Francis Olympic Field
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Francis Olympic Field

Francis Field
Gates to Francis Field - Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis.jpg
LocationSt. Louis, Missouri
OwnerWashington University in St. Louis
OperatorWashington University in St. Louis
Capacity3,300
19,000 (previous)
SurfaceFieldTurf
Construction
Broke ground1903
Opened1904
ArchitectCope and Stewardson
Tenants
Washington University Bears (NCAA) (1905-present)
St. Louis Stars (NASL) (1975-77)
Website
bearsports.wustl.edu/facilities/francis-olympic-field

Francis Olympic Field is a stadium at Washington University in St. Louis that was used as the main venue for the 1904 Summer Olympics. It is currently used by the university's track and field, cross country, football, and soccer teams. It is located in St. Louis County, Missouri on the far western edge of the university's Danforth Campus. Built in time for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair), the stadium once had a 19,000-person seating capacity, but stadium renovations in 1984 reduced the capacity to 3,300 people. It is one of the oldest sports venues west of the Mississippi River that is still in use. Francis Olympic Field now utilizes artificial turf that can be configured for both soccer and football.

Francis Olympic Field was named for former Missouri governor and president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, David R. Francis, in October 1907.[1] The word "Olympic" was added in 2019 to reflect its role in the 1904 Summer Olympics.[2][3]

Overview

Francis Field during the 1904 Summer Olympics

The 1904 Summer Olympics (the first to be held in the Western Hemisphere) were given to St. Louis, Missouri as a result of the efforts of David Rowland Francis, for whom the stadium and accompanying gymnasium are named. Built in 1902, Francis Olympic Field's permanent stands represent one of the first applications of reinforced concrete technology.[4] Both the stadium and its gymnasium are U.S. National Historic Landmarks. During the 1904 Games, the stadium hosted the archery, athletics, cycling, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, roque, tug of war, weightlifting, and wrestling events. The tennis events took place at some dirt courts located outside the stadium.[5]

Following the 1904 Olympics, the stadium became the permanent home of the Washington University Bears, who were formerly known as the Pikers. From the 1920s through the 1950s, the Bears played before crowds of as many as 19,000 people, competing against universities such as Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Boston College, with half of the spectators in temporary wooden stands. The Bears now play as an NCAA Division III team.

In the summer of 2004, Francis Olympic Field had its natural grass replaced with artificial FieldTurf.[6]

Notable events

Francis Field in January 2009.

Francis Olympic Field is an annual host for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.[7]

The Francis Gymnasium was the site of four U.S. presidential debates in 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2016, plus the vice-presidential debate in 2008.[8]

During both the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Torch relays, the Olympic Flame passed by Francis Olympic Field on its way to the site of the Olympic Games.[9]

Francis Olympic Field hosted the 1986 AAU/USA National Junior Olympic Games, the first and second National Senior Olympic Games, and the 1985 NCAA Division III National Men's Soccer Championship.

In July 1994, Francis Olympic Field served as a centerpiece for the U.S. Olympic Festival as 3,000 athletes were housed on the campus for the country's top amateur sporting events.

The stadium was used by the St. Louis Stars soccer team during 1969-1970, and again in 1975-1977, before their 1978 move to Anaheim, California, as they became the California Surf.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Washington Stadium Now Called Francis Field". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. October 27, 1907. p. 31.
  2. ^ "Francis Olympic Field". washubears.com.
  3. ^ "Francis Field getting 'Olympic' with its name". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 19, 2019. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved 2021.
  4. ^ "Background on the Washington University Athletic Complex". source.wustl.edu. June 14, 2004. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ "Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics" (PDF). la84foundation.org. New York: American Sports Publishing Co. pp. 222-29, 233-47. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2011.
  6. ^ "Washington U. Bears - 2004 Preview". d3football.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  7. ^ "American Cancer Society - Relay For Life". acsevents.org. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  8. ^ Clendennen, Andy (November 6, 2003). "Washington University in St. Louis selected to host a 2004 presidential debate". source.wustl.edu.
  9. ^ "David R. Francis Field". wustl.edu.

Coordinates: 38°38?52?N 90°18?49?W / 38.64778°N 90.31361°W / 38.64778; -90.31361


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