Franklin Field Explained

Stadium Name:Franklin Field
Location:South 33rd and Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Broke Ground:1895
Opened:April 20, 1895
Owner:University of Pennsylvania
Operator:University of Pennsylvania
Surface:Field
Grass (1895-1969)
AstroTurf (1969-2004)
Sprinturf (2004-)
Track
Cinders (1895-1987)
Rekortan (1988-)
Construction Cost:$100,000 (1895)
($ in dollars)
Architect:Frank Miles Day & Brother
Charles Klauder
General Contractor:Turner Construction
Tenants:University of Pennsylvania (NCAA) (1895-present)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) (1958-1970)
Philadelphia Bell (WFL) (1975)
Philadelphia Atoms (NASL) (1976)
Army–Navy Game (1899-1935)
Seating Capacity:30,000 (1895-1922)
50,000 (1922-1925)
78,000 (1925-1958)
60,658 (1958-1970)
60,546 (1970-1989)
52,593 (1989-current)

Franklin Field is the University of Pennsylvania's stadium for football, field hockey, lacrosse, sprint football, and track and field (and formerly for soccer and baseball). It is also used by Penn students for recreation, and for intramural and club sports, including touch football and cricket, and is the site of Penn's graduation exercises, weather permitting. It is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the eastern edge of Penn's campus, across the Schuylkill River from Center City. It is the home of the Penn Relays and was formerly the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League.

History

Franklin Field was built for $100,000 and dedicated on April 20, 1895, for the first running of the Penn Relays. Deemed by the NCAA as the oldest stadium still operating for football, it was the site of the nation's first scoreboard in 1895.

Permanent Franklin Field construction did not begin until after the turn of the century. Weightman Hall gymnasium, the stadium, and permanent grandstands were designed by architect Frank Miles Day & Brother and were erected from 1903 to 1905 at a cost of $500,000. The field was 714 feet long and 443 feet wide. The site featured a ¼-mile track, a football field, and a baseball diamond. Beneath the stands were indoor tracks and indoor training facilities.[1]

The current stadium structure was built in the 1920s by Day & Klauder, after the original wooden bleachers were torn down. The lower tier was erected in 1922. The old wood stands were razed immediately following the Penn Relays and the new concrete lower tier and seating for 50,000 were built.[2] The second tier was added in 1925, again by Day & Klauder, when it became the second (and the largest) two-tiered stadium in the United States.[3]

The first football radio broadcast originated from Franklin Field in 1922. It was carried by Philadelphia station WIP. This claim is pre-empted by an earlier live radio broadcast emanating from Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA, on October 8, 1921, a full year before Franklin Field's claim to fame. Harold W. Arlin announced the live broadcast of the Pitt-West Virginia football game on October 8, 1921, on radio station KDKA. The first commercial football television broadcast in 1939 also came from Franklin Field.

In the university's football heyday — when Penn led the nation in attendance — the 65,000-seat stadium was expanded each fall with temporary stands to seat 78,000. Today, Franklin Field, named after Penn's founder, Benjamin Franklin, seats 52,593.

Franklin Field switched from grass to AstroTurf in 1969. It was the first National Football League stadium to use artificial turf. The stadium's fifth AstroTurf surface was installed in 1993. The current Sprinturf field replaced the AstroTurf in 2004.[4] Franklin Field was considered a candidate to host games for the 1994 World Cup. FIFA required that host stadiums have natural grass. Had Philadelphia been selected and Franklin Field used, the stadium would have had to return to a grass surface,[5] or perhaps use a temporary grass field as was done at two World Cup sites — Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.

Track and field

Penn Relays

Franklin Field has hosted the annual Penn Relays Carnival, the largest track-and-field meet in the U.S., for over 100 years.

The first Penn Relays was held in 1895. Frank B. Ellis, chairman of Penn's track committee, was looking for an event to mark the dedication of the school's then new stadium, Franklin Field. Two years earlier, during his senior year at Penn, Penn and Princeton competed in a one-mile relay race in which four runners from each school each ran a quarter of a mile. That race had been an outgrowth of intramural relay races held at Penn. Ellis and others arranged a series of relay races to take place on Saturday afternoon, April 20, 1895. 64 competitors from eight colleges, six prep schools and two high schools took part. Eight two-team races were run with Harvard beating Penn in the mile-relay feature in 3:34.4.[6]

The Relays were featured in the April 29, 1961, premiere of ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Other meets

