The First & The Finest
Nestled in a spectacular setting next to the Charles River and with the Boston skyline on the horizon, Harvard Stadium ranks among the nation's finest college football facilities.
Built in 1903, it is also the nation's oldest stadium. Harvard Stadium is a horseshoe containing architectural elements of a Greek stadium and Roman circus and is considered an engineering marvel, as it was the world's first massive reinforced concrete structure and the first large permanent arena for American college athletics. With a seating capacity of 30,323, Harvard Stadium is praised for its outstanding sightlines for fans.
Harvard Stadium once accommodated as many as 57,166 spectators when steel stands were built in the north end zone. Those stands were removed in 1951.
Harvard Stadium is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is one of just three athletic arenas to be so designated. The Yale Bowl (built in 1914) and the Rose Bowl (built in 1922) are the other two.
A Gift From The Class of 1879
The Stadium was a 25th anniversary gift of the Class of 1879. However, before it became a reality, people had to be convinced of its feasibility and necessity.
Some believed that concrete couldn't survive a New England winter, and others had a notion that football was a passing whim. The Stadium was constructed in four-and-a-half months at the cost of just $310,000.
Prior to the Stadium's opening, Harvard played its home football game at a number of sites. Jarvis Field, where the Littauer Center (home for the government and economic departments) now stands, was the setting for the Crimson's inaugural contest against McGill in 1874, and its first intercollegiate game against Tufts in 1875. After several seasons of playing home games at the South End Grounds, Harvard returned to Cambridge in 1881 and played at Holmes Field, now the site of Langdell Hall. Football, and most of the school's outdoor teams, moved to Soldiers Field in 1894.
It Changed The Game
The close proximity of the stands to the field at the Stadium led to one of the most successful innovations in football history. In 1906, debate raged about the sport's roughness and several colleges had dropped football in favor of rugby. When the football rules committee met to discuss changes, Walter Camp proposed widening the field by 40 feet. However, that idea could not be implemented without considerable alterations to the Stadium. Ultimately, the committee adopted the forward pass.
More Than Harvard Lacrosse
In its more than 100 years, Harvard Stadium has been the site of more than 600 Crimson football games. Lacrosse, track & field, rugby, professional football, and even ice hockey have been played there as well.
The NFL's Boston Patriots called Harvard Stadium home for two years from 1960-61 and played the first American Football League game here - a preseason game against the Dallas Texans.
The Stadium also hosted Olympic soccer competition in the summer of 1984 (Cameroon, Canada, Chile, France, Iraq, Norway and Qatar all competed), and was the site for the University's 350th anniversary celebration in 1986. The facility is also now the home of the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse and the Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, Harvard Stadium hosted the MLL All-Star Game.
Prior to the construction of McCurdy Track in 1984, Harvard's track and field teams held their outdoor meets in The Stadium. The U.S. track and field Olympic trials were held here in 1916 and 1920.
Historic Yet Modern
The last major renovation of the Stadium infrastructure took place in 1984, and recent structural testing confirms that Harvard Stadium will be as functional well into the 21st century as it was in the early 20th.
In recent years, the playing field was recentered to improve the view for fans seated in the closed end and accommodate the 1998 construction of the Murr Center.
Perhaps the most dramatic change to Harvard Stadium took place as part of a 2006-07 upgrade to the facility that included replacing the natural grass surface with FieldTurf, the addition of lights to allow for nighttime use of the field, and the installation a removable dome-like "bubble," that allows for the year-round use of the facility.
The bubble completely covers the playing surface from November until the spring, which gives the Crimson a fully functional home for spring football practice. Entrace to the facility will be through a revolving door to maintain proper air pressure within the bubble, and the temperature will be controlled at approximately 63 degrees. Sensors attached to the bubble will stabilize the structure during heavy winds, and will raise the temperature of the exterior to melt snow.
In addition to providing a permanet home for the Crimson football and lacrosse programs, the bubble, along with the new lights and the FieldTurf playing surface opens Harvard Stadium to a wide range of users. All of Harvard's varsity programs that compete outdoors will have access to the Stadium as a practice facility, while the upgrade exponentially increases the number of club sport, intramural and recreational offerings available to the campus community.
The venue, one of the premier lacrosse facilities in the Northeast, features seating capacity of up to 2,500 fans, including permanent bleachers which seat 1,000 spectators, as well as additional space for standing room only sections.
Jordan Field also has a permanent press box and lights, which allow for games to be played at night. This field provides Harvard with an excellent facility for student-athletes and fans alike.
The stadium consists of a 116 yards x 74 yards FieldTurf pitch for matches and practice for Harvard men's and women's lacrosse and men's and women's soccer.
In addition to Harvard Stadium and Jordan Field, Cumnock Turf is located on the north side of the Harvard Athletic complex and features two playing fields for off-season practices for the Harvard lacrosse teams.