October 19, 2013
Memorial Field (Capacity: 13,000)
Dartmouth Big Green vs Bucknell Bison
Final Score: 14 – 17
* The stadium was re-visited for a game on November 5, 2021
During a weekend trip to Vermont, we hopped over the state border into Hanover, NH, where the Dartmouth football team played their fifth game of the season on a perfect fall afternoon. Located in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire, the small college town of 11,000 is quintessential New England. With the surrounding hills, nearby Connecticut River and wonderfully charming downtown, Hanover is a great place to stroll through. Dartmouth takes up much of the town and the relatively small (6,000 students) Ivy League school has done quite well after humble beginnings. The history on Dartmouth’s football team goes all the way back to 1881 and the program has flown under the radar despite 17 Ivy League Championships (the last one being a shared title in 2018). The Big Green play at Memorial Field, a stadium built in 1923 and just oozing nostalgia near the main gates. Inside, is a more modern facility and taking in a game here is a very pleasant experience. In 2021, After a visit to the hockey arena, I was able to walk across the street and catch the second half of a Friday Night game against Princeton.
Prestige Ranking: 4 out of 5
Main Street is the heart of town and it is filled with many local shops and restaurants. Integrated with the town is Dartmouth as they blend together nicely, almost feeling like one cohesive unit. Campus is eye-pleasing with historic buildings and the famed Baker Library that is made for a postcard. There isn’t much to do, but the small town scenery makes up for it. All of this is within walking distance to Memorial Field, which is on the southeast side of campus.
Location Ranking: 7 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
There is parking throughout the town, but the cost can start adding up. On the north side of campus, parking is free in the Dewey Field lot and bus shuttles run to the stadium. One problem…the shuttle never came to pick us up! We got there at 12:30 PM and by 12:55 we were still waiting. Luckily, it was a 15-minute walk, so we just went by foot. Eventually, we saw buses running, but never found out what happened. I felt bad for the older alumni who did not walk and either waited or drove back into town to find and pay for parking. Aside from that snafu, getting in and out of Hanover is effortless and there are two major interstates (I-91 and I-89) that cross a couple miles away. You will be far from any metropolitan area as cities like Albany, Worcester, Manchester and Boston are a good 1-2 hours away.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 6 out of 8
Resting right along Crosby Street is the brown brick structure that holds the West Stands. The flat design is made all the better with ivy on the walls and the timing was perfect with leaves ranging from yellow, orange, brown and red both on the wall and ground. Open archways looking into the concourse line the entire length and at the middle above the entrance is an original looking inscription saying “Memorial Field”. The outside fit the whole setting perfectly.
Exterior Ranking: 7 out of 10
Passing thru the gates, the age of the facility really shows in the section under the home side bleachers. Though there is still some charm, the area is tight with more than half the space taken up by ramps to the seats. Thankfully, it never gets too crowded as most fans do their halftime mingling or food-buying in the endzones. A kids play section is also set up in this vicinity. The west stand concourse does have one food area and a couple of bathrooms which are very old and tiny. Probably most glaring is the strangest makeshift bathroom I have every seen as the “Men’s” section just underneath the seats is one giant trough.
Concourse Ranking: 1.5 out of 5
Food consists of basic items in that stand underneath the main seats, while outside are more options, including cheeseburgers, chicken tenders and fries. Tents in the open-air section on the track behind the south end zone house more local products. These include Eba’s Pizza, Morano Gelato and Bolco Burritos.
Food Ranking: 5 out of 8
The seating structure and set-up is generally basic as the home stands are accessible from the main entrance and consist of metal bleachers on a concrete foundation. The stands run on a straight line down the sideline and go from endzone to endzone with a small press box up top in the middle. The surrounding views make for a pleasant experience, especially when the leaves are changing. Meanwhile, in the foreground, are light brown brick athletic buildings and the one opposite the main stands is relatively new and it has “Dartmouth” written on it. This Varsity House makes up the back of the east stands, which were re-done because of the new building in 2006. It makes the stadium look much better as the previous version featured an off-center set of larger bleachers (capacity was reduced by 9,000 post-renovation). Next to these stands is the Leverone Field House, a metallic arcing structure. To finish off the stadium, behind each end zone is a small set of temporary, metal bleachers. Back to the home stands, despite a surrounding track, the views are good because each row is a healthy step up from the last one.
