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Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

Memphis, TN

Home of the Memphis Tigers

3.9

3.4

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (map it)
335 S Hollywood St
Memphis, TN 38104


Memphis Tigers website

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium website

Year Opened: 1965

Capacity: 61,008

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Fight, Fight For The Blue And Gray

Planning a trip to the Liberty Bowl for a Memphis Tigers football game? Be prepared for a great experience which extends beyond football. Not only will you have the opportunity to attend a game in a historic stadium, but you’ll also find yourself in an iconic city known for music, barbecue, and culture.

Constructed originally in 1965, Liberty Bowl Stadium was built as a memorial to World War I, World War II and the Korean War veterans. Though the stadium was originally built to attract the Liberty Bowl game to Memphis, it has also serves as a faithful off-campus home to Memphis Tiger football.

3.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The Liberty Bowl offers a wide variety of concession options that will keep you satisfied. You'll get a taste of the regionally inspired cuisine with several local vendors including Uncle Lou's , Coletta's, and Hogwild BBQ. One of the most popular items is the footlong corndog with mustard (you'll see plenty of fans walking around with one of these). Other solid options include the BBQ nachos and sausage sandwiches. The Liberty Bowl features Coca-Cola products which range from $4-$5 dollars. The stadium staples include hot dogs for $4, popcorn for $4, and nachos for $5. Alcohol is sold at the Liberty Bowl with beer running from $7 and up.

Considering the many great local eats in the Memphis area, I would recommend grabbing a footlong corndog and keeping an appetite for a postgame meal in town.

Atmosphere    4

While many universities are building new stadiums with a modern flare, there's something charming about Liberty Bowl's throwback feel. Particularly, I found the electric American Flag perched atop the to provide nostalgic feel, similar to that of attending an old school NASCAR race. The stadium was built as a traditional bowl with seating wrapping the field escalating on the west and east sides and declining on the north and south.

This old school feel of a stadium originally constructed in 1965 meets modern extravagance with the installation of $2.5 million video board which stands at 106' by 58' beyond the south endzone. Though Tiger Lane is located outside of the stadium, it helps to improve the overall environment on game day providing a center place for Tiger tailgating. The blue lighting added in the concourses and outside of the stadium is a minor development, but one that inspires awe when approaching the stadium for a night game. Another modern element adding to the environment is hosting an in-stadium DJ which keeps music piped in during the breaks in action.

While there are several strong points to the atmosphere at Liberty Bowl Stadium, there are also some drawbacks. By playing in a stadium which has a capacity far beyond what the community is able to fill on game days, you get the feeling that fan support isn't strong (no one likes the way a half-empty stadium appears). One of the old school relics in need of change is a lack of club seating. This is one of a handful of valid points fueling discussions around a desire for a new stadium. In the smartphone age, it's become a trend to complain about lack of wi-fi and internet reception in stadiums. In my experience, it's nearly impossible to find a connection in the Liberty Bowl.

The Memphis Tigers field the typical spirit units which make college game day special. You'll notice the Tiger cheerleaders, pom squad and Pouncer, the costumed Tiger mascot, on the sidelines cheering on the Tigers. The Tiger marching band is nicknamed the "Mighty Sound of the South," and though they are drowned out at times during breaks in action by the live DJ, they provide the traditional halftime performance and are located adjacent to the student section.

Neighborhood    4

Complementing the in-stadium experience is a city known for music, barbecue, and culture. The immediate area around the Liberty Bowl is one of the oldest and most established neighborhoods in Memphis known as the Cooper-Young Historic District. There's not a ton going on during the day, but the area comes to life after dark and is a great location for pubs, music, coffee, and a little shopping. While in the area, you have to make a stop at Central BBQ. Though there's plenty of places in Memphis which claim to have the best ribs, Central certainly belongs in the discussion with the very best. Huey's Midtown is a great sports themed pub in the area to hang out at after the game. Though I'm usually not in the business of mentioning coffee houses, the Cooper-Young District offers a couple neat stops in the Java Cabana Coffeehouse and Otherlands Coffee Bar (both make an excellent café au lait).

You can also partake in the staple attractions in Memphis including Beale Street, Graceland, and the National Civil Rights Museum. Though it's a tourist trap and not the best place for authentic Memphis ribs or jazz, BB King's Blues Club on Beale Street is a neat stop for out-of-towners looking for an appetizer to the Memphis attractions scene. Other attractions include the Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium which offers a glimpse into the history of Memphis and the Children's Museum of Memphis.

