An Aerial History of Historic Nippert Stadium Through Google Earth
The Cincinnati Bearcats football team has called Carson Field home since 1901. They’ve been playing home games on the exact same “patch of grass” for a full 115 seasons now, making their house the second oldest playing site in college football. Nippert Stadium was completed at Carson Field in time for the 1924 season, and — although many changes have blown through campus since — it’s still home to the red and black.
Spend a few minutes playing with Google Earth and you’ll quickly learn you can get a satellite image of basically anywhere on the globe, and a full archive of images in more populated areas. The good folks at Google have an array of images of Nippert Stadium dating back to 1994, which is before many current students were born. It’s an interesting history. Let’s take a look:
This grainy, distorted blob of an image shows a Nippert following the 1993 season in which the Bearcats finished with an 8–3 record, their first winning season following a decade of futility.
This was in the days when Carson Field was a lovely AstroTurf, which had first been installed in 1970. The field was a bright artificial green and the end zones were blank, at least as far as I can gather. It was a bleak, depressing field to match a bleak, depressing era of football.
In 1991, the new press box opened on the east side of the stadium, bringing structural updates with it. In 1992, new lighting and a scoreboard were added, the Herschede-Shank Pavilion was expanded, and capacity swelled to the 35,000 we were accustomed to for so long. By March of ’94, the bones of the stadium were set in stone for the next decade.
In Summer 2000, the AstroTurf was ripped out and replaced with FieldTurf, finally bringing Carson Field into the modern era. The $2.3 million athletic facility face lift also brought much needed branding to the field, and the classic Bearcats wordmarks adorned the end zones with the original C-Paw (introduced in 1990) taking center stage at the 50-yard line.
April & December 2004
Although no work to the stadium took place during this time, the university was in the throes of the $105 million Varsity Village project that brought a massive athletic facilities overhaul to UC. With the construction of the new Campus Recreation Center, Nippert gained a new permanent grandstand on the north end of the field, now referred to as Bearcats Lair.
August & October 2005
Big changes came to Clifton in the eight months between the 2004 images and the 2005 images. The new, updated C-Paw logo (still in use today) leaked to the public in March 2005 before its official unveiling in June. In July, the University of Cincinnati officially joined the Big East Conference. Nippert got brand new FieldTurf reflecting these changes over that summer, and a new video board was installed at the northeast corner of the stadium.
This is the quintessential Nippert, in my eyes. The Varsity Village project was finally completed in 2006, and the stadium and the surrounding area looked exactly like this during the rebirth of Bearcats football from 2006 thru 2012. By the time this version of Carson Field was finally laid to rest, it was really beaten down. Notice how dull and weathered the field looks.
In perhaps my least favorite update in Nippert Stadium history, the Big East logos were stripped from the new field, which was installed prior to the 2013 season and the start of the Tommy Tubberville era. The American Athletic Conference logo was stamped on the new surface, UBU Sports’ Speed S5-M.
The much needed updated was bright and shiny, but the conference change wasn’t exactly what most fans liked to see.
Following the 2013 season, Nippert underwent its biggest face lift since it originally opened 90 years prior. The west concourse was leveled and the team played the 2014 season at Paul Brown Stadium. In the above photo, the new Carson Field was covered with a giant tarp to protect it from construction.
The most recent satellite photo of Nippert features the current iteration of the stadium. The updated facility debuted in September 2015 and features a domineering new pavilion on the west side, new bathrooms and concessions on the east side, and spiffy new red caps on the bleachers. The black C-Paw in the student section looks really sharp from above.
In a move that nobody saw coming, 2015 was the final season with the new playing surface. It was installed in 2013, and — given that the Bearcats played downtown in 2014 — only saw two seasons of action. The turf was ripped up last week and a new playing surface is currently being installed to accommodate the Bearcats’ new roommate, (FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League) who will call Nippert home beginning with their inaugural game next month.
Originally published at fromloveland.com on March 14, 2016.