The stadium was the site of the 1942 Rose Bowl, usually played in Pasadena, California. Duke won a berth to the iconic New Year’s Day bowl game as the eastern representative and the University of Oregon was to be the opponent after it had won the Pacific Coast Conference. However, it was just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor at the end of the 1941 football season. There were immediate concerns that the Japanese would launch an attack on the west coast and General John L. DeWitt, commander of the Western Defense Command, advised the Tournament of Roses Association not to hold the game at the Rose Bowl.
The Tournament of Roses Association had settled on Bell Field on the Campus of the University of Oregon to host the game. However, the federal government cancelled all public events on the West Coast meaning that the game could not be played at Oregon.
The Tournament Association planned to cancel the game. However, Duke officials suggested that the contest be played in Durham. The invitation was accepted.
The game was played in a cold rain on January 1, 1942 with 56,000 fans in attendance, 22,000 of them sat on bleachers borrowed from North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina. The Blue Devils, who were favored, lost to Oregon 20-16.
The stadium also hosted the first Pelican Bowl in 1972. The event was an attempt to promote a black college football national championship game between the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Grambling defeated North Carolina Central 56-6 in front of a crowd of 22,500.
Major renovations took place in 2012 that increased the seating capacity to 43,915.
On November 29, 2014 major renovations were started to lower the field, remove the track and construct a new tower that features premium seating and luxury suites, a new video board in the south end zone, and concourse improvements on the north and west gate entrances. Construction is planned throughout 2015 and is scheduled to end by the start of the 2016 football season. Games will be played in the stadium as construction is being done.
By the time the project is concluded, the seating capacity will be about 40,000 and the stadium may include Wi-Fi. Total cost is expected to be $250 million. All enhancements will be privately funded by donations.
The venue will retain its horseshoe-shape and Latitude 36 Bermuda grass, the same turf used by the Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins will replace the original turf.
The finished project will also include a five-story, 90,000 plus square foot tower that will replace the Finch-Yeager Building. It will feature six concession booths and restrooms on the main concourse level, a dining room with more than 300 seats, exterior club and six luxury suites. The third level will have 15 more luxury suites and a President’s box. The fourth-floor will offer space for media and home and visiting coaches, broadcast and game day operations, and video filming space on the roof. A 42-feet high by 75.6 feet wide, or 3,175 square feet video board will be included in the south end zone. This video display is more than twice the size of the previous video board.
Noteworthy Accomplishments of the Duke Blue Devil Football Team
- 7 Southern Conference Championships
- 2 Rose Bowl appearances
- Not scored upon 1938
- Defeated Alabama 29-26 in the 1944 Sugar Bowl
- Won 6 of the first 10 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships
- Shared the ACC Title 1989
- Finished #3 in the AP Poll in 1938
- Finished #2 in the AP Poll in 1941
- Won 10 games for the first time in school history 2013
- First in the Coastal Division of the ACC 2013
- 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl (lost to Texas A&M)
- Won 9 games in 2014
- 2014 Sun Bowl (lost to Arizona State)
Noteworthy Events at Wallace Wade Stadium
- Hosted the 1990 and 2000 NCAA Track & Field Championships
- Hosted the USA-Pan Africa Games 1995
- Hosted the Gold Rush Meets 1996
image courtesy of goduke.com