Clemens Stadium - History


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.

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