The 2nd USSR-USA Track and Field dual meet was held at Franklin Field on July 18 and 19, 1959. Stars who competed included Parry O'Brien, Ray Norton, Al Cantello, Hayes Jones, Tamara Press, Vasili Kuznetsov, Dyrol Burleson, Greg Bell, a young Wilma Rudolph, and future long-jump great Igor Ter-Ovanesyan.[7]

Franklin Field hosted the NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in June 1961, the first time the championship was held on the East Coast. Seven records were set, and the University of Southern California won its 21st team Track & Field championship.[8]

Following the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics and in honor of the United States Bicentennial, Franklin Field hosted The Bicentennial Meet of Champions track and field event on August 4, 1976. Montreal Olympians at the meet included Hasely Crawford, Don Quarrie, Michael Shine and Edwin Moses. The meet was also a chance for top runners including Houston McTear who had not been able to compete in Montreal to race against medal winners.[9] 13,722 attended the event and saw Dwight Stones set a record for the high-jump and John Walker win the mile.[10]

The University of Pennsylvania hosted the two-day 1980 Liberty Bell Track and Field Classic, an alternate to the 1980 Summer Olympics for 26 countries participating in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics which were held in Moscow. The Liberty Bell Classic began on July 16, 1980. It was the largest international track meet held in the U.S. since the 1932 Summer Olympics in terms of the number of foreign competitors. Franklin Field hosted the track and field events where 20,111 spectators saw the final evening of competitions. In several events, the times were better than those in Moscow, such as American Renaldo Nehemiah's time of 13.31 in the 110m hurdles ahead of East German gold medal winner Thomas Munkelt's time of 13.39.[11]

The track in Franklin Field has a rarely used configuration where the 400 metre circumference is achieved in lane 5, rather than in lane one. Thus there are two curbs on the track, inside of lane one and also inside of lane 5. In order to accommodate the full fields of the Penn Relays and other meets, special adaptations are made with a movable curb on the backstretch to stagger the runners to arrive at a common break point in lane 5, rather than the conventional lane one. Single lap races in the inner lanes, run portions of an extra straightaway. Multiple lap races spend the majority of the race in lane 5 to run the proper distances.[12]

Football

Penn Quakers

Penn football played on Franklin Field for the first time in 1895. The University of Pennsylvania was one of the top football schools in the first years of college football. Many consider Penn to have been the national champion in college football in 1894, 1895, 1897 and 1904.[13] Other sources identify Penn as national champions in 1895, 1897, 1904 and 1908.[14] John H. Outland played at Franklin Field for Penn in 1897 and 1898. On October 26, 1907, Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian school trounced a powerful University of Pennsylvania team, 26-6, before an overflow crowd of 20,000 at Franklin Field.[15] Red Grange set an NCAA record at Franklin Field when he rushed for 331 yards[16] in the University of Illinois' 24-2 victory over Penn on October 31, 1925, before 67,877 spectators.[17]

On Saturday, November 16, 2002, ESPN broadcast College GameDay from Franklin Field prior to the game between Penn and Harvard. Both teams entered the game undefeated and the winner would capture the Ivy League championship. It was College GameDay's first broadcast from a Division I-AA college.[18] Penn won the match-up 44-9.[19]

The Penn Quakers football team played their 800th game ever at the stadium on October 4, 2008, against Dartmouth.[20]

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles played at Franklin Field from 1958 through 1970. They moved to the stadium for the 1958 season after leaving Connie Mack Stadium. Franklin Field would seat over 60,000 for the Eagles whereas Connie Mack had a capacity of 39,000. According to then-Eagles president Frank L. McNamee, the Eagles did not pay rent for use of Franklin Field because Penn was a not-for-profit organization. Instead, the Eagles donated between $75,000 and $100,000 per-year to pay for maintenance and other expenses. The university collected all concessions and parking revenue.

On October 11, 1959, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell died after suffering a heart-attack at Franklin Field during the last two-minutes of the game between the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.[21]

The Eagles hosted the 1960 NFL Championship Game here, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 17-13,[22] in Packers' coach Vince Lombardi's only career playoff loss. Attendance for the championship was 67,325.[23]

Two infamous incidents in Eagles history occurred at the stadium.

