Harvard Stadium

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Harvard Stadium
Soldiers Field
Harvard Stadium aerial axonometric.JPG
Aerial view from the south in 2015
Location 95 N. Harvard Street
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Owner Harvard University
Operator Harvard University
Capacity 30,323 (1952–present)
57,166 (1929–1951)
42,000 (1904–1928)
20,000 (1903)[1]
Surface FieldTurf (2006–present)
Natural grass (1903–2005)[2]
Broke ground July 1903
Opened November 14, 1903
115 years ago
Construction cost $310,000
($8.44 million in 2017 [3])
Architect Prof. Louis J. Johnson,
Class of 1887
Harvard Crimson (NCAA) (1903–present)
Boston Patriots (NFL) (1970)
Boston Cannons (MLL) (2007–2014, 2016–present)
Boston Breakers (WPS) (2009–2011)
Boston Breakers (NWSL) (2014)
Boston Brawlers (FXFL) (2014)
Harvard Stadium
Harvard Stadium is located in Greater Boston area
Harvard Stadium
Harvard Stadium is located in Massachusetts
Harvard Stadium
Harvard Stadium is located in the US
Harvard Stadium
Location 60 N. Harvard St., Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°21′59″N 71°7′38″W / 42.36639°N 71.12722°W / 42.36639; -71.12722Coordinates: 42°21′59″N 71°7′38″W / 42.36639°N 71.12722°W / 42.36639; -71.12722
Area 11 acres (4.5 ha)
Built 1903
Architect McKim, Charles F.; Et al.
Architectural style Classical Revival
NRHP reference # 87000757[4]
Added to NRHP February 27, 1987

Harvard Stadium is a U-shaped college football stadium in the northeast United States, located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Built in 1903, it was a pioneering execution of reinforced concrete in the construction of large structures. Because of its early importance in these areas, and its influence on the design of later stadiums, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.[5]

The stadium is owned and operated by Harvard University and is home to the Harvard Crimson football program. The seating capacity of the stadium is 30,323;[6] it seated up to 57,166 in the past, as permanent steel stands (completing a straight-sided oval)[7] were installed in the northeast end zone of the stadium in 1929. They were torn down after the 1951 season, due to deterioration and reduced attendance. Afterwards, there were smaller temporary steel bleachers across the open end of the stadium until the building of the Murr Center (which is topped by the new scoreboard) in 1998.

Harvard Stadium also hosted the Boston Patriots in 1970, their first season in the NFL after the AFL–NFL merger, and their last before becoming the New England Patriots; Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough opened the following year. The Patriots had previously played at Boston College (1969), Fenway Park (196368), and Boston University (196062).


Harvard Stadium was constructed on 31 acres (13 ha) of land known as Soldiers Field, donated to Harvard University by Henry Lee Higginson in 1890 as a memorial to Harvard men who had died in the Civil War (1861–1865).[8] The structure, similar in shape to the Panathenaic Stadium, was completed in just 4½ months costing $310,000. Much of the funds raised came from a 25th reunion gift by Harvard's Class of 1879. It is the home of the football team of Harvard. The stadium also hosted the Crimson track and field teams until 1984 and was the home of the Boston Patriots during the 1970 season, until Schaefer Stadium opened the following year.

Lewis Jerome Johnson, professor of civil engineering at Harvard, was a consultant to the design team for the stadium. It is historically significant that this stadium represents the first vertical concrete structure to employ reinforced structural concrete. Prior to the erection of the stadium in 1902, reinforced structural concrete was used in horizontal, that is flooring, sidewalks, etc., design only. Prof. Johnson was the engineer of note responsible for incorporating the concept into the vertical structure of the stadium design. There is a plaque dedicating the stadium to his honor on the east end wall outside the stadium.

Harvard installed both FieldTurf and lights in 2006.[9] In 2007, Harvard played its first night game at the stadium, winning 24–17 over Brown University on September 22.[10][11]

Impact on American Football[edit]

In the early 20th century, American football was an extremely violent sport. 18 players died and 159 were seriously injured in 1905 alone.[12] There was a widespread movement to outlaw the game entirely but U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt intervened and demanded that the rules of the game be reformed. In 1906, Roosevelt met with representatives from 62 colleges and universities and formed the Intercollegiate Football Conference, the predecessor of the NCAA.[13] The purpose of the committee was to develop a uniform set of rules and regulations to make the game safer. A leading proposal, at the time, was widening the field to allow more running room and decrease the chances of serious collisions. While it was very popular among committee members, Harvard objected. Their recently completed stadium could not accommodate a larger field. Because of the permanent nature of Harvard Stadium, the proposal was rejected and the forward pass was legalized in April 1906.[14] Harvard Stadium directly led to the creation of two of the most fundamental aspects of modern American football: standard field dimensions and the legal forward pass.

