Harvard Stadium

Last updated
Harvard Stadium
Soldiers Field
Harvard Stadium aerial axonometric.JPG
Aerial view from the south in 2015
Location95 N. Harvard Street
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Owner Harvard University
OperatorHarvard 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 groundJuly 1903
OpenedNovember 14, 1903
116 years ago
Construction cost$310,000
($8.64 million in 2018 [3] )
ArchitectProf. Louis J. Johnson,
Class of 1887
Harvard Crimson (NCAA) (1903–present)
Boston Patriots (NFL) (1970)
Boston Cannons (MLL) (2007–2014, 2016–2018)
Boston Breakers (WPS/NWSL) (2009–2011, 2014)
Boston Brawlers (FXFL) (2014)
Harvard Stadium
Location map Boston Metropolitan Area.png
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USA Massachusetts location map.svg
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Location60 N. Harvard St., Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°21′59″N71°7′38″W / 42.36639°N 71.12722°W / 42.36639; -71.12722 Coordinates: 42°21′59″N71°7′38″W / 42.36639°N 71.12722°W / 42.36639; -71.12722
Area11 acres (4.5 ha)
ArchitectMcKim, Charles F.; Et al.
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference # 87000757 [4]
Added to NRHPFebruary 27, 1987

Harvard Stadium is a U-shaped college football stadium in the northeast United States, located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The stadium is owned and operated by Harvard University and is home to the Harvard Crimson football program. The stadium's seating capacity is 30,323. [5]

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.


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. [6] The stadium is the nation's oldest permanent concrete structure dedicated to intercollegiate athletics. It seated up to 57,166 in the past, as permanent steel stands (completing a straight-sided oval) [7] were installed in the stadium's northeast end zone in 1929. They were torn down after the 1951 season, due to deterioration and reduced attendance. Afterward, there were smaller temporary steel bleachers across the stadium's open end until the building of the Murr Center (which is topped by the new scoreboard) in 1998.

Reinforced concrete composite building material

Reinforced concrete (RC) (also called reinforced cement concrete or RCC) is a composite material in which concrete's relatively low tensile strength and ductility are counteracted by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel reinforcing bars (rebar) and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before the concrete sets. Reinforcing schemes are generally designed to resist tensile stresses in particular regions of the concrete that might cause unacceptable cracking and/or structural failure. Modern reinforced concrete can contain varied reinforcing materials made of steel, polymers or alternate composite material in conjunction with rebar or not. Reinforced concrete may also be permanently stressed, so as to improve the behaviour of the final structure under working loads. In the United States, the most common methods of doing this are known as pre-tensioning and post-tensioning.

National Historic Landmark formal designation assigned by the United States federal government to historic buildings and sites in the United States

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places, only some 2,500 are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

Harvard Stadium hosted one Boston Patriots season in 1970. It was their first season in the NFL after the AFL–NFL merger and their last before becoming the New England Patriots. The team moved to Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough the following season.

1970 Boston Patriots season Season of National Football League team the Boston Patriots

The 1970 Boston Patriots season was the franchise's 1st season in the National Football League and 11th overall. The Patriots ended the season with a record of two wins and twelve losses and finished last in the AFC East Division. This was the last season the Patriots would be called the “Boston” Patriots, as for the next season they would swap their names to the “New England” Patriots. Their final season known as Boston did not go as planned, as the Patriots would struggle all season and finish 2–12, the worst record in the NFL. After winning their first game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots would lose nine in a row before beating the Buffalo Bills on the road. The season concluded with an embarrassing 45–7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. Head coach Clive Rush would quit the season at the midpoint because of medical reasons. His replacement, John Mazur, did not do much better of a job. Mazur would end up coaching the team next season. The Patriots would score the fewest points in the league in 1970, scoring only 149 points, while allowing 361. They also missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

The AFL–NFL merger was the merger of the two major professional American football leagues in the United States at the time: the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). It paved the way for the combined league, which retained the "National Football League" name and logo, to become one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. The merger was announced on the evening of June 8, 1966. Under the merger agreement, the leagues maintained separate regular-season schedules for the next four seasons—from 1966 through 1969—and then officially merged before the 1970 season to form one league with two conferences.


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 Harvard's football team. 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.

Henry Lee Higginson Union United States Army officer

Henry Lee Higginson was the founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Panathenaic Stadium stadium in Athens, Greece

The Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro is a multi-purpose stadium in Athens, Greece. One of the main historic attractions of Athens, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

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]


FieldTurf is a brand of artificial turf playing surface. It is manufactured and installed by FieldTurf Tarkett, a division of French company Tarkett Inc. FieldTurf is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and its primary manufacturing facility is located in Calhoun, Georgia, United States. With a design intended to more accurately replicate real grass, the new product gained rapid popularity in the late 1990s, and changed the industry.

2007 Harvard Crimson football team

The 2007 Harvard Crimson football team represented Harvard University in the 2007 NCAA Division I FCS football season. The team was ranked 21 in the Final poll standings for the FCS football season.

The Brown Bears football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Brown University located in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Ivy League. Brown's first football team was fielded in 1878. The Bears play their home games at the 20,000-seat Brown Stadium in Providence, Rhode Island. The team's head coach is James Perry, who was hired on December 3, 2018.

Impact on American Football

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 but U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt intervened and demanded 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 committee's purpose 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 reduce serious collisions. While it was 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 led to the creation of two of the most fundamental aspects of modern American football: standard field dimensions and the legal forward pass.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Theodore Roosevelt 26th president of the United States

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, sportsman, conservationist and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He previously served as the 25th vice president of the United States from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore, alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. In polls of historians and political scientists, Roosevelt is generally ranked as one of the five best presidents.

National Collegiate Athletic Association Non-profit organization that regulates many American college athletes and programs

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization which regulates athletes of 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Other events

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 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.

Harvard and the Boston Bruins have begun talks about making a bid for the stadium to serve as the host of the National Hockey League's 2024 NHL Winter Classic to coincide with the Boston Bruins' 100th anniversary year. If awarded the game, the Boston Bruins are expected to ask the NHL to have the Montreal Canadiens serve as the opposition.

1984 Summer Olympics

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

DateTime (EDT)Team #1ResultTeam #2RoundAttendance
July 2919.30Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 0–0Flag of Chile.svg  Chile Group A25,000
July 3019.30Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 1–1Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq Group B16,730
July 3119.00Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 1–2Flag of France.svg  France Group A27,832
August 119.00Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 1–0Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq Group B20,000
August 219.00Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 0–2Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Group A17,529
August 319.00Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 1–3Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Group B27,261


The stadium in 2009 Harvard stadium 2009h.JPG
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

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  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, 2019.
  4. National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  5. "Harvard". Harvard.
  6. "NRHP nomination for Harvard Stadium". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  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. 1 2 "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.
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