10 Fun Facts About The University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka Florida Field and The Swamp

The University of Florida is almost always one of the better football teams, if not in the nation, at least in their region. One thing the school is known for is putting on a memorable show when they host a game in their stadium. Here is a look at some fun facts about the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, also known as The Swamp.

-Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was opened in November of 1930 after ground had been broken on the project just that previous April.

-From the time that it opened in 1930 through the 1989 football season, the stadium was known as Florida Field.

-Currently the playing surface is Bermuda Grass and has been since 1990. Earlier, from 1930 to 1970, it was also a natural grass field. From 1971 to 1989 though the field was AstroTurf.

-For many years the ship’s bell from the battleship USS Florida was mounted to the north end zone wall of the stadium and it was rung following a Florida Gators victory. When the stadium was expanded in 1991 the bell was relocated to the concourse where it is now just for display only.

-Florida Field was home to the Tangerine Bowl in 1973 as it had to be relocated for one year due to construction issues with the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

-The 1994 Gator Bowl was also played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as the Gator Bowl had been demolished to make room for the construction of the stadium that would eventually become home to the NFL‘s 1995 expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

-Many big name comedians have performed at the stadium as part of Gator Growl, a student produced pep rally held the night before homecoming. Some of the popular comedians to perform there include Dennis Miller, George Burns, Bill Cosby, Dane Cook, Wayne Brady, Dave Chappelle, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams.

-The playing field remained named Florida Field but the school renamed the stadium Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in late 1989. Griffin was a local citrus magnate, Florida state political office holder, and philanthropist. His granddaughter is Katherine Harris, a former state senator and Florida Secretary of State who is best known for her role in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

-The only regular home football game that the University of Florida does not play in the stadium is it’s big rivalry game with the University of Georgia. Regardless of who is the home team each year that game is played in Jacksonville, Florida. This has been done every year since 1933 except for in 1994 and 1995 when the stadium in Jacksonville was being rebuilt. Those two seasons saw the game played at the schools’ actual home stadiums.

-The architect for Florida field was Rudolph Weaver. Weaver held architectural positions at a few different schools before coming to the University of Florida and because of this he also designed university buildings on the campuses of what is now Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

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