The Irish first played their games on Cartier Field, located at that time just north of the current stadium site. As the University’s national football reputation expanded, thanks to the coaching of Knute Rockne, however, the need for a new home for the Irish was voiced.
As a result, Notre Dame Stadium was built in 1930 at the direction of Rockne. He coached for one season in it before passing away in a plane crash in 1931.
Architecturally, Notre Dame Stadium was patterned, on a smaller scale, after the University of Michigan’s mammoth stadium. The original stadium held 59,075 people, measured a half-mile in circumference, stood 45 feet high, and featured a glass-enclosed press box rising 60 feet above ground level. The total cost of construction exceeded $750,000.
In the mid-1990s, Notre Dame’s red-bricked arena underwent a $50 million expansion and renovation that added more than 21,000 seats. Other improvements included a new natural grass field, two new scoreboards, permanent lights, and a three-tier press box.
Due to all the legendary players and memorable moments that have graced its bluegrass turf over the years, Notre Dame Stadium has unquestionably developed a lore all its own. The stadium continues to be one of the most recognizable and revered structures in the world of sport.
“Notre Dame Stadium is a building that helps to fulfill this University's mission. It engages the culture ... with a culture of its own. It doesn't just deserve respectful preservation ... it embodies it. It is a building where people and ideas and traditions come together. It will be best suited to speak boldly about tomorrow's hopes if we preserve its ability to speak proudly about yesterday's–and today's–dreams coming true.”