PROVO — As one sits among the 64,000-plus at LaVell Edwards Stadium for a BYU football game, it's hard to imagine the Cougars as ever having played anywhere else.
Sure, BYU football as been a mainstay at the northwest corner of the campus since 1964, when Cougar Stadium was first built, with temporary bleachers at the north and south end zones eventually pushing capacity to 45,000.
Actually, BYU football was first played in pastures and city parks in the Provo area before a grandstand rose aside a rocky field on the upper campus where the Joseph Smith Building now stands. By 1928, football was relocated where the Richards Building sits, with hillside seating accommodating some 5,000.
Cougar Stadium was expanded in 1982, increased to a 65,000-seat capacity with a rickety press box replaced by a massive four-level edifice that includes 42 private loges, a president's box and a working press box that can accommodate 300 media members. With east and west stands enhanced and north and south sections added to create a bowl-like atmosphere, the 15,000 yards of concrete used was enough to build a sidewalk from the Provo campus to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City — and then some.
The result was a site boasting the largest attendance for a sporting event in the state, with BYU ranked consistently among the nation's top 25 sites for average annual football attendance.
At the end of the 2000 season, the stadium was renamed in honor of LaVell Edwards, who was retiring as head football coach after 29 seasons and 257 career victories.
TEAM: BYU football team, which this season celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Cougars' 1984 national championship.
VENUE: LaVell Edwards Stadium, 1700 N. Canyon Road. Seating capacity of 64,045.
Located at the stadium is the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame, in the Cougar Club room on the north end of the west stands. Less conspicuous and not as widely known is that stored under stadium stands are surplus furniture and one of the largest collections of Jurassic-era dinosaur bones in North America.
The stadium also hosts the annual Stadium of Fire concert-and-fireworks as part of the July 4th Freedom Festival celebrations.
SCHEDULE: Remaining games: Friday, Oct, 8, 8 p.m. vs. UNLV; Saturday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m. vs. Wyoming; Saturday, Nov. 6, vs. San Diego State; Saturday, Nov. 13, vs. New Mexico. Kickoff times for the last two games have yet to be determined.
Previous home games were Sept. 4 vs. Notre Dame and Sept. 18 vs. Southern California.
ADMISSION: Single-game tickets range from $14 to $30, with prices for the earlier Notre Dame and Southern California contests ranging a bit higher, from $20 to $30. Season tickets for 2004 cost from $85 to $1,000.
Order tickets by phone at 422-BYU1 or online at www.byutickets.com.
ARRIVING: Edwards Stadium can be reached by University Avenue for those coming off I-15 from the south end of Utah Valley or those headed down Provo Canyon. And motorists from points north — northern Utah County as well as Salt Lake and Davis counties — know there's more than just the Provo/Orem Parkway access from off I-15.
UTA offers special shuttle buses from various points from Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties, including a "Dine-and-Dash" service for food-court patrons at Orem's University Mall.
Still, getting 65,000 fans in and out of central Provo at near-simultaneous times can create logjams in the city and out on the freeways.
Cougar Club members can qualify for permits for the parking lots closest to the stadium. Free public parking is available as close as the Marriott Center and other campus lots.
FAMILIAR FOODSTUFF: From the stadium concessions stands — Cougar dog, $2.50; hamburger, available from commercial vendors; peanuts, $3; popcorn, $3; pretzel, $2; nachos, $3; soft drink, $3; beer, not available; bottled water, $1. Other concessions items available include BBQ sandwich, polish dog, pizza, ice cream, candy.
EXPANDED MENU: Additional offerings throughout the stadium include fare ranging from grilled burgers and steak sandwiches to Mexican and Oriental foods, plus smoothies, snowcones and ice cream, and cheese curds.
SOUVENIRS:T-shirts, $15-$20; replica jerseys, $50; sweatshirts, $25-$60; caps, $13-$20; football, $6-$13; miniball, $5; pennant, $13; program, $2.
From football, baseball and basketball to soccer, hockey and motor sports, millions of spectators are drawn annually to Utah's sporting events. However, casual observers may not have attended home games for Utah's many sports teams. The Deseret Morning News will be running an ongoing series of reports looking at many of the state's major sporting events, summarizing the spectator experience as to venue, atmosphere and cost.