Know Your Stadiums: Dix Stadium – Kent, Ohio

September 5, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football 
Kent State's Dix Stadium exterior with the Golden Flash logo on the sign. | Photo: tailgatershandbook.com

Kent State’s Dix Stadium exterior with the Golden Flash logo on the sign. | Photo: tailgatershandbook.com

Dix Stadium is a 25,319 seat stadium primarily used for football on the campus of Kent State University. It is named in honor of Robert C. Dix, former publisher of the Record-Courier and member of Kent State’s Board of Trustees for more than three decades in 1973.

The Stadium is the centerpiece of what has become an athletic complex on the eastern end of the campus. It opened on September 13, 1969 with an initial capacity of 30,520. Dix Stadium was regarded as an “Expansion and relocation” of the old Memorial Stadium rather than a new stadium.

A new grandstand on the west side of the stadium, which had seating for over 12,000 people with locker room and press facilities, were constructed on the new (current) site just over a mile east of campus. Approximately 17,000 seats from the original Memorial Stadium were dismantled and moved to the new site and became the end zone seats in the new stadium while the auxiliary bleacher sections were used for the east stands.

The first game in Dix Stadium was on September 13, 1969 with a win over the Dayton Flyers in front of 8,172 spectators. Due to delays, the new west stands including the home and visitor locker rooms, press box, and most of the seating were not completed until after the 1969 football season which limited the capacity to 18.200. During that first season the teams dressed in locker rooms at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center and were then bused to the stadium. For halftime, the teams met in separate public restroom facilities.

In 1973 the stadium was renamed in honor of Robert C. Dix, its initial capacity was listed at 28,748 before later being revised to 30,520 which stood through the 2001 season.

In the early 1990s the first major changed to Dix Stadium were undertaken with the addition of an elevator to reach the press box and suites. In 1996 permanent lighting was installed after night games had been played since 1990 but with temporary lighting. In 1997 a new scoreboard and artificial turf were installed, which allowed the field hockey team to begin play at the stadium, which they also occupied through the 2004 season.

The east side bleachers were condemned and demolished in 2001 and the area remained open for the entire 2002 season. Prior to the 2003 season, a new section of bleacher seating was built as the student section which brought the seating capacity to 29,287.

Starting in 2007 a two-phase renovation of the stadium began. Phase one included the contruction of a large canopy over the press box, new entrance gates and a ticket office which were completed prior to the 2007 season opener. Phase two had the demolition of the south end zone seats and the former press box above the north end zone. It also included a new high definition scoreboard, concession area and a plaza in the south end zone area. The removal of about 5,000 seats in the south end zone reduced the stadium’s seating to 25,319.

The west side stands, referred to as the home stands, seat over 12,000 with both bleacher and chair back seating. The east stands, built to replace the original wooden bleachers, are the smallest section with bleacher seating for about 4.000 and are primarily the student section. The north end zone, which is the original grandstand of the old Memorial Stadium, is entirely bleacher seating. In the south end zone is a large plaza, concession area and the scoreboard.

Original plans were to have the old wooden stands removed by 1973 and replaced with permanent seating. It was to have 18 rows and eventually be expanded to duplicate the west stands, increasing capacity to 35,000. The final phase of the original plan was to add a second deck on both sides but none of this came to fruition for 31 years when the east side bleachers were condemned and demolished.

The first official game listed as a sell-out occurred on October 9, 2010 when 24,221 fans watched Kent State defeat arch-rival Akron 28-17 in the Battle for the Wagon Wheel. It ranks as the third largest crowd at Dix Stadium with the largest being their November 10, 1973 game against Miami with 27,363.

In 2013, the university began a $60 million “Building Champions” campaign to upgrade the facilities for all of Kent State’s athletic teams and also raise additional scholarship money.

The first project was an expansion of the Field House with new locker rooms for indoor track and field, women’s soccer, field hockey, and softball. The plans also include Dix Stadium with will expand the chair back seating in the west stands, upgrade suites, new building for coaches’ offices on the north side of the stadium, and improvements to the locker room and other player facilities including a new lounge. On the east side, two new covered seating areas for students will be built adjacent to the existing student seating.

South Alabama and Kent State will finish their 2-for-1 series on Saturday in Kent, Ohio as the series is tied 1-1. Kickoff scheduled for 1pm and the game can be seen on ESPN3.

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