Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
In 1965 Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, an unprecedented $32 million was paid for a four year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons, Edward White became the first American to walk in space, and the Memphis Memorial Stadium opened.
The playing surface was natural grass from its inception and was replaced by FieldTurf in 2005 and AstroTurf in 2012. Designed as a true bowl, the facility is built so that all seats provide a great view of the playing filed.
Dedicated to Memphis veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War, it soon became the home of the Liberty Bowl football game, now known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The stadium was soon renamed the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. In keeping with its patriotic theme, an historic electric American Flag was renovated and moved to the stadium in 1966. Lit at night, the unusual neon flag can be seen “waving” for miles.
True Tiger Den – University of Memphis
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is quickly closing in on being the home of University of Memphis Football for 50 years, and recent enhancements to the venue have allowed the stadium to continue to be one of the best places for fans to take part in a tremendous game-day experience and watch a collegiate game.
In the spring of 2010, the Memphis City Council approved a $15.7 million capital improvements budget to upgrade the grounds surrounding the Liberty Bowl. Included in the renovations was the construction of a grand entrance off East Parkway and green spaces for tailgating which the City Council approved naming “Tiger Lane” in honor the University of Memphis.
The centerpiece to 2012 renovations at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium was a $2.5 million video scoreboard and sound system. A generous donation provided by FedEx to the U of M paved the way for the state-of-the art, 98 x 48-foot scoreboard and sound system.
City of Memphis-funded renovations and enhancements have included many things such as new lighting, concession stands and handicap-accessible seating areas.
The Liberty Bowl has been the site of many memorable games in Tiger history. The largest crowd to witness a Memphis home football game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium was a record-setting 65,885 fans who attended the Tigers’ stunning 21-17 upset of No. 6 ranked Tennessee in 1996. The win came before a regionally-televised audience on CBS-TV. The entire nation, however, saw Memphis’ game-winning drive when CBS carried the final five minutes to a national audience. For more information visit www.gotigersgo.com.
Southern Heritage Classic – “It’s All About Having Fun”
Since its inception in 1990, the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx has been recognized as one of the country’s top HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football classics. When the Southern Heritage Classic celebrates its 26th anniversary on September 12th in Memphis, TN at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Tennessee State University and Jackson State University will continue their traditional rivalry. “It’s All About Having Fun” is the theme of the 2015 Classic. More than 50,000 fans are expected to attend.
In 2014, the Classic ranked 3rd in attendance among HBCU classic football games in the country and is a driving force for increasing revenue for Tennessee State and Jackson State. After the 2015 Classic, both colleges – collectively – will have earned more than $10 million.
Besides FedEx – the Classic’s presenting sponsor – other major sponsors include Allstate Insurance, AutoZone, Nike, Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Carrier Corporation, and MillerCoors.
The 2015 Classic will be broadcast on FOX SportSouth. For more information on the Southern Heritage Classic, visit online at www.southernheritageclassic.com.
Rich In Bowl History - AutoZone Liberty Bowl
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is college football’s 7th oldest bowl game and has been held annually at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis since 1965. The game has featured 59 different universities, four Heisman Trophy winners and college football coaching legends such as Paul “Bear” Bryant, John McKay, Lou Holtz and Tom Osborne. Current SEC coaches Steve Spurrier, Butch Jones, Dan Mullen, Mark Richt and Kevin Sumlin have coached in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, as well as current Big 12 coaches Art Briles, Paul Rhoads, Gary Patterson and Dana Holgorsen.
One of the Bowl’s legendary games came in 1982, when Coach “Bear” Bryant announced his retirement and chose the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and Memphis as the site of his final game. Alabama defeated Illinois 21-15 in front of a capacity crowd.
The current AutoZone Liberty Bowl attendance record was set in 2007, when a crowd of 63,816 watched Mississippi State defeat UCF.
The 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl game will be played Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 2:20pm Central Time. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl features teams from the SEC and Big 12 Conference. For more information visit www.autozonelibertybowl.org.
For Quick Facts about The Liberty Bowl Stadium, click here.