In my experience, Memphis can be a difficult town to find nearby lodging if you book too close to the game. To be safe, I'd recommend making reservations a month in advance, when possible. If available when you book, the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis is a good option in close proximity of the stadium.

Fans    3

With a seating capacity of 61,008, much has been written and discussed about poor attendance for Memphis Tigers games. Though crowds of between 25,000 and 30,000 are certainly not in the top tier of major college football, crowds of this size are typical for their former conference, C-USA, and their current conference, The American. It should also be considered that the Tigers haven't exactly fielded the most competitive teams in recent years. In general, it seems to be more challenging to lure fans to off-campus stadiums, though the Liberty Bowl isn't far from the university and is an iconic landmark in the region.

Once you get fans to the stadium, however, they know when to get loud and the environment can get electric at the right moments, even with smaller crowds. At the end of the third quarter, fans set the stage for the final quarter with a traditional chant of "Go, Tigers, Go!" Additionally, the Memphis Tiger fan base has a strong tailgating tradition and the integration of Tiger Lane has helped further improve upon a strong part of the overall atmosphere.

Access    4

You'll find for low-key games that access to and from Liberty Bowl Stadium is a breeze. Typically, there's nearby parking available for only $10 and up. You can then make the short walk to the stadium where you will meet brief lines to pick-up or purchase tickets. There's no problem making it into the stadium. Once inside, concourses are wide and there is plenty of room to walk throughout the seating areas. Restrooms are accessible, and though a little dated, are adequate.

When the Tigers are having a special season or when a big-name opponent comes to town, expect access around the stadium to go from a breeze to a nightmare. Parking and local roadways are not adequate for a big-time event. You'll experience traffic gridlock getting to and leaving the stadium along with a difficult time finding parking (for example, you may end up parking in someone's front yard in the neighborhood surrounding the stadium).

So, for the typical Memphis Tigers game, access is a major positive of the overall game day experience. However, for the few high profile games, access can quickly become a negative.

Return on Investment    5

For the level of play, you get a great return on your investment at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Single game tickets range from $10 (Fun Zone) to $35 for prime area seating and $50 for box seats. Prices go up slightly ($5) if you purchase tickets on game day at the stadium. This is a great value for upper tier NCAA DI football. Outside of that, parking around the stadium is relatively affordable. Concessions are a bit high, though not when compared to typical prices at major college football venues. For both hometown and visiting fans, attendance at a Memphis Tiger football is very affordable in an era of unrealistic sporting event attendance prices.

Extras    3

The blue lighting under the stadium and on the exterior was an inexpensive way to significantly add to the environment on game day. This will be a neat sight on your way to the Liberty Bowl and makes an off-campus stadium feel a little more at home.

The Tiger Lane tailgating area really bolsters the overall atmosphere on game day. Who needs expensive concessions when you can likely charm a few locals to share their tailgating grub before the game?

A major extra to the football experience is the city of Memphis. First-timers need to budget time to hit the more well-known attractions like Graceland and Beale Street. For those making a return trip, keep the Cooper-Young Historic District in mind.

Sorry Charlie

But your all wet. The ole lady is in great physical shape and with the planned upgrades the ole lady will look even better. She will be hosting Tiger game 10, 20 and maybe even 30 years down the road. The only ones clamoring for an OCS are a small minority who hang out on the local message board and feel inferior if another school has a new toy they do not have. The Tigers have such a great financial agreement with the city on rent of the stadium it would be impossible to match it with an OCS.

by mphsrick43 | Oct 07, 2012 10:44 PM

@mphsrick43

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. As I pointed out in my review, the lack of club seating is a crucial reason to desire a different venue. Additionally, there is no reason for a 60,000+ seat stadium right now, it just makes the small crowds look worse. Being a native Memphian, I'm very well aware of the deal the U of M has on LBMS, and it's not quite as sweet as you paint it to be. It's actually a pain, having to stop and get Board approval before doing anything of substance to the building. So you have your predictions and I have mine. Only time will tell which is more accurate. Whether the new venue is on-campus or off, I stand behind my prediction that the Liberty Bowl's days are numbered. It's #1 proponent, Dr. Shirley Raines, will be gone in less than 2 years and we'll see what the incoming University President wants to do.

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Crowd Reviews

Give Me Liberty

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 0
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

The year was 1965. The Beatles had taken America by storm just one year prior, Lyndon Baines Johnson was in his final year as U.S. President, leaded gasoline cost $0.31 a gallon and the United States began bombing runs against the Viet Cong as our country's role in the Vietnam War grew rapidly.

