Football Field (Clemens Field)

Football Field, Undated Football Field, 2006

Football field, top: undated; bottom: 2006 (click thumbnails for larger image)

Prior to 1908, the patch of land where Clemens Stadium now stands was a cranberry marsh.   In 1909, the first SJU football field, referred to as the ‘Natural Bowl,’ was completed.  It was greatly praised as one of the most natural-feeling football fields.  However, just a year later, football at SJU was abolished on the grounds that it promoted “unfriendliness towards other schools.”  ‘The Bowl’ stood vacant for ten years until 1920, when the Johnnies joined the MIAC.

For the next seventy-plus years, the stadium was constantly in a state of renovation.  In 1922 the enlargement of the field was completed, doubling its original size.  Eleven years later, in 1933, concrete seats were added when the stadium went through one of its many renovations.  In addition, the cinder track encircling the field was added in 1934.  In 1939 the stone entrance for the field was constructed, and then in 1943 the press box and concession stands were added. In 1945, a cement curbing was put around the football field and granite steps were put in leading to the refreshment stand. 

With the growing number of football fans, the stadium was again enlarged, to seat 3,000 in 1957. Two decades later in 1985-1986 the field was resodden and better drainage was provided. In 1997 the stadium went through its largest renovation – including a new press box, field-house, bathrooms and seating – and was renamed Clemens Stadium after Bill Clemens, who generously donated funds for the project.  In 2002, artificial turf was installed on the field. In 2009, the press box and bathrooms were renovated again, and an elevator was added.  In 2010, after 102 years, lights were installed in the Stadium, allowing both day and night games to be held; though no SJU football night games for the University were scheduled, the field could now be used for night practices and for other sports (e.g. LaCrosse) and other league (e.g. high school) games.

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