Cramton Bowl

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Cramton Bowl
Cramton Bowl Feb 2012 03.jpg
Cramton Bowl in 2012
Location 1022 Madison Avenue,
Montgomery, Alabama 36107
Coordinates 32°22′46″N 86°17′35″W / 32.37949°N 86.293002°W / 32.37949; -86.293002Coordinates: 32°22′46″N 86°17′35″W / 32.37949°N 86.293002°W / 32.37949; -86.293002
Opened 1922
Owner City of Montgomery
Surface FieldTurf
Capacity 25,000
Tenants
Camellia Bowl (NCAA) (2014-)
Alabama State Hornets (SWAC) (1923-2012)
Faulkner Eagles (NAIA) (2007–present)
Alabama Crimson Tide (NCAA) (1922–1954)
Chattanooga Lookouts (Southern League) (1943)
Montgomery Rebels (Southeastern League) (1938–1949)
Montgomery Bombers (Southeastern League) (1937)
Montgomery Lions (Southeastern League) (1927–1930)

Cramton Bowl is a 25,000 seat stadium located in Montgomery, Alabama. Cramton Bowl opened in 1922 as a baseball stadium and has been home to Major League Baseball spring training, as well as minor league baseball. It is the home stadium for the Faulkner University Eagles, as well as the area's four high schools. It hosted the first night football game in the South and was once home to the Blue-Gray Football Classic.[1] Starting in December 2014, the Cramton Bowl will be the location for the Camellia Bowl.[2]

Stadium history[edit]

An architect's sketch of Cramton Bowl, 1921

Cramton Bowl is named for F.J. Cramton, who donated the land on which the stadium is built.[3] The location, which is now Cramton Bowl, was originally a sanitary landfill owned by Fred Cramton, a local businessman. After a conversation with friends about the need for a baseball stadium, Cramton donated the land to the City so a facility could be constructed there. The City held the land for a time and then returned it, stating that Cramton’s stadium idea was too big of a project for the City to undertake. Cramton then decided to take matters into his own hands; with the help of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Cramton raised $33,000 to build the now iconic sports venue.[4]

Capacity[edit]

Seating capacity was expanded in 1929 to 7,991. More additions were made in 1946, increasing the seating capacity to 12,000.[5] East stands were added in 1962 bringing the seating capacity 24,000. After new renovations were completed in July 2011 the capacity was reduced to 21,000.[6]

Baseball[edit]

Cramton Bowl during a baseball game in the 1920s or 1930s

The first baseball game played on the new field was in May 1922 between Auburn University and Vanderbilt University. Shortly after its completion in 1922 the Philadelphia Athletics decided to move their spring training operations from Eagle Pass, Texas to Montgomery, Alabama. They used the facility for their 1923 and 1924 spring training and exhibition games before moving to a newer stadium in Fort Myers, Florida.

After the departure of the Philadelphia Athletics spring training, Minor league baseball's newly formed Southeastern League placed a team in Montgomery. They became known as the Montgomery Lions. The Lions played in Cramton Bowl from 1927 to 1930. There was no team from 1931 to 1936 due to problems within the Southeastern League. The team returned for the 1937 season as the Montgomery Bombers and garnered their first major league baseball affiliation with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians pulled out for the 1938 season and were replaced by the Philadelphia Phillies. After one season the Phillies dropped their affiliation, the team became a co-op franchise and were renamed the Montgomery Rebels. In 1943, the Rebels would disband due to World War II. On July 11 of that year, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved their Washington Senators' Chattanooga Lookouts from Chattanooga's Engel Stadium to Cramton Bowl to play out the rest of the season.[7] The Lookouts managed to move back to Chattanooga and reverse the trend of declining attendance sometime later in the 1940s. The Rebels returned in 1946 through 1949 before moving to the newly constructed Paterson Field located just across the street.[5][8]

Football[edit]

