University Stadium is an outdoor football stadium on the south campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is the home field of the New Mexico Lobos football team of the Mountain West Conference. The stadium opened in September 1960 and currently has a seating capacity of 39,224. However, the capacity for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl is 37,457.
The facility was rebranded as Branch Field at University Stadium after a $1.5 million gift from longtime Lobo supporters Turner and Margaret Branch. The Branch's generosity, coupled with support from the state of New Mexico, led to the replacement of the grass playing surface with new synthetic artificial playing surface in August of 2012. The field runs in the traditional north-south configuration and sits at an elevation of 5,100 feet above sea level. In August of 2013, a new video board was installed in the north endzone. The 80 foot by 32 foot high definition display gave New Mexico the largest video board in the Mountain West Conference.
The stadium replaced Zimmerman Field, a 16,000-seat stadium which was located just south of the current library. Needing more room for campus facilities, the university purchased land south of campus, near the corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University Boulevard. This land became the "south campus", which, includes The Pit and Isotopes Park, the Lobo Tennis Club, Lobo Field, Lobo Softball field, the Rudy Davalos Basketball Center and buildings housing the athletics department as well as the football stadium.
When it opened in 1960, University Stadium consisted of the east and west stands and press box. The stadium was built in an existing arroyo with the grandstands built up from moved earth for an earthen fill that was then cemented over. This "berm" style construction placed the field below ground level with seats above and below the natural ground level. Initial costs for the stadium were just over $4 million. University Stadium opened on September 17,1960 with UNM defeating an overmatched National University of Mexico by a score of 77-6.
A new press box with private suites was built in 1976 at a cost of $1.8 million. Because the stadium had been built on earthen fill, the press box had to be supported on large concrete cylinders that went down to the pre-existing ground level. In 1995 the next major addition to University Stadium came when UNM built the L.F. "Tow" Diehm Athletic Facility, a field house and athletic training facility located in the southern end zone.
University Stadium expanded again in 2001 with stands, new bathroom and concessions facilities in the north end zone. UNM also added a large, then state-of-the-art scoreboard that included the "LoboVision" video screen. Shortly after, a $7 million indoor practice facility located south of University Stadium and renovations to the End Zone Club were completed.
*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (en.wikipedia.org)