Cessna Stadium is a 24,000 seat stadium in Wichita, Kansas, United States. It is located on the south side of 21st Street, east of Hillside, on the campus of Wichita State University in northeast Wichita.
Cessna is currently the home of the Shocker track and field team. Before the WSU football program was discontinued, the Shocker football team played home games at this stadium.
In the early days of Wichita State University, when it was known as Fairmount College, its first football field was located on the north side of 17th Street, immediately east of the current Henrion Hall, when it was the Henrion Gymnasium. In 1929, concrete bleachers were attached to the east side of the same building for football games.
In 1940, the school decided to build a new football stadium on the north side of campus at the current site on the south side of 21st Street. On January 6, 1941, ground was broken for Veterans Field, and by September 1942 the bowl was excavated, foundations were poured for the west stands, and a quarter of the west bleachers were completed, however construction was halted due to metal shortages during World War II. After the war ended, the bleachers were constructed in sections over time as funds were incrementally available. By mid-1946, stands were completed to a point where 6,000 seats were ready by the start of the 1946 football season. Veterans Field was finally completed before the start of the 1948 football season, with 15,000 seats and facilities for the press, concessions stands, and locker rooms. It was dedicated on November 25, 1948 during a football game with the University of Nevada. The stadium was dedicated to the members of the armed forces from Sedgwick County who served in World War II.
1n 1967, Wichita State started considering the expansion of Veterans Field. In 1968, faculty and students voted and approved the expansion by adding on top of the existing stands of Veterans Field. Cessna Aircraft Company pledged a donation of $300,000 for the proposed stadium, and it was renamed to Cessna Stadium. The cost of the expansion was $1.5 Million, and the school had a fund drive to raise the remaining money. Construction was started on February 7, 1969 and completed in September. It was one of the most modern and complete football facilities in the nation at the time of its completion.
Wichita State University rededicated the facility on April 16, 2002 to mark the end of the seven-month, $1.3 million construction that included adding an eighth lane and resurfacing the track, reconfiguring the infield event layout, and building separate locker rooms for the Shocker men’s and women’s track and field teams. The first event in the renovated facility was WSU’s annual K.T. Woodman Track and Field Classic, which is scheduled every April.
The Wichita State Shockers football team was a NCAA Division I football program. The Shockers fielded a team from 1897 to 1986. They played home games at Cessna Stadium and were members of the Missouri Valley Conference when the program was discontinued in 1986.
Cessna was the location of a Pittsburg State-Mesa State Division II college football game. The stadium has also played host to numerous Kansas State High School Football Championship games; the Kansas Shrine Bowl, Kansas’s high school all-star football game; and numerous High School City League football games.
On October 1, 2006, as part of their A Bigger Bang Tour, The Rolling Stones performed their first-ever concert in Wichita, held at Cessna Stadium.
Track and field
Wichita State Shockers track and field currently uses the facilities, as well as several Missouri Valley Conference Track and Field Championship meets.
In April of each year, Cessna Stadium is the venus for the K.T. Woodman Classic, a track and field meet for high schools, junior colleges, and many top collegiate track programs of the midwest.
Cessna is used by Kapaun Mount Carmel High School of the Greater Wichita Athletic League as its “home field” for varsity football games. Other high school games are played at Cessna Stadium from time to time.
Cessna Stadium is open to the public for recreational use Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is closed on holidays and during WSU track & field practices and special events. In April 2017, WSU decided to change their policy, a $100 deposit is now required to get a key to use their facilities.