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Year Opened: 1921 | Field Surface: Artificial Turf
The Jayhawks football team finds its home in the shadows of Phog Allen Field House. Memorial Stadium was opened in 1921 in honor of those University of Kansas students who fought and died during World War I.
Dr. F.C. "Phog" Allen has a rich and storied history at KU and most will remember him as the famed basketball coach who put Jayhawks basketball on the map and developed a hardwood tradition rarely rivaled. Few may know that it was Allen who recognized the need for a new stadium. He spent his first and only season as the KU football coach in 1920, which including a remarkable second-half comeback against Nebraska. Down 20-0 at halftime, the Jayhawks battled back to earn a tie. It was the fuel the student body and faculty needed to generate the funds and enthusiasm to realize Allen's vision of a new stadium.
The next season Memorial Stadium opened, on Oct. 29, 1921, with a 21-7 victory against Kansas State in front of 5,160 fans, By season's end 15,480 fans filled seats for a game.
Memorial Stadium is recognized as the first stadium built on a college campus west of the Mississippi River and is the seventh oldest collegiate stadium in the nation. It now has a capacity of more than 50,000.
Prior to the opening of Memorial Stadium, KU played at Old Central Park (1890-91) and McCook Field (1892-1920). On May 10, 1921, the university observed "Stadium Day," during which nearly 4,000 students came out to help demolish McCook Field in favor of the new stadium.
The Jayhawk is a mythical bird and a mascot that combines the tenacity and persistence of a blue jay and the stealth, hunting prowess of a sparrow hawk. In a time of the greatest civil unrest in our nation's history, the Kansas territory was filled with the Jayhawk terminology to describe the personalities of the people involved in vicious division within the state. By the 1850s and 1860s, Kansans were split into those who wanted to keep slavery alive and those who wanted it abolished. Those who desperately wanted a Free State had the Jayhawk label thrown their way ... and it stuck.
Lawrence, Kan., would soon be the home of Kansas University and it was located firmly in the grips of a Free State stronghold. Synonymous with the Free State defenders, the Jayhawk would soon take its place in the famous "Rock Chalk" chant in 1886. And by the time the Kansas football team first took the field in 1890, the players would be dubbed Jayhawks and were thought to take on their mascot's persona.
Source: University of Kansas
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