There are many sports fans who make pilgrimages to ball parks and stadiums – as much to see the venerable old structure as who may happen to be playing there. This is especially true of older parks and stadiums. There is just something about a venue that has withstood the test of time.
New England is no stranger to historic old ball parks and stadiums for those of you who like to make trips to “collect” stadium experiences. Following is a roundup of the region’s historic sports venues.
For baseball fans, following are the oldest stadiums that play host to a professional baseball team.
Centennial Field, Burlington, Vermont
In spite of what you think, Fenway Park is not the oldest ballpark to host a professional team. That honor would go to the home of the Vermont Lake Monsters – Centennial Field on the campus of UVM in Burlington, Vermont. Centennial Field opened on April 17, 1906. It was renovated in 1922 to replace the original wooden bleachers, which had burned down in 1913, with a concrete and steel grandstand. The Lake Monsters are a professional Minor League Baseball Team affiliated with MLB’s Oakland Athletics. Needless to say, the field is also home to the University of Vermont Baseball Team.
If you need a place to stay while visiting this stadium you would have a hard time doing better than the Courtyard Burlington Harbor between Lake Champlain and Church Street Marketplace.
Fenway Park, Boston Massachusetts
The Grande Dame of Major League Baseball, Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912, 5 days after the RMS Titanic sank, making it the oldest Major League ballpark in the United States. It has been home to the Boston Red Sox since the very beginning. It has hosted 11 World Series including the 1912 World Series in its inaugural year. That Series was won by the Boston Red Sox.
The first game to be played in Fenway Park was against the New York Highlanders (who became the New York Yankees), so the great rivalry between the two teams dates back to Fenway’s beginning. For the record, the Red Sox won that game 7-6 in 11 innings starting the tradition of long, hard fought games at Fenway between the two teams.
While the best Fenway experience is when the Red Sox are playing, the park can be toured year-round. See Fenway Park Tour Information for more information on touring Fenway Park.
If you need a place to stay while visiting Fenway check our our Boston Lodging page for options.
McCoy Stadium, Providence, Rhode Island
Home to the AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox – the Providence Red Sox, McCoy Stadium opened its doors at the height of World War II on July 4, 1942.
This stadium played host to significant professional baseball history when the longest professional game in the history of the sport was played on April 18, 1981 between the PawSox and the Rochester Red Wings. The game was tied 2-2 in the 32nd inning when the game was suspended at 4:07 AM the following morning. The game was resumed on June 23 and lasted a mere 18 minutes until the PawSox scored the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd inning. Famous players who participated in that game include Cal Ripken, Jr. (Rochester) and Wade Boggs (Pawtucket).
For a visit to McCoy, the best lodging options can be found minutes away in Providence.
For football fans looking for an old historic stadium, you will have to turn your sights on college venues (sorry Gillette, while historic things have happened there, you are just too new…).
Harvard Stadium, Allston (Boston), Massachusetts
One of the oldest football stadiums in the United States, Harvard Stadium has been home to the Harvard Crimson Football Team since its opening on November 14, 1903. Their first game in the stadium was against Dartmouth. Harvard lost the game 11-0.
Over the years this venerable old stadium has hosted the Boston Patriots (1970), and the Olympics (1984 for football/soccer). The stadium has also hosted many notable concerts including the last concert given by Janis Joplin shortly before her death.
In addition to being home to Harvard’s football team, the stadium is also home to the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse. The stadium is a National Historic Landmark, one of only four stadiums recognized as such.
Yale Bowl, New Haven, Connecticut
The 61,000 seat Yale Bowl opened its doors on November 21, 1914. It has been home to the Yale Bulldogs football team ever since. Yale’s first game in the Yale Bowl was against Harvard, a game that Harvard won 36-0. That game also featured a 92 yard fumble return by Harvard – to this day the longest in the stadium’s history.
The NFL’s New York Giants made the Yale Bowl their home for the 1973/1974 season while Yankee Stadium was being renovated.
The Yale Bowl is also a National Historic Landmark.
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Alumni Stadium, located on the lower campus of Boston College, opened its doors on September 21, 1957. It has been home th the BC Eagles Football Team ever since.
The first game played in the stadium on September 21 was against the U.S. Naval Academy. The Midshipmen beat the Eagles on that day 46-6.
Alumni Stadium was home to the Boston Patriots for one year in 1969.
Picture credits: The picture of Centennial Field is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is in the public domain. The picture of Fenway Park is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. The picture of McCoy Stadium is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. The picture of Harvard Stadium is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is in the public domain. The picture of the Yale Bowl is from the Wikipedia. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. The picture of Alumni Stadium is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is in the public domain.