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Aug 14, 2010

New look for ND Stadium

The finishing touches of a new project are currently being put in place outside the main entrances to Notre Dame Stadium.  In years past, fans entered the house that Rock built through gates that were identified by letters.  Starting this year, five of the gates will also be named in honor of all five head coaches who have won national championships with the Fighting Irish.

The North Tunnel, which faces Touchdown Jesus, is now known as Knute Rockne Gate.  The bronze statue that was dedicated to the legendary coach last year is now located outside the tunnel as a tribute to the greatest football coach of all time who won three national championships at Notre Dame in 1924, 1929, and 1930.


Gate C, which faces the parking lot south of the stadium, is now known as Frank Leahy Gate.  Now fans lucky enough to tailgate next to the stadium can do so in honor of the new King of Tailgating, the man who won a national championship as head coach of the Fighting Irish in 1943, took a break in order to fight in WWII, then came back to win 3 more in 1946, 1947, and 1949.  The familiar statue of Leahy is now located outside this gate as well.


Gate B, along the side of the stadium, is now known as Ara Parseghian Gate.  His statue, previously located inside the stadium, now stands proudly outside this gate in honor of the man who woke up the echoes with two national championships in 1966 and 1973.


Gate A, also along the side of the stadium, is now known as Dan Devine Gate.  Although Devine is the only national championship winning coach who is not honored by his own statue outside the stadium, it is good to see the university properly honor the man who won it all during the magical 1977 season that included the famous “Green Jersey Game” against Cal Southern.


Finally, Gate D is now known as Lou Holtz Gate.  The recently completed bronze statue depicting the man who most recently coached the Fighting Irish to national championship in 1988 also stands outside this gate in its new more visible location.



Prior to this project, I never would have thought that any changes should be made to the most sacred football stadium in existence.   In the Cathedral of College Football, named after Our Lady, no advertisements or video boards get in the way of pure tradition.  Walking through the hallowed halls of our stadium is like taking a step back in time to a simpler, more pristine era.  It’s a purist’s dream, complete with its beautifully crowned emerald field of natural grass and its simply painted white stripes in each endzone.   Anyone who has experienced a game inside our stadium knows that no other tradition in the world of sports can come close to the mystique of football inside Notre Dame Stadium.  For these reasons, I initially cringe whenever I hear about new “game day initiatives” intended to “improve” our tradition.  Such efforts are usually artificial and forced.  By definition, tradition can not be “improved upon” because it grows through an organic process that comes from within.  

Even so, I appreciate the foresight that went into this project and I applaud those who completed it in elegant fashion.   I see it as a great way to pay homage to those who have carried on our tradition of excellence by leading us to the mountain top.  These new gates serve as great reminders of who we are and what we stand for.

The only question that remains… how long do we have to wait until we can hoist the words “Brian Kelly Gate” aloft?

5 comments:

  1. I'm glad the lettering looks classy, but it's pretty unsettling. Also, I'm pretty sure there's only room for one more named gate (E -- student entrance). It'd be a nice problem to have because it would mean BK would win a national title, but it doesn't make sense to limit the possibilities for honoring future winners in the same manner.

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  2. i agree tendomer. looks like some people who don't have that much legacy were a little too anxious to leave their own mark on a stadium that has quite enough history as it is

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  3. This is a terrific improvement -- just like expanding the stadium was, and all the interior decorative elements (honoring past & current players) were in the past few years. Naming the gates in this way merely reflects the tradition long demonstrated at ND: we have always honored our pantheon of coaches, and the singular qualification for this elite group is appropriately leading the Irish to a national championship. It doesn't matter if Devine is less than some or all of the others; he's still much more deserving of honor than any of the essentially 'non-glorious' coaches who have filled the post in between the great ones. The named gate is both an extraordinary honor and a terrific 'carrot'. Of course, I hope BK gets the last (currently) remaining gate -- and gets it soon. We'll find another way to celebrate the next coach who wins one (not likely that we'll be facing this pleasant dilemma much before it's time to rethink the stadium itself, since Kelly could be here a long time if he does get us a championship). ND is celebrating tradition with the sculptures, the gates, and the much more uplifting atmosphere of the public areas of our more-hallowed-than-ever stadium. It's great for fans; it's great for recruiting; and the entire ND community benefits.

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  4. We're too stuck on too many traditions of questionable worth. "Gate D" has only been so for 13 years. And it wasn't even that great of a 13 years. Nor is it any sort of great name. If people are that uneasy about change, then ND will have an obstacle (my stubborn fellow alumni) to ever being innovative again. And our really great, worthy traditions were all innovations at one time or another. ND became who we are by not being afraid of change and innovation. If we stop leading, we'll get left behind. I mean, come on, people! They just changed the names of the gates. It's not like they put a dome on the place.

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  5. Putting the dome on the place would surely have generated much more discussion...on the negative side however.

    For some of us...adding names to the gates that honor past coaches who have won it all is worthy of discussion. Whether ND is still innovative is a separate discussion.

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2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
Overall
12-1
Home
6-0
Away
4-0
Neutral
2-1
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(