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Dyche / Ryan
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Northwestern On-Campus Home Game Venues #4:

By 1925 the old wooden stands of Northwestern Field had become decayed and had been dwarfed by other stadia, and by the popularity of NU football.  William Dyche, NU's business manager who had overseen the construction of Northwestern Field, proposed a replacement, a stadium of steel and mortar.


Here is an original plan for Northwestern Stadium.  The new stadium was to be built on the same Central Street location as old Northwestern Field, so the actual playing location would be unchanged.  This initial concept, drawn in 1925, featured towers on both the east and west sides that also served as dramatic archways into the stadium.  The stadium was conceived as the first-ever triple-decked stadium, an architectural feat never before achieved, and would have seated 80,000 fans.

The stadium was designed to mimic the new Soldier Field, and to serve as a "Grant Park Bowl" for the North Shore.  The budget for the stadium would not allow for north or south stands, nor for a third deck, so in early 1926 the plan for the stadium changed to this concept:

During construction, the stadium went over budget, and William Dyche's vision had to lose its east-side towers and much of the east-side facade.

When it opened in 1926, Northwestern Stadium had no towers at all.  The west side towers were eventually finished in 1927. 
During the final home game of the 1926 season, the stadium was christened Dyche Stadium.  Below is what Dyche Stadium looked like from 1927 through 1948.  The east towers, after being scrapped from the stadium plans,  were to be added later-- they never were.  Note the addition of north and south temporary bleachers, which increased the stadium's capacity from 45,000 to 49,000. 

An enclosure was built in 1949 for the south end zone, converting Dyche Stadium into a horseshoe.  Including the north bleachers (when used), Dyche's capacity swelled to over 50,000.  Below is an aerial shot from a game sometime in the early sixties.  The north bleachers were removed for good in the mid-seventies, and Dyche's capacity fell to 49,256.  The university installed artificial turf at Dyche Stadium prior to the 1973 season.

After decades of decay, Dyche Stadium was fully renovated after the 1996 season.  The artificial turf was ripped out, the playing field was lowered almost five feet, and natural grass was seeded.  NU built a new press area, concessions area, and locker facility, and renamed the stadium Ryan Field.  With its reconfigured seats, Ryan Field now seats 47,330.

Over thirteen years after the major reworking of Dyche Stadium, the university began to discuss possible changes to NU's home field.  There is the possibility that the school will reduce the stadium's capacity for a third time in the next round of improvements, likely by knocking out the northeast stands and building coaches' offices, training rooms, or suites.

In August 2010, posted a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at what a lakefront stadium might look like.  It turns out that Northwestern actually was considering just such a move!  The University eventually had to reject it based on cost, logistics, and several other reasons.

The University was expected to release its plans for the next Ryan Field renovation in 2014, but  instead focused on the lakeside training facility and the recent renovation to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

In September 2021, Northwestern announced a $480 million donation by the Ryan Family, including a portion earmarked for the stadium. The donation kicked off "Rebuild Ryan Field," a multi-year effort to rebuild Northwestern's stadium. More details to come on the new stadium, including an initial timeline.

Dyche Stadium circa 1949 - 1950, before the construction of McGaw Hall, when the stadium
could seat over 50,000 fans.

Dyche played host to one NFL game, between the Bears and the Eagles, in 1970.
Note the NFL goal posts rigged in front of NU's usual ones.

Ryan Field, in its final configuration with Walker Terrace north of the field.

Venue Name: 1926: Northwestern Stadium. 1926 - 1996: Dyche Stadium. 1997 - Present: Ryan Field
Dates Used: 1926 - Present
First Game...
As Northwestern Stadium: Oct. 2, 1926 vs. S. Dakota
As Dyche Stadium: Nov. 13, 1926 vs. Chicago
As Ryan Field: Sept. 13, 1997 vs. Duke
Last Game...
As Dyche Stadium: Nov. 16, 1996 vs. Purdue
As Ryan Field: Not yet determined. Possibly Nov. 26, 2022 vs. Illinois
NU Record at Dyche / Ryan:
(After 2021 season) 253 Wins, 270 Losses, 10 Ties
Northwestern Stadium: 4-1-0
Dyche Stadium: 163-198-10
Ryan Field (As of Dec. 2021): 86-71
Largest Crowd: Click here for a look at Dyche Stadium attendance records and a list of all sold out games.

Annual Attendance: Click here
for Dyche / Ryan annual average attendance.
Night Games (6:00 pm kickoff or later)

NU has played 31
night games at Dyche/Ryan-- all but five were after the Ryan Field renovation.  2011 was the first season in NU history with two night games on Central Street.
  • 7:30 pm, October 5, 1935—0-7 loss to Purdue.  NU installed lights on telephone poles and played at night to avoid conflicting with the Cubs vs. Tigers World Series game at Wrigley that day.  First Big Ten game played at night.
  • 8:00 pm, September 25, 1943—14-6 win vs. Indiana.  NU used the temp lights left in place from the 1943 College All-Star game, played at Dyche.
  • 8:00 pm, September 22, 1944—62-0 win vs. DePauw.  Click here for details of this game.
  • 6:00 pm, September 3, 1988—21-31 loss to Duke.  First night game in 44 years, moved to night to boost attendance because the game was held Labor Day weekend.  24,713 attended.
  • 6:00 pm, September 16, 1989—31-48 loss to Air Force
  • 6:00 pm, October 4, 1997—25-26 loss to Wisconsin
  • 6:00 pm, October 17, 1998—6-12 loss to Michigan (Homecoming)
  • 7:00 pm, August 31, 2000—35-17 win vs. Northern Illinois
  • 6:00 pm, October 5, 2002—16-27 loss to Ohio State
  • 8:00 pm, October 2, 2004—33-27 (OT) win vs. Ohio State
  • 6:00 pm, October 29, 2005—17-33 loss to Michigan (Homecoming)
  • 7:00 pm, September 15, 200714-20 loss to Duke
  • 6:30 pm, October 9, 201017-20 loss to Purdue.  Game was set at night to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the historic '35 night game vs. Purdue.
  • 6:00 pm, October 8, 2011—24-42 loss to Michigan
  • 6:00 pm, October 22, 2011—24-34 loss to Penn State (Homecoming)
  • 7:00 pm, September 8, 2012—23-13 win vs. Vanderbilt
  • 8:00 pm, September 14, 2013—38-17 win vs. Western Michigan
  • 7:00 pm, October 5, 2013—30-40 loss to Ohio State (Homecoming. ESPN GameDay host)
  • 6:30 pm, October 18, 2014—17-38 loss to Nebraska (Homecoming)
  • 7:00 pm, September 26, 2015—24-19 win vs. Ball State
  • 7:00 pm, September 17, 2016—24-13 win vs. Duke
  • 6:30 pm, September 24, 2016—13-24 loss to Nebraska
  • 6:30 pm, September 16, 2017—49-7 win vs. Bowling Green
  • 6:00 pm, November 11, 2017—23-13 win vs. Purdue. Latest date in the season for an on-campus night game at NU.
  • 6:30 pm, September 15, 2018—34-39 loss to Akron
  • 6:15 pm, November 3, 2018—21-31 loss to Notre Dame
  • 7:30 pm, October 18, 2019—3-52 loss to Ohio State
  • 6:30 pm, October 24, 2020—43-3 win vs. Maryland (no fans in attendance)
  • 8:00 pm, September 3, 2021—21-38 loss to Michigan State (actual kickoff at 8:15 is likely the latest on-campus start ever for NU)
  • 6:00 pm, November 6, 2021—12-17 loss to Iowa
  • 6:30 pm, September 24, 2022—14-17 loss to Miami of Ohio

(Some other games have started in the late afternoon and have extended into the evening, and used the same temporary lighting that a night game would.  These include 1995 Penn State, 2000 Michigan, 2006 Ohio State, 2008 Illinois, 2009 Penn State, and 2013 Syracuse.  These, however, are not considered night games.)
Highlight Game(s): Dyche Stadium -- 1936 game vs. Minnesota, 1962 game vs. Notre Dame, 1996 game vs. Michigan;  Ryan Field -- 2000 game vs. Michigan