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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Memorial Field – Dartmouth Big Green

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Memorial Field

4 Crosby St

Hanover, NH 03755

Year Opened: 1923

Capacity: 11,000

The Hill Wind Knows Their Name

Football has been played at Dartmouth College on the site of Memorial Field since 1893. The current concrete-and-brick grandstand on Crosby Street was constructed in 1923 as a memorial to students and alumni who perished in World War I (that’s not a typo, World War ONE).

Over the years the stadium has seen many changes, including the addition of permanent stands on the east side of the field and a complete demolition of the main grandstand and press box while keeping the grandstand’s historic outer shell intact. The Field Turf playing surface, the 8-lane Tartan Track surface, and the adjoining Leverone Field House and Floren Varsity House are all of more recent vintage than the stadium’s classic ivy-covered façade.

The Dartmouth Big Green compete in the Ivy League and boast a storied tradition that includes a National Championship in 1925, a record 19 Ivy League championships and 11 alumni inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 43 Dartmouth alumni have played in the National Football League.

Food & Beverage 2

There are a pair of concessions stands operated by Dartmouth Dining as pop-up tents in opposite corners of the facility. A basic menu is served, comprising of hot dogs, burgers, sausage and pepper sandwiches and assorted snacks.

Coca-Cola products are featured at Memorial Field. Alcohol is not sold at this facility. On the plus side, the quality of concessions is good, and no item costs more than five dollars.

Atmosphere 3

There’s something special about going to a game far from the bright lights of big-time college football. The atmosphere is laid-back, the pressure is minimal, the fans are friendly, and everyone seems to be having more fun. This is true at Dartmouth, where, while the stuff happening around the game may seem silly, the students certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.

During play stoppages students come onto the field to kick field goals, participate in trivia contests and race across the field while putting on a football uniform. The small band performs before the game and at halftime, complete with a repertoire of really bad jokes and choreography designed to show just how wacky and anti-establishment these Ivy League students are.

For those fans looking for a more traditional game day presentation, there is a video scoreboard in the south end zone which is put to good use with game information, promotions and entertainment during play stoppages. There is a cheerleading squad which performs throughout the game and participates in the entertainment with t-shirt tosses and pizza giveaways. Hawkers roam the stands selling programs.

Neighborhood 5

The campus of Dartmouth College dominates the landscape of the small town of Hanover. The small-town feel is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, particularly if you visit later in the fall while the leaves are changing color. The small downtown, with its public Green as the focal point, is perfect for exploring before or after the game.

On a typical fall Saturday you’ll find no shortage of people walking around the downtown enjoying the weather before settling in for a long New Hampshire winter. Main Street bustles with a wide variety of places to eat. Check out Murphy’s on the Green or Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery for a true taste of Hanover. If you’re looking to stay in town, the Hanover Inn has rooms that overlook the Green.

Memorial Field is located on the southeast corner of the Dartmouth campus, alongside other athletic venues including Thompson Arena, Red Rolfe Field, Leede Arena, and Scully-Fahey Field. It’s a short walk to both the Green and Main Street.

Fans 3

Attendance at Big Green football games can fluctuate wildly, depending on the opponent. Typically, the Big Green average around 6,000 per game, which places them just under the overall Ivy League average. Considering that Dartmouth is the smallest school in the Ivy League, along with having the smallest stadium and the smallest area population base, these figures are not too shabby.

Your typical Big Green crowd is laid-back and friendly. You’re not going to see rabid, drunken fans here in Hanover, and that’s how it should be at a facility like this. Locals, alumni and students combine to make the atmosphere at Memorial Field almost scholarly, as one might expect at a stadium covered in brick and ivy.

There doesn’t seem to be a large turnout by the student body, which may hold back the overall noise level. Ivy League fans traditionally travel well, so it’s not unusual to see a significant number of visiting fans in the stands on any given Saturday.

Access 4

The town of Hanover, New Hampshire is located in New England’s Upper Valley on the shores of the Connecticut River and the New Hampshire-Vermont border. Although the area may be off the beaten path, it’s easy to get to. Interstates 89 and 91 meet a short distance from Dartmouth, making the trip here an easy one. Busses run from nearby Manchester, an hour to the southeast, and to Logan Airport in Boston, a two-hour drive away. There is a train station on the other side of the Connecticut River in White River Junction, Vermont.

The town of Hanover boasts a population of just under 12,000 residents, which swells when the 7,000 or so Dartmouth students show up. The small town is easily navigated, with numerous parking lots and ample on-street parking in the area on game days. All parking lots are a short walk to the stadium, with shuttles available for those parked a bit further away.

Memorial Stadium is the smallest football venue in the Ivy League, as recent renovations reduced capacity to 11,000. These renovations improved the safety and comfort of the old grandstand, allowing for more room and accessibility. Unfortunately, the track which runs around the football field pushes the grandstands back a bit, but all seats feature good views of the action. The new rest rooms are clean and large enough to accommodate a Big Green crowd. Lines to concessions and rest rooms are minimal.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets for Big Green football games are priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youths. Parking is free in the parking lots within walking distance of the stadium, and there is ample on-street parking in the neighborhood. Even if you have to feed the meter for a while, it won’t cost more than three dollars for your spot. Concessions are moderately priced, with no item costing more than five dollars.

Extras 3

The stadium was built as a memorial to the 3,407 Dartmouth students who served in World War I, including 112 who lost their lives. The memorial was subsequently expanded to include students who fought in the Korean War, Civil War, and World War II. There are several plaques honoring their sacrifice near the main entrance.

Dartmouth honors their football history with banners commemorating their league championships lining the front of the stands and with flags flying across the top of the old Crosby Street grandstand.

Another extra point is awarded for the major renovations to the stadium that managed to keep the historic flavor of the venue (most notably the Crosby Street façade) while upgrading the facility to modern standards.

Final Thoughts

If you were to imagine what an Ivy League football stadium would look like, you would probably imagine features like an old-timey looking brick façade with ivy vines climbing it, a main-street full of small shops and eateries, a walkable campus with interesting architecture, and a stadium full of laid back, but invested fans. In tiny Hanover, NH, you have all these things. They add up to a Stadium Journey that may be far off the beaten path, but one well worth taking.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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