Today’s Throwback Thursday will be dedicated to the stadiums where we have held our culmination event of the Bands of America Marching Championships over the past 40 years.
It all started out back in 1975 at the Summer National Championships in Whitewater, Wisconsin. This birthplace, Perkins Stadium, is not only the premier location for Bands of America, but also Drum Corps International, as it hosted both organizations’ first championships.
As the marching arts evolved, the Summer National Championships morphed into Bands of America Grand National Championships with the first championship being held in Jacksonville, Florida at the Gator Bowl in 1980. That same year we had our first Florida-based ensemble, Tate H.S, take home the title of Grand National Champions. It wouldn’t be until 2015 that another Florida ensemble would reclaim this title.
After Florida, Grand National Championships was relocated to Eastern Tennessee State University, which had an indoor football stadium. Grand National Championships was held in Johnson City, Tennessee at ETSU from 1981 to 1983. In the three short years at ETSU, we saw the first champion from Indiana, Chesterton H.S. as well as the rise of Norwin H.S., PA and Rocky Mount H.S., NC.
In 1984, Grand National Championships was on the move once again, this time to a more familiar location, Indianapolis, IN. The Hoosier Dome (later changed to the RCA Dome in 1994) becomes the new iconic location for the event. From the memorable fireworks after the Finals Finale to the forever-remembered air lock, the Hoosier Dome will always be remembered.
Yet, the stay in the Hoosier Dome was short lived until Grand Nationals were moved to the Motor City and the Pontiac Silverdome from 1987 to 1988.
In 1989, Grand National Championships moved back to Indianapolis for good. Hundreds of unforgettable and cherished shows were performed in the Hoosier Dome/RCA Dome until 2007. L.D. Bell H.S., TX was the last band to win the title of Grand National Champions at the old stadium, because Lucas Oil Stadium was named the new location in 2008.
Lucas Oil Stadium is the current home of Bands of America Grand National Championships. The venue has hosted a wide assortment of events from the Super Bowl, the Final Four, DCI World Championships, concerts, and more. The energy in the stadium during Grand National Championships week is electric as bands from all over the country perform their hearts out. Looking up into the stands as you walk out of the tunnel onto the turf send chills down your spine. Lucas Oil Stadium has a certain “magical’ vibe for everyone, whether they are a performer, spectator or even someone working the event.
Heading into our 40th season, we’d like to hear from everyone about their favorite memories at Bands of America Grand National Championships. Share your story here – https://www.musicforall.org/connect/share-your-story.