Since 1957 Bragg Memorial Stadium has been a pillar and trademark in the growing legacy that is Florida A&M University. From the origin of its name to the transition from a cow pasture to a grass playing field, the history of the stadium extends beyond what we see while passing by on Wahnish Way.
The name “Bragg” is derived from one of the school’s first Athletic Directors, Jubie Bragg. Bragg was influential in the football program gaining its varsity status in 1906. After a brief stint at Tuskegee, he returned to become the teams first Head football Coach and Athletic Director (1923-1925).
However, the legacy of the “First Family of Rattler Football” did not stop with him. His son, Eugene Bragg, took his place from 1934-1935. His term was short lived due to his death that same year. Although the all-steel stadium was first opened in 1957, long after the Bragg era, the name of the once prominent figurehead was the only choice in the naming process.
The new 25,500 seat multi-purpose stadium was not the original home of Florida A&M University football. Prior to the building of the stadium, as well as its renovation in 1982, the universities games were played in a cow pasture south of campus.
From there games were held on a grass field, known as Bragg Field located on a hill directly behind the present day Gaither Gymnasium. It is now the track and field complex.
Racquel Montgomery, a senior economics student, a dedicated Rattler football fan, who still enjoys attending games even after three seasons.
“The games are always energetic from beginning to end,” Montgomery said. “The moment you step into Bragg, you know that you are going to be in for an experience.”
The stadium was built on the campus’ westernmost edge in 1957. The first infrastructure was built with 10,500 permanent seats and bleachers elevated the total capacity to 13,200.
By 1980, the stadium had grown too small for the Rattler Football Program. As a result the stadium was renovated in 1982, bringing the seating capacity to 25,500 with press box elevator. There was also the addition of a $125,000 scoreboard, a built in sprinkler and drainage system, improved restrooms, concession stands, ticket booths, and paved parking areas.
“The atmosphere around such a historic place makes you enjoy games so much more, even if you aren’t a football fan,” said Shari Karesh, a junior broadcast journalism student from Tallahassee.
Leaving a trail of memorable players, games, and marching band performances embedded in peoples memories, Bragg is truly something that will live forever as one of the university’s most prized landmarks.