How famous college football stadiums got their names

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What's in a name?

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While corporations have largely taken over the names of professional sports arenas across the globe, college campuses remain a haven for athletic facilities named after local heroes and well-heeled benefactors. Many college football stadiums have interesting naming rights origins, from a Heisman Trophy winner to big businessmen to even alumni from other schools! Here's a look at how some of the biggest college football stadiums got their names.

Kyle Field (Texas A&M)

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The giant home of the Aggies is named after Edwin Jackson Kyle, an 1899 graduate of the school and later a professor of horticulture. Kyle built the school's first "stadium" in 1904 with $650 of his own money. (It was basically a covered grandstand for 500 people.) Almost 120 years later, the new Kyle Field welcomes over 102,000 fans for Saturdays in the fall.

Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama)

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Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium opened in 1929 and was originally just named Denny Stadium after the school's president (George H. Denny) at the time. The last name of legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant was added by the state legislature in 1975. No word of if Nick Saban's name will ever be added, though the current Crimson Tide coach already has a statue outside.

Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Texas)

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Texas honored three-time national championship coach Darrell Royal by putting his name on its facility in 1996. It was originally dedicated as Texas Memorial Stadium in 1924 after the more than 5,000 Texans who lost their lives fighting in World War I.

Neyland Stadium (Tennessee)

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The home of the Volunteers opened in 1921 as Shields-Watkins Field. It was named after the president of Knoxville's city bank and his wife. The stadium, however, was renamed in 1962 after the death of General Robert Neyland. The famed Vols coach did three different stints in Knoxville when he wasn't serving in the Army.

Wallace Wade Stadium (Duke)

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Duke Stadium was renamed "Wallace Wade Stadium" in 1967 after the legendary coach who led teams at both Alabama and Duke. Fun fact: This stadium hosted the 1942 Rose Bowl between Duke and Oregon State after the attack on Pearl Harbor prevented large events from being hosted on the west coast.

Sanford Stadium (Georgia)

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Sanford Stadium is named after Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, an early proponent of athletics at UGA and then a president of the university. Sanford had the stadium built in the late 1920s as a response to Georgia Tech's big stadium in Atlanta.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida)

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"The Swamp" was known as Florida Field from its opening in 1930 to 1989. It was renamed after citrus magnate (and Florida alum) Ben Hill Griffin after his death in 1990. Griffin, who was also a one-time candidate for governor, reportedly gave more than $20 million to the University of Florida during his lifetime.

Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn)

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The home of the Auburn Tigers is named after coaching wins leader Ralph "Shug" Jordan and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn's first football team in 1892 and later a dean at the school before becoming president of the Southern Conference (a precursor to the SEC).

Doak Campbell Stadium (Florida State)

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Doak Campbell was the school's president in 1947 when the Florida State College For Women went coed and was re-named Florida State University. Campbell oversaw construction of a new football stadium bearing his name, which opened in 1950.

Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)

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The home of the Wisconsin Badgers rocks each Saturday on a former training grounds for the Union Army. Alexander Randall was Wisconsin's governor at the time and was responsible for raising the state's first volunteer army for the Civil War.

Martin Stadium (Washington State)

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This is a fun one. Washington State's football stadium is named after a graduate of cross-state rival Washington. No, that's not a misprint. Back in 1972, Dan Martin made a $250K donation to the school's stadium project with the stipulation that the stadium be named after his father Clarence D. Martin, a former Washington governor. The school agreed and the rest is history.

Williams-Brice Stadium (South Carolina)

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South Carolina's stadium was originally erected during the Great Depression as a Works Progress Administration project. A major renovation of the stadium was done in 1972 and funded by the estate of Martha Williams Brice and Thomas Hardin Brice, a player on South Carolina's team in the 1920s.

Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium (Missouri)

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Don Faurot was a Missouri football coach and athletic director who had an eight-decade association with the university. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is credited with inventing the split-T formation.

Kinnick Stadium (Iowa)

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Nile Kinnick became Iowa's only Heisman Trophy winner in 1939 and he died in 1943 during a Naval training flight while serving in World War II. Iowa Stadium was renamed in his honor in 1972 after a campaign led by a Cedar Rapids Gazette sportswriter. It remains the only college football stadium named after a Heisman Trophy winner.

Davis Wade Stadium (Mississippi State)

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Davis Wade Stadium was originally built in 1914 and is the second-oldest college football stadium in the country. It was named Scott Field from 1920 to 2001 in honor of Olympic star and former Bulldog Donald Scott. The name was changed in 2001, however, after AFLAC co-founder and MSU booster Floyd Davis Wade Sr. made a big donation toward a stadium expansion.

Jones A&T Stadium (Texas Tech)

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The home of the Red Raiders is named after Clifford and Audrey Jones, who donated $100,000 to get the stadium opened in 1947. Clifford Jones was a big businessman and donor known as "West Texas' No. 1 citizen" and was instrumental in getting a state university located in that part of the state. He became the school's third president in 1939, despite having never attended an institute of higher education.

