The Joan C. Edwards Stadium was first proposed in 1986 to replace Fairfield Stadium. On January 16, then-Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. met
with Huntington and University leaders, stating that "money is available" if the plans for the stadium were put together. On June 15, the Board of
Regents gives the green light to the new stadium project; on September 9, the University begins purchasing property east of the central campus
for the proposed stadium.
On January 15, 1987, Governor Moore asks the Board of Regents to approve funding for the sale of bonds that would help finance the new
stadium . On June 8 of the following year, the state Legislature passes a state budget which has the inclusion of a new 30,000-seat stadium if
the Board of Regents can secure funding. A little over one month later on June 9, the Board of Regents passes a resolution that endorsed the
construction of a new football stadium.
On October 4, 1988, a rendering of the new stadium was unveiled. The designers of the new facility was Stafford Consultants of Princeton,
West Virginia and Rosser Fabrap of Atlanta, Georgia. Soon after, the Board of Regents were given 1,800 sq. ft. of property by the Greater
Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce. On November 1, the Board of Regents purchases additional property and hired investment bankers
who helped decide the optimal financing method for the project.
On January 11, 1989, the Board of Regents approved of a $70 million bond sale, $30 million of which was for the new Marshall stadium.
Demolition of the existing structures for the new stadium began on December 9. A contract for the new stadium was awarded on June 13, 1990
to River Cities Construction of Huntington and the Frank Irey Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place one
month later on July 18. By October 6, 1990, steel beams were being erected for the new stadium. Marshall's "Thundering Herd" played their last
game at Fairfield Stadium against Eastern Kentucky University on November 10, losing 12-15.
On January 19, 1991, the designers admitted there was only room for 28,000 seats, not the original 30,000 due to an error in calculating the
size of the chairback seats. The remaining 2,000 was to be added to the south end zone after the 1991 season. It would be the sixth largest
stadium in NCAA Division I-AA football. By May 3 of that year, it was announced that the stadium was two-thirds complete and on August 9, the
"Thundering Herd's" freshmen and transfers held their first practice in the new stadium.
On September 7, 1991, the new Marshall Stadium was unveiled before a crowd of 33,116. The opening game was against New Hampshire,
which Marshall won, 24-23. One year later in July, Marshall football staff and administrators relocated into a new facilities structure at the north
end of the stadium adjacent to 3rd Avenue.
On September 4, 1993, the playing surface was named in honor of James F. Edwards, a donor to Marshall University. On November 28, 2003,
the Marshall Stadium was renamed to the Joan C. Edwards Stadium in honor of her contributions and that of James who had donated $65
million to the university. The Shewey Athletic Center was named for Fred and Christine Shewey who were also major donors.
The expansion of the additional 2,000 seats was completed in July 1995. Five years later in August, another seating expansion brought the total
number of seats to 38,019.