College Stadium Review: Navy Stadium

Located in Annapolis, Maryland near the U.S. Naval Academy and the home of the Navy Midshipmen football team, the stadium opened on September 26, 1959 when Navy defeated William & Mary 29-2. Construction costs was $3 million.

Prior to the opening, the Naval Academy played its home football games at Thompson Stadium, which accommodated only 12,000 spectators.

The stadium also hosts the Naval Academy’s men’s lacrosse team as well as the Chesapeake Bayhawks, a professional lacrosse team; and the Military Bowl, a college bowl game.

Accommodating a seating capacity of 34,000, the attendance record for the stadium is 38,225 and was achieved when Navy defeated Air Force 28-10 on October 5, 2013.

Graphic via

The stadium went through a series of renovations over a 12-year period starting in 2002 and finishing in 2014. The Naval Academy Foundation and the Naval Academy Athletic Association funded the $58 million project.

The total renovations added:

  • Two video scoreboards
  • Chair-back seating
  • Seating platforms and access ramps mandated by the American with Disabilities Act
  • Concession stands
  • End zone seating
  • Luxury suites
  • Sideline seating
  • 12,000 square foot banquet facility
  • The 600-seat Admiral William Lawrence N-Room, which features plaques honoring all of the U.S. Naval Academy letter winners
  • The Bilderback-Moon Navy Lacross Hall of Fame
  • The James H.H. Carrington Room, which exhibits lacross photos, trophies, memorabilia and a multimedia presentation on the Navy Lacrosse team.
  • Banquet facility
  • 10 Sideline suites located on the lower east side of the stadium
  • 8 sideline suites in the south end zone
  • Press tower
  • The Flag Bridge (fourth level) with 71 permanent seats, stools, tables and chairs, for hosting special events.
  • Lower concourse restrooms expanded
  • Concourse resurfaced
  • Installation of FieldTurf, a synthetic field surface
  • Four luxury boxes
  • Television booth and camera locations
  • 2 new elevators
  • The 16,000 square-foot Rear Adm. Thomas J. Hamilton Locker Room Complex, which includes The Roger Staubach home and visiting team locker rooms, named after the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner; training rooms; and an officials’ dressing area.
  • Ricketts Hall, which provides meeting rooms, offices for football coaches, offices for the Naval Academy Athletic Association, ticket office, and office facilities for the school’s sports information and sports promotions departments.
  • Bellino Auditorium theater, named after 1960 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino.

The memorial appearance of the original stadium was retained and improved during the renovations. This project involved the removal, refurbishing, and re-installation of more than 8,000 chair back memorial plates.

Hundreds of memorial plaques were also removed, refurbished, and re-installed on the Memorial Plaque Wall in the North Plaza of the stadium.

Battle and class arches were constructed, which present the story of the Naval Services. Each battle arch features a description of a particular battle on the right side and the history lesson of that battle on the left. The combined set of arches offers information on every battle fought by either the Navy or Marine Corps. There is also an arch honoring students who went on to serve in the Air Force.

The venue also hosted six soccer games of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Note worthy events at the stadium included:

  • Nov. 12, 1960 – Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino of Navy sets a school record by scoring four touchdowns in a 41-6 win over Virginia. 

  • Oct. 26, 1963 – Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach leads the Mids to a 24-12 win over unbeaten Pitt by completing 14-of-19 passes, seven to Jim Campbell. 

  • Sept. 18, 1965 – Syracuse hands Navy its first defeat in N-MC Memorial Stadium, 14-6, ending a 13-game win streak at that site.
  • Sept. 23, 1967 – Navy receiver Rob Taylor sets school records for most catches (10) and most yards receiving (140) in a game as Navy beats Penn State, 23-22,
  • Oct. 23, 1976 – Tony Dorsett becomes the NCAA’s all-time career rushing leader when he runs for 180 yards and three TDs in Pitt’s win.
  • Sept. 12, 1981 — Navy defeats The Citadel for its 500th all-time win.
  • Nov. 17, 1984 – Navy defeats second-ranked South Carolina, 38-21, in one of the biggest upsets ever for the Mids, marking only the third time Navy has beaten an opponent ranked this high
  • Oct. 5, 1996 – The Mids explode for 64 points to top Duke, 64-27. The 64 points is the most ever scored in the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
  • Nov. 16, 1996 — Chris McCoy sets a school record with 44 rushing attempts vs. Tulane. McCoy finished with 214 yards rushing and the Mids to their seventh win of the season.
  • September 13, 1997 – Chris McCoy ties an NCAA record by rushing for three touchdowns on consecutive carries, as Navy defeated Rutgers, 36-7.

Graphic via navysports

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