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (Ole Miss)

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The stadium was originally opened in 1915 and named after Judge William Hemingway, a law professor at the school and the chairman of athletics. Legendary coach Johnny Vaught, who coached at Ole Miss from 1947 to 1970 had his name added in 1982.

Boone Pickens Stadium (Oklahoma State)

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Oklahoma businessman Boone Pickens was well known for his support of Oklahoma State athletics. The school says his $165 million donation to OSU was the single largest gift for athletics in NCAA history.

Carter-Finley Stadium (North Carolina State)

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Nothing too interesting here: NC State's stadium name is derived from a trio of well-heeled benefactors: Harry and Nick Carter and Albert E. Finley.

Kenan Stadium (North Carolina)

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William R. Kenan Jr. was a prominent businessman, a UNC graduate and a grandson of an original trustee at the university. He made a big donation for the stadium before it was opened in 1927 and requested it be named after his parents as a memorial.

Ross Ade Stadium (Purdue)

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David Ross and George Ade bought 65 acres of land in West Lafayette for the building of the stadium in 1924 and provided additional financial support during its construction. In 2019, "Rohrman Field" was added to the facility's title after a $15 million gift from Chicago-area car dealer Bob Rohrman.

Jack Trice Stadium (Iowa State)

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Jack Trice was the Iowa State's first African-American athlete and he tragically died in 1923 after injuries sustained in a game against Minnesota. The school originally named just the field at Cyclone Stadium after Trice in 1975. But a push in 1997 resulted in the entire facility being renamed to honor Trice's memory.

Bobby Dodd Stadium (Georgia Tech)

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Grant Field showed up in its first form in Atlanta as far back as 1905 and permanent grandstands were built in 1913. It is the oldest continuously used on-campus site for football in the FBS. In 1988, the stadium was renamed after Bobby Dodd, who coached at Georgia Tech from 1931 to 1966 and is the school's all-time wins leader. The honor was bestowed just two months before he died.

Autzen Stadium (Oregon)

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Before there was Phil Knight, there was Thomas E. Autzen. The son of Portland philanthropist Thomas J. Autzen, the younger Autzen contributed $250K for the construction of the stadium in 1967. The stadium was named after his father — an alumnus of rival Oregon State.

Byrd Stadium (Maryland)

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Byrd Stadium opened in 1950 and replaced "Old Byrd" Stadium — which was named after Harry "Curley" Byrd, an old football coach and university president at Maryland.

Folsom Field (Colorado)

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No, Folsom Field isn't named after the same guy from the prison that Johnny Cash made famous. Colorado's football stadium is named after Fred Folsom, who coached football and baseball at the school for three different stints between 1895 and 1895. The stadium was named after him in 1944. Folsom Prison, meanwhile, is located in Folsom, California, which was named after Joseph Libbey Folsom, a U.S. Army officer and a real estate speculator in the early days of California's statehood.

Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Kansas State)

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KSU Stadium opened in 1968 and often played home to one of the worst teams in Division I football. But that changed with the arrival of Bill Snyder, who methodically built Kansas State into a power capable of sticking with bigger Midwestern programs. When the school offered to name the stadium after Snyder in 2005, he insisted that his family also be included in the honor. In 2009, Snyder returned to the sidelines and became one of only five coaches in FBS history to coach at the stadium that bears his name. The other four are Bear Bryant (Alabama), Amos Alonzo Stagg (Chicago), Shug Jordan (Auburn) and LaVell Edwards (BYU).

Amon Carter Stadium (TCU)

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Amon G. Carter was the publisher of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. He provided a large gift for the construction of the stadium and also helped oversee the process before it opened in 1930.

Ryan Field (Northwestern)

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The home of Northwestern was opened in 1926 and originally named Dyche Stadium after a former mayor of Evanston, Ill. The stadium underwent a massive renovation in the 1990s and was renamed after Patrick G. Ryan, founder of Chicago's Aon Corporation and then chairman of Northwestern's board of trustees.

Reser Stadium (Oregon State)

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The home of the Beavers was opened in 1953 and was originally named after a Portland businessman named Charles Parker. It was renamed "Reser Stadium" in 1999 after Al and Pat Reser, the owners of Reser's Fine Foods. Both graduated from the school in 1960.

Carrier Dome (Syracuse)

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There aren't a lot of college facilities with corporation naming rights, but the Carrier Dome was partly built in 1980 with a naming gift from the Carrier Corporation. Ironically, the building did not have air conditioning until 2020.

Rice Eccles Stadium (Utah)

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Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City played host to the Opening Ceremony for the 2002 Winter Olympics and has been known under three names in its history. It originally opened in 1927 as Ute Stadium. The stadium underwent a large renovation in 1972 and was renamed after Robert L. Rice, a health club pioneer who helped fund the changes. The name of the Eccles Family was added to the stadium in 1997 after the chairman of Utah's biggest bank wrote a $10 million check to help upgrade the stadium so it would be suitable for hosting the Olympics.

McLane Stadium (Baylor)

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Originally named "Baylor Stadium," the home of the Bears was renamed after Drayton McLane in 2013. The former Houston Astros owner provided the lead gift for a large renovation and expansion of the stadium.

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