Built more than 70 years ago with a seating capacity of 7,600, the old stadium, originally called Fairfield Stadium, bears no resemblance to the $200 million, 77,497 seat stadium currently occupying the same corner of Jacksonville.
The original stadium, which ran East and West, was constructed primarily to service Jacksonville's three new high schools -- Lee, Jackson and Landon. Governor John Martin, on hand for its opening, called the stadium "the best place in Florida to watch a football game!"
On January 1, 1946, the stadium emerged into the national spotlight with the advent of the first Gator Bowl Classic and the beginning of a new tradition. Because of the overwhelming success of this postseason college football classic, the stadium was expanded in 1948 to 16,000 seats and renamed the Gator Bowl. Today the stadium has a new name and renovations have brought on a new look.
Football is a passion for Jacksonville and no where is that more evident than at ALLTEL Stadium. Jacksonville has one of the largest stadiums in the NFL and the biggest capacity in the current rotation of Super Bowl cities.
Situated on 10 acres, ALLTEL Stadium is located in Downtown Jacksonville inside the Sports and Entertainment Complex, a stone's throw away from the sparkling St. John's River. In addition to being centrally located, Jacksonville's stadium is a convenient 20-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport. The stadium features 73,000 permanent seats equipped with backs and arm rests, including approximately 10,000 club seats and 85 luxury suites. Approximately 75 percent of the seats are located on the sides, with just 25 percent of the seats behind the end zones. Temporary seating may be added as needed in the south end zone, increasing capacity to 80,000 seats. The football playing field is 53.3 yards wide by 120 yards in length and has a natural grass playing surface.
Renovations totaling $40 million were completed just before the start of the 2003-2004 football season. The new stadium includes a Terrace Suite with 700 outdoor seats. The new Terrace Suite sits atop the south end zone, with a 10,000 square foot veranda, and a 19,000 square foot restaurant-style lounge. Floor-to-ceiling view windows offer panoramic vistas of the playing field on one side and the St. John's River on the other. Renovations also include a 15,000-square-foot sports bar called the Budweiser BUD ZONE that is open to the field and features a state-of-the-art audio-visual system. Outside the stadium, 100-foot escalators sweep fans into the 77,497 seat stadium, a sporting facility like no other in the country.