Thousands of fans cheer under the beaming lights of Dix Stadium every year, hoping for that game winning touchdown to brighten up their stressful week.
This scene will be back at the home of the Kent State football team on September 11, the first home football game of the season. While for some the stadium is just a place for their favorite team to win it all, other sports fanatics see the field as a representation of Kent athletes and their program’s success.
“Our student athletes are at the forefront of our stadium,” assistant athletic director David Rush said. “Dix Stadium, in conjunction with the field house, boasts newer field turf that excels at player safety and heavy multi-use. It not only houses our football team, but also hosts our women's soccer and women's lacrosse programs.”
According to Kent State Sports, the structure was built in 1969 and was originally called Memorial Stadium. In 1971, it was renamed after Robert C. Dix, former member of Kent State’s Board of Trustees. At the time it cost $3.5 million, and since 2008, the stadium has stayed the same, with its final addition being the electronic scoreboard. It has a capacity of 25,319 people.
Despite the changes since its original construction, criticism still remains, especially as the team garners more passionate support after their victory in the Frisco Bowl in 2019.
“Parts of the stadium are nostalgic, but to be taken seriously by our peers, especially with the turnaround of the football program, led by Sean Lewis, we need a new stadium,” senior sports administration major Madison Hayes said. “The stadium doesn’t measure up to the ones in their own conference or outside the Mid-American Conference. One thing that would need to be updated is the press box, since that’s where we entertain our donors and visitors.”
For alumni, visiting Dix may bring back old memories, and while that may be true for current students as well, football fans like senior communication studies major Enzo Orlando view the stadium differently.
“Dix Stadium has one of the strangest designs,” Orlando said. “One side of it looks like a college stadium, where the press box is, while the other side looks like a high school stadium. The game day atmosphere was also never really present at Dix in these past years, maybe because the stadium is inconvenient for students to get to. Hopefully, this year we will have sold out games since our football team is looking pretty good.”
With the critiques also comes memories and hope. As Dix Stadium enters its sixth decade as a home for epic wins and tragic losses, the possibility of a new successful team has given people time to reminisce on their good times in the stands.
“I think our stadium has only gotten better throughout time,” ’91 graduate school alumna Lisa Dael said. “When I attended Kent State, the visitor stands were open, and it wasn’t pleasant to sit there because the wind blew right through them. Now, I love sitting there with the alumni band for Homecoming each year. You can get a great view of the field just about anywhere you sit.”
Isabella is a reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org