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Franklin Field

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Title: Franklin Field  
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Subject: Penn Quakers football, Veterans Stadium, Army–Navy Game, Penn Relays, 2001 Temple Owls football team
Collection: 1895 Establishments in Pennsylvania, American Football Venues in Pennsylvania, Army–navy Game, Athletics (Track and Field) Venues in the United States, College Football Venues, College Lacrosse Venues in the United States, College Track and Field Venues in the United States, Defunct National Football League Venues, Defunct Soccer Venues in the United States, Event Venues Established in 1895, Ncaa Men's Division I Lacrosse Championship Venues, North American Soccer League (1968–84) Stadiums, Penn Quakers Baseball, Penn Quakers Football, Philadelphia Atoms Sports Facilities, Philadelphia Eagles Stadiums, Rugby League Stadiums in the United States, Sports Venues Completed in 1895, Sports Venues in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Temple Owls Football Venues, United States Football League Venues, University of Pennsylvania Campus
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Franklin Field

Franklin Field
Location South 33rd and Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Owner University of Pennsylvania
Operator University of Pennsylvania
Capacity 30,000 (1895–1922)
50,000 (1922–1925)
78,000 (1925–1958)
60,658 (1958–1970)
60,546 (1970–1989)
52,593 (1989–2002)
52,958 (2003–present)
Surface Field
Grass (1895–1969)
AstroTurf (1969–2004)
Sprinturf (2004–present)
Cinders (1895–1987)
Rekortan (1988–present)
Broke ground 1895
Opened April 20, 1895
Construction cost $100,000 (1895)
($2.83 million in 2016 dollars[1])
Architect Frank Miles Day & Brother
Charles Klauder
General contractor Turner Construction (permanent structure in 1922)
Penn Quakers football (NCAA) (1895–present)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) (1958–1970)
Philadelphia Bell (WFL) (1975)
Philadelphia Atoms (NASL) (1976)
Army–Navy Game (1899–1935)

Franklin Field is the home of the Penn Relays, and is the University of Pennsylvania's stadium for football, lacrosse and formerly for soccer, field hockey 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 was formerly the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League.


  • History 1
  • Track and field 2
    • Penn Relays 2.1
    • Other meets 2.2
  • Football 3
    • Penn Quakers 3.1
    • Philadelphia Eagles 3.2
      • Santa Claus booed 3.2.1
      • Howard Cosell taken ill 3.2.2
    • Other college football 3.3
    • Other professional football 3.4
  • Other sports 4
  • Other events 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Workmen laying bricks on south wall of Franklin Field circa 1922.

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.[2]

In 1916, university officials, led by George Neitzche, planned with the city to build a new 100,000-seat half-sunken stadium for $750,000 at Woodland Ravine, a depression on the southeastern side of Woodland Cemetery. Plans called for a new train station called Union Station which would feature a Pennsylvania Railroad stop and a stop on a proposed (and never built) elevated subway line connected to the Market–Frankford Line. Architecture firm Koronski & Cameron created a rendering but plans quickly collapsed. Five years later, it was decided instead to expand Franklin Field.[3]

The current stadium structure was built in the 1920s, designed 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.[4] The second tier was added in 1925, again designed by Day & Klauder, when it became the second (and the largest) two-tiered stadium in the United States.[5]

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.[6]

Franklin Field upon completion in 1922.

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 52,958.

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.[7] 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,[8] 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

Fieldhouse at the west end of the 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] 13,722 attended the event and saw Dwight Stones set a record for the high-jump and John Walker win the mile.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]


Franklin Field

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.[16] Other sources identify Penn as national champions in 1895, 1897, 1904 and 1908.[17] 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.[18] Red Grange set an NCAA record at Franklin Field when he rushed for 331 yards[19] in the University of Illinois' 24-2 victory over Penn on October 31, 1925, before 67,877 spectators.[20]

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.[21] Penn won the match-up 44-9.[22]

The Penn Quakers football team played their 800th game ever at the stadium on October 4, 2008, against Dartmouth.[23]

Philadelphia Eagles


Preceded by
Shibe Park
Home of the
Philadelphia Eagles

Succeeded by
Veterans Stadium
Preceded by
Schoellkopf Field
Host of the
Drum Corps International
World Championship

Succeeded by
Mile High Stadium
Preceded by
Byrd Stadium
Home of the
NCAA Lacrosse Final Four

Succeeded by
Rutgers Stadium I
Preceded by
Ralph Korte Stadium
Host of the College Cup
Succeeded by
California Memorial Stadium
  • Penn Athletics: Franklin Field
  • Stadiums of Pro Football: Franklin Field
  • Architectural photos of Franklin Field
  • Photo gallery "Oldest stadiums – Monuments to the past"
  • Hagley Digital Archives: Aerial photographs of Franklin Field in 1920s and 1930s

External links

  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Nitzsche, George E. (1918). University of Pennsylvania: Its History, Traditions, Buildings and Memorials (Seventh ed.). Philadelphia: International Publishing Company. p. 186. 
  3. ^ "99 Years Ago in Philadelphia: Middle of February, 1916". Philaphilia. 2015-02-18. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  4. ^ "PENN CANNOT BE HOST.; Changes at Franklin Field Bar Track for Intercollegiates." (PDF).  
  5. ^ McConaghy, Mary D.; Michael T. Woods (2005). "Penn Sports in the 1800s: The Origins of Penn Athletics".  
  6. ^ a b c Didinger, Ray; Lyons, Robert S. (2005). The Eagles Encyclopedia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 205.  
  7. ^ Gertner, Michael (2004-09-02). "Franklin Field features new turf, scoreboard".  
  8. ^ "Franklin Field May Get Grass if Phila. Gets World Cup Soccer".  
  9. ^ "The Relays!".  
  10. ^ ATF Editor (2008-05-22). "This Day in Track & Field: July 18–19". American Track & Field. Retrieved 2009-01-08. 
  11. ^ Terrell, Roy (1961-06-26). "The Ncaa Visits The Wild East".  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Berger, Dan (1976-08-05). "Stones aims higher".  
  14. ^ Neff, Craig (1980-07-28). "...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".  
  15. ^ http:/
  16. ^ Rottenberg, Dan (1985). Fight On, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Trustees of University of Pennsylvania. pp. 28, 33–34. 
  17. ^ "College Football National Champions". Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  18. ^ "15 Most memorable Phila. sports moments.". Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  19. ^ "Franklin Field".  
  20. ^ "All-Time Scores: 1925". University of Illinois Athletics. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-08. 
  21. ^ "Yo! Who's No. 1?".  
  22. ^ Harvard Athletic Communications (2002-11-16). "Gridders Take A Fall In Philadelphia". Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  23. ^ Kuhn, Andy (2008-10-02). "'"Franklin Field 800: On Saturday, Quakers host 800th football game at facility for which they're 'caretakers.  
  24. ^ "NFL History by Decade: 1950-1959".  
  25. ^ "Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles - December 26, 1960".  
  26. ^ Maule, Tex (1961-01-09). "A Big Run Wins For A Big Defense".  
  27. ^ Polaneczky, Ronnie (2008-12-15). "This is Philly: After 40 years, we'll still boo a bad Santa".  
  28. ^ "Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles - December 15, 1968".  
  29. ^ Gabriel, Kerith (2009-12-28). Santa' recalls Eagles 1968 snowball incident"'". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  30. ^ "George Washington Orton (1873-1958)". Penn Biographies.  
  31. ^ Burrick, David (2003-09-12). "Franklin Field done serving as Owls' nest".  
  32. ^ McQuade, Dan (2002-09-16). "Top-ranked Miami runs past Temple at Franklin Field".  
  33. ^ Fenton, John J. (2001–2007). "Philadelphia's Pro Football Stadiums". Ghosts of the Gridiron. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  34. ^ "1927 Dayton Triangles Game Results". Pro Football Reference. 2000–2008. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  35. ^ Guadagnoli, Tony (2008-10-05). "Football's oldest stadiums: Witnesses to the game's evolution".  
  36. ^ "1984 USFL Quarterfinals". Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  37. ^ Woods, Michael T. (August 2005). "Penn Baseball in the 1800s: 1895 Varsity Team".  
  38. ^ "PENN BEATS YALE IN STRAW HAT GAME; Ten Thousand Baseball Fans, Many in Summer Head Dress, See Favorites Win, 8-5.".  
  39. ^ "FB City Title Recaps". Ted Sillary. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  40. ^ Holroyd, Steve. "Philadelphia atoms History: 1976". Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  41. ^ Tierney, Mike (1979-08-22). "Luck writes Rowdies' playoff script".  
  42. ^ Vecsey, George (1988-04-10). "Sports of The Time; Americans Prepare for Lights, Cameras and Soccer".  
  43. ^  
  44. ^ Tannenwald, Jonathan (2004-12-01). "U.S. Rugby's upset bid spoiled by Australia at Franklin Field".  
  45. ^ "2007 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship Ticket Information". Draw Philadelphia. 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  46. ^ Bakst, M. Charles (2008-08-21). "At conventions, JFK and FDR also spoke outdoors".  
  47. ^ Gammage, Jeff (2008-08-29). "Before Obama, there was FDR at Franklin Field".  
  48. ^ LaPlaca, Jaclyn (1997-02-13). "Tickets on sale today for U2 at Franklin Field".  
  49. ^ Burke, Shannon (1997-06-12). "U2 rocks Franklin Field with energized show".  


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.

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.[48][49]

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

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.[46] It is estimated that a crowd of 100,000 sat through intermittent rain at Franklin Field to hear FDR's speech.[47]

Other events

April 14, 2012 marked the debut of Franklin Field as the home stadium for the Philadelphia Spinners of the AUDL. An estimated 1700 were in attendance as the Spinners defeated the Buffalo Hunters 26-14.

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.[45]

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.[44]

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.[42] 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, 1-0; Eric Eichmann scored the lone goal in the game's 12th minute.[43]

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.[40] 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.[41]

Franklin Field was the longtime 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.[39]

Franklin Field served as Penn's baseball field early in its history, as records show that the varsity played here from 1895[37] until at least 1924.[38]

The arched exterior of Franklin Field

Other sports

Franklin Field hosted two United States Football League play off games; divisional playoff 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.[36] The game was broadcast nationally on ABC Sports. The Eastern Conference championship game the following weekend against the Birmingham Stallions was also moved to Franklin, due to a Phillies game, and also broadcast on ABC.

The Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League played their 1975 season home games at Franklin Field.

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.[35]

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.[33] The Triangles won 6-3.[34]

Other professional football

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.[31] 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.[32]

[30] The

1908 Army-Navy game at Franklin Field

Other college football

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.

Howard Cosell taken ill

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

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.[27] The Eagles lost the game 24-17.[28] 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.[29]

Santa Claus booed

Two infamous incidents in Eagles history occurred at the stadium.

The Eagles hosted the 1960 NFL Championship Game here, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 17-13,[25] in Packers' coach Vince Lombardi's only career playoff loss. Attendance for the championship was 67,325.[26]

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.[24]


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