Francis Field (St. Louis County, Missouri)

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Francis Field
238038658 c62059dc1f b.jpg
Location St. Louis, Missouri
Owner Washington University
Operator Washington University
Capacity
4,000 people
19,000 (previous)
Surface FieldTurf
Construction
Broke ground 1903
Opened 1904
Architect Cope and Stewardson
Tenants
1904 Summer Olympics
WUSTL Bears
St. Louis Stars (NASL) (1975-1977)

Francis Field is a stadium at Washington University in St. Louis, currently used by the University's track and field/cross country, football, and soccer teams. It is located in St. Louis County, Missouri on the far western edge of the University's Danforth Campus. It was built in time for the 1904 World's Fair, and was used as the main stadium for the 1904 Summer Olympics. At its height, the stadium had a 19,000 person seating capacity, but 1984 stadium renovations reduced the capacity to 4,000 persons. It is one of the oldest sports venues west of the Mississippi River still in use. Francis Field has been upgraded to include many of the characteristics of modern stadiums. Instead of grass, the stadium now utilizes artificial Field Turf, which can be configured for both soccer and football.

Overview[edit]

Francis Field during the 1904 Summer Olympics.

The 1904 Summer Olympics (the first to be held in the Western Hemisphere) were given to St. Louis, Missouri as a result of the efforts of David Rowland Francis, for whom the stadium and accompanying gymnasium are named. Built in 1902, Francis Field's permanent stands represent one of the first applications of reinforced concrete technology.[1] Both Francis Field and its gymnasium are U.S. National Historic Landmarks. During those games, the stadium hosted the archery, athletics, cycling, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, roque, tug of war, weightlifting, and wrestling events. At some dirt courts located outside the stadium, the tennis events took place.[2]

Following the 1904 Olympics, Francis Field became the permanent home of the Bears, who were formerly known as the Pikers. From the 1920s through the 1950s, the Bears played before crowds of as many as 19,000 people, competing against universities such as Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Boston College, with half of the spectators in temporary wooden stands. The Bears now play in the NCAA as a Division III team.

In July 1994, Francis Field served as a centerpiece for the U.S. Olympic Festival as 3,000 athletes were housed on the campus for the country's top amateur sporting events.

In the summer of 2004 Francis Field had its natural grass replaced with artificial FieldTurf.[3]

Notable events[edit]

Francis Field in 2009.

Francis Field is an annual host for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.[4]

The Francis Gymnasium was the site of three U.S. presidential debates in 1992, 2000, and 2004, plus the vice-presidential debate in 2008.[5]

In 1994, the Francis Field was again an Olympic focal point, as 3,000 athletes were housed on the Danforth Campus for the U.S. Olympic Festival.

During both the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Torch relays, the Olympic Flame passed by Francis Field on its way to the site of the Olympic Games.[6]

Francis Field hosted the 1986 AAU/USA National Junior Olympic Games, the first and second National Senior Olympic Games, and the 1985 NCAA Division III National Men's Soccer Championship.

The stadium was used by the St. Louis Stars soccer team during 1969-1970, and again in 1975-1977, before their 1978 move to Anaheim, California, as they became the California Surf.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Public Schools Stadium
Brown Stadium
California Memorial Stadium
Host of the College Cup
1962
1965
1967
Succeeded by
Rutgers Stadium
California Memorial Stadium
Grant Field

Coordinates: 38°38′52″N 90°18′49″W / 38.64778°N 90.31361°W / 38.64778; -90.31361