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Harvard Stadium

Boston, MA

Home of the Harvard Crimson



Harvard Stadium (map it)
95 N Harvard St
Boston, MA 02134

Harvard Crimson website

Harvard Stadium website

Year Opened: 1903

Capacity: 30,323

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Historic Harvard Stadium

Built in 1903, Harvard Stadium is the nation’s oldest stadium still in use today. In addition to serving as the home for The Crimson’s football team, the stadium acts as home to Harvard University’s lacrosse teams for both men and women, and in the past has served as host to rugby, track and field, Olympic soccer, and even ice hockey games. The New England Patriots, then known as the Boston Patriots, called Harvard Stadium home from 1970-1971.

Harvard Stadium is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is one of just four athletic arenas to be so designated. The other three are the Yale Bowl (built in 1914), the Rose Bowl (built in 1922) and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (built in 1921). Harvard Stadium was the first reinforced concrete structure of its size to be built anywhere in the world, and was the first large permanent arena built for an American university.

The stadium was a gift from Harvard's Class of 1879 for their 25th anniversary and amazingly only took 4 months to build at a cost of $310,000. The physical layout of Harvard Stadium is actually quite significant to the way football is played today--when college football's rules committee met to discuss ways to make the game less violent and dangerous back in 1906, one of the rule changes considered was widening the field by 40 feet. Since widening Harvard Stadium was an impossibility, and the committee felt that losing the prestigious Harvard team would be a death-knell to the fledgling sport, the committee decided to adopt the forward pass instead.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    2

When they were designing and building stadiums at the turn of the 20th century not a lot of thought was put into the creature comforts we take for granted today, such as concessions. There is one permanent concession stand on each sideline at Harvard Stadium, and they sell the basics; hot dogs ($3.50), nachos ($6), pretzels ($3.50), and popcorn ($5). Coca-Cola products are featured here ($4 for a bottle).

Variety is achieved through the placement of food carts throughout the concourse. Items as varied as sausage and pepper sandwiches, chicken tenders ($8.50 for a basket with fries), pizza ($4.50 per slice), and gyros ($8) are available. But beware, concession prices are high and the overall quality is poor. My pick for a must-have item: hot apple cider. There is a small stand that is very popular on chilly New England autumn afternoons. For those interested in more traditional football foods, there is a beer garden located near the stadium, offering a variety of draft beers and barbeque foods.

The concourse here is basically just the area underneath the stands. Don't expect any fancy décor or luxuries at Harvard Stadium, although the wrought-iron fences on the outer edge of the concourse are a fitting touch. Watch your footing while wandering around the concourse here. The concrete has deteriorated in spots, and the resulting potholes can mess with the ankles of the unsuspecting.

Atmosphere    4

If you are coming to Harvard to see the latest incarnation of "The Game", the annual meeting between the Crimson and Yale, then this becomes one of the great atmospheres in all of college football.

Harvard Stadium is designated as a national landmark, and there is no denying the aura here. You don't enter directly into Harvard Stadium from the street, you pass through outer gates into the athletic complex, which contains several of the buildings which host Harvard's NCAA-best 41 Division I teams. The stadium's architecture contains Roman and Greek influences, and the stadium itself is as much a draw as the action taking place on the field.

No matter where you sit, you have a great view of the action. Strangely enough, the seating bowl begins with row "L", and continues from there. I watched several people with high letters instinctively begin to climb the stairs before realizing their seats were much closer to the action than anticipated. Remember to bring your seat cushions, as all seats are concrete bleachers without seat backs.

Several lots and fields around the stadium are available for tailgaters, and the tailgate scene is active, if reserved. This is the Ivy League, after all.

During several fall afternoons, Harvard holds "festival weekends", where several of their NCAA-leading 41 varsity teams will host games simultaneously, or throughout the day. For example, on the day I visited the Harvard campus, the football, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's hockey, women's rugby, field hockey, men's tennis, and water polo were all hosting games throughout the day. Since the venues for these sports are all located in the same complex, fans can wander the area, sampling whatever games they choose to see. This can provide a full day of entertainment for even the most casual Crimson fan.

Neighborhood    5

Before or after a game at Harvard Stadium, take a walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Charles River, and explore Harvard Square, a top Boston tourist destination. While Harvard Square may not be the bohemian center it once was, it still is one of the most popular areas in Boston for walking, shopping, and people watching (yeah, yeah, I know, it's technically in Cambridge, not Boston).

For those wishing to bask in the history, architecture, and aura of Harvard, this is the place for you. Take a walking tour of the campus if you are so inclined, and take a picture in front of the statue of John Harvard, as thousands of others have done. Just remember these three things about the statue: 1) it is not actually a statue of John Harvard (no image of him exists), but of a random student; 2) John Harvard was not the founder of the college, but its first benefactor; and 3) the college was actually founded in 1636, not in 1638, as the statue claims. But remember to touch his shiny shoe, it is rumored to bring good luck.

