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Doak Campbell Stadium through the years

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A deep dive into where the Seminoles call home

This looks like a good place to build a stadium

The anticipation, tension, and excitement that the Florida State football fans feel when they see the horse and rider lined up in the endzone is a goose bump inducing experience every single time. You just know that at any moment they will begin their run to the midfield logo, where Renegade will rear up, and Chief Osceola will plant the flaming Seminole Spear into the ground, with a loud and mighty whoosh from the home crowd.

This is without a doubt the greatest opening tradition in all of college football, and it happens at every football game at Doak Campbell Stadium, home of the Florida State Seminoles football program since 1950.

Doak S. Campbell Stadium (w/Bobby Bowden Field), or the “Doak,” has a capacity of 79,560, it is the largest continuous brick structure in the United States, the 49th-largest stadium in the world, the second-largest stadium in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the 18th largest stadium in the NCAA.

With so much attention focused on the stadium on gamedays, we figured it was worth diving into the history of the place where the Seminoles call home.

First, a little about Doak S. Campbell Stadium’s early history.

From a maximum capacity of 15,000 in 1953 to a record crowd of 84,525 against Miami in 2005, Doak Campbell Stadium has risen alongside the Florida State football program to the top of the college football...

The south end zone houses the Florida State school of hospitality education where students in the program will receive hands-on experience in various aspects of the food and beverage industry. The multi-level facility includes a food court, a restaurant and a sports grill on the top floor that gives a panoramic view of Doak Campbell Stadium.

The north endzone, which consisted of wooden bleachers until the 1994 season kicked off, is topped by the offices of the football coaches. The offices, which also overlook the field, are just part of the Daisy Parker Flory wing of the Moore Athletic Center which include a number of new amenities for the football staff. In addition, the new wing allows athletic offices housed in Tully Gym to move over to the Moore Athletic Center and be under one roof for the first time in school history.

Towering above college football action below from the east side are skyboxes which stretch from goal line to goal line. Skyboxes are located above the west stands on the seventh floor. The west addition also houses the president’s level on the sixth floor (which includes an open air terrace in the northwest corner) and one of the largest press boxes in college football that seats over 200 members of the media. A brick facade surrounds the stadium, matching the architectural design of many of Florida State’s campus buildings. The University center surrounds Doak Campbell Stadium and houses numerous offices that were formerly located on the interior of the FSU campus.

Inside Doak Campbell, the lowest tier of field level seats has been removed, providing increased sideline space and better viewing lines for the first few rows of fans. A matching brick wall has been constructed along the east and west sidelines, limiting field access, increasing safety and giving the inside of the stadium a whole new look.

The increased seating capacity of Doak Campbell Stadium, up to 80,000 for 1997, means more fans, and no place for all the noise they make to go. That means an even louder stadium. As if Bobby Bowden and his team needed any more of a home field advantage! In its last 86 home games, FSU is 81-4-1. Bobby Bowden’s Florida State teams have lost only 18 games at home in 26 years, giving the coach an impressive 132-18-2 record and an .875 winning percentage in Tallahassee. A milestone was reached on September 28, 1996 when Bowden won his 100th game in Doak Campbell Stadium as FSU’s head coach with a 13-0 victory over North Carolina. But the winning feeling of Doak Campbell Stadium goes back before Bowden. All-time, Florida State is 212-66-4 in 251 home games for a winning percentage of .735. Since the stadium’s opening on Oct. 7, 1950 with Florida State taking a 40-7 victory over the Randolph-Macon Yellowjackets, millions of fans have packed Doak Campbell to see the finest in college football action. In 2000, Florida State set a single season attendance mark by drawing 484,985 fans in six home games. That is an average of over 80,000 per game.

Florida State first began play at Centennial Field for the inaugural 1947 season. In the three seasons that the Seminoles called Centennial Field their home, FSU had an overall home record of 8-4, including Coach Don Veller’s undefeated 8-0 home mark in the 1948 and ‘49 seasons, respectively. Doak Campbell Stadium sits right where Centennial Field used to be. It’s hard to imagine the first Doak Campbell Stadium, with a capacity of 15,000 back in 1950. In 1954, the stadium grew to a capacity of 19,000. Six thousand more seats were added in 1961. During the Bill Peterson era (1960-70), the stadium was expanded to 40,500 seats, and it remained at that capacity for the next 14 years. Between 1978 and 1982, there were three more additions.

Named for Doak S. Campbell, the first president of Florida State University, the stadium sits adjacent to the Moore Athletic Center on the edge of the main campus. The stadium seats, each one offering an unrestricted view, rise out of a Bermuda grass turf enclosing the field. Fans enjoy all the modern conveniences with spacious aisles, numerous concession areas and plenty of rest room facilities. A professional public address system, first aid booths and effective security system operate at every Seminole home game. The field itself is one of the finest in college football, carefully managed and manicured year-round. A prescription athletic turf (PAT) system installed in 1988 and completely reseeded in 1999, quickly alleviates drainage problems through a series of underground pumps. The field can go from seemingly flooded to merely wet in a matter of minutes, thanks to the pumps, which allow a deeper root system in the natural turf.

The 1999 season marked another new addition to Doak Campbell Stadium as FSU unveiled the War Board video system. The War Board made its debut in 1992 and features the most technologically advanced scoreboard computer animation system in existence. Entertaining graphics, as well as factual information, make the board a valuable addition to FSU home games. The 160-foot wide structure was raised to sit on top of the new wing of the Moore Athletic Center in the north end zone following the ‘93 season. The big screen presentation is crystal clear and allows the producers to show highlights of games all over the country to Seminole fans watching their team in the stadium. The opposite scoreboard is above the south end zone and clearly and conveniently provides all basic information. The most successful college football team program over the past 15 years, Doak Campbell Stadium has become a fitting showcase for the mighty Seminoles of Florida State.

STADIUM FACTS

Present Capacity: 83,000+ (2003)

Surface: Natural Grass (419 Tiftway Bermuda)

Location: Pensacola Street & Stadium Drive

First Game: October 7, 1950

First Opponent: Randolph-Macon FSU 40 - RM 7

Longest Home Win Streak: 38 (Sept. 2, 1995 - Oct. 13, 2001)

Longest Home Unbeaten Streak: 55 (Sept. 5, 1992 - Oct. 13, 2001)

*Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory via www.floridamemory.com

This film contains aerial and street footage of Tallahassee. There are aerial scenes of Florida State University campus, including shots of Doak Campbell Stadium. The Capitol is seen prior to the construction of the tower and north and south wings. There is also footage of the Northwood Mall area with evidence of new construction underway on the Tallahassee Mall in the distance. The segment also contains footage of Tallahassee streets, including many of the government buildings in the area of the Capitol. The film ends with exterior footage of the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital facility.

Produced by WFSU-TV

Doak Campbell Stadium was expanded slightly by the 2016 season with the addition of the Champions Club in the south endzone. This club level seating addition is part of a large $280 million athletic expansion and upgrade project that was completed by 2018. The overall seating capacity was slightly reduced to 79,560. Doak Campbell Stadium is known as one of the most intimidating stadiums for opposing teams to visit leading Florida State being one of the best teams in the nation winning three National Championships and 17 Conference titles.

Now that the new plans to renovate Doak Campbell Stadium and upgrade the facilities have been unveiled (see the plans and photos here), “The Doak” will continue to participate in the college football arms race for the time being.