Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14
Ellen Vagelos C'90 Field 3331 River Fields Dr Philadelphia, PA 08105
Year Opened: 2013 Capacity: 500
The Might of the Penn
Tucked into the River Fields Complex between I-76 and the railroad tracks, you can find Ellen Vagelos C'90 Field, home of the University of Pennsylvania's field hockey team. The complex is located on the bank of the Schuylkill River and also includes Meiklejohn Stadium, home of the Quakers' baseball team, and Rhodes Field, home of the soccer program.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food or drink for sale at Vagelos Field. Fans are free to bring in their own, except for alcohol.
Vagelos Field is located in an unusual urban setting. The Philadelphia skyline is visible behind the goal and cars zoom by on I-76 behind the bleachers. Inside the stadium, there are six rows of bleacher seating, all of which are extremely close to the action, so close that when they water the field before the game, fans will get wet if they do not move. Some do so, while others, especially kids, seem to enjoy the mist. All the seats are under the shade of some trees, which is nice early in the season when it's hot out, but can be less so later on, particularly as the leaves start falling.
As is typically the case at college field hockey, there is not much going on other than the game itself. The PA announcer will announce substitutions, goals, and cards, but that is about it. There is a scoreboard in the far corner of the stadium that shows shots, saves, and penalty corners in addition to the score and clock. It also shows a short hype video before the game.
Vagelos Field is located in a park next to several other Penn athletic venues in the University City Neighborhood of Philadelphia. Within a short walk, you can find numerous restaurants ranging from pizza to burgers to chicken to bars, and much more. Most of this can be found north of the stadium, as the university hospital is located directly to the south. The Schuylkill River is directly to the east, but there are plenty of options as you head west along the streets as well. The New Deck Tavern is one favorite, as are the White Dog Café and highly rated Mexican restaurant Cucina Zapata.
The crowd at Penn Field hockey games consists mostly of friends and family of the players, although a few other Quaker fans sometimes make it out. When Stadium Journey visited, there were several hundred fans in attendance, but most of them were there to support the other team. Those fans who are there to support Penn are fairly passionate, but there simply aren't that many of them.
Vagelos Field is located in the River Fields Complex and finding it can be tricky if you are not using a GPS. Even if you are using one, it can be unclear where to park. On weekends or weekdays after 2:30, the lots in the River Fields Complex are open to the public.
It will cost $4 per hour, up to $13 for the whole day. For weekday games where you will be arriving before 2:30, those lots are permitted only. Some fans seemed to be able to park there without issue, while others were told they couldn't.
To be safe, we suggest parking in the Penn Museum Garage, about a ten-minute walk if you head down South Street and walk down a lengthy staircase behind the Hollenback Center (and back up the multiple flights after the game), or a 20-minute walk if you take the long way around to avoid the steps. Parking here will cost $18 for the whole day. The Penn Medicine Station on SEPTA commuter rail is also an option, as the station entrance is across from the Museum Garage.
There are restrooms located in a trailer by the entrance, but they are single person and there is only one men's room and two women's rooms, so the lines can get long at times.
Return on Investment 2
Admission to Penn field hockey games is free, but you will have to pay quite a bit of money for parking. It is the latter aspect that brings this score down significantly. It is the middle of a major city, so it is understandable why they have to charge so much but to pay up to $18 for a pretty basic experience is not the best value.
Free programs are available in a box by the entrance to the bleachers.
A second star for the unique setting, with views of the Philadelphia skyline, cars whizzing by on the freeway behind the stands, and freight trains coming by on the elevated tracks beyond the far sideline.
College field hockey is usually a pretty simple experience, and that seems to be even more true at Penn than in most other places. The home crowds are often outdrawn by visiting fans and parking is expensive, but Vagelos Field may still be worth checking out, if only for the unusual location.