Memorial Field – Dartmouth Big Green
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The Big Green in the Granite State
Originally built in 1893, Memorial Field has undergone numerous changes over its history. Most recently, the entire west stands of the stadium were gutted and replaced with improved and accessible seating, while the historic ivy-covered facade was preserved. The renovated stands feature wider aisles and concourses, handrails, modern rest rooms, a premium section on the 50 yard line featuring chair back seating, as well as accessible seating on three levels connected by an elevator. The new press box includes upgraded technology for video streaming, television and radio broadcasts, and video scoreboard operation. All construction was completed in time for the start of the 2015 football season.
Bob Ceplikas, deputy director of athletics, stated when the renovations were announced, “The project will complete the transformation of Memorial Field into a modern, comfortable stadium while preserving its most historic elements.” He added that all the new changes, which cost approximately $10.5 million, will “Take our stadium from one of the most tired, outdated facilities in the Ivy League to one of the most advanced, with a game atmosphere that is hard to beat.”
Football has been played at Dartmouth since 1881, and the Big Green’s history is a storied one. The school boasts a national title in 1925, a record 17 Ivy League championships, and 11 College Football Hall of Fame inductees on their resume.
Memorial Stadium, which once seated 21,416 in the mid-70s, now is the smallest football venue in the Ivy League.
Dartmouth Dining Services operates a pair of concession stands, located on either end zone. The menu does not vary from your stadium basics, with items such as hot dogs ($3.25), burgers ($4.00), sausage & pepper sandwiches ($5.00), and chicken tenders ($5.00) available. Assorted snacks and drinks are also available here. There are a pair of small stands located on the west concourse which feature a pared down menu for fans who are looking for a more convenient location.
Local food trucks set up shop in the south end zone to add a little variety to the menu for Big Green games. Local favorites such as Wicked Awesome BBQ and Everything but Anchovies Pizza are mainstays at Memorial Field.
Coca Cola products are featured at Big Green football games. With Memorial Field’s on-campus location, alcoholic beverages are not sold. With the chilly fall New Hampshire weather, coffee and hot chocolate, priced at just $1.50, are big sellers here.
The Dartmouth football team has enjoyed some success in recent years, and fans have come to expect a certain level of performance from this team. Big Green fans are passionate about their team, and are quick to be critical of sloppy or undisciplined play. During big moments of a close game, the fans at Memorial Field create a surprising amount of noise for a crowd of their size.
The recent renovations have improved the game day experience at Memorial Field, with a new video board among the features. Otherwise, the game day experience here is typical of FCS schools in New England, with a crowd full of dedicated alumni and locals. The turnout by the student body can be minimal on a Saturday afternoon, but Memorial Field fills up for premium games such as homecoming or popular night games. It would be hard to find a more dedicated fan base in the area.
The town of Hanover, New Hampshire boasts a population of about 11,000 citizens. The population increases by over fifty percent when Dartmouth’s 6,300 students roll into town. As you would expect, there is a great small-town feel to Hanover. CNN and Money rated Hanover as the sixth best place to live in the United States.
Visiting fans will want to take the short walk to The Green, which is usually the hub of activity in the town. On a typical fall day you will find numerous people out on bikes or walking around enjoying the last bit of warmth before the long New Hampshire winter begins. From here one can explore the classic Ivy League architecture of the campus, or head down Main Street and explore the shops and eateries that line the street.
For a town of this size, there is no shortage of places to eat or drink. The Appalachian Trail runs through Hanover, and there are a great many outdoor activities available for visitors to the area to sample as well. As you may expect, this is a popular destination in October for visitors who come to take in the spectacular foliage of the season.
Crowds at Memorial Field can vary wildly, with homecoming crowds that approach capacity and Saturday afternoon crowds that only fill the venue halfway. With a student body of just under 6,300, Dartmouth College is the smallest Ivy League school. In this quaint New Hampshire town, a giant crowd with a rowdy scene just wouldn’t fit. Somehow, the laid back fans and atmosphere just feel right here.
The small town of Hanover, New Hampshire may be somewhat off the beaten path, but it’s easy to get to. Located near the intersections of Interstates 89 and 91, the Dartmouth campus is located only a couple of miles from the highway. Driving is easily the most efficient method to arrive in Hanover, but there are bus and car services that run from Manchester, located an hour to the southeast, and to Logan Airport in Boston. You can get more information here. Also, Amtrak has a train station just across the Connecticut River in White River Junction, Vermont.
The Dartmouth campus dominates the small town of Hanover, and Memorial Field is located on the southeast edge of campus alongside the other athletic facilities. Located just a few miles from either interstate, signs direct out-of-town drivers to the best parking spots for the day’s athletic events. All parking lots are within walking distance of Memorial Field, and shuttle buses are available to and from the more distant locations.
The recent renovations have reduced the capacity of the facility to 11,000, as modern building codes call for wider aisles and concourses, and the press box footprint had to be widened to accommodate required stairwells, bathrooms, and an elevator. Handicapped seating areas were installed, as well as handrails, which were lacking in the old stands. Spectators are now allotted 18 inches for their seat, two more than in the old seating area.
The renovations to the west stands have served to improve both the safety and comfort of the grandstand and concourse underneath. New, modern restrooms were a part of these renovations, and lines are minimal, even during halftime.
Return on Investment 5
Dartmouth splits their home games into two categories, Premium and Regular, with separate pricing scales for each category. For premium games, chair back seats cost $25, with bench seating priced $15. Youths are admitted for $8. Tickets for other games cost $20 (chair back), $10 (bench), and $5 (youth). Family Fun Packs are available, consisting of 2 adult tickets, 2 youth tickets, and a voucher worth $20 in concessions. These packages cost $55 (premium games) and $45 (regular games).
There is plenty of on-street parking in the area surrounding Memorial Stadium, but beware of meters which run on game days. Your best bet may be to pay the nominal fee, which tops out at ten dollars, to park in one of the lots downtown.
The stadium was built as a memorial to the 3,407 Dartmouth students who served in World War I, including 112 who lost their lives. The memorial was subsequently expanded to include students who fought in the Korean War, Civil War, and World War II. There are several plaques honoring their sacrifice near the main entrance.
Another extra point is awarded for the major renovations to the stadium that managed to keep the historic flavor of the venue, most notably the Crosby Street facade.
If you are looking for an enjoyable, affordable afternoon of football, you can do much worse than a visit to Dartmouth. Norman Rockwell himself couldn’t draw up a more picturesque small college town than Hanover, and if visiting during the early autumn the foliage here in the White Mountains is spectacular. Combine this with some excellent small college football and student athletes who have their priorities in order, and it just doesn’t get much better than this.
Follow all of Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
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