It's also the year that the City of Memphis made a $3.7 million investment in their future by opening Memphis Memorial Stadium, the anchor and crown jewel of the Mid-South Fairgrounds complex, which also included the American Legion baseball stadium and the Mid-South Coliseum (each opened for business in 1963). American Legion Field, which seated 8,800 and would later be re-named Blues Stadium before finally being christened Tim McCarver Stadium, the Coliseum and Memorial Stadium were all within walking distance of one another and were erected on the East side of Early Maxwell Boulevard. Libertyland amusement park and the Mid-South Fairgrounds occupied the land to the West of Early Maxwell, with the exception of the livestock stables, which crossed over both sides of Early Maxwell between the football and baseball stadiums.

Memorial Stadium was built primarily to lure the Liberty Bowl football game to the city of Memphis. The bowl game had drawn very poorly in its original home of Philadelphia, PA, and even worse in its one year in Atlantic City, NJ. It was an instant smash success in Memphis, so much so that the football stadium was re-named Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in 1976.

The Liberty Bowl, now known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, remains a major tenant of the facility to this day. The wildly popular Southern Heritage Classic football game, pitting prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tennessee State and Jackson State, has been contested in the stadium since 1989. The Classic has become the largest annual sporting event in the city of Memphis.

The University of Memphis football team, however, is the most regular tenant of the Liberty Bowl, with their annual spring Blue-Gray game as well as their home football games every fall.

Over the years, the venerable Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium has held many noteworthy games. Perhaps the best known in many circles was the 1982 Liberty Bowl, won by the Alabama Crimson Tide, 21-15, over Illinois. Less than a month later, legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant passed away after a heart attack, making that '82 Liberty Bowl both his final game and victory.

The venue has also hosted some very notable non-football related events, as well. On July 4, 1975, the Rolling Stones performed in concert at the stadium with about 51,000 people in attendance. Among the opening acts were the Charlie Daniels Band and the J. Geils Band. The event was infamous for running out of concessions and ice in 95-degree weather, with stadium personnel turning on water hoses to let patrons spray each other in a bid to cool off. The playing surface, after being trampled by some 12,000 screaming fans on the field, was an utter quagmire that took days to repair.

The Monsters of Rock tour took Memphis by storm on July 8-9, 1988. It was one of the largest, loudest tour events in the world up to that time, and part of the first-ever traveling concert series of its kind in U.S. history. The tour was headlined by international superstars Van Halen and supported by such stellar acts as Metallica, Scorpions and Dokken. And once again, fire hoses were brought in to cool off the fans, sweltering in temperatures hovering between 95- and 100-degrees. It was estimated that peak attendance was around 45,000-50,000 for Van Halen.

The stadium truly is a "bowl" and was the first in the U.S. to be built with two high concourses that swept down to two lower concourses, but all in a single tier. It was built with the East side, along Hollywood Street, lower than the seating on the West side. This set initial capacity at 50,160. In 1984, Coca-Cola Bottling sponsored the installation of what was then the largest scoreboard in the Mid-South, a 100-foot wide by 23-foot tall unit. The first (and likely only) major renovation to the venue came in 1987 and cost $19.5 million. It balanced the height of each side, swelled peak attendance to 62,370, affixed luxury boxes to the top of the East concourse, and saw improvements to the concessions, lighting, playing surface, restrooms and handicap seating. This was followed by a 1999 re-working that took capacity to an all-time high of 62,921. Various minor alterations were made to increase the comfort level of attendees over the next decade or so and now the listed capacity is 61,008. And a new FieldTurf playing surface was installed in 2005 at a cost of $850,000.

Bounds & Gillespie Architects handled plans for the 1987 and 1999 renovations.

In December 1983, the city of Memphis honored the memory of fallen head coach Rex Dockery, who was killed in a plane crash on December 12th of that year. The playing surface at the Liberty Bowl was re-named Rex Dockery Field.

Deliberations over the long-term future of the Liberty Bowl have raged for years. In 2010, it was decided that the grounds around the facility would be upgraded, and $15.7 million in capital improvements were approved by the City Council. The largest chunk of that budget was devoted to creating Tiger Lane—a spectacular tailgating area—along with a new grand West entrance. Tiger Lane was christened by the world-renowned Memphis in May Barbecue Contest in the Spring of 2011, thanks to the submersion of downtown Tom Lee Park under flood waters. The official opening of Tiger Lane, however, occurred on September 18, 2011 at a home game versus Middle Tennessee State.

