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INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY -Memorial Field is a 4,000 seat outdoor competition venue that hosts the State College Area School District’s athletic programs including football, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse programs. Located at the intersection of West Nittany Avenue and Fraser Street, it was constructed during the Great Depression as a Work Progress Administration project and is situated on 3.493 acres in the heart of the Borough of State College and the Holmes-Foster Highlands Historical District. It is located next to the Fairmount Avenue Building and the District Administration building. At the time of the field’s construction, these buildings were in used as the high school and the Nittany Avenue Elementary School. The Borough of State College’s Central Parklet borders the field to the northwest.
(From the booklet, “The Public Schools of the State College Area: A History, The First Forty-Four Years: 1896-1940” by Jo Hays and Margaret Riley)
1914 The sink hole south of the Fraser Street building between Foster and Nittany Avenues, offered to the Board by owner John Noll at a fee of $3,000 and $15 for costs, was accepted at the October 26, 1914 meeting for $3,042. The next month the Board began protesting its continued use as a dump, without success for some time. Requests to close Foster Ave. between Fraser Street and the alley behind the school building weren't honored until the early 1930s.
1916 A detailed plan to adapt the sink hole as a "Hollow" for school activity - suggested by Arthur W. Cowell of Penn State's landscape architecture department - received a favorable hearing the next spring. In May 1916 the Board, cooperating with the PTA playground committee, approved construction of two tennis courts on the Nittany Avenue side of the new high school, naming James S. Dale to supervise this work along with leveling ground in the Hollow for baseball.
Bids were requested in June 1916 to complete the "Ball grounds as laid out, including walling and concreting." At an approximate cost of $1,000, this was the first effort to make the Hollow "one of the State's most modern playgrounds," as Mr. Briner described it in his 1915/16 annual report. Despite intermittent agitation, the unavailability of funds kept improvement minor for some time.
1926 The State College Rotary Club paid for an outdoor running track in the Hollow, approved by the board in April 1926.
In March 1930, The Board adopted a detailed plan for building and renovation including this plan - Develop the Hollow for a full-size football field, track, and a playground for elementary school pupils. Embellish this central school area with trees, shrubs, and stone masonry. The plan also called for building the Nittany Street Grammar School in 1940. (The district at this time included only the buildings surrounding the Hollow: Fairmount (high school) and Fraser Street Elementary School as well as the small College Heights School)
In 1933 Superintendent Jo Hayes suggested applying for federal Civil Works Administration aid to turn the Hollow into the playing field that became Memorial Field. Bleachers were installed on the west side that were salvaged from the new Beaver Field. Following acceptance of the project for WPA assistance, installation of grandstands and floodlights began. In October 1937 the first football game was played against Claysburg.Left: Turning a sink hole into a football field was finally accomplished during the 1930s with government grants, local labor, and construction companies including Swartz and O.W. Houts.
In 1946, “the hollow” where high school football was played, was dedicated as Memorial Field to honor State College high school graduates who had given their lives in World Wars I and II. The field was rededicated in 1993 to honor all those fallen in wars since the initial dedication. During the 1940s and 50s graduation ceremonies were also held at Memorial FieldSince 2000In 2000, the State College Area School District began preparation of the current District-wide Master Plan. It examined the condition and needs of all the District’s academic and athletic facilities. In December of 2001, improvements to Memorial Field were suggested as an option in the District Wide Master Plan. In 2002 the Board of School Directors indicated support of this recommendation.The first step in updating Memorial Field came in 2003 when the District undertook a project to install an artificial turf playing surface. The project included repair and replacement of several segments of the stone retaining walls and replacement of concrete stairs to expand the limits of the playing surface. This project was supported by the community group SHFAST and designed by Comprehensive Design Architects/Engineer and ELA Group, Inc.
In 2004, the District initiated a project to replace the original field lighting due to concerns over the integrity of the light standards. Work included four light poles with glare control fixtures, a new electrical service for the entire field, and the ability to operate the lights from the electrical room, the press box, and the administration building. This project was designed by L. Robert Kimball & Associates (Kimball).In the fall of 2006, based on the most recent bleacher assessment letter from Kimball, the district decided to begin the process to replace the existing seating systems. Per a recommendation from the Citizens Advisory Committee for Facilities, Kimball and the District's Physical Plant Department collaborated on repairs to the existing home side bleachers. During the summer of 2007 these repairs were completed.
Through the late summer of 2007 and Fall of 2008,the concerns shifted to the retaining wall behind the visitor-side bleachers. While the district was presented with replacement cost of over $2 million to replace this wall and the visitor-side bleachers, the Physical Plant Department pursued temporary repair options to allow the Board more time to plan for a holistic renovation for the facility prior to any major expenditures. As a result, one section of the visitor-side bleachers has been separated from the main assembly and closed. This temporary measure will be in place until a final plan for the field is adopted by the Board.
In 2009, as part of the District Wide Facilities Master Plan process, a community meeting was held in part to discuss and get input on Memorial Field. The Board approved the District Wide Facilities Master Plan June 23, 2009. Two approaches were identified and an RFQ for architectural services was distributed.
In 2010 the team of Palumbo Skibinski Crawford was chosen by the board for initial design services and schematic project design.
June 7, 2010 - A Community Dialogue on Memorial Field, 7 p.m., Mount Nittany Middle School cafeteria. The Board of School Directors seeks community input to help shape the vision for Memorial Field. A presentation by the architects will be followed by small and large group discussion. Agenda
September 22, 2010 - Board Work Session on Memorial Field, Architects presented options for renovations to Memorial Field.
October 19, 2010, 7 p.m., Second Community Dialogue on Memorial Field, 7 p.m. The architects in charge will present three renovation options that are based on community input from the first community meeting held in June. Community input can help shape the future of this facility for decades to come.
January 6, 2011, The board held a joint work session with the State College Borough Council to present the proposed renovation design options and get feedback.April 2011 – Board accepts schematic design for Field Master Plan
June 2011 – Design of Phase 1 project authorized - Board authorizes design of west bleacher replacement and retaining wall stabilization project
August 2012 – SCASD staff discovers shifting of ground at sinkhole
-Structural engineer contacted
-Interim repairs and bracing performed in the vicinity of sinkhole
-Additional geo-technical testing performed
September 21, 2012 – Final Report issued from Hutchinson GroupSeptember 27, 2012 – Hutchinson Report received by SCASD
October 1, 2012 – East side bleachers closed due to subsidence beneath the north portion. This section of bleachers to be removed.At the March 18, 2013 Board Meeting, the board approved the bid award for Memorial Field West Side Bleacher Project to low bidder, Mid-State Construction, Inc., in the amount of $2,255,000 with both Alternate 1 ($2,437) and Alternate 2 ($89,650) included.State College Borough agrees to repair the sink hole and provide a system of storm water abatement.The projects begin in April 2013 and are completed enough for the football team play their first home game on the refurbished field (below). All repairs to the west side will be completed by December 2013.
Last Modified on November 18, 2013