Michie Stadium, splendid in its scenic beauty and long recognized as one of the most popular stadiums in the nation, will celebrate its 92nd season as the home of Army football during the 2015 campaign.
Over the years, the venerable stadium has received its share of plaudits as one of the most desired locations in which to watch a college football game. Recently, noted football analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com hailed the Academy's game day atmosphere as among the most inspirational in the country.
In addition, renowned sports periodicals Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News have heaped lofty praise upon the historic arena by listing it among their top all-time venues.
A new FieldTurf playing surface was installed during the summer of 2008, along with plans to complete a state-of-the-art video board before the start of the 2008 campaign. These enhancements ensure that the venerable facility will maintain its lofty status for years to come.
Construction of the $7 million Hoffman Press Box was completed in the spring of 2003. The new press box houses a full-service media operations center with state-of-the-art radio and television broadcast booths.
Work on the $40 million Kimsey Athletic Center, just outside the south end zone, was also concluded in the spring of 2003. The facility houses state-of-the-art locker rooms, coaches' offices, athletic training facilities, equipment rooms, meeting rooms and the Kenna Hall of Army Sports, a large display area that will chronicle Army's vast athletics history. Construction of Randall Hall, the project's second phase, was completed this past summer.
The entire stadium annex is the jewel of an aggressive athletic facilities renovation plan that has seen recent major improvements to Gillis Field House, Shea Stadium, Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field, Clinton Field and Malek Courts. The acclaimed Lichtenberg Tennis Center just completed its fifth full academic year. In the spring of 2002, Army dedicated the Gross Sports Center, which provides the Army gymnastics team with a state-of-the-art home while also lending extra indoor space for the Black Knights' basketball programs.
Realizing the need for a permanent athletic field as Army's football program continued to assert itself nationally, West Point officials selected a patch of meadow land adjacent to Lusk Reservoir and within the shadow of historic Fort Putnam. Construction of Michie Stadium was completed in 1924, just in time for Army's 35th football campaign.
In 91 previous campaigns in Michie Stadium, the Black Knights have compiled a remarkable record of 326-156-7.
The Black Knights posted more home wins than any previous Army team while forging a perfect 6-0 mark at Michie in 1996, the 28th undefeated home campaign in Academy grid annals. In addition to 28 unblemished seasons, there have been two undefeated but tied campaigns at Michie. Following a 14-14 tie in the "Dedication Game" in the home finale of 1924, the Cadets won 39 straight contests in Michie Stadium, spanning more than six seasons.
Only 15 Division I-A stadiums, and just six located east of the Mississippi River, are older than fabled Michie Stadium. The original stadium structure was formally dedicated to the memory of Dennis Mahan Michie, who was instrumental in starting the game of football at the U.S. Military Academy in 1890. It was Michie who organized, managed and coached the first football team in history at West Point.
There have been several facelifts since that first game in 1924 when Army defeated Saint Louis University 17-0.
Temporary East stands and upper stands were added before construction of permanent East stands was completed in 1962. In the summer of 1969 an upper deck on the West side was added, boosting the seating capacity to 41,684. Capacity has since been adjusted to 38,000. Army's most prolific attendance came in 1972 when the Black Knights averaged a record 41,123 fans. Army ranked among the nation's attendance leaders in 2000, averaging 38,516 per game, or 96.5 percent of Michie Stadium's capacity.
A major change occurred on the playing field in 1977 when AstroTurf replaced the natural grass surface. The artificial turf greatly reduced maintenance costs and guaranteed the Army team an excellent practice facility for use all fall while providing for multiple uses. SuperTurf replaced the AstroTurf in 1984, which was in turn replaced by AstroTurf 8 in 1992.
In the summer of 2001, Michie Stadium received yet another renovation as the aging AstroTurf8 surface was replaced with AstroPlay, a cushy new artificial surface that gives players the look and feel of playing on natural grass.
In honor of legendary mentor Earl "Red" Blaik, Army christened the Michie Stadium playing surface "Blaik Field" in 1999. Blaik, a gridiron innovator, compiled an 18-year Army record of 121-33-10 and brought Army its only three national championships (1944, 1945, 1946). The winningest coach in Army annals, Blaik is enshrined in the College Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
The Black Knights honored the dedication in grand style, trouncing Ball State 41-21.