeped in tradition.

It all started on Oct. 29, 1921, when the Jayhawks played their first football game in their new stadium. KU defeated Kansas State, 21-7, as a crowd of 5,160 watched.

The idea for a new stadium was proposed by Phog Allen, KU's legendary basketball figure who was head coach of the football team in 1920. Capacity when the stadium opened was 22,000, less than half of its current 50,250.

IN 1925, the east and west sections were extended, and in 1927, the north horseshoe was added, bringing capacity to 35,000.

A new press box and 26 rows of seats on the west side were installed in 1963, increasing the seating to 44,900. In '65, the seating on the east side was increased, extending capacity to 51,500. That total was reduced to 50,250 in 1987 when bleachers in the south end zone were taken out.

The grass playing field was replaced with an artificial surface in 1970, and repairs totaling $1.8 million were made in 1978, which included replacing original wooden seats with bleachers.

KU football boasts a winning record in Memorial Stadium, but barely. Entering this season, over 71 years, the Jayhawks had won 168 games, lost 166 and tied 10 at their home field.

The last time the Jayhawks went undefeated at Memorial Stadium was 1973, when they were 5-0-1. The last time they were undefeated and untied there was 1951, when they won all five of their home games.

THE RECORD attendance entering this season was 51,574, set on Oct. 13, 1973 when the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State, 25-18. But Saturday's crowd against Kansas State was estimated at 52,000.

In 1972, a crowd estimated at 32,000 flocked to the Kansas Relays for a glimpse of Ryun running the mile. That shattered the previous Relays record attendance of 23,700, set in 1967 when Ryun was also a featured runner.

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