The previously seldom-used Jordan-Hare Stadium now boasts one of the best atmospheres for college football
From the pregame Tiger Walk, to the graceful flight of a majestic eagle to the cries of “War Eagle” echoing from its rafters, Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the most tradition-steeped venues in college football.
Before what is now Jordan-Hare Stadium was built in 1939, however, Auburn University, or Alabama Polytechnic Institute as it was known then, played its home football games at Drake Field, a bare-bones facility that could seat only 700 spectators in temporary bleachers.
With the opening of Auburn Stadium on Nov. 10, 1939, for a game between the Auburn and Georgia Tech freshman teams, the seating capacity was increased more than 10 times, to 7,500.
Stadium expansion over the years has increased Jordan-Hare to its current capacity of 87,451. That ranks 11th nationally and seventh in the Southeastern Conference for largest on-campus stadiums.
Even with the larger venue, however, Auburn continued to play most of its biggest rivalry games at neutral sites until well into the 1970s. Until 1960, all its games against Georgia were played at Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ga., and all games with Tennessee and Georgia Tech were played at Legion Field in Birmingham. The Yellow Jackets finally came to “The Plains” in 1970 and the Vols finally visited in 1974.
Of course, Auburn’s most notable neutral site game was the annual Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama, which was played in Legion Field from the time the series was permanently renewed in 1948 until Pat Dye finally brought the 1989 game to Auburn. The last Iron Bowl played in Birmingham was on Nov. 21, 1998.
In 1949, the venue underwent its first major expansion when the wooden bleachers on its east side were replaced with permanent seats and more seats were added to the west grandstand, bringing the capacity to 21,500. It was also renamed Cliff Hare Stadium in honor of Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first football team in 1892, a professor and dean of the School of Chemistry, and president of the Southern Conference, which became the SEC.
In 1973, coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s name was added to honor the winningest coach in Tiger history.
In 2005, the playing field was named in honor of former coach and athletic director Pat Dye and is known as Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After dedicating Auburn Stadium with a 7-7 tie against Florida on Nov. 30, 1939, the Tigers played only 13 more home games at the venue over the next 10 years.
After playing the first 53 games in the vaunted Iron Bowl in either Birmingham, Montgomery or Tuscaloosa (yes, the two teams played games in T-town in 1895 and 1901), Alabama finally visited Auburn on Dec. 2, 1989, and the homestanding Tigers won that landmark game 30-20. Auburn won the first four games played on The Plains and seven of the first nine, but Alabama has won three of the last five.
- “Shug” Jordan’s first game: Auburn 24, Vanderbilt 14, Sept. 29, 1951.
- First home game versus Georgia: Auburn 9, Georgia 6, Nov. 12, 1960.
- First home game versus Georgia Tech: Auburn 31, Georgia Tech 7, Oct. 17, 1970.
- First home game versus Tennessee: Auburn 21, Tennessee 0, Sept. 28, 1974.
- “Shug” Jordan’s last game: Auburn 21, Mississippi State 21, Nov. 8, 1975.
- Pat Dye’s first game: Auburn 24, TCU 16, Sept. 5, 1981.
- Pat Dye’s last game: Georgia 14, Auburn 10, Nov. 14, 1992.
All photos courtesy Auburn Athletics