Oregon's Autzen Stadium, consistently ranked among the nation's top 10 venues to watch a college football game, only got better in 2002.
Now in it's 45th season, the facility, which originally was completed for a remarkable bargain of approximately $2.5 million in 1967, underwent a $90 million facelift prior to the 2002 season that not only added 12,000 seats and 32 luxury boxes to the stadium's south-side skyline, it improved the amenities that allows spectators to enjoy a better game-day experience in one of the loudest collegiate stadiums in the country. The renovation encompassed much-needed restroom and concession facilities, a 10,000-square foot entertainment center (Club at Autzen), widened walkway and concourse areas to better accommodate the increased capacity from 41,698 to 54,000 fans, as well as new ticket distribution centers and guest services windows to cater to the needs of its patrons.
The history of Autzen Stadium is rich. Former Athletic Director Leo Harris was successful in spearheading the drive to construct a modern and economical football theater to replace historic Hayward Field. Named in honor of Portland lumberman, sportsman and philanthropist Thomas J. Autzen, the stadium is situated on a 90-acre site adjacent to the north bank area of Eugene's Alton Baker Park. The site is north of the Willamette River and is approximately one-quarter mile north of the main campus, easily accessible by a scenic footbridge.
Following Oregon's first outright Pacific-10 Conference championship, the athletic department named the playing surface of Autzen Stadium after its winningest football coach of all time Rich Brooks in 1995.
Autzen's natural grass playing surface underwent it's first facelift in 1969 with the installation of its first artificial turf. The surface was replaced in 1976 and a new covering of OmniTurf was installed before the 1984 campaign. The field was replaced with a OmniTurf surface prior to the 1991 season. In 2001, Ducks played on NexTurf before upgrading its surface to FieldTurf in 2002, which has polyethylene and polypropylene fibers designed to resist extreme temperature and weather conditions.
The skyline of Autzen Stadium also was first improved in 1981 with the addition of the Barker Stadium Club behind the east end zone. The facility provided the stadium with additional meeting space and functional surroundings for pre-game activities prior to subsequent improvements.
One of the most significant improvements in the history of the athletics department was completed in time for the start of the 1988 season. The press box along the north rim of the stadium was relocated to the south side to make room for the $2.3 million three-story skysuite complex. The project included the construction of 11 individual sky boxes along with a 460-seat master skysuite, with the revenue generated from the leases serving as the cornerstone for financing of the construction of the Len Casanova Athletic Center.
A $4 million MegaVision four-color video display scoreboard was added to the skyline in 1998. Measuring 88 feet by 56 feet at its extreme points, the structure almost doubled the size of the previous scoreboard.
In the first game played at Autzen Stadium, nationally ranked Colorado defeated Oregon, 17-13, on Sept. 23, 1967, before a regional television audience. The program recorded its first win in the stadium that same season on Oct. 21 vs. Idaho, 31-6.