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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Forgotten Stadiums: Mark's Stadium

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The growth of soccer in the United States continues to happen in fits and starts. Over the past decade or so, several teams in Major League Soccer have moved into soccer-specific stadiums. Not all teams enjoy the luxury of having their own home, as fans of the New England Revolution know all too well. But the soccer-specific stadium is not a new phenomenon in this country. In fact, a large open lot in the north end of the small town of Tiverton, Rhode Island once was home to a long-lost piece of American soccer history.

The city of Fall River and surrounding areas already had a long and successful soccer history. In fact, the area was known as the “Golden Crescent” of American soccer. Teams from Pawtucket, New Bedford and Fall River were among the most successful in the country.

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During the 1920’s and early 1930s the Fall River Marksmen were one of the most successful soccer clubs in the country, winning the American Soccer League championship six times and the National Challenge Cup an unheard of four times. In 1930 the Marksmen won the ASL title, the Challenge Cup and the Lewis Cup before embarking on a tour of Central Europe.

In 1922 Sam Mark (born Sam Markelevitch) purchased Fall River United and renamed them the Marksmen after himself. He built the team a stadium right across the state line from Fall River in neighboring Tiverton, Rhode Island. This allowed the team to avoid Massachusetts’ blue laws and play on Sundays. The facility, which seated 15,000, was also used for baseball and featured an L-shaped grandstand to accommodate both sports. A dirt track for auto racing was also located on the site, which interfered with the size of the soccer pitch. Mark’s Stadium was often the site of prestige friendlies between the Marksmen and international squads.

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Mark moved his team out of the Fall River area at the height of their success in 1931, relocating to New York and calling the team the Yankees. The team floundered right out of the gate and soon found itself back in the area as the New Bedford Whalers. Mark’s Stadium was rented out to new local teams. Fall River F.C. and Ponta Delgada F.C. called Mark’s Stadium home over the ensuing years. Prestige friendlies continued to be held here.

The land on which Mark’s Stadium once stood has gone through many changes over the decades since Mark’s Stadium was demolished in the 1950s. For years it was home to the Ponta Delgada Social club, which housed a restaurant and banquet facility as well as a drive-in movie theater. Today a small bar/restaurant and a karate studio stand on the site. The large empty lot behind this building is no longer used for soccer games, and not many in the area know about this pitch’s noteworthy past.

For more information on the Fall River Marksmen and Mark's Stadium, visit the following websites:

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