Know Your Stadiums: Davis Wade Stadium

September 21, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Davis Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. Image from Hailstate.com.

Mississippi State plays at their on-campus stadium named Davis Wade Stadium located in Starkville Mississippi. It was originally built in 1914 as Scott Field and named after Don Magruder Scott, an Olympic sprinter and one of the schools first football stars. The playing surface is still named Scott Field. It is the second oldest FBS stadium in college football.

Capacity has expanded several times throughout the years. Originally the 1914 stadium sat 20,000 fans. It now seats 55,082 with a record attendance of 58,103 on November 14, 2009 versus the University of Alabama.

In the fall of 2008, construction completed on a $6.1 Million 112 foot wide by 48 foot tall HD LED video system that is the second largest HD video board in college football behind the one at the University of Texas’ Stadium.

It was announced earlier this year that the University will expand the stadium by 6,255 seats to make the official attendance 61,337. The expansion will begin after the 2012 season and is expected to be finished in time for the 2014 season.

The university along with Populous, a world-renowned sports architecture firm, are working on long-term expansion and renovation plans. Their current renderings suggest that the stadium could one day hold up to 75,000 spectators.

The stadium is named after Floyd Davis Wade Sr. who made the latest expansion possible through donations for the project that was completed in 2002.

One of the most unique and criticized traditions by Mississippi State fans is the cowbell. Despite SEC rules and NCAA rules barring artificial noisemakers at games, Mississippi State fans continue to bring cowbells to Bulldog games.

The origin of the cowbell remains unclear, but records show it being introduced in the late 1930s and early 1940s which coincided with the “golden age” of Mississippi State football prior to World War II.

Popular legend has it that a jersey cow wandered onto the playing field during a home game against arch-rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs soundly defeated the Rebels in that game and MSU fans immediately adopted the cow as a good luck charm. It is also said that students continued to bring a cow to football games for a while until the practice was discontinued in favor of the cowbell. By the 1950s and 60s, the cowbells were quite common and known as a symbol of Mississippi State.

The cowbell popularity grew rapidly during the long time when MSU football was unsuccessful. In the 1960s, two MSU professors obliged some students by welding handles on the cowbells so they could be rung easier and louder. By 1963, the demand for handled cowbells could not be filled by home workshops by themselves. The Student Association bought bells in bulk and the Industrial Education Club agreed to weld on handles. Then in 1964 the MSU bookstore began selling these handled cowbells with a portion of the profits returning to student organizations.

Cowbells decorate offices and homes of MSU alumni and are even passed down through generations of fans. Many different styles of cowbells are available with full Bulldog figurine handles and bulldog images painted on the cowbell.

In 1974 the SEC adopted a rule against artificial noisemakers that make it illegal to bring them to games. MSU fans were very creative in finding ways to circumvent the rule and continued to bring them to games. The ban stayed in effect until 2010.

That spring, the 12 schools of the SEC agreed to a compromise on artificial noisemakers and acknowledged the role cowbells play in the history of MSU. An amended rule was created that allowed cowbells into the stadium for the first time in 36 years. Due to fans’ adherence to the rules outlined by the conference, the “cowbell rule” will continue to allowed with specific restrictions.

However the NCAA rules still forbid artificial noisemakers.

Below is a rendering of what Davis Wade Stadium may look like after the upcoming expansion is completed.

Image from clarionledger.com.

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