Historic Grant Field and the Rose Bowl Field

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Bobby Dodd Stadium: The Home of Grant Field

Historic Grant Field represents an integral part of Georgia Tech history. The animated atmosphere as "The Ramblin' Wreck," one of Georgia Tech's mascots, races onto the field, the immense fanfare that accompanies it, and the presence of a crowd of thrilled, dedicated attendees has been a normal occurrence at Grant Field for nearly one hundred years. The importance of football and thus, the fields on which it has been played began for Georgia Tech all the way back in 1893 when the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate rivalry between Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia emerged. [1]

An early account of the excitement that some felt for football at Grant Field reads, "Georgia Tech's football team of 1928 inspired such frantic enthusiasm on the part of of us as underclassmen that we felt like this was the 'only' thing in life. When we yelled during those games it was much like games where gladiators did their thing with real swords and shields. Thumbs down." [2]

Contents

Historic Grant Field

Location

Grant Field is located on Georgia Tech's campus in Atlanta, Georgia. Techwood Drive, Bobby Dodd Way, and North Avenue border the field.[3] The exact location is UNIQ51f0a2a221f73fca-geo-00000009-QINU.

Humble Beginnings

Grant Field in 1912

Initially, Historic Grant Field did not belong to Tech and was almost unfit for playing anything, let alone football. Yet in 1904 the Georigia Tech Athletic Association, along with encouragement from John Heisman, leased the plot of land from the E. C. Peters Land Company for seven years. An excerpt from the Technique comments that "it was an unleveled, feral and rocky tract of land that posed more problems for the players than just service."[4]

It can be said that the site of Historic Grant Field was the product of convicted men often from chain gangs. Grading the land and constructing a drainage system for it was provided by convicts used by the city of Atlanta for public work projects. Some three hundred men under watch worked on the site at one time catching the eye of passerby students.[2] After the completion of the graded field around 1905, people, mostly Tech students, set out to build grandstands so that spectators could watch the games in some place more comfortable than the ground. Thus, "The Flats," another name for the field, became the home for Georgia Tech football.[4]

Growing Roots

The leased land was purchased by the state for $16,000 in 1906 with the last land acquisition in 1913. Therefore, "The Flats," officially became Georgia Tech property. Also, in a contribution by John W. Grant in 1913, "The Flats" became "Grant Field" after Grant's deceased son, Hugh Innman Grant. Due to John W. Grant's $15,000 contribution, permanent, concrete stands were constructed for Grant Field.[5][6] Blasting was required to prepare the area where the stands were planned to be built.[2]

The early years of the field yielded established the foundation for the fame of Grant Field. Beginning with the now well-known coach, John Heisman, Georgia Tech established itself as a premier football force. Directed by Heisman from 1904 to 1919,[7] Georgia Tech's football team would claim a five game winning streak against the University of Georgia, create history with the most one-sided victory in college football (222-0), and win a national title. Then, in 1920, the responsibility of Georgia Tech football fell straight into the capable hands of Coach W. A. Alexander. His fair, but harsh training methods led to five major bowl games and eight South-eastern championships.[5]

Bobby Dodd Stadium

Succeeding Coach Alexander was Robert Lee "Bobby" Dodd, who despite a disappointing first season, went on to be the school's coach with the most wins. He remained the football coach from 1945 to 1966 and was immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.[7] During his time at Tech, the west stands were expanded to seat 9,700 more spectators. As the times changed from war to peace, Bobby Dodd became an large part of integrating the campus. He was a coach who did not care about winning at all costs and even relaxed the training of his team as compared to Alexander's style of coaching.[5] He genuinely cared for his players and was even said to approve of marriage because it "Keeps [his players] off the street."[8] This gregarious spirit and his record as a coach helped to establish his legacy in the eyes of Georgia Tech students. Consequently, in 1988 the actual stadium was named after him, although the literal ground is still called Grant Field.