If you would rather stay in Allston, walk about a half mile south on Harvard Avenue, the main drag in Allston. There you will find a multitude of shops and places to eat just a short distance from the stadium. Naturally, when you are in a college area, you would expect to see bars, and this area doesn't disappoint. Allston is generally a safe area for walking, especially on a fall weekend. Surprisingly, for an area with so many colleges around, there aren't a great number of places to stay, so look towards downtown Boston or Cambridge for lodging. Cheaper hotel rooms can be found in the suburbs.

Fans    3

Harvard students represent the school well, and the Harvard side of the stadium is quite full for most games. When purchasing a ticket, you will be asked if you would like to sit on the Harvard side of the stadium, or on the visitor's side-a nice nod to the past in a place full of these touches. For most Ivy League games, the visitor's side is well-represented as well, particularly when the opponent is a New England based rival. The pep bands engage in a friendly back-and-forth, and the crowd is knowledgeable about the game, but the pressure of big time college football is not present here-unless Yale is in town.

Besides a strong showing from the student body, expect to see a great many Harvard alumni in the stands. The crowd at Harvard Stadium is a great mix of old and young, families and students, making for an eclectic crowd great for people watching, should the game not hold your attention. With all the famous alumni produced by the university, you never know who you might be sitting next to.

Access    4

While Harvard University is located in Cambridge, MA, Harvard Stadium is located across the Charles River, in the Allston section of Boston., Also located here are most of Harvard's other athletic facilities. Even on its best days, the city of Boston is a difficult city to drive in. Depending on which direction you are coming from, you will be navigating some of the most difficult city streets you will ever encounter. If approaching from the north or south, I-93 will drop you off approximately five miles from the stadium, and you will take Storrow Drive to the stadium complex. If travelling from the west, you will take the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to Allston, and travel one mile through the city to the stadium. If coming in from the east, you will be on a boat, because all there is to the east of Boston is the harbor. If you are foolish enough to drive to Harvard Stadium, beware; the easiest and most direct paths to the stadium are often blocked around game time. Plan to arrive early, or have someone with you who knows the crooked streets of Boston well.

A much more efficient method of transportation in Boston is the subway, or "T", as it is called locally. The Harvard Station MBTA stop is a 10 minute walk from Harvard Stadium across the Charles River. Several bus routes also stop at Harvard Station. In addition, the 66 and 86 bus routes stop on North Harvard Street, directly in front of the stadium.

The best parking lots are reserved for season ticket holders and VIPs, and a place like Harvard has more VIPs than you can imagine. There are several surface lots and garages located a short walk from the stadium complex, and they are quite inexpensive. Parking a block from the stadium will set you back a mere $6, if you don't intend to tailgate. Tailgating is allowed only in selected lots on the western side of the stadium complex.

Having been built over a century ago, Harvard Stadium is not the most accommodating place for handicapped access. All access into the horseshoe-shaped seating bowl is via stairs. There are no seats here for those needing specialized seating. However, since one end of the stadium is open, there is plenty of room here for those unable to traverse the steep stairs of the stadium. A set of bleachers have been set up in this area to accommodate the handicapped and their companions. Likewise, bathrooms are small, cramped, and can get crowded in a hurry. There is only one women's room on each sideline, located at the end of the concourse on each side.

Return on Investment    3

Tickets to see the Crimson aren't cheap, costing $20. Tack on an extra $5 on game day, and you have a ticket that is among the most expensive in the area for college football. Likewise, concessions here can also be pricey. Parking, for those foolhardy enough to navigate the streets of Boston, can be found cheaply, but public transportation is highly recommended. With discounted tickets for students, seniors, and children, a family can attend a game here without breaking the bank, if they know where to cut the right corners.

If you are interested in attending more than just a football game, visit Harvard on one of their "Festival Weekends", where a ticket to a Crimson football game can admit you to several different varsity events throughout the sports complex.

Extras    3

Bonus points for the Festival Weekend and the variety of events available to the Harvard sports fan on most fall weekends. While the sports complex is not a part of the main campus, its architecture fits in seamlessly with the main campus across the Charles River, as well as the adjacent Harvard Business School.

Additional bonus points for the historical touches throughout the stadium, such as the banner for the 1920 Rose Bowl winners, the ivy on the walls, and the wrought iron gates fans pass through upon entering the complex.

Final Thoughts

In this day and age, many stadiums bill themselves as "unique" or "historic". Harvard Stadium is a place that truly delivers on these claims. From the moment you first view the colossal hulk of the stadium to the final whistle of the game, there is an aura surrounding this place that cannot be replicated. Harvard Stadium itself altered the game of football, making it the sport we love today. Locals still talk about the 1968 game against Yale that Harvard "won" 29-29 by scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds. While Harvard Stadium may not host games that affect the national championship anymore, there is no mistaking that this place holds a special place in the annals of college football.

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