In 1892, the newly conceived Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College?s football team (the ancestor of the Hokies) took the field for the first time.
?Practice was held in a wheat field laid off with a plow, and it was about as level as a side of Brush Mountain,? as written in the 1911 Bugle, commenting on the field.
According to the University Archives of Virginia Tech, on this piece of uneven land located near present-day Shanks Hall, adorned in the school?s original colors, black and cadet gray the team played. The football squad (not yet called the Hokies) defeated St. Albans Lutheran Boys School of Radford 14-10 in the first game, a sure start of the tradition of victory.
Perhaps after recognizing an undeniable football infatuation at his college, in 1894 President John M. McBryde allotted a portion of the horticulture farm for drill usage by the athletic and military departments.
The Virginia Tech University Archives report that this small, ungraded area became known as Sheib Field, located near today?s Memorial Chapel. The field?s namesake, Professor E.E. Sheib headed the committee responsible for selecting Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange as the college?s new colors (people felt the grey and black too closely resembled prison uniforms). In 1896, the football team first donned the colors unique to Tech in a game against Roanoke College.
By the turn of the century, the need for expansion was apparent. The school, now called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute (changed in 1896), enlarged the playing area and erected a small, wooden grandstand. In 1902, the football team practiced and played on the larger and newly labeled Gibboney Field, named for James Gibboney, a member of the athletic reorganization plan.
Seven years later, the Gibboney Field was graded and leveled, the grandstand enlarged, and the name changed yet again. Miles Field was named in honor of the former director of athletics, graduate athletic manager, professor and dean Clarence P. ?Sally? Miles. Football utilized the field alongside track and baseball, until the completion of Miles Stadium in 1926.
The original Miles Stadium, situated near the present locations of O?Shaughnessy, Lee and Pritchard dorms, seated 3,750 ?Fighting Gobbler? fans. For the first game in the new facility, the Fighting Gobblers defeated Roanoke College. The team again triumphed a month later, defeating the University of Virginia, 6-0.
The football team played in Miles Stadium until 1964, concurring with the construction of the newly unveiled Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.
The building of Lane Stadium ? named for Edward H. Lane, a Tech grad and member of the Board of Visitors ? commenced in 1964. Although the construction process did not conclude until 1969, the Hokies (a term at the time widely used but not officially recognized until the mid-1980s) played the first game in the midst, defeating William and Mary, 9-7.
In 1968, initial construction ended, checking in at a total cost of $3.5 million. The stadium provided a three-tiered press box and seated 35,050.
But as the team?s success grew, so did the stadium.
Less than a decade later, in 1982, the athletic department implemented a modern lighting system, first used in Tech?s 21-14 win over UVA in the first nationally televised game at Lane.
Over a decade later, Lane Stadium expanded to include an additional 21,000 permanent seats in the North end zone, and 3,000 more were added the following year. In 2002, the south endzone complex finished completion.
?It?s like no other stadium I?ve been to,? said red-shirt junior Chris Ellis. ?My first game was against University of Southern California in FedEx Field, and that doesn?t even compare to Lane Stadium.?
Others agree that the noise and cheers of the fans outdo the capacity.
In 2005, Rivals.com ranked Lane Stadium as the ?Number One Home Field Advantage,? saying that the stadium ?doesn?t blow people away by the brute strength of a massive stadium, but with knowledgeable fans that always reach a frenzied pitch at the right time, the Hokies make the most of their numbers.?
The fans had voiced support and in 2003, the athletic department again expressed the need to increase capacity. The Board of Visitors approved the $52.5 million plan, adding professional stadium lighting, several lounges and suites, news indoor and outdoor clubs seats and a new President?s Box to the stadium.
Although several lawsuits slowed the process almost to a crawl, for the 2006 season, the new Lane Stadium is finally ready for the capacity 65,115 enthusiastic Hokies.
?We?re good to go, and the fans are going to love it,? said Tom Gabbard, associate director of athletics in an August interview. ?The finished product is outstanding.?
Whether standing along side a wheat field or seating comfortably in a new suite, Hokie fans have been consistent throughout.
?From the first game to the last game, it?s unreal,? Ellis said.