The University of Memphis football squad is very fortunate to have one of the finest football facilities in the nation to play its home football games! Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, “built by the citizens of Memphis,” is a memorial to the veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The renovated 61,000 seat facility, built in 1965 by the city of Memphis and renovated in 1987, is operated by the Memphis Park Services Department.
The Tigers inaugurated the stadium in the fall of 1965 and in 45 years, have compiled a 141-122-7 record in the Liberty Bowl! The stadium features a synthetic FieldTurf playing surface, spacious locker rooms and a four-level press box, which features a stadium club for VIPs. The playing surface was natural grass through the 2004 season, was replaced with the new FieldTurf surface that is used in more than 25 NCAA Division IA football stadiums.
In December of 1983, city of Memphis officials named the playing surface “Rex Dockery Field” in honor of the late Tiger coach who was killed in a plane crash.
In the spring of 1984, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Memphis added a new scoreboard and sound system to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium/Rex Dockery Field. The computer operated scoreboard is 100-feet long and stands 23-feet high. It has a 16′ x 32′ message center, and was the largest scoreboard in the Mid-South at the time.
Included in the 1987 stadium renovation was the addition of the 12,000 seat sky-suites, located on the east side of the stadium, as well as a stadium club to accommodate donors. In addition, several areas of the stadium were vastly improved, including the lighting system, playing surface, handicap seating area, concession stands and restroom facilities.
In 1999, the city of Memphis and Jumbotron entered into an agreement to place a new 18′ x 24′ video scoreboard system in the south end of the stadium.
In addition to the new $850,000 playing surface for the 2005 season, the stadium has also undergone aesthetic changes over the last couple of years to make the stadium look more like the “Home of the Tigers.” Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Jim McDonald of McDonald Outdoor, provided several large photo wraps on the walls of the entrances to welcome Tiger fans. New graphic wraps were unveiled around the interior of the stadium during the 2008 season, and restroom renovations in the lower concourse were completed prior to the start of the season.
Prior to the start of the 2009 season, both locker rooms were renovated and two multi-purpose rooms were added to the concourse. One of the most notable changes is the placement of the locker rooms. The opposing team is now in the north tunnel and the Memphis Tigers are in the south tunnel. The latest renovations begin to bring the stadium into compliance with ADA specifications!
The stadium is also the host site of the annual AutoZone/Liberty Bowl game, as well as the Southern Heritage Classic. Located near the Memphis Fairgrounds, the stadium also hosted the Tennessee-Kentucky High School All-Star game in 1994.
Throughout the 45-year history, several professional teams have called the Liberty Bowl home. In 1974, the Grizzlies of the World Football League played their one and only season in Memphis. From 1978-80, the stadium was host to the Memphis Rogues of the North American Soccer League, and later in 1984-85 to the Showboats of the U.S. Football League. Three other teams spent just one season in the Liberty Bowl including the Memphis Maniax of the XFL (2001), the Tennessee Oilers (1997) and the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL (1995).
The largest crowd, 65,885, to witness a Memphis home football game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium was the Tigers stunning upset of No. 6 ranked Tennessee in 1996! The Tigers defeated the Vols, 21-17, before a regionally-televised audience on CBS-TV. The entire nation saw Memphis’ game-winning drive when CBS carried the final five minutes nationally.
In 2004, Memphis hosted Louisville for an ESPN broadcasted Thursday night game. A crowd of 52,384 fans came out for the game, marking the largest Tiger crowd for a non-SEC opponent. That same season, Memphis set a new home attendance average record with 41,175 fans in just five games! The previous high average was 40,622 in 2003, for seven home games.