Memorial Stadium renovation plans revealed: replace South Stadium and reduce capacity to mid-70,000 while enhancing fan experience

Sept. 28, 2023, 3:45 p.m. ·

Memorial Stadium-East Stadium Renovation 31 July 2013
Memorial Stadium

LINCOLN — Memorial Stadium, often described as the state’s “third-largest city” during football games, is headed for a $450-million modernization designed to enhance the fan experience.

Planned improvements include chair-back seating replacing benches in the South, East and West Stadiums, enhanced restroom and concession areas, and improved access to upper portions of the structure, first used in 1923.

The work would reduce the capacity of Memorial Stadium from nearly 90,000 to around 75,000, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

memorial Stadium Rendering
Photo Courtesy University of Nebraska

About 23,000 seats would be displaced during construction the 2025 football season. Demolition work would begin after the 2024 football season, with completion hoped for by July of 2026.

“We have a 100-year-old stadium that we need to ensure is viable for another 100 years,” said Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Trev Alberts, in comments Thursday.

The proposal will go before the University of Nebraska Board of Regents during its Oct. 5 meeting.

Funding for the project will be split equally between private donations and other funding sources, including $100 million in athletic department funds, Alberts said. About $50 million will come from the university’s internal lending program, he said, adding that no student tuition dollars or university general operating dollars would be used.

The push for improvements grew out of a survey Alberts sought shortly after he became athletic director in 2021. About 22,000 fans responded. Officials also toured recent stadium renovations at Wisconsin and Notre Dame, as well as the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

The most visible changes will involve tearing down the South Stadium after the 2024 season, and replacing it. That section was built in the 1960s.

New seating would have chair backs, and access to the upper levels enhanced, along with improved concessions and restrooms. The new South Stadium would contain the student section and a new area for the NU band.

“The athletic department can do a better job of making the student experience, as well as the band’s, a much more integral part of our game-day environment,” Alberts said.

He said Thursday that he wants to “activate” Memorial Stadium with activities and academic programs for more than “seven Saturdays each fall.”

Alberts added that he hopes fans will be patient for the “pain and disruption” caused by the renovation work.

Memorial Stadium, built as a memorial to Nebraskans lost in World War I, is famously part of an ongoing NCAA-record 382 consecutive sellouts, a streak that began in 1962.