The old stadium has aged well, but a nearly 50-year old stadium is at an inherent disadvantage when being compared to more modern venues. One glaring problem is the lack of club seats, which are typically sandwiched between the upper and lower concourses of modern stadiums. It is the sort of revenue-killer that led the city of Memphis to shut down the Pyramid Arena and open the FedEx Forum in 2004. There are only scattered seat backs in the building. The risers leading to the upper seats are relatively steep. And it would cost untold millions to retro-fit the Liberty Bowl, more than it would cost to build a brand new venue from scratch.

Give Me Liberty

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

The Liberty Bowl was built almost 50 years ago, in 1965. The name derives from the fact that the stadium was “built by the citizens of Memphis” as a memorial to the veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Built for $3.7 million, Memphis Memorial Stadium, as it was originally named, became the anchor and crown jewel of the Mid-South Fairgrounds complex, which also included the American Legion baseball stadium and the Mid-South Coliseum, each opening for business in 1963.

American Legion Field—which seated 8,800 and would later be re-named Blues Stadium before finally being christened Tim McCarver Stadium. The Coliseum and Memorial Stadium were all within easy walking distance of one another and were erected on the East side of Early Maxwell Boulevard. Libertyland Amusement Park and the Mid-South Fairgrounds occupied the land to the West of Early Maxwell, with the exception of the livestock stables, which crossed over both sides of Early Maxwell, just between the football and baseball stadiums.

Memorial Stadium was built primarily to lure the Liberty Bowl football game to the city of Memphis.

Founded by Ambrose F. “Bud” Dudley in 1959, the bowl game had drawn very poorly in its original home of Philadelphia, PA. Contested in Philly’s Municipal Stadium, it was the only cold weather postseason collegiate game at the time. Dudley ardently desired to see a bowl game played in Philadelphia, and the Liberty Bowl moniker was a natural nod to the city’s historic importance to the liberation of America. The inaugural event faired very well, as 36,211 fans packed in to see Penn State defeat Alabama, 7-0. Attendance dropped dramatically the following year to 16,624. By 1963, the game drew fewer than 10,000 spectators (8,309), absorbing a staggering $40,000+ deficit, which would translate to about $300,000+ today.

New Jersey lured the Liberty Bowl to the Boardwalk in 1964, dangling a guaranteed pay day of $25,000 to Dudley. It was moved to Atlantic City’s Convention Hall and became the first-ever bowl game played indoors. AstroTurf was a few years away, so they instead rolled a 2-inch thick base of burlap on the playing surface, topped by a 4-inch thick grass surface. Artificial lighting was installed and kept going around the clock to stimulate grass growth. The experiment cost the citizens of Atlantic City some $16,000.

The game was a dismal failure. It took the $25,000 guarantee, paid by local businessmen, to keep Dudley out of the red. Only 6,059 fans watched Utah dismantle West Virginia. Some shrewd Memphis visionaries, whose names appear to sadly have been lost from history, were watching these developments and pushing ahead with construction of Memphis Memorial Stadium. They nabbed the game for 1965.

The first Liberty Bowl played in Memphis occurred on December 16, 1965. A healthy crowd of 38,607 watched Ole Miss defeat Auburn, 13- 7. The nascent contest drew a then-record crowd of 39,101 in 1966 as Miami topped Virginia Tech, 14-7. The game has failed to crack 32,000 fans only once since then (21,097 in 1993).

Memphis Memorial Stadium became so synonymous with its signature event that the building was re-named Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in 1976. The only other name change occurred in December of 1983, when city officials christened the playing surface Rex Dockery Field in honor of the late football coach who died tragically in an airplane accident over Lawrenceburg, TN on December 12, 1983. Also dying that day were assistant coach Chris Faros, Tiger freshman Charles Greenhill and prominent booster Glenn Jones.

The Liberty Bowl, now known as the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, remains a major tenant of the facility to this day. The wildly popular Southern Heritage Classic football game, pitting prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tennessee State and Jackson State, has also been contested in the stadium since 1989.

Over the years, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium has held many noteworthy events. Perhaps the best known in many circles was the 1982 Liberty Bowl, won by the Alabama Crimson Tide, 21-15, over Illinois on December 29, 1982. Less than a month later, legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant passed away after a heart attack, making that '82 Liberty Bowl both his final game and victory.

