Know Your Stadiums: North Texas’ Apogee Stadium

November 9, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

A view of Apogee Stadium.

The University of North Texas plays at the newly built Apogee Stadium, originally named Mean Green Stadium.

The University broke ground on the new stadium on November 21, 2009 and opened on September 10, 2011. The stadium was proposed by the University of North Texas System Board of Regents after the 2002 New Orleans Bowl and cost $78 million. UNT opened the stadium against the University of Houston and lost 48-23.

A referendum in 2002 for higher student athletics fees was rejected by 55 percent of the UNT’s voting students. But after the vote, the school administrators lobbied the North Texas Student Government Association to increase the fees as a way to help the University’s athletics program in order to achieve Title IX compliance. The student senators approved the fee increase at half the proposed rate, which the Board of Regents implemented immediately. Consequently students mounted a recall election campaign, which was supported by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, which resulted in the removal of 14 senators from their office.

In September 2002, the university purchased land on the opposite side of Interstate 35 from the main campus in Denton, Texas for $5.1 million from Liberty Christian School. Following the Mean Green’s victory in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl on December 17, 2002 school administrators announced their intent to build new athletic facilities on the property. They referred to this area as the “Mean Green Village” which included the new football stadium.

The reason given to build a new stadium rather than renovating their existing stadium, Fouts Field, was that then Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Richard Raefs claimed that it would cost $8 million more to renovate the existing stadium that it would to build an entirely new stadium. The project’s primary objective was to consolidate the academic facilities.

Fouts Field, the old stadium, was opened in September 1952 and originally named Eagle Stadium. In 1954 it was renamed in honor of Theron J. Fouts, former football coach, athletics director and founder of the UNT track and field program. The Stadium originally consisted of two sideline grandstands on either side of the track and was oriented northwest to southeast. It sat 20,000.

They added endzone grandstands which stretched around the track in 1994 which added another 10,500 seats for a total of 30,500. The playing surface was Sportex Omnigrass Artificial Turf.

The University Master Plan calls for the demolition of Fouts Field and the land will be absorbed by the university. The plans calls for two residence halls, a parking garage and a University Opera House to be built on the grounds freed up by the stadium.

Apogee Stadium opened on September 10, 2011 with a capacity of 30,850 and was built in a horse shoe shape. It was designed to be able to expand to 50,000. The playing surface is PowerBlade HP+ and it comprised of synthetic fibers with a rubber and sand infill. The home side of the stadium includes 21 luxury suites with they sell for $20,000 per year plus a “six or seven-figure gift to the Stadium Fund”. It also has 754 club seats. The stands on the east side of the stadium is generally reserved for student seating and is between the stadium and the tailgating area called “The Hill.”

The seating behind the north end zone forms a distinctive “V” shape to resemble an eagle’s wings in flight. The South end zone does not have any seating but has a 47′ by 27′ scoreboard and a five foot bronze bust of an eagle named “Spiriki” that was donated by the members of the school’s first social fraternity the Geezles.

They also have a scale cannon named “Boomer” which is fired each time the team scores.

A 2,500 square-foot pavilion for alumni is located just north of the stadium.

The stadium actually because the first newly built stadium to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest awarded by the US Green Building Council. In 2008, then university president signed the American College and University President’s Claimat Commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and to ensure all new university buildings and facilities would achieve a minimum of LEED silver certification.

The stadium uses various forms of environmental technology to achieve this. In order to reduce water consumption and urban runoff, the facility includes an 85,000 square foot water retention system, 338,000 square feet of permeable paving and low flow plumbing systems.

The facility includes three Northwind 100 wind turbines which are 120 feet tall with 30 foot blades. They are expected to produce a combined 450,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year which would account for roughly 1/3 of the stadium’s energy needs.

Wind Turbines near the Apogee Stadium.

Arial view of Apogee Stadium showing the Eagle Wings shaped endzone seating.

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