Other events[edit]

Harvard Stadium was the site of the U.S. Olympic Trials for men's track and field in 1920, 1924, and 1928.

It is also the host of music festivals like the Amandla Festival, where Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley performed a historic concert in 1979. Janis Joplin performed her last show at the stadium in 1970, shortly before her death. During the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, the stadium hosted several soccer preliminaries.[15] In 2007, the Boston Cannons, a professional lacrosse team for Major League Lacrosse, moved their home site to the stadium. They previously played at Boston University's Nickerson Field.[16]

Harvard installed both FieldTurf and lights in 2006,[9] allowing it to become the home stadium of the Boston Cannons.

Beginning on April 11, 2009, Harvard Stadium became the home field of the Boston Breakers of the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league when they beat Saint Louis Athletica 2–0.

1984 Summer Olympics[edit]

Association football games played at Harvard Stadium during the 1984 Summer Olympics

Date Time (EDT) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
July 29 19.30  Norway 0–0  Chile Group A 25,000
July 30 19.30  Canada 1–1  Iraq Group B 16,730
July 31 19.00  Norway 1–2  France Group A 27,832
August 1 19.00  Cameroon 1–0  Iraq Group B 20,000
August 2 19.00  Qatar 0–2  Norway Group A 17,529
August 3 19.00  Cameroon 1–3  Canada Group B 27,261


The stadium in 2009

Although most of Harvard's campus is in Cambridge, the stadium and most other intercollegiate athletic facilities, along with Harvard Business School, lie to the south, across the Charles River, in the nearby Allston neighborhood of Boston. The stadium is the most iconic piece of the Soldiers Field athletic complex, which also includes the baseball stadium, outdoor track, an artificial turf field hockey/lacrosse field, two soccer stadiums, pools, Beren Tennis Center (outdoor), the Gordon Indoor Track, Dillon Fieldhouse, Lavietes Pavilion, and Bright Hockey Center. Newell Boathouse, home of Harvard's men's crew, lies across Soldiers Field Road on the banks of the Charles.

The stadium's horseshoe opens to the northeast, towards the river, and the press box is at the top of the northwest sideline's grandstand. The running track has been removed; it was non-standard, with long straights and tight turns, and the outside lanes were very near the stadium walls.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Harvard Stadium Football History". Harvard University. Retrieved April 11, 2016. 
  2. ^ Lisa Kennelly, Extreme Makeover: Harvard Stadium, Harvard Crimson April 13, 2006.
  3. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018. 
  4. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  5. ^ "NRHP nomination for Harvard Stadium". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  6. ^ "Harvard". Harvard. 
  7. ^ "Aerial view of Harvard Stadium". Digital Commonwealth. Newton, Massachusetts). 1930. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  8. ^ Harvard University (1949). "Memorial Hall". Education, bricks and mortar: Harvard buildings and their contribution to the advancement of learning. p. 82n. 
  9. ^ a b "Harvard Stadium". Boston Cannons. Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Harvard 24, Brown 17". ESPN. Associated Press. September 22, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  11. ^ Glenn, Malcolm A. (September 23, 2007). "Football topples Brown in historic night game". Harvard Crimson. (Cambridge, Massachusetts). Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  12. ^ "First and 100". The Harvard Magazine. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  13. ^ "The 1905 Movement to Reform Football". Library of Congress document. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Saturday Night Lights: Harvard Stadium Joins the 21st Century". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  15. ^ 1984 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 1. Part 1. pp. 129-31.
  16. ^ Malcom A. Glenn, Improved Stadium Scores Pro Team, Harvard Crimson, February 23, 2007.

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Alumni Stadium
Home of the Boston Patriots
Succeeded by
Foxboro Stadium
Preceded by
Nickerson Field
Home of the Boston Cannons 
Succeeded by