Interior Ranking: 6.5 out of 14
The scoreboard debuted a few weeks before my first visit. Located in the south end zone, it is a good one as the left-half of the board features clear HD video. This is used continuously for game footage and replays. On the right-side, the digital numbers for game information are colored red, which makes it easier to read in sunlight. At the bottom it says “Gift of the Stephen Lewinstein Family ’63 & ‘98”. It is just missing a logo or something at the top.
Scoreboard Ranking: 3 out of 4
Right around the central main entrance, several plaques on the wall punctuate the “Memorial” portion of the stadium. Four of the five plaques are dedicated to the Civil War and/or World War I. On the field, team Ivy League championships are displayed with green banners at the bottom of each sideline bleachers. There are also flags at the top of the West Stands with title years on them, but what makes these unique are when you get a little closer and see the football shaped plaque underneath. Each one has the scores of the championship year, to go along with the coach and captain that season. With Track and Field also calling Memorial Field home, there is a stone display behind the end zone for track coach Harry Livingston Hillman.
Displays Ranking: 4 out of 6
All tickets were just $10 during my first, except for homecoming, where the price goes up to $15. Parking can be free from the shuttle lot, while closer to the field where tailgating is permitted, it is $10. The concessions were well-priced too with cheeseburgers for $3.75, hot dogs for $3 and sodas for $2. Everything else is quite cheap and my program only cost a buck. Dartmouth football is an excellent value, even upon my second visit.
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8
For both events, attendance wasn’t huge. Homecoming and Friday Night games seem to be the biggest draws as the place can get more than half full on those occasions. Attendance generally ranks 6th or 7th in the Ivy League. Given the remote area, small town and campus population, the fan turnouts relative to those factors are not that bad.
Fan Support Ranking: 4 out of 8
There was nothing overly loud or boisterous about the atmosphere during my first visit and though that is something I look for and encouraged, this was the right place to sit back and relax to watch a game. The smooth delivery of the PA announcer aided with that. Dartmouth’s crowd did uniformly clap after most plays and there are a few that got more into it than others, but overall, it was a subdued, yet pleasant atmosphere. My next go-around, fans brought the noise for a televised game against Princeton. There were some really good roars that I heard from the outside as I walked to the stadium. Overall, it’s become one of the better atmosphere’s in the league.
Atmosphere Ranking: 8.5 out of 14
Memorial Field in its current form may have been built in 1923, but it was really 1893 when the site first started hosting football. The name of the stadium honors students and alumni who served for their country…..In 2011, lights were added to the stadium and the first night game took place on October 1st against Penn…..There was an astounding 116 players on Dartmouth’s roster and the sight of this mass running on to the field was crazy. Multiple times, I saw two players wearing the same number! How in the world you manage that many players or even find it necessary to keep that number is beyond me….Advertisements and company plugs were completely missing from the stadium, making for a much nicer and cleaner experience.
Game (Initial Visit)
In a defensive battle, Dartmouth’s early second quarter touchdown was the only score of the first half as the Big Green took a 7-0 lead into halftime. With their offense playing terribly (and only possessing the ball for 9:42), Dartmouth’s defense did well in the second half, but finally succumbed to the Bison. Two fourth quarter touchdowns put the game away, one of them on a bad decision as Dartmouth accepted a holding penalty that if declined would have made it fourth and goal. The Big Green blocked a punt with under a minute left and backup QB Alex Park threw a 21-yard pass to Bo Patterson, but the onside kick failed and Bucknell won 17-14.