As in many cases, the catalyst for building a new stadium was local rivalry. University of Georgia had a stadium too poor to hold home games against Georgia Tech and had to play at the rivals’ home ground. When they lost 12:0 in 1927 despite being unbeaten in all games against other teams prior to their defeat, Dr. S. V. Sanford decided it’s high time to build a stadium. Not just any stadium, but one that would be “bigger than Georgia Tech’s”.
The preferred location was a local valley on campus, where sloped land gave natural support for terracing. At the same time however, the site forced the field to be located along the east-west axis rather than the traditional north-south one.
To finance the project Sanford asked alumni, students and residents to become guarantors of the university’s loan. Within months $150,000 were secured, representing over 40% of the total budget. Its initial configuration was similar to many other venues with stands on both sides of the field. Capacity stood at around 30,000.
Ever since opening against Yale in 1929, the field was surrounded by hedges, earning the stadium its nickname of “Between the Hedges”. The vegetation changed over the years, but remains to this day. Hedges are also considered to be an efficient barrier preventing pitch invasions.
First expansion took place in 1949, already after Sanford’s death. The main grandstand in the south saw 6,000 seats added. In 1967 a much greater expansion took place, adding upper decks on both sides. At that time temporary seating existed behind goals. Finally in 1981 the east stand was added, creating a horseshoe shape. It also blocked the view from nearby hill, from where many people used to watch games for free.
West end wasn’t possible to match the tall other stands, because of a bridge running along it. A lower tier was built in 1991. By the end of the century also first skyboxes were added in the south, 50 altogether. In 2003 a third tier was added in the north, later expanded with skyboxes. This way the university nearly reached 93,000, but expansion plans are already in place.
Tenant: Georgia Bulldogs (NCAA)