Stagg Field

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Met Lab scientists Leó Szilárd (right) and Norman Hilberry under a plaque commemorating CP-1 on the West Stands of Old Stagg Field

Amos Alonzo Stagg Field is the name of two different football fields for the University of Chicago. The earliest Stagg Field (1893–1957) is probably best remembered for its role in a landmark scientific achievement by Enrico Fermi during the Manhattan Project. The site of the first artificial nuclear chain reaction, which occurred within the west viewing stands structure, received designation as a National Historic Landmark on February 18, 1965.[1] On October 15, 1966, which is the day that the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was enacted creating the National Register of Historic Places, it was added to that as well.[2] The site was named a Chicago Landmark on October 27, 1971.[3]

A Henry Moore sculpture, Nuclear Energy, in a small quadrangle commemorates the location of the nuclear experiment.[1] The University's current Stagg Field is located a few blocks away and reuses one of the original gates.

First nuclear chain reaction[edit]

Chicago Pile-1, the world's first artificial nuclear reactor, was built under the west stands of Stagg Field, which was by then no longer used for football.[4] The first man-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurred on December 2, 1942.

Sports venue[edit]

First Stagg Field[edit]

Stagg Field in 1927 with the west stands in the foreground and the south stands (center-right) filled with spectators

The first Stagg Field was a stadium at the University of Chicago in Chicago. It was primarily used for college football games, and was the home field of the Maroons. Stagg Field originally opened in 1893 as Marshall Field, named after Marshall Field who donated land to the university to build the stadium.[5] In 1913, the field was renamed Stagg Field after their famous coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. The final capacity, after several stadium expansions, was 50,000. The University of Chicago discontinued its football program after 1939 and left the Big Ten Conference in 1946. The stadium was demolished in 1957,[6] and much of the stadium site was re-utilized as the site of Regenstein Library.

In addition to Maroons football, the stadium hosted other events. These include the 1936 US Olympic Trials for Track and Field held June 19–20, 1936 and the NCAA Men's Track and Field Championships in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, and 1936.

Northwestern also played a number home games at Stagg Field. At the turn of the 20th century, Northwestern was unable to handle large crowds, so they hosted then-powerhouse Minnesota at Marshall Field for a 1901 game and a 1904 game. In 1925 (a year prior to the opening of Dyche Stadium) Northwestern again was unable to accommodate large crowds, and as a result played two games at Stagg Field. The first was a notable win over Michigan. The second was an October 24 game against Tulane that had originally been scheduled to be played at Soldier Field instead. Tulane won the game at Stagg Field 18-7.[7]

The University of Michigan fight song "The Victors" was written by Michigan music student Louis Elbel in 1898, following a 12-11 Michigan victory over the University of Chicago at Stagg Field.

New Stagg Field[edit]

Stagg Field in 2013

The current Stagg Field is an athletic field located several blocks to the northwest that preserves the Stagg Field name, as well as a relocated gate from the original facility. The school's current Division III football team uses the new field as their home. Stagg Field has a seating capacity of 1,650, and the playing surface is made of FieldTurf.[8] It is home to the Chicago Maroons football, soccer, softball and outdoor track teams.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Site of First Self-Sustaining Nuclear Reaction, NHL Database, National Historic Landmarks Program. Retrieved 11 February 2007.
  2. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ "Site of the First Self-Sustaining Controlled Nuclear Chain Reaction". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. 2003. Retrieved March 31, 2007. 
  4. ^ Zug, J. (2003). Squash, A History of the Game. Scribner. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-0-7432-2990-6. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Way Things Work: Nuclear waste". The Chicago Maroon. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  7. ^ "Historic Sites of All NU Home Games". Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "University of Chicago Ratner Center Visiting Guide" (PDF). University of Chicago, Athletics Department. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°47′38″N 87°36′14″W / 41.79389°N 87.60389°W / 41.79389; -87.60389