Santa Claus booed

During the December 15, 1968, game against the Minnesota Vikings, a Christmas show was planned for halftime. The Eagles had entered the game 2-11. Fans hated Eagles quarterback Norm Snead, owner Jerry Wolman and coach Joe Kuharich. Many fans came to the game wearing "Joe Must Go" buttons. The man meant to play Santa was unable to make it to Franklin Field due to the weather. In lieu of the original halftime show, a 19-year-old fan named Frank Olivo who had been wearing a Santa Claus costume, was invited onto the field to toss candy-canes with the cheerleaders. Frustrated by the team, the ugly wet weather, and his unconvincing beard, fans booed Olivo and threw snowballs at him. This incident is often referred to by sportscasters in denigrating Philadelphia sports fans as so mean they booed Santa Claus.[24] The Eagles lost the game 24 to 17.[25] Olivo continued to attend Eagles games and even dressed as Santa Claus at the Eagles' December 27, 2009, game against the Denver Broncos at Lincoln Financial Field.[26]

When the 1969 season started, only Snead was still around. Wolman sold the team in the offseason to Leonard Tose, who promptly fired Kuharich.

Howard Cosell taken ill

On November 23, 1970, announcer Howard Cosell was apparently drunk during a nationally televised broadcast of the Eagles-New York Giants Monday Night Football game. After throwing up on color commentator Don Meredith's cowboy boots shortly before halftime, Cosell left the stadium and took a taxi back to New York City. Meredith and play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson made little mention of his departure during the second half. Later, denying drunkenness, Cosell claimed that he had been dizzy from running laps around Franklin Field's track before the game with track star Tommie Smith.

Other college football

The Army-Navy football game was played 18 times at Franklin Field between 1899 and 1935 before moving to the larger Municipal Stadium in South Philadelphia in 1936.[27] Penn alumnus and Olympic-medalist George Orton (who had worked with Frank Ellis in managing the Penn Relays) is credited with helping to bring the game to Philadelphia in 1899.[28]

Temple University played its home football games at Temple Stadium until the late 1970s. Temple Stadium had opened in 1928 and sat up to 34,000 for football. Over the years, Temple had played home games at Franklin Field when crowds were expected to exceed Temple Stadium's capacity. Temple moved its home games to Veterans Stadium in the late 1970s but the Phillies had priority for the field for Saturdays during baseball season, which ends the last week in September. When Temple home games conflicted with Phillies home games, Temple would play at Franklin Field. This continued through the 2002 season, Temple's final year at the Vet before the Owls moved to Lincoln Financial Field as tenants of the Eagles.[29] One of the last Temple football games at Franklin Field was a 44-21 loss to the number-one-ranked Miami Hurricanes on September 14, 2002; Miami's Willis McGahee rushed for 134 yards and four touchdowns in front of 33,169 fans.[30]

Other professional football

The NFL's Frankford Yellow Jackets hosted the Dayton Triangles on September 24, 1927, at Franklin Field. The Yellow Jackets usually played their home games in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.[31] The Triangles won 6-3.[32]

On August 23, 1958, the first Canadian Football League game played on American soil between two Canadian teams was played at Franklin Field, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders, 13-7.[33]

Franklin Field hosted a United States Football League divisional semi-final game on June 30, 1984, between the host Philadelphia Stars and the visiting New Jersey Generals. The Stars were forced to play the game at Franklin Field because the Philadelphia Phillies had a game scheduled at Veterans Stadium that weekend. The Stars defeated the Generals 28-7 behind two touchdowns from RB Kelvin Bryant. A crowd of 19,038 took in the game on a warm, overcast afternoon.[34] The game was broadcast nationally on ABC Sports.

Other sports

Franklin Field served as Penn's baseball field early in its history, as records show that the varsity played here from 1895[35] until at least 1924.[36]

Franklin Field was the long-time home of Philadelphia's City Title high school football championship game. The game was held at the stadium in 1938, 1940, 1941, and from 1943 through 1972, before it moved to Veterans Stadium. On Thanksgiving Day, 1941, 40,000 fans watched West Philadelphia tie West Philadelphia Catholic 0-0. In 1945, 54,000 fans saw Southern beat West Catholic 18-13. The 1946 game, played before 60,000, ended in a riot when Northeast fans stormed the field in the final minute of the school's 33-26 victory over West Catholic, prompting West Catholic fans to do the same.[37]

