Rynearson Stadium begins its 43rd season at the home venue for the Eastern Michigan University football and track teams in 2011-12. Opened in 1969, the facility is named for the late Elton J. Rynearson, Sr., who coached football at Eastern Michigan for 26 seasons. His teams compiled a record of 114-58-15. In one six-year period, from 1925-30, Rynearson’s teams won 40 games, tied two and lost just four.
The first game played in Rynearson Stadium was Sept. 27, 1969, when EMU upset the University of Akron, 10-3. The stadium was dedicated a few weeks later on Oct. 25, 1969, when EMU lost, 17-7, to the University of Tampa.
Just over two million fans have seen EMU play in Rynearson. In 22 of the 42 years, Eastern has averaged more than 11,000 fans per home date. The 1995 season proved to be the record-breaking year for Rynearson Stadium attendance. A single-game record crowd of 25,009 was on hand, Sept. 16, 1996, to watch the Eagles dismantle UNLV, 51-6. That four-game ‘95 season also proved to be a best for season average attendance of 22,602.
Rynearson Stadium is setup for a capacity of 30,200 with the ability to expand for larger crowds. The stadium originally held 15,500, but additional seating and lighting were added in 1974 when the now-defunct Detroit Wheels used the facility for their World Football League games. The additional seating in 1974 brought the capacity to 22,227. During the summer of 1992, seating was added on the east side to bring capacity to the current total of 30,200.
Built for an approximate cost of $1.4 million in 1969, Rynearson Stadium underwent a major renovation project in 1991 and 1992, which included installation of a StadiaTurf field, a new team building, an additional 10,000-plus seats, new bathroom facilities and concession stands, an expanded press box and state-of-the-art scoreboard were added at a cost of approximately $13 million.
The playing field was originally natural grass. A sand-filled artificial surface, StadiaTurf, was installed in 1991. The StadiaTurf surface was replaced in May 1998, by an AstroTurf artificial surface. A FieldTurf surface was installed in the summer of 2005.
The press box is located on the top of the west-side stands. A second level was added as part of the renovations in 1991. The working media utilize the lower level while the top level is the University hospitality area for the stadium.
The EMU locker room is located in the team building at the north end of the stadium. The visitor’s locker room is located below the stands on the west side of the stadium.
Rynearson Stadium also used to host the Big Day Prep Showdown which featured the top high school football teams in the area, that is now moved to Wayne State University.