Goodbye to Old Friend

Tuesday officially marks the beginning of the end for Connecticut's Memorial Stadium in Storrs.

Word came Monday from the UConn athletic department that the first stage of demolition to the concrete stands will take place on Tuesday, May 22, at approximately noon. Removal of bleachers on the visitors' side of the field will also begin. The entire demolition is expected to take about one month.

Memorial Stadium was the home of UConn football for 50 years, from 1953 to 2002. The Huskies moved to Rentschler Field in 2003. And now the stadium is coming down to make room for the UConn Basketball Development Center, a practice facility to be shared by the men's and women's basketball programs.

There were some memorable moments at Memorial Stadium, including one postseason football game. That came in 1998 when coach Skip Holtz and the Huskies defeated Hampton 42-34 in a NCAA Division I-AA playoff game.

The stadium was the site of the first NCAA men's soccer championship in 1959 and the first field hockey championship in 1981.

There were concerts there as well, during the years of the UConn Spring Weekend Concert. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett were among the acts that appeared there.

Probably the most famous play at Memorial Stadium took place on Sept. 22, 1984 during UConn's 41-14 victory over Morgan State. UConn kick returner Gregg Morrison was free, in open space, and headed to the end zone for a touchdown when Morgan State assistant coach Darrell Coulter came off the bench to tackle Morrison. The officials ruled it a touchdown and it was a highlight that was shown on television stations across the nation.

On May 12, UConn held a reunion for Husky football alumni from as far back as the 1940's. Many players came back to say goodbye to the 16,200-seat stadium. Former coach Andy Baylock, now director of football alumni and community affairs, called it a great way to get players back and say farewell. A few footballs were tossed around during the reunion and there were a lot of smiles.

Here are a few facts before the wrecking ball goes to work:

First game: Oct. 10, 1953; UConn 26, St. Lawrence 6

Last game: Nov. 9, 2002; UConn 63, Kent State 21

UConn's record at Memorial Stadium: 131-102-4

Single-game attendance record: Sept. 28 2002 vs. Ball State (16,849)


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