Two million bricks, 160 days. The year is 1930 and Knute Rockne, legendary coach and pioneer of modern football, oversees the construction of the University of Notre Dame’s Football Stadium in just 160 days. “The House that Rockne Built” would go on to see the storied program achieve 11 National Championships. Eighty-five years later, with only one significant renovation, Notre Dame wanted to complete a major stadium experiential design enhancement.
The design team created historical themed concourses to pay homage to the original 1930 deco era stadium with vintage signage, theming graphics, awards recognition, decorative lighting and bricked columns. The stadium enhances the fan experience by celebrating ND’s rich football legacy, complementing the architecture with deco style fonts, images and terminology such as “Ladies” and “Gentlemen” for the restrooms. A timeline of thirty-five, 16-ft-tall wayfinding banner signs that run throughout the lower concourse features vintage football program covers from 1930 to the 1970s. Each banner sign directs to seating sections and has a different program cover on each side so that the fan experience is different traveling in both directions around the concourse.
Enlarged vintage tickets, printed on matte vinyl film, were applied directly to the brick walls and framed with old wooden bleacher seats, repurposing the bleachers from the original stadium. At each of the four main stairwells throughout the stadium, the design team designed large-scale murals that celebrate the football traditions of a modern game day, featuring the players, the band and fans alike. The digital printed canvas murals are stretched over a 20-ft-by-30-ft framing structure and utilize the ND branding colors using monotone navy-blue photography with gold accents.
In the South Concourse, a large awards hall features over 250 etched, metal plaques celebrating National Championships, Heisman Trophy winners, College Hall of Famers and All-Americans. In the ND players’ tunnel located at the North Gate, banners hanging from the ceiling representing each of Notre Dame's 11 national championship football titles and providing inspiration to the players as they run out to the field. Branding signage and graphics were also developed for both the ND Players Locker room and ND Recruiting Lounge to strengthen the players’ experience.
The system provides for an enhanced visitor tour experience that allowed for tour guides with a story that can be told through the historical elements throughout the stadium. These tours provide a historical timeline walk 360-degrees through the concourse providing guests an experience that gave a full breadth of the University’s legacy.
The experience turned the stadium into a 365-day-a-year fan experience that went far beyond the historical use of the stadium as a 10-day-a-year event experience. Increased tour attendance, premier show and event bookings, increased ticket and season ticket revenue were some of the data points used as barometers for the success of the program. In the first season of the stadium opening after the renovations, the team and stadium was featured for ESPN Gameday, a nationally broadcast concert and numerous local and national broadcast coverages that highlighted the stadium.
"With the current influx of corporate sponsorship into the physical spaces of college athletic teams, it is refreshing and invigorating to see a space that calls forward the history and pedigree of the institution in a pure, honest and authentic way."
"Touchdown! Rarely do we see sports venue placemaking with such sophistication. Every detail of this comprehensive program speaks to the venue and schools’ history and virtue."
Kim Cardosi (principal in charge, overall project direction), Ted Kiper (principal in charge, design direction), Emmett Boblick (project manager, junior designer)
University of Notre Dame Facilities Design, University of Notre Dame Athletics, Barton Malow (general contractor), ADMI Incorporated, Integrated Design Solutions (architect), Keith Davis/KRD Design (technical drawings consultant)