The initiative to build a new stadium was announced on October 7, 1961. On that day, President Leo Jenkins announced to a meeting of boosters, that a new stadium will be built to replace College Stadium. By 1962, over $280,000 was raised and Ficklen Memorial Stadium was built. The stadium was named for James Skinner Ficklen, the owner of Greenville's E.B. Skinner Tobacco Company. Skinner was a booster of the college and established a scholarship fund in his name. The original stadium included permanent stands on the south side, a press box, and a lighting system. Ficklen Memorial Stadium opened on September 21, 1963 with a win against Wake Forest. The original seating capacity was 10,000.
The north side permanent seating was constructed in 1967 and 1968, increasing the capacity of the stadium to 20,000. The seats were designed by W.M. Freeman Associates from High Point, North Carolina. The exterior of the stadium was painted in 1970 by F.A. Miller Company. The lighting system was the next item that changed. The original lighting system was replaced with six towers outside of the stadium in 1975. The cost of the new lighting system was $450,000. L.E. Wooten company built the lighting system.
The next addition occurred two years later. The university added seats to the four corners increased the seating capacity to 35,000. This addition made Ficklen Memorial Stadium the third largest stadium in North Carolina. The expansion was funded by a $2.5 million drive in the spring of 1977. The three-story press box which is currently in use was built during that expansion. The press box had space for 92 writers and an entire floor for electronic media. Lastly, scoreboard with a lightbank message center was placed on the east end of the stadium. The playing surface was redone in 1983. A new drainage system, new base of gravel and sand, new treated topsoil, and a new grass—Tifton 419 Hybrid Bermuda were all installed. A new sound system was built in 1988.
In 1991, $1.6 million in renovations and repairs were accomplished on the stadium.
Ronald and Mary Ellen Dowdy of Orlando, Florida, donated one million dollars during a fund-raising drive in 1994. Because of this donation, Ficklen Memorial Stadium was renamed Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium. Also, that year the roads were improved around the stadium. A year later, Al and Debbie Bagwell of Lake Gaston, Virginia donated to the East Carolina Educational Foundation. Because of this donation, the field inside the stadium was named Bagwell Field.
The upper deck on the north side was completed in 1998. It increased the capacity to 40,000. This was the first seating capacity increase since 1977. A year later the club level on the north side was completed. It added 3,000 seats to the total capacity. During the expansion of the upper deck and club level, the press box received improvements. In 1999, a $2 million scoreboard was built in the east end zone. Also that year a Pirate sculpture was dedicated in the southeast area of the stadium. The three-ton bronze sculpture is over 20 feet (6.1 m) tall. Irwin Belk gave the sculpture to the school. Jodi Hollnagel, a faculty member of the School of Art created the sculpture.