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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
1895. That date hits you square in the face when you enter Franklin Field. At the corner of 33rd and Spruce Street, stands were first built for University of Pennsylvania football, as well as the Penn Relays track and field meet. On October 1 of that year Penn beat Swarthmore by a score of 40-0.
Four years later, in 1899, the first neutral site Army-Navy game was played here. Army won 17-5. In 1903, the wooden stands were replaced by a brick horseshoe style stadium that held 20,000 spectators. It was the first of these kind of stadiums anywhere.
There has been many other “firsts” over the years at Franklin Field. It was the site of college football’s first radio broadcast (1922), the first double-decked stadium (1925, as the upper stands were added and increased capacity to 78,205), the first college football televised game (1940) and the site of the first of ABC’s Wide World of Sports television programs (1961 Penn Relays).
The Philadelphia Eagles played here from 1958 to 1970 before moving to Veterans Stadium in 1971. Another “first” happened here as it was the first National Football League stadium to use artificial turf (1969). The Eagles hosted the 1960 NFL Championship Game here, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 17-13. The infamous December 15, 1968 game against the Minnesota Vikings where the Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus was also here at Franklin Field.
Capacity is a bit lower nowadays, with 52,593 being the official capacity.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Fans generally enter in through the end zone gates. There you will find the Penn BBQ Pit. Pulled pork sandwiches and turkey legs are $8, cheeseburgers and veggie burgers are $6 and hot dogs are $4.
Local restaurant Chickie and Pete's has a location in the crowded west concourse where you can get their famous crab fries with a side of cheese sauce for $9. They also sell a good cutlet sandwich for $9.
Other food stands are scattered around the massive facilities. Cheesesteaks are $9, hot dogs are $4 and french fries are $4. Sodas are generally $4 all around the stadium.
Brysi is a small cafe located on the side of Franklin Field. You can go into the restaurant during game times. They sell some tasty breakfast sandwiches, smoothies and some nice salads.
Very few stadiums can match the feel of Franklin Field. The stadium is very closed in and separated from the city around it. The horseshoe design and double decker design is all encompassing. Most of the seats are bleachers although there are a few selected seats on the west side with seat backs.
Not all seats are good in the stadium. The track makes even the closest seats feel pretty far from the field. Also some of the seats in the back of the lower deck will have some major obstructed views. Seats in the corners of the horseshoe also don't quite face the field.
The stadium is large and Penn football gets nowhere near enough fans to fill the stadium. Expect a little over 1/10th of capacity to be the rule. Make sure to take advantage of this and move around to find the seat that best feels right for you.
Don't forget to try the upper deck seats as they may actually offer the best field views. Doing so also means you get to try out the unique stairways to the upper deck. There is no upper deck concourse as all entrances to the area come from stairs at the top of the lower deck areas. So expect to get a good workout getting to the top.
The University of Pennsylvania band is known as a scatter band. They do not do a traditional march as part of their show but "scatter" from spot to spot during their performance. They also have a wacky collective sense of humor, as they eschew seriousness. The opposing team's band will also likely be in attendance and play at halftime as well.
You will find plenty of shops and restaurants to satisfy almost any appetite. The best bet is to find a food truck, as they will be plentiful around the campus. I was lucky to find the Insomnia Cookies truck on 33rd St between Market And Chestnut just as they had some fresh cookies coming out of the oven. There will be a lots less of the food trucks on weekend games, unfortunately.
Also located nearby at Drexel University is a location of Landmark Americana (3333 Market St), which is a great option for post game eating. This restaurant offers a nice choice of meals and has a large bar, as well. For Saturday games, look out for the $10 all-you-can-eat wings special. They also offer numerous drink specials at the bar. Also nearby is Wahoo's Fish Tacos (3180 Chestnut St.), which is primarily a west coast chain, so finding them here is pretty special.
If driving, consider Philip's Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue for traditional Philly cheesesteaks. This is not one of the more touristy spots, but is still in a safe neighborhood and offers free parking. Philip's also has a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a cheesesteak joint. Just remember you have to buy the drinks and fries at a different window than your main entree, which is a strange and unique Philly tradition.
There may not be 50,000 fans at a Penn football game, but that does not mean the team doesn't have support. The Ivy League fans are knowledgeable and even fiery at times. You must also realize this is still Philadelphia, so fans support and love their teams.
They also love their traditions here. During the third quarter the band plays "Drink a Highball" and at the end of the song, the lyric is "Here's a toast to dear old Penn." With those words the fans throw hundreds of toasted bread slices onto the track and sidelines. It is certainly different.
There is not a lot of parking in the area. Luckily the crowds are pretty small for football so you shouldn't have a problem finding a garage. They will not be cheap, as this is Philadelphia and no parking is cheap. Plan on paying at least $15.
If you get real adventurous you could park at Penn's baseball stadium, Meiklejohn Stadium, and walk through the beautiful athletic fields and accompanying walkways towards Franklin Field.
Interstate 76, the Schuylkill Expressway, is right behind the stadium and is very busy. But it would make a convenient way to get to the game.
Public transportation is easy to find and use. SEPTA mass-transit system is right off campus, and Amtrak's 30th Street train station is a short walk away.
General admission tickets are $15, while seatback tickets are $25. The Ivy League may not be the highest level of college football, but those prices are extremely fair for a game in a large city, and at such a historic venue. You will have to factor in parking or the cost of public transportation, but a visit to Franklin Field is a good deal for a college football fan.
The history of this magnificent structure is an extra by itself. 1895. Remember to let that sink in. You are literally watching a game in a piece of history.
Franklin Field is also the site of the annual Penn Relays track and field meet. This event gets the biggest crowds yearly for the stadium. The newly opened Mondschein Throwing Complex, located on the old softball field, is also nearby and offers a great facility for field events.
There is some information about the Philadelphia Eagles and their time spent here at the stadium in the east concourse.
Attending a game at Franklin Field should be on the to-do list for any sports fan. The stadium shines as a part of history, as well as being a place for the quality football of the Ivy League.
Member Review by shamus170
History and tradition: two things that the Ivy League is all about. One of their members is the University of Pennsylvania and a game at Franklin Field perfectly exemplifies Ivy football. Fans watch football take place on a field that was created in 1895. Penn has had quite a storied history here and during their time in the Ivy League, they have dominated with 12 outright titles. Along with hosting the successful Quaker football team, the Penn Relays have been held here for over 100 years. The stadium's current configuration was designed in the mid-1920s. Though there are several NCAA stadiums built in the early 1900s, you will be hard-pressed to find one as pure and untouched as Franklin Field.
3333 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
3180 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
2234 W Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145
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2628 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146