By Sideline Gear, Published 03/22/2022

Nicknamed “The Woodshed”, Spartan Stadium is home of the Michigan State Spartans football team. It is located at 1 Spartan Way, East Lansing, Michigan.  The stadium opened nearly a century ago in 1923 and after addition of luxury boxes and club seating in 2004-2005, the capacity increased to over 75000. Spartan Stadium is the sixth largest stadium in the Big Ten Conference.

In the early part of “The Roaring Twenties”, Michigan State school officials determined that Old College Field needed to be replaced.  By 1923, the lower half of the stadium, which seated 14,000, was ready. Thirteen years later, the field’s surface was replaced, and additional seating added to nearly double the capacity to 26,000. 

The field was dedicated to former coach John Macklin, who compiled a 29-5 record from 1911 through 1915. Michigan State nearly doubled the stadium capacity when it was admitted into the Big Ten Conference in 1948. An additional 9000 seats were added in 1956, increasing the capacity to 60,000. Work continued on the stadium the following year as double decks were added to the east and west sides, boosting seating capacity to 76,000. The stadium was also named Spartan Stadium, which is used to this day.

The surface of the playing field was natural grass until 1969 when it was replaced by TartanTurf. Four years later, a new scoreboard was added, and in 1978, AstroTurf was installed. Renovations continued with a video scoreboard prior to the 1991 season.  Capacity was reduced by 4,000 to 72,000 in 1994 when the stadium was renovated to include handicap access, field security, and club seating.

The installation of a 21’ by 27’ Mitsubishi Diamond Version video board was the next big upgrade, which took place in 1998. The turf was replaced with natural grass four years later. Continuing to try to make Spartan Stadium one of the best in the country, Michigan State added a new press box, 24 luxury suites and nearly 900 club seats on the west side prior to the 2005 season. At a cost of 64 million dollars, the addition also featured a 18,000 square foot luxury concourse, recruiting lounge, upgraded bathrooms, office space, a “Grand Entrance” with distinct high ceiling, marble floors, and glass walls.  Capacity was also increased to 75,000.

Spartan Stadium remained untouched for nearly seven years until the Michigan State Board of Trustees voted for a renovation to the video board.  At a cost of $10 million, the package included a 10’ by 450’ LED wall at the North End zone Wall. Two video boards, each at over 1600 square feet would be added to the North End zone. In the South End zone, the largest video board in the conference would be installed, measuring over 5400 square feet.  The new scoreboards were in place and revealed prior to the home opener of the 2012 season in which the Spartans took down Boise State, 17-13.

In the summer of 2013, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees approved of a nearly $25 million project to add a two-story, 50,000 square foot addition to the north end of Spartan Stadium that included a 4500-square-foot home locker room, 700 square-foot training room, 3,600 square-foot media center, and a 4000-square-foot engagement center.

An additional $13 million renovation to the south end of the stadium was approved in December 2016.  The renovation was a 20,000-square-foot project that included 236 bathrooms and four concession stand areas. The following summer, LED field lighting was installed as part of the Big Ten broadcast agreement.

Spartan Stadium is one of only four fields in the United State to win STMA Field of the Year. The stadium added a new surface prior to the 2019 season, replacing the old field modular system with a grass field.  The sod for the new field was from Tuckahoe Turfgrass Farms, which is the top provider in athletic field turfgrass in Northeast and Midwest United States. In fact, they have provided turf for NFL stadiums such as Lincoln Financial Field, Heinz Field, and Lambeau Field.

The Spartans have enjoyed a considerable home field advantage. Their longest home winning streak was 19 straight from 1950 through 1953. Their overall home record is 373-163-13 and have gone undefeated at home in 20 different seasons since the stadium opened in 1923. Mark Dantonio was the most successful coach in Spartan Stadium, winning 15 straight from 2010 through the first game of 2012. He also went undefeated at home in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

The vast majority of the seating at Spartan Stadium are bleacher seats. With a hard seat and no back, sitting for hours is uncomfortable, particularly on a cold day. You may experience the same when you go to watch your favorite team or family member on the field.   Consider a Sideline Gear Stadium Chair – they really do improve the sideline experience.   They are easy to fold and unfold. Just place the cushioned seat on the hard bleacher with a comfortable back. That makes watching your team win just that much more enjoyable!