Drake Stadium (Drake University)
"The Blue Oval"
|Location||2719 Forest Avenue|
Des Moines, Iowa, 50311 United States
|Opened||October 10, 1925|
|Construction cost||$15 million (2005 renovation)|
|Architect||RDG Planning & Design (2005 renovation)|
|Drake Bulldogs football (NCAA) (1925–present)|
Drake Relays (1926–present)
Des Moines Menace (USL2) (2019–present)
Drake Stadium is a stadium on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, United States. Best known as the home of the Drake Relays, it also serves as the home field of the university's football team. It opened in 1925.
Drake Stadium opened on October 10, 1925, as the Bulldogs defeated Kansas.
Drake Stadium has seen the Bulldogs win thirteen conference championships in football, while advancing to five college football bowl games. The stadium is also the home field for nearby Des Moines Roosevelt High School and occasional home games for Dowling High School. It is currently the largest stadium in the Pioneer Football League.
Drake Stadium is also the home to the Drake Relays, one of the premier track and field meets in the country. Thousands of high school, college, and professional track athletes come to Drake Stadium in late April to compete in one of the largest track meets in the United States. The prominence of the Relays has led to Drake hosting various other national and regional professional, collegiate, and youth meets. Fourteen world records have been set at the Relays.
The stadium also hosts the Iowa boys and girls high school track state championships.
It also serves as a secondary venue for the university's men's and women's soccer teams. In 2019, the Des Moines Menace, a local USL League Two soccer club, played its home schedule at the stadium.
The installation of a $175,000 tartan track in 1969 replaced the cinder track. It was a magnificent 60th birthday present for Drake Relays competitors and fans. In 1976, all individual events at the Drake Relays went metric; in 1978, the conversion was completed with rebuilding of the track into a 400-meter oval so that relay races, too, could go metric. The Jim Duncan Track was resurfaced in the summer of 1989 in Drake blue school colors, featuring a combination of polyurethane coating and EPDM rubber granules. Since this installation, track and field athletes and fans frequently refer to the venue as the "Blue Oval".
The 2005–2006 renovation project improved many aspects of the stadium. The surface area of the stadium was flattened (previously the infield sat several feet lower than the track surface). It created a reconfigured track to meet NCAA and international standards, improved seating, and added a "safety lane" on the outside of the track for athletes (in the old configuration, fans could easily make contact with a competitor in lane 8). In addition, a new scoreboard with video screen was placed at the northeast corner of the stadium. Widening the track reduced the stadium's seating capacity from 18,000 to 14,557. As a result, throwing events were moved to an area north of the stadium.
The Bulldogs played their 2005 home games at Waukee High School's Warrior Stadium due to renovations at the stadium.
In the summer of 2016, the field and track were resurfaced. New turf was installed and the track surface was replaced using the same material used at the Beijing and London Summer Olympics.
Drake Stadium has hosted the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships on four occasions:
The 2008 championships doubled the previous four-day record crowd with a total attendance of 41,187 (including over 11,000 for the final day) despite heavy flooding in Des Moines.
Additionally, the facility has hosted the AAU Junior Olympic Games four times.
- "Drake Stadium History - GoDrakeBulldogs.com—Official Web site of Drake University Athletics". Godrakebulldogs.com. 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2010-11-19.