Contributions/Improvements and Modifications

Year Info
1913 John W. Grant - $15,000 towards west stands
1915 Grant and the Board of Trustees - additional stands
1924-1925 Expansion from 5,600 to 30,000 seats
1958 All steel north stands brings capacity to 44,105
1962 Second deck east side. Capacity 53,300
1967 Second deck of West stands. Capacity 58,121
1971 Grass replaced with AstroTurf
1982 New scoreboards
1986 Portion of stands demolished to create space for the Wardlaw Building. Capacity: 46,000
1988 All-Pro surface replaces AstroTurf
1992 Bill Moore Student Center and more sky boxes decrease stand size
1995 Grass reinstalled
2003 G. Wayne Clough - 75 million dollar expansion to 55,000 seats with added amenities
[4]

Other Interesting Information

In 1928 Georgia Tech's president Marion L. Brittain proceeded to take a long trip to Europe and the Middle East. While in Greece he decided to purchase a large marble block from the site of the Battle of Marathon to be set up on Grant Field. Its purpose was to inspire the student athletes as they saw it at the beginning and end of the races since it was set up as a marker. Later, during the construction of the west stands, the stone was lost and a replica was commissioned by Mrs. Fred Patterson in 1983. The replica now sits next to Rose Bowl Field on the George C. Griffin track.[5] [2]

Some notable people that have attended football games at Grant Field include President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. President Roosevelt even spoke at the field to dedicate the first low-income housing project, the Techwood Homes Project. Churchill also made a speech at Grant Field encouraging continued ties with England.[2]

Grant Field is the oldest on-campus stadium in the NCAA Division I-A.[9]

The largest crowd to attend a game at Grant Field numbered 60,316 spectators.[9]

Rose Bowl Field

The acquisition of the Rose Bowl Field resulted from the exploits of Georgia Tech's Coach W. A. Alexander. The "Golden Tornado" that Alexander put together led not only to championship wins but the purchase of the Rose Bowl Field. In 1928 with his undefeated "Golden Tornado," Alexander had the pleasure of taking his team to the Rose Bowl against California. The astonishing result of the game, 8-7 in favor of Georgia Tech, was heightened by the unusually procured safety. While on their own twenty-three yard line Georgia Tech fumbled the ball which Roy Riegels proceeded to recover. After collecting the ball, Riegels began to run in the wrong direction. The stadium was described as being "quiet as a tomb" during his run down the field with Frank Waddey (Georgia Tech) and Benny Lom (California) right on his heels.[2] Riegels covered sixty-two yards before finally being tackled in the end zone. Next, California was given the ball on the one yard line. On the following play Vance Marce was able to hit the intended punt clear out of bounds for a safety.[5] As a consequence of these circumstances, Georgia Tech gained national prestige and was given $76,000 which was then used to procure Rose Bowl Field.

Location

The Rose Bowl field is located just west of Fowler street, very close to the Moore Tennis Center and Russ Chandler Stadium. The exact location of the Rose Bowl field is UNIQ51f0a2a221f73fca-geo-00000043-QINU

Source Summaries:

Source Summary: The Story of Georgia Tech: The Grant Field Stadium

Source Summary: Bobby Dodd Stadium Groundbreaking Remarks

Source Summary: The Story of Georgia Tech: The Rose Bowl Field

References

  1. Clean Old-Fashioned Hate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean,_Old-Fashioned_Hate
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Images and Memories - availiable in the Georgia Tech archives
  3. Bobby Dodd Stadium At Historic Grant Field, http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/genrel/071001aaa.html
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Technique from Friday, October 15, 1999 http://web.archive.org/web/20070929140556/http://www.nique.net/issues/1999-10-15/campus+life/6
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 The Story of Georgia Tech - available in the Georgia Tech Archives
  6. Bobby Dodd Stadium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Dodd_Stadium
  7. 7.0 7.1 Georgia Tech Hall of Fame http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/ot/fame/halloffame.html#fbc
  8. Bobby Dodd http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/dodd_bobby00.html
  9. 9.0 9.1 Historic Grant Field http://ramblinwreck.cstv.com/genrel/071001aaa.html
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