The NASL Philadelphia Atoms had played at Veterans Stadium from 1973-1975. They moved to Franklin Field in 1976 which had better sight lines for soccer. Attendance was 8,400 for the home opener on May 2, 1976. They drew a season high of 25,000 for the July 17 match against the New York Cosmos which featured soccer great Pele. The team averaged 6,449 at Franklin Field for their 11 home matches in 1976.[38] The Philadelphia Fury hosted a play-off game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on August 23, 1979, at Franklin Field when the Fury's home field, Veterans Stadium, was being used by the Phillies.[39]

Franklin Field was one of fifteen United States stadia (along with John F. Kennedy Stadium, also in Philadelphia) inspected by a five-member FIFA committee in April 1988 in the evaluation of the United States as a possible host of the 1994 FIFA World Cup.[40] On August 25, 1989, a crowd of 43,356 at Franklin Field saw the US national soccer team defeat Dnepr of the Soviet Top League by 1-0. Eric Eichmann scored the lone goal in the 12th minute of the game.[41]

On November 30, 2004, Franklin Field was home to the first rugby league match between the United States and Australia. The United States led the World Cup-holders Australia for much of the game, but eventually lost 36-24.[42]

The stadium hosted the Division I NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship in 1973 and 1992 and the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship in May 2007.[43]

Other events

The stadium was the site of the speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which he accepted the 1936 Democratic Party's nomination for a second term as president.[44] It is estimated that a crowd of 100,000 sat through intermittent rain at Franklin Field to hear FDR's speech.[45]

Drum Corps International held its annual Drum and Bugle Corps World Championships at the stadium in 1975 and 1976.

In 1997, Franklin Field hosted Irish band U2 during the first leg of their Pop Mart Tour on June 8. This was the stadium's first concert since the 1970s.[46] [47]

The 2000 M. Night Shyamalan-directed movie Unbreakable prominently features Franklin Field as one of the main locations in the film. The film's main character, played by Bruce Willis, plays a security guard at the stadium. In the 2006 movie Invincible, Franklin Field served as a stand-in for the demolished Veterans Stadium, images of which were digitally superimposed on some of the football action sequences.

External links

Notes and References

  1. Book: Nitzsche, George E.. University of Pennsylvania: Its History, Traditions, Buildings and Memorials. International Publishing Company. 1918. Philadelphia. Seventh. 186.
  2. News: PENN CANNOT BE HOST.; Changes at Franklin Field Bar Track for Intercollegiates.. 1922-01-08. New York Times. 120. 2009-04-17. PDF.
  3. News: Mary D.. McConaghy. Michael T. Woods. Penn Sports in the 1800s: The Origins of Penn Athletics. 2005. University of Pennsylvania

    University Archives and Records Center

    . 2009-01-08.
  4. News: Michael. Gertner. Franklin Field features new turf, scoreboard. 2004-09-02. Daily Pennsylvanian. 2008-12-17.
  5. News: Franklin Field May Get Grass if Phila. Gets World Cup Soccer. 1989-07-15. Philadelphia Inquirer. D01.
  6. News: The Relays!. 1955-05-02. Sports Illustrated. 2009-01-08.
  7. News: ATF Editor. This Day in Track & Field: July 18–19. 2008-05-22. American Track & Field. 2009-01-08.
  8. News: Roy. Terrell. The Ncaa Visits The Wild East. 1961-06-26. Sports Illustrated. 2009-01-08.
  9. News: Associated Press. Olympic medalists in Bicentennial meet. 1976-08-04. The Prescott Courier. 2009-07-06.
  10. News: Dan. Berger. Stones aims higher. 1976-08-05. The Free Lance–Star. 8. 2009-07-06.
  11. News: Craig. Neff. ...and Meanwhile In Philadelphia: Half a world from Lenin Stadium, boycotting athletes, some of whom gave Olympian performances, proved there's no alternative to the Games. 1980-07-28. Sports Illustrated. 2009-06-15.
  12. http://sites.google.com/site/collegeovalscom/ivy-league/franklin-field
  13. Book: Rottenberg, Dan. Fight On, Pennsylvania. 1985. Trustees of University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. 28, 33–34.
  14. Web site: College Football National Champions. collegefootballpoll.com. 2009-06-19.
  15. News: 15 Most memorable Phila. sports moments.. 2009-05-09. Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-11-09.
  16. News: Franklin Field. The Ivy League. 2009-01-08.
  17. News: All-Time Scores: 1925. 2008-07. University of Illinois Athletics. 2009-01-08.
  18. News: Yo! Who's No. 1?. 2002-11-19. The Ivy League. 2009-01-05.
  19. News: Harvard Athletic Communications. Gridders Take A Fall In Philadelphia. 2002-11-16. GoCrimson.com. 2009-01-05.
  20. News: Andy. Kuhn. Franklin Field 800: On Saturday, Quakers host 800th football game at facility for which they're 'caretakers'. 2008-10-02. Daily Pennsylvanian. 2009-01-22.
  21. News: NFL History by Decade: 1950-1959. NFL. 2009-01-05.
  22. Web site: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles - December 26, 1960. 2009-04-13. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC.
  23. News: Tex. Maule. A Big Run Wins For A Big Defense. 1961-01-09. Sports Illustrated. 2009-04-13.
  24. News: Ronnie. Polaneczky. This is Philly: After 40 years, we'll still boo a bad Santa. 2008-12-15. Philadelphia Daily News. 2008-12-15.
  25. Web site: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles - December 15, 1968. 2009-04-13. Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference LLC.
  26. News: Kerith. Gabriel. 'Santa' recalls Eagles 1968 snowball incident. 2009-12-28. Philadelphia Daily News. 2009-12-28.
  27. Book: Didinger. Ray. Lyons. Robert S.. The Eagles Encyclopedia. 2009-01-08. 2005. Temple University Press. Philadelphia. 1592134491. 205.
  28. Web site: George Washington Orton (1873-1958). Penn Biographies. University of Pennsylvania Archives. 2009-04-30.
  29. News: David. Burrick. Franklin Field done serving as Owls' nest. The Daily Pennsylvanian. 2003-09-12. 2009-06-19.
  30. News: Dan. McQuade. Top-ranked Miami runs past Temple at Franklin Field. The Daily Pennsylvanian. 2002-09-16. 2009-06-19.
  31. News: John J.. Fenton. Philadelphia's Pro Football Stadiums. 2001-2007. Ghosts of the Gridiron. 2009-01-13.
  32. News: 1927 Dayton Triangles Game Results. 2000-2008. Pro Football Reference. 2009-01-13.
  33. News: Tony. Guadagnoli. Football's oldest stadiums: Witnesses to the game's evolution. 2008-10-05. ESPN. 2008-10-16.
  34. News: 1984 USFL Quarterfinals. OurSportsCentral.com/usfl. 2009-01-05.
  35. News: Michael T.. Woods. Penn Baseball in the 1800s: 1895 Varsity Team. 2005-08. University of Pennsylvania

    University Archives

    . 2009-01-27.
  36. News: PENN BEATS YALE IN STRAW HAT GAME; Ten Thousand Baseball Fans, Many in Summer Head Dress, See Favorites Win, 8-5.. 1924-05-24. New York Times. S2. 2009-04-17.
  37. Web site: FB City Title Recaps. 2009-04-23. tedsillary.com. Ted Sillary.
  38. News: Steve. Holroyd. Philadelphia atoms History: 1976. PhiladelphiaAtoms.com. 2009-01-22.
  39. News: Mike. Tierney. Luck writes Rowdies' playoff script. 1979-08-22. St. Petersburg Times. 2009-04-17.
  40. News: George. Vecsey. Sports of The Time; Americans Prepare for Lights, Cameras and Soccer. 1988-04-10. New York Times. 2009-04-24.
  41. News: Associated Press. RESULTS PLUS. 1989-08-26. New York Times. 2009-04-13.
  42. News: Jonathan. Tannenwald. U.S. Rugby's upset bid spoiled by Australia at Franklin Field. 2004-12-01. Daily Pennsylvanian. 2009-01-05.
  43. News: 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship Ticket Information. 2007-01-10. Draw Philadelphia. 2008-10-16.
  44. News: M. Charles. Bakst. At conventions, JFK and FDR also spoke outdoors. 2008-08-21. Providence Journal. 2008-08-28.
  45. News: Jeff. Gammage. Before Obama, there was FDR at Franklin Field. 2008-08-29. Philadelphia Inquirer. 2008-08-29.
  46. News: Jaclyn. LaPlaca. Tickets on sale today for U2 at Franklin Field. 1997-02-13. Daily Pennsylvanian. 2009-01-05.
  47. News: Shannon. Burke. U2 rocks Franklin Field with energized show. 1997-06-12. Daily Pennsylvanian. 2009-01-05.