How Big Ten Football Stadiums Got Their Names

    How did each Big Ten football stadium get its name? What are the stories behind the names to college football’s shrines?

    How did each Big Ten football stadium get its name? What are the stories behind the names to college football’s shrines?

    From benefactors to memorials, each Big Ten football stadium has its own unique flavor and history.

    So what’s in a name?

    Their names are as much a part of the sport as the players that wear the school colors or the coaches that prowl the sidelines – with the exception of those places named after nicknames or schools. They’re integral fragments of your autumn vernacular, yet you often know not who they are. You’ve spent countless hours and memorable moments in their houses, but you’d struggle to identify them in a photo.

    They are the names behind the football stadium names. The men, women and corporations, who’ve been honored for their unwavering service, dedication and generosity to institutions of higher learning.

    Those surnames on the outside facing of your favorite Big Ten football stadiums and the face of your Saturday afternoon ticket stubs are real people. Real special—and philanthropic—people in most instances. Their backgrounds and paths to immortality are as diverse as the architecture of the arenas themselves. Their drive for success and love for a school are the ties that bind this unique collection of individuals.

    Iowa – Kinnick Stadium

    Named for … Nile Kinnick
    Who was he? Arguably the most popular athlete in Iowa sports history, Kinnick was the recipient of the Heisman Trophy in 1939. An intelligent, well-rounded young man, his untimely death in 1943 shocked the nation. On a routine training flight during WWII, the plane he was piloting crash landed in the Caribbean Sea.

    Minnesota – TCF Bank Stadium

    Named for … TCF Financial Corporation
    Who are they? In 2009, the Gophers replaced the Metrodome with this on-campus, open-air facility. TCF Financial agreed to contribute $35 million toward the construction over 25 years in exchange for naming rights to the facility.

    Northwestern – Ryan Field

    Named for … Patrick G. Ryan
    Who was he? Ryan made a major gift to the university’s Campaign for Athletic Excellence. These funds were earmarked toward a $20 million renovation of the Wildcat stadium that began in 1996. He’s a 1959 graduate of the university, founder of Aon Corporation and a former chair of the Northwestern board of Trustees.

    Penn State – Beaver Stadium

    Named for … James Addams Beaver
    Who was he? Beaver was a local 19th century lawyer at the onset of the Civil War, who enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Union Army and ascended to the rank of brigadier general. Following his discharge in 1864, he served as a superior court judge, governor of Pennsylvania and president of the university’s Board of Trustees.

    Purdue – Ross-Ade Stadium

    Named for … David E. Ross and George Ade
    Who were they? The Boiler’s stadium is named in honor of their two chief philanthropists. The pair purchased and gave the university the 65-acre tract on which the stadium is erected. Ross was a former president of the Board of Trustees. His $25,000 donation in 1930 helped begin the Purdue Research Foundation. Ade was a playwright, humorist and 1887 Purdue graduate.

    Rutgers – High Point Solutions Stadium

    Named for … High Point Solutions
    Who are they? High Point Solutions is a New Jersey-based consulting firm that purchased the naming rights to Rutgers Stadium in 2011. The deal is a 10-year agreement that pays the university $6.5 million.

    Wisconsin – Camp Randall Stadium

    Named for … Camp Randall
    What was that? During the Civil War, Camp Randall served as a military training ground for more than 70,000 local troops. Once peace was restored, the state presented the area to the university in 1893. The stadium was built at its current site in 1913.

    MORE: Big Ten Football Schedule 2016: Ranking Every Game

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