Dartmouth College began playing football at the site of Memorial Field in 1893, when the venue was known as Alumni Oval. Thirty years later, the stadium was rebuilt, and the result was Memorial Field, dedicated to Dartmouth alumni who died in World War I. The College Green is a one-minute walk from the field, while two of Dartmouth’s other athletic venues – Leede Arena for basketball and Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park for baseball – are right next to the football field.
Since Ivy League play began in 1956, Memorial Field has seen more Ivy championships than any other venue, with Dartmouth claiming 17 titles in that time span. The last of those titles came in 1996, however, and recent years have seen Dartmouth finish near the middle of the Ivy League standings.
With just 15,600 seats, Memorial Field is the smallest football stadium in the Ivy League, and despite the program’s success, the venue lacks the historical significance of other conference venues such as Franklin Field or Harvard Stadium. On game days, there is seating on all four sides of the field. The main grandstand on the stadium’s west side is made of brick and concrete, and a series of arches line the façade, which also serves as the main entrance. The West Stand has room for about 7,100 spectators, all on concrete bleachers with no seat-backs. A three-level press box sits on top of the West Stand. The long, metal bleachers of the East Stand run the length of the field, with visiting fans usually occupying the northern side. Behind the East Stand, Floren Varsity House offers several suites overlooking the field. The Dartmouth locker room is also located in this building. Temporary metal bleachers occupy the space behind both end zones, though they are rarely used by more than a few spectators; normally, the seating along both sidelines can easily accommodate all fans.
The stadium’s scoreboard is located behind the north end zone and contains the essentials – score, down, distance – but lacks a screen for replays. In the south end zone, there is a large play area for younger fans. An eight-lane track encircles the field, which uses a FieldTurf surface.
Memorial Field is an old stadium, and while the lack of modern amenities (seat-backs, drinkholders, etc.) creates a fairly basic gameday experience, the facility is well-maintained and not in need of replacement in the near future.
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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".
Memorial Field's concession stands are located under the main bleachers on the stadium's west side. They offer traditional stadium food such as hot dogs, popcorn and a variety of snacks, including brownies, marshmallow squares and fruit. All the food is priced between $2 and $5, and several kinds of soda are also available. No beer is served as Memorial Field is a college facility.
One nice extra available at Memorial Field is a mobile Boloco truck that sells burritos at field level. Boloco has a restaurant a short distance away on Main Street, and they offer many of the same options at the in-stadium truck. The burritos are more expensive than food at the concession stands ($4-$8) but they do add some diversity to the Memorial Field dining experience.
Every seat offers a clear view of the field, though fans would be better served sitting on the sidelines rather than the temporary bleachers behind the end zones, which are set back a distance from the field. Dartmouth occupies the sideline in front of the main West Stand, while their opponents occupy the east sideline. The backdrop behind the stadium's east side is picturesque on a clear day, with views of the tree-filled surrounding hills made even better by the colorful fall foliage. The result is a view that few stadiums can match.
Facing the field, the student section is located on the left side of the West Stand. The pep band can also be found in the bleachers in that section, and the cheerleaders normally perform on the track in front of the student section. The right side of the West Stand mostly holds alumni and local residents.
Hanover is the quintessential rural Northeastern college town, and aside from Dartmouth's beautiful campus (usually buried under a foot of snow during the long winter), the surrounding area offers several dining options located a short walk away from the stadium.
All of Hanover's bars and restaurants are located west of Memorial Field, on or around Main Street. One of the best is Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria on South Street, which, unsurprisingly, specializes in beer and pizza. Ramunto's offers at least 10 beers on tap, including several local New England beers. The pizza is exceptional, and the garlic-knot pizza, made with a crust of Ramunto's specialty garlic knots, is a must-try. The restaurant also boasts several flat-screen televisions to liven up the dining experience.
Salt Hill Pub, opened in 2010, is situated on Lebanon Street, and, like Ramunto's, is less than half a mile from the stadium. Though the cuisine is Irish as opposed to Italian, Salt Hill has a lot in common with Ramunto's, from its quality beer selection to its flat-screen televisions. Both establishments offer a great atmosphere for pre- or post-game festivities. A bit further west on Main Street, Molly's is a great option for family dining.
One of Dartmouth's fraternity houses will usually host a tailgate on game days, while alumni gatherings often take place prior to the game inside the stadium or on the lawn of the nearby Alpha Delta fraternity on Wheelock Street.
Crowds average between 4,000-8,000, with crowds of 10,000 or above being exceedingly rare. Dartmouth installed floodlights at Memorial Field in 2011 and has hosted three night games in the first two seasons following installation, each drawing 8,000-plus fans. But apart from the home opener, most other contests feature relatively sparse crowds, detracting from the atmosphere. The presence of the pep band creates a college feel, but the student section is fairly small, especially late in the season. Even though the Big Green has become competitive in recent years after failing to post a winning season from 1998 to 2009, the rural nature of Dartmouth's campus and its small undergraduate population make it difficult for the team to draw fans.
There is plenty of parking, either in metered spots on Wheelock Street, a garage on Lebanon Street or the nearby athletic lots by Thompson Arena. If more parking is needed, the College can open an overflow lot with a shuttle service to the arena. Parking is inexpensive, ranging from the free spaces outside Thompson Arena to a few dollars for spaces in the garage.
The main concourse behind the West Stand is wide and has enough concession stands to ensure that lines are fairly short. One thing to be aware of, however, is that the field is not visible from the concourse. Though there aren't many bathrooms at Memorial Field, there are enough to meet the needs of the small crowds.
Seating is general admission, with adult tickets $10 and youth tickets $5. Those prices increase for the Homecoming game, to $15 and $7, respectively, but otherwise remain the same. All students get in free with a Dartmouth ID. There are no obstructed view seats, and it is usually quite easy to find a seat near the 50-yard line with a great view of the field if you are willing to arrive to the game a little early.
At $1, programs are inexpensive and can be found for sale outside the stadium's west entrance or in the stands during the first half.
Banners commemorating the team's league-record 17 Ivy League championships line the field.
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