The Monsters of Rock tour took Memphis by storm on July 8-9, 1988. It was one of the largest, loudest tour events in the world up to that time, and part of the first-ever traveling concert series of its kind in U.S. history. The tour was headlined by international superstars Van Halen and supported by such stellar acts as Metallica, Scorpions and Dokken. Fire hoses were brought in to cool off the fans, sweltering in temperatures hovering between 95- and 100-degrees. It was estimated that peak attendance was around 45,000-50,000 for Van Halen.

The stadium truly is a “bowl” and was the first in the U.S. to be built with two high concourses that swept down to two lower concourses, but all in a single tier. It was built with the East side, along Hollywood Street, lower than the West side with an initial capacity of 50,160. In 1984, Coca-Cola Bottling sponsored the installation of what was then the largest scoreboard in the region, a 100-foot by 23-foot unit with a 16’ by 32’ display area.

A $19.5 million major renovation to the venue came in 1987. It balanced the height of each side, swelled peak attendance to 62,370, affixed luxury boxes to the top of the East concourse, and saw improvements to the concessions, lighting, playing surface, restrooms and handicap seating. This was followed by a 1999 re-working that took capacity to an all-time high of 62,921. Various minor alterations were made to increase the comfort level of attendees over the next decade or so and now the listed capacity is 61,008.

Bounds & Gillespie Architects handled plans for the 1987 and 1999 renovations.

Deliberations over the long-term future of the Liberty Bowl have raged for years. In 2010, it was decided that the grounds around the facility would be upgraded, and $15.7 million in capital improvements were approved by the City Council. The largest chunk of that budget was devoted to creating Tiger Lane—a spectacular tailgating area—along with a new grand West entrance, which is absolutely breathtaking at night.

The University of Memphis football team, as the most regular tenant of the Liberty Bowl with their annual spring Blue-Gray game as well as their home football games every fall, unveiled Tiger Lane at the world-renowned Memphis in May Barbecue Contest in the Spring of 2011, thanks to the submersion of downtown Tom Lee Park under flood waters. The official opening of Tiger Lane, however, occurred on September 18, 2011 at a home game versus Middle Tennessee State. Improvements continued into 2012, and many of these were aimed specifically at making the Liberty Bowl more inviting for their most frequent user, the Memphis Tigers. The exterior of the building was painted for the first time in the stadium’s history. A beautiful stadium club area for Tiger boosters and fans was built in the lower concourse. Modern AstroTurf was installed, as well.

The centerpiece of the latest round of renovations is the stunning video boards. With unsurpassed resolution and a powerful new sound system, the $2.5 million invested includes a 106’ by 58’ structure that hulks over the South end of the field and a 38’x10’ LED board nestled at the North end. The video board nearest the Tigers’ locker room is, according to available statistics, one of the 10 largest in the country. Future projects will include upgrading the 4-level press box. The plumbing and HVAC systems will be updated and Internet access will be improved. Other functional changes are scheduled to be made, as well, with the press box likely being expanded. The venerable old stadium has aged well, but a nearly 50-year old stadium is at an inherent disadvantage when being compared to more modern venues. One glaring problem is the lack of club seats, which are typically sandwiched between the upper and lower concourses of modern stadiums. This is a potent revenue-killer. The risers leading to the upper seats are relatively steep. And it would cost untold millions to retro-fit the Liberty Bowl, more than it would cost to build a brand new venue from scratch.

The Tigers Football???

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

The Liberty Bowl is a stadium that needs a good football team. It was built about fifty years ago and a team that has played in there hasn't gone over .600 EVER! The Tigers need to get a better football team so that the Liberty Bowl can make their facilities better inside the stadium. Recently they added tiger lane which is a place where you can tailgate and that would be your favorite part of the whole time. Hopefully, when the Tigers go to the Big East the team and the new coach can get a better team! FINGERS CROSSED

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Local Food & Drink

Central BBQ  (map it!)

2249 Central Ave

Memphis, TN 38104

(901) 272-9377

http://www.cbqmemphis.com/

Local Entertainment

National Civil Rights Museum  (map it!)

450 Mulberry St

Memphis, TN 38103

(901) 521-9699

http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/

Children's Museum of Memphis  (map it!)

2525 Central Ave

Memphis, TN 38104

(901) 458-2678

http://cmom.com/

Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium  (map it!)

3050 Central Ave

Memphis, TN 38111

(901) 320-6320

http://www.memphismuseums.org/

Lodging

Holiday Inn- University of Memphis  (map it!)

3700 Central Ave

Memphis, TN 38111

(901) 678-8200

http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/memphis/memkw/hoteldetail

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