From northeast corner in 2008
|Location||2169 Field House Drive|
U.S. Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, CO, U.S.
|Owner||U.S. Air Force|
|Operator||U.S. Air Force Academy|
(vs. Notre Dame, 2002)
Natural grass (1962–2005)
|Opened||September 22, 1962 |
57 years ago
|Construction cost||$3.5 million|
($29 million in 2019)
Slater Paul Architects (renovations)
|General contractor||B. H. Baker Inc.|
|Air Force Falcons (NCAA)|
Falcon Stadium is an outdoor football stadium in the western United States, located on the campus of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is the home field of the Air Force Falcons of the Mountain West Conference, and also holds the academy's graduation ceremonies each spring.
From 1956 to 1961, Air Force played its home games at various sites along the Front Range in Colorado. Most games were played in Denver at the University of Denver's stadium, but several were played in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and CU's Folsom Field in Boulder.
Planned in 1955, Falcon Stadium opened 57 years ago in 1962, at a cost of $3.5 million, and has a current seating capacity of 46,692. The first game was on September 22, a 34–0 victory over Colorado State. It was officially dedicated four weeks later on October 20, with a ceremony which included the Thunderbirds.
The U.S. Air Force Academy lies at the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, northwest of adjacent Colorado Springs. Built into a natural bowl about two miles (3 km) southeast and 500 feet (150 m) below the cadet area, Falcon Stadium is approximately a mile (1.6 km) west of Interstate 25.
With an unbalanced design and a traditional north-south alignment, the western sideline has the press box and two large grandstand tiers above the main bowl; the eastern side has a single tier, bordered by seven separate sections of grandstands.
The FieldTurf playing field is at an elevation of 6,621 feet (2,018 m) above sea level, the second highest in FBS college football, exceeded only by conference foe Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, which is 600 feet (180 m) higher.
The Walkup Skydome at FCS Northern Arizona in Flagstaff is also slightly higher, by 250 feet (75 m). In Division II, the Mountaineer Bowl of Western State Colorado in Gunnison exceeds them all at 7,769 feet (2,368 m).
The elevation was essential for preparing the 2017 New England Patriot's trip to the 2017 NFL Mexico Game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. As the stadium sits at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2195 meters) above sea level, Bill Belichick decided the elevation at Falcon Stadium was best for the Patriots to practice in preparation for the thin air in Mexico City. Same was the case for the 2018 Los Angeles Rams, however, the 2018 game was eventually cancelled because of poor field conditions at Azteca.
Falcon Stadium had a natural grass field for its first 44 years, although the sideline areas where teams stood were artificial turf since the 1980s. Prior to the 2006 season, synthetic FieldTurf was installed at a cost of $750,000.
The stadium has been expanded twice, and the 2005 renovation lowered the total seating capacity. Permanent lighting was installed in Falcon Stadium in 2002 at a cost of $500,000, and the video screen at the south end of the field debuted in 2004. A new sound system was also installed for the 2006 season. The scoreboard was removed after the 2015 season, and a new, larger video board measuring 31 ft 2 in (9.5 m) tall by 82 ft 8 in (25.2 m) wide, with a total surface area of more than 2,500 square feet (230 m2). At its installation in 2016, it was the largest in the Mountain West Conference and amongst the service academies. A second video board was also installed behind the northeast stands prior to the 2016 season.
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