On September 23, 1927, Cramton Bowl became the site of the very first game played “under the lights” in the South with Cloverdale taking on Pike Road High School. Former superintendent D. H. “Sarge” Caraker remembers fondly, “[We] used dishpans for reflectors and sent to California for the lamps. We drew 7,200 people from all over the South to see it.”[4]

College football[edit]

Cramton Bowl is the former host to all home games for Alabama State Hornets football as well as those for the Faulkner University Eagles. It was also home to the Turkey Day Classic and in 2009 hosted the inaugural HBCU All-star Bowl.
Cramton Bowl also provided a location for Alabama Crimson Tide football home games in the capital city. The Crimson Tide played home games at Cramton Bowl in the 1922 through 1932 seasons, in 1934, from 1944 through 1946 and again from 1951 through 1954. Alabama's all-time record at Cramton Bowl was 17 wins and 3 losses.[9]
Cramton Bowl probably achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Blue-Gray Football Classic, an annual college football all-star game which was held there each December from 1938 until 2001.

Camellia Bowl[edit]

Beginning in 2014 Cramton bowl will host the Camellia Bowl, a college football bowl game which will feature teams from the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference.[10][11]

High school football[edit]

Several area high schools call Cramton Bowl home including the Jeff Davis Volunteers, Lanier Poets, Lee Generals, and Carver Wolverines. In July 2011, Cramton Bowl hosted the AHSAA Alabama All-Stars Sports Week football game.

Recent history[edit]

Cramton Bowl is widely regarded as being functionally obsolete for major sporting events. It is not the stadium's relatively small capacity that is a concern as much as its age and condition. The stadium has not been well maintained over the years, and by the start of the 21st century it was actually crumbling. These issues were factors although not the predominant ones, in the Blue-Gray Game not being held in 2002 and its subsequent relocation in 2003 to Troy, Alabama's Movie Gallery Stadium, about 50 miles (80 km) from Montgomery.

2011 renovations[edit]

In mid-2010 the City of Montgomery approved a measure for a $10 million renovation and addition to Cramton Bowl. The renovations planned for Cramton Bowl will be a unique mix of the old and the new. The current structure will stay, but will be revamped and updated with four entrances, a state-of-the-art press box, an aesthetically enhanced plaza area, and a “Walk of Fame”, which will celebrate Montgomery’s sports history and house various articles of historic sports memorabilia. Perhaps the most important and impressive addition will be the 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2) multi-purpose sports facility.[4] Demolition of the north endzone and press box began in late November 2010, which is phase one of the project. Phase two began in early January 2011 as crews removed an existing brick wall from the south endzone and dismantled the scoreboard to make way for the new multi-purpose sports facility. Work on the stadium is expected to be completed in July 2011 while the new multi-purpose facility is expected to be finished in mid-2012.[12] [13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ City of Montgomery, website
  2. ^ McMurphy, Brett (August 19, 2013). "Bowl created for MAC, Sun Belt". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ "City Dads Accept Cramton Bowl Gift", Montgomery Advertiser, February 9, 1921.
  4. ^ a b c Fields, Tommy. "The Cramton Conversion". Retrieved 2011-05-10. 
  5. ^ a b Baseball-Reference
  6. ^ Central Alabama Sports Commission
  7. ^ The Old Scout (July 16, 1943). "Senators shift Lookout franchise". New York Sun. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Digital Ballparks
  9. ^ University of Alabama Sports Information. "All-time Football Results". Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  10. ^ http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2013/8/19/4636402/montgomery-bowl-game-sun-belt-mac
  11. ^ http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/08/19/newly-created-camellia-bowl-will-feature-mac-sun-belt-teams/
  12. ^ Gayle, Tim. "Cramton Bowl to get a face lift: Stadium to be joined by an indoor arena". Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  13. ^ Gayle, Tim. "Cramton Bowl renovation work reveals hidden rooms". Retrieved 2011-01-27.