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Monday, July 18, 2011

Where or where.

MSU's Blakeslee Stadium & Highland Complex in 1962
Named for former athletic director and coach C. P. Blakeslee, who spent forty years at MSU (1921-1961), Minnesota State's iconic football field - Blakeslee Stadium - opened in 1962 and undoubtedly harkens back to a different era.

In response to its burgeoning enrollment during the late 1950s-early 1960s, the school was making the transition from its lower campus (Valley Campus) location to upper campus (initially known as Highland Campus).  In addition to the football stadium and spreading over 240 acres, new construction also included Crawford and McElroy dormitories, Wilson Campus School and the physical education complex, which included Highland Arena (renamed later in honor of Bob Otto), the Highland Pool complex and the Field House (later renamed in honor of Bud Myers). The student union and other buildings had yet to be constructed.

It took until the 1970's, but eventually the entire campus shifted to the area atop the hill. Many of the buildings that used to make up the school's campus have been repurposed with Old Main now serving as an independent and assisted living option for choosy seniors and the Searing, Buck and Cooper dormitories now known as Cherry Ridge and Colonial Square apartments.

In the last ten years on the newer campus, change has also been afoot with Otto Arena retrofitted and now serving as the center piece to MSU's excellent campus recreation offerings. Myers Field House was torn down and totally rebuilt. Beautiful Taylor Center came online in 2000, but Blakeslee Stadium remains mainly untouched from its original state.

An earthen berm was added on the south end a few years ago, but the stadium still seats around 6,500 and the cramped press box still crowns the stands on the west side of the field.  The sight lines are unmatched. Unlike many football facilities from this era, Blakeslee was built with out a track so fans get an unusually close up view of the action and the original concessions, bathrooms and ticketing areas give the facility an old-timey feel.  The fields that MSU legends Bernie Maczuga, Jim Leitzke and Bob Bruer patrolled sported real grass, as does the Blakeslee turf of 2011.

So when you take a look at this list trumpeting the Top Six College Football Stadiums in NCAA Division II, remember this.  There's something to be said for character and charm.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011