Rogers Field (Washington State)
|Former names||Soldier Field (1892-1901)|
|Opened||1892, 1895 (football)|
|Closed||1970 - November|
|Owner||Washington State University|
|Operator||Washington State University|
|WSU Cougars (1892-1969)
(Pacific-8 Conference, NCAA)
Idaho Vandals (1969-70) - NCAA
Rogers Field was an outdoor athletic stadium on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. It was the home venue of the WSU Cougars football and track teams until severely damaged by a fire in April 1970. Demolished in early 1971, Rogers Field was replaced by the concrete Martin Stadium, which was built on the same site and opened in 1972.
Originally built in 1892 for track and field and named "Soldier Field", it hosted its first football game in 1895, when WSU defeated its Palouse neighbor Idaho 10-4. In 1902, the stadium was renamed for Governor John R. Rogers, who died in office the previous December. In its early years, it also hosted Cougar baseball, with home plate in the southeast corner. The final structure was completely rebuilt in 1936.
The 23,500-seat wooden stadium had a horseshoe-shaped grandstand, open on the west end, with a 440-yard (402 m) running track. The press box sat at the top of the south sideline's grandstand, and the playing field was natural grass, at an elevation of 2,530 feet (770 m) above sea level. The field was unlit, but plans were in place to install both lights and AstroTurf for the 1970 season. The running track was cinder until replaced by an all-weather rubberized surface in early 1968.
During what came to be its final WSU season in 1969, Rogers Field was also the home for the neighboring Idaho Vandals. Idaho's Neale Stadium, also wooden, had been condemned during the summer of 1969 due to soil erosion and was to be rebuilt with concrete grandstands, ready in 1970 (or 1971). Idaho played its limited Palouse home schedule in 1969 (3 games) at Rogers Field, and due to delays in their project had planned on playing there again in 1970 (4 games). During the ten-game schedules of the late 1960s, the WSU football team split its usual allotment of four home games equally between Spokane and Pullman (2 games each).
A suspicious fire significantly damaged the south grandstand and press box of Rogers Field late on Saturday, April 4, 1970, the first day of spring break. A definitive cause of the blaze was not determined, but was widely believed to have been arson. A track & field meet with Oregon State had been held at the stadium earlier in the day. Idaho's idle (and condemned) Neale Stadium had burned less than five months earlier in November 1969, also a suspected arson which burned its south grandstand and press box.
Because of the reduced capacity of Rogers Field, the WSU Cougars played all of their home football games at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane in 1970, which had been recently outfitted with AstroTurf. Requiring less seating capacity, Idaho opted to stay put and played its home games at the partially destroyed stadium in Pullman in 1970.
The game between the teams, the so-called "Displaced Bowl", was easily won by WSU on September 19 in Spokane. It ended a ten game losing streak for Jim Sweeney's Cougars, dating back to the 1969 season opener. The victory over the Vandals was the only one for WSU in 1970, who would remain winless until the third game of the 1971 season. With the new stadium in Pullman under construction in 1971, the Cougars played their full home schedule in Spokane.
Poor weather in the spring of 1971 caused delays in the construction of Idaho's new stadium, and the Vandals played "home" games at Bronco Stadium in Boise and at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane in September. After a three-year absence, the Idaho Vandals returned to campus in Moscow on October 9 at their new "Idaho Stadium," originally an outdoor venue. The debut game was a Vandal victory over Idaho State; the stadium was enclosed four years later in 1975 and renamed the Kibbie Dome.
Martin Stadium, the new concrete football stadium in Pullman, was originally built to a modest seating capacity of 22,600, with a running track, lights, and an AstroTurf playing field. It was ready on September 30, 1972, and the Cougars responded with a disappointing loss to the Utah Utes of the WAC with 20,600 in attendance. Following the 1978 season, the running track was removed and the field level was lowered 16 feet (4.9 m), allowing a seating capacity expansion with thirteen new rows of seats. The revamped Martin Stadium debuted in mid-October 1979, with an inspired victory over the UCLA Bruins.
The last Apple Cup in Spokane was played in 1980, but the Cougars continued to play several home games in Spokane through the 1983 season. The WSU academic calendar was changed from a delayed semester to the traditional semester schedule in 1984. With classes starting four weeks earlier in late August, WSU students were now on campus for the entire football season, and the Spokane games were eliminated.
- "Fast blaze ruins Pullman stadium". Spokesman-Review. April 6, 1970. p. 1.
- "Baseball Practice". Washington State University Libraries. City of Pullman Image Collection. c. 1916-26. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Martin Stadium". Washington State University Athletics. Facilities. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "New rubber track for Cougars". Spokesman-Review. June 23, 1967. p. 19.
- "Invitational field to test new track". Spokane Daily Chronicle. March 29, 1968. p. 18.
- "Late night fire destroys portion of Neale Stadium on Idaho campus". Lewiston Morning Tribune. November 24, 1969. p. 16.
- "WSU results". College Football Data Warehouse. 1965-69. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- McCartan, Richard (January 20, 2002). "Remembering Rogers Field". CougFan.com. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Rogers Field fire". Washington State University Libraries. City of Pullman Image Collection. 1970. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Idaho selects Rogers for home grid frays". Spokane Daily Chronicle. April 20, 1970. p. 16.
- "WSU results". College Football Data Warehouse. 1970-74. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "Utah beats Cougars 44-25". Spokesman-Review. October 1, 1972. p. 1 sports.
- Washington State.scout.com - a history of Rogers Field
- WSU Cougars.com - WSU football stadium history
- Washington State University Libraries - aerial photo of Rogers Field from east, 1961
- Aerial photo (& topographic map) - WSU campus from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps