From the start it was dedicated to war veterans, first those of WWI, when Texas gave nearly 200,000 soldiers to the US Army (1 in 40 didn’t return). Eventually the memorial dedication grew as WWII, Vietnam and then other military conflicts followed. Even the legendary Longhorns coach Darrell K. Royal (whose name was added to the stadium’s) was a soldier.
Two stands able to hold 27,000 and a football field with running track between them – that’s how the stadium looked upon opening in 1924. It was among the best academic stadia in the US and grew significantly already after two years, when northern curve gave it a horse-shoe shape and allowed to exceed 40,000 capacity.
In 1948 further sections along the field were built, raising capacity further and – interestingly – still not adding any significant grandstand in the south. In fact, the south side remains barely utilized to date. And even with that side open, the stadium managed to reach nearly 80,000 in 1971, seeing a massive overhanging upper deck added to the west side.
This amazing structure saw an evolution when 14 skyboxes were added hanging underneath it (!) in 1997. A year later many more (58) suites were added on the east side. It wasn’t until 1999 though that the stadium actually managed to exceed 80,000. This was achieved thanks to removal of the running track, lowering of the field by 2m and adding new lower rows in the created space.
Most expensive upgrade so far, worth nearly $150 million, was carried out between 2007 and 2008, when the north end received upper sections with numerous corporate facilities. That revamp also saw new elegant brick facades and a nearby public plaza.
To date there’s only a minor bleacher section in the south, holding just over 4,000 people. It’s topped by the stadium’s ‘godzillatron’, one of the largest screens of its kind when added in 2006. However, there is a plan to build a large grandstand there, which would make the stadium possibly the largest around the world, somewhere around the 120,000-125,000 mark.
Tenant: Texas Longhorns (NCAA)