Posted on April 13, 2015 by MaryRose Croddick
Franklin Field is one of the most historic athletic arenas in all of college sports. The field dates back all the way to 1895 when it was built for the viewing of the Penn Relays. The relays are still held there to this day and it is one of the only times that the entire stadium is filled. Franklin field was also formerly the home of the NFL team the Philadelphia Eagles, and is now used by the university for varsity track, football, and lacrosse competitions and practices, and also the site of Penn’s Spring Fling concert and Commencement ceremonies.
Formally, Franklin Field is an intimidating structure. It’s colossal walls tower over the everyday passerby. On the inside the stands stretch up endlessly into the sky reducing the players down on the turf into mere ants. From the top of the stands there are beautiful views of the entire city creating an interesting juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers to this old brick amphitheater.
The stadium’s daunting composition parallels the fierce competitors that take its field. Personally, I have had the unique privilege of competing in this legendary arena. For the first two years of my Penn career I played in Franklin Field as a member of the Penn Field Hockey team. I can distinctly remember the feeling of stepping out onto that turf for the first time– in a colossal stadium, under the lights, wearing my Penn uniform: it was an atmosphere like no other. I have left my blood, sweat, and tears out on that field like all those athletes that came before me, and all those yet to come.
This historic athletic site has seen both triumphant wins and devastating losses throughout its time. Franklin Field has been a home for the competitive spirit of all different types and levels of athletes for over a century. Throughout the stadium there are plaques and statues commemorating the truly excellent athletes that once played in this arena. Chuck Bednarik, ED’49, was one of the all time greats in football history. After playing for Penn and earning All American recognition three times over he went on to play in NFL for the Eagles. Sadly he passed away recently at 89 and his statue that stands in the western pavilion of the stadium has been honored with flowers and a Penn scarf.
Franklin Field has an incredibly rich athletic history. Having hosted some of the world’s greatest athletes during the Penn Relays, to professional football players, to collegiate competitors, to some of the cutest second grade soccer players for summer camp– it’s walls have really seen it all. But at the end of the day, when contestants have all gone home and there is not a spectator left in the stands, this historic building remains waiting for the next event to fill its seats and its atmosphere with the spirit of competition once again.
Photographs and Text by MaryRose Croddick, Copyright 2015
About the Author: About The Author: MaryRose Croddick is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.