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Introduction

Origins

The City

Collegeville (1887, 1895)
College Delta (1898, 1899)
Oakwood (1899)
Cedar Banks (1900)
College Grove (1903)
Fairview (1904, 1905)
College Heights (1904)

Charter of 1907

Avondale (1913)
Bungalow Knolls (1916)
Chesterfield Hills (1916)
Ardson (1919)
Ridgeley Park (1921)
Strathmore (1925)
Glen Cairn (1926)

The Campus

Chronology

1855–1870
1871–1885
1886–1900
1901–1915
1916–1927

 

Interactive Map

Sites on the National and State Historic Registers

Complete list of
Significant Structures

Sources

M.A.C. Stadium – Spartan Stadium (1923)

Football became a varsity sport at M.A.C. in 1896, and initially played its home games on the parade ground now known as Adams Field.[42nd AR, p. 61] From 1902 to 1922 the team played on Old College Field, sharing that site with the baseball team and other outdoor athletics.


M.A.C. Stadium, 1924. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

In 1923 the core of what is now Spartan Stadium was built on a $160,000 loan from the state legislature. Designed by College architect Edwyn Bowd, it consisted of permanent east and west stands made of reinforced concrete, and was capable of holding approximately 14,000 fans. Between the stands, the gridiron was enclosed by a cinder running track. For football games, temporary bleachers at the north and south ends sat astride the track. It was known variously as both “M.A.C. Stadium” and “College Field,” and was dedicated on October 11, 1924 with a game scored Wolverines 7, Aggies 0.

The first major expansion came in 1936, when a $240,000 Works Progress Administration project increased capacity to 26,000. The field was lowered by six feet to add seats at the front of the east and west sides, and curved concrete stands were added at the north and south ends, enclosing the field in a shallow and nearly uninterrupted bowl. To accommodate this the running track was eliminated, and relocated to its current site adjacent to the southwest. The stadium was rededicated as “Macklin Field” after John Macklin, football coach 1911–1915 who still holds the highest winning percentage (29–5, .853) in the team’s history. During his five-year tenure he also served as athletic director and coach of the baseball, basketball, and track and field teams. As athletic director, Macklin was instrumental in expanding the athletic plant, and among other efforts pushed for the construction of a new gymnasium.[The Record, 54(7), Nov 1949, p. 2]


Macklin Field in 1947, view toward the west. The 1936 addition, with a gap that later became the north tunnel, appears as lighter-colored seats at the bottom of the grandstands. Also visible in this view are: at top left, Jenison Fieldhouse, Demonstration Hall, and the long, dark treeline of the Sand Hill Plantation (which would be substantially removed a decade later); at top right, the Women’s Gymnasium; and in foreground the railroad spur including a siding that appears to be supplying materials for the next stadium improvement. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

Since then the stadium has seen numerous expansions and improvements. In 1948 a design by Orlie Munson added a concourse and twenty rows of reinforced concrete to the lower bowl, bringing total capacity to 51,000. The name was changed to “Macklin Stadium” rather than “Macklin Field.” A Munson-designed expansion in 1956 added 9,000 seats, and in 1957 the large upper decks, also by Munson (his final design for the school) were added to the east and west sides, resulting in the stadium’s all-time maximum capacity of 76,000. A three-level press box, reputedly unique among college stadiums, “was tucked between the lower and upper decks.”MLive And a final name change was made, to “Spartan Stadium.”

In 1959 Hollywood came calling, as sound engineers for the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus recorded a full house—in attendance for a Michigan State versus Notre Dame football game that the Spartans ultimately won in a 19–0 shutout—cheering and chanting such phrases as “Hail, Crassus” and “I’m Spartacus.” The raucous, echoing recordings were used in the film as a budget-conscious effect, to give the illusion of huge crowds in lieu of on-screen extras.

Spartan Stadium went essentially unchanged for a few decades after that, but in recent years has seen several dramatic alterations: