|This article relies on references to primary sources. (September 2007)|
|"The Natural Bowl"|
|Former names||Saint John's Field (1908-32)
Saint John's Stadium (1933-96)
Clemens Stadium (1997-present)
|Location||Collegeville, MN 56321|
|Owner||Saint John's University|
|Operator||Saint John's University|
|Architect||Sam Chute (1908)
Ellerbe Becket (1997 renovation)
|Capacity||7,482 (official) since 2007
16,421 (record) vs. St. Thomas, October 2, 2010
|Saint John's University (NCAA)
Saint John's Preparatory School (MSHSL)
Clemens Stadium is a football stadium located in Collegeville, Minnesota. The stadium serves as the host stadium to Saint John's University football, track and field teams and other intramural activities. Saint John's Preparatory School's football and track and field teams also use Clemens Stadium as their home facility.
Popularly referred to as "The Natural Bowl," Clemens Stadium was named one of ten Sports Illustrated "College Football Dream Destinations" in 1999 for its natural beauty and large crowds.
"The Natural Bowl"
Clemens Stadium is built into a horseshoe-shaped hillside, surrounded on three sides by many trees, thus giving the stadium its natural beauty and nickname. The hills not built over with concrete or metal stands are almost always occupied with fans who bring blankets to sit on. Because of the hillsides and other space inside the stadium, Saint John's can fit more than double the number of people than official capacity allows.
The unique, natural bowl configuration of Clemens Stadium is actually the result of artificial design. The bowl was shaped by Saint John's monks who were building brick structures in the 1860s and 1870s. Clay in the soil northeast of campus was dug out of a hill and fired in a nearby kiln to produce bricks for the new Abbey Church (now Great Hall) and Quadrangle. After the buildings were completed, the chasm was filled with water and used as a cranberry bog for the monastery, university and preparatory school.
As athletics gained popularity among colleges across the United States, Saint John's was in need of an adequate field for football. The cranberry bog was drained and in 1908 the new field was ready for football. The field however was not large enough for a regulation-size football field and in 1922 the field expanded to the north to alleviate the problem.
In 1933, the first concrete stands were completed. The black metal tube railing, located on the southwest hill, still remains from this original construction. Six years later, an arched stadium entrance, ticket booth, two stairways and circular field entrance were built using fieldstone. The circular field entrance was inspired by Syracuse's Archbold Stadium. The two stairways and the southwest half of the circular field entrance remain today.
A press box was added in 1943.
After John Gagliardi took over as head coach, crowds increased and in 1957 the concrete stands were expanded to accommodate 3,000. Aside from basic field, stand and press box upgrades, the stadium remained unchanged for forty years.
The fieldstone stadium entrance and ticket booth were demolished to make way for the Alcuin Library and road access to a parking lot in the 1960s.
Renovation and Renaming
With a large gift from Saint John's alumnus William E. and Virginia Clemens, Saint John's Stadium received a significant renovation in 1997.
The southeast and southwest hills were excavated for a regulation-sized eight-lane track. The wood bleachers on the east side were replaced with new metal bleachers. A new concrete grandstand was built with both bench seats and reserved chair seats. The press box, concession stands and restroom facilities were also reconstructed. The seating capacity grew to 5,500.
In addition to the renovations, the open north end of the horseshoe was closed off in 1997 with the addition of the McNeely Spectrum fieldhouse.
In honor of the Clemens gift, Saint John’s Stadium was renamed Clemens Stadium.
Starting in 2002, Clemens Stadium has gone through significant improvements.
In 2002 the grass field was replaced with SprinTurf to cut down on chemicals and water used to maintain the grass field, and to help prevent student-athlete injuries as a result from wet and muddy fields.
Reserved seating was expanded in 2003 and 2005 to accommodate almost 1,000 season ticket holders.
General Admission Bleachers
General admission bleachers were added to the north end zone in 2004. The bleachers were expanded again in 2007 to bring the stadium seating capacity to 7,482.
Press Box and Suites
The press box had another level added in 2009. The addition included five new suites, two bathrooms, elevator, expanded radio, coaching, and press boxes and a "Legends Room."
The Donald McNeely Foundation has donated money to add lights and they will be installed before the beginning of the 2012 season. Saint John's has said though that they don't plan on hosting any night intercollegiate games in the near future, but instead the lights will be installed for high school games, intramurals, and use by the school's ROTC program.
Clemens Stadium is known for some of the largest crowds in NCAA Division III football. For 11 of the past 15 seasons, Saint John's has led Division III in either per-game average or total season attendance. The largest crowd ever for NCAA Division III football was recorded on October 2, 2010, when the Johnnies hosted 16,421 fans in a homecoming game overtime loss of 26-27 to the University of Saint Thomas on a missed extra point. On November 8, 2003, Clemens Stadium hosted a then-NCAA Division III record 13,107 fans for a game against Bethel, for John Gagliardi's record-breaking 409th career victory. The third largest crowd at Clemens Stadium was 12,903, on October 17, 2009 during a 20-17 overtime victory against rival St. Thomas.