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Harvard Stadium

Boston, MA

Home of the Boston Brawlers

2.9

N/A

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


Boston Brawlers website

Harvard Stadium website

Year Opened: 1903

Capacity: 30,323

There are no tickets available at this time.

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New League in an Old Stadium

Harvard Stadium is the oldest stadium still in use in the United States. Built in 1903, it pioneered the use of reinforced concrete in the building of large structures. It is designated a National Historic Landmark due to its influence on the design of later stadia. Not only did Harvard Stadium influence other venues, but it influenced the game of football itself.

Back in the early 1900’s, when college football's rules committee met to discuss ways to make the game less violent and dangerous, 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.

Over the course of its history, Harvard Stadium has served as host to not only Harvard University teams, but the Boston Patriots, concerts by the likes of Bob Marley and Janis Joplin (her last concert ever), ice hockey games, and Olympic soccer matches. In 2014 the Boston Brawlers became the latest team to call Harvard Stadium home.

The Brawlers are one of the four teams playing in the inaugural season of the FXFL, short for the Fall Experimental Football League. The FXFL aspires to become a feeder league for the NFL, similar to the model laid out by the NBA’s D-League. It is hoped that the league can become a place where the best players not currently on NFL rosters can stay in shape with real game action and be ready should they be called upon as potential mid-season replacements. Games are played on Wednesday and Friday nights so they won’t conflict with NCAA or NFL games.

FXFL rosters are filled with players who have spent some time with an NFL organization, although in most cases this experience is limited to attending training camp and being cut. Still, the league has set a goal of between 20-30% of FXFL players getting the call up to the big leagues during the season. While that dream hasn’t materialized yet, the league has seen its first players signed to NFL rosters.

2.9

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

There is one permanent concession stand located underneath the stands at Harvard Stadium open for Brawlers games. The menu here consists of the basics, with hot dogs ($4), nachos ($6), pretzels ($4), popcorn ($5), and chips ($2) featured. Assorted candies ($4), churros ($4), cotton candy ($5), and cookies ($5) are sold here for fans looking to satisfy a sweet tooth. Bottles of Coca-Cola products ($4) are available for thirsty football fans. On cool fall nights, cups of hot chocolate ($4) are a popular item.

Brawlers fans looking for a little more variety will be pleased to learn that Nonna's Pizza stand is open for Brawlers games, selling slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza for $4.50 per slice. Fans looking for an adult beverage will undoubtedly head towards the portable beer cart selling bottles of Budweiser products and wine.

Fans looking for some Brawlers souvenirs will find a table selling a variety of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats. Interestingly enough, fans can purchase souvenirs for the opposing team here as well.

Atmosphere    2

When under 200 people try and fill up a stadium that seats over 30,000, there isn't a whole lot of impact they can have on the atmosphere of a football game. When this venue is large and made entirely of concrete, it seems downright cavernous. That's one problem that the Brawlers are up against in creating a positive game day atmosphere.

The team does play a good selection of classic rock throughout the game, and they have a mascot (Bruiser), a young man in a muscle suit, bald cap, and handlebar moustache, who runs around waving a flag after Brawlers scores and throwing the occasional t-shirt into the stands. Many fans in attendance have a personal connection with the players on the field, and bring signs supporting their favorites. A unique touch that happens here is that the players can interact directly with their supporters throughout the game. It's something you don't see very often at sporting events. Otherwise, the game day presentation is a no-frills experience.

Neighborhood    5

Harvard Stadium is not located in Cambridge with most of the university's buildings, but across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. Fans wishing to take in the legendary Harvard experience can simply cross the Anderson Memorial Bridge into Cambridge. Harvard Square and Harvard Yard is only a 10 minute walk away. Boston is a city with a great many first-rate tourist destinations, and Harvard Square ranks right up there among the most popular destinations in the city. The area has a multitude of great restaurants, sites to visit, and people to watch. With the FXFL season taking place in the fall, a leisurely stroll through Cambridge on a cool fall afternoon is a must before a Brawlers game.

The neighborhood of Allston is often overlooked, but Brawler fans wishing to venture off the beaten path will be rewarded with several fine restaurants and pubs close to Harvard Stadium.

Fans looking for lodging in the area won't be disappointed, as there are many fine options to be found. Be warned, however, that prices may be a little higher than you may expect. Hotels in the suburbs may be a cheaper alternative for many fans looking for overnight accommodations.

Fans    1

The fans have been slow to respond to the Breakers' presence in their initial home games. The crowd for their initial game was reported as 500, and the attendance for the second game was not reported. The actual crowd was fewer than 200 people. Granted, the game was held on Halloween night, which meant that there were no children at the game, but these numbers have to be very disappointing for the club and league as they try to gain a footing.

The fans that do show up at Harvard Stadium are very enthusiastic and supportive of the home team. There were even a few fans of the visiting team present during my visit.

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 you are foolish enough to drive to Harvard Stadium, give yourself some extra time, as there is always a traffic jam or construction project somewhere to gum up the works. Best practice would be to 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.

For Brawlers games, only the stands on the western sideline are utilized. This cuts the capacity dramatically, but has the effect of pushing the fans into closer proximity, creating a livelier atmosphere at the games.

Remember, Harvard Stadium is well over 100 years old, and not the most handicapped-accessible venue you will come across. There is seating in the north end zone for fans requiring such accommodations. All the seats are concrete bleachers, so remember your seat cushions.

Bathrooms are small and cramped, but more than adequate for a typical Brawlers crowd. You are unlikely to come across a line, even at halftime.

Parking can be an issue around Harvard Stadium, but doesn't present too much of a problem at Brawlers games. There are spaces located throughout the Soldier Field athletic complex, tucked in and around the many athletic fields and buildings located here. On nights when there are multiple events going on at the same time, competition for spots can be tough. Luckily, with FXFL games played on weeknights, the Brawlers pretty much have the area to themselves.

Return on Investment    3

Tickets to Brawlers games range in price from $10-$30, with several special offers made by the team. Buy one get one free discounts have been offered for both of the home games thus far. Parking in the lots just outside Harvard Stadium cost $10, making the Brawlers a very affordable alternative to other sporting events in Boston.

Extras    3

The sense of history at Harvard Stadium is worth the price of admission all by itself. While Harvard Stadium is hardly comfortable, it's certainly unique. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

The staff at Harvard Stadium earn an extra point for their friendly, outgoing attitude and great customer service. Likewise, the team earns another extra point for their involvement with the fans and community. One of the players actually removed his jersey during the game and handed it to a young fan in attendance. Comically, he put on a new jersey with a different number on it and re-entered the game. Still, what an incredible souvenir for this young fan. The postgame autograph session featuring the entire team has quickly become a favorite of the fan base.

Final Thoughts

The pro football landscape is littered with failed leagues that either tried to compete with the NFL or which had unrealistic business plans. If the FXFL is to succeed where so many others have failed, they will need either a drastic increase in attendance or some sort of financial support from the NFL. The idea that the NFL could use a viable minor league is a sound one. Whether or not the FXFL can be that feeder league is a question still very much up in the air.

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