In the early years of the college, most sports events were held on campus. But new buildings and the growth of trees and shrubbery surrounding Middle College made it increasingly difficult to host sports such as football, baseball, and other sports that needed more open spaces.
In November of 1890, several major benefactors of the college helped purchase a 16-acre meadow east of the campus, acquired from Sarah M. Strong. Known as Keep Field from 1890-1915 for alumnus William Keep, class of 1873, the field was named Hancock Field from 1915-34 to honor Josephine Hancock Logan, the wife of donor Frank G. Logan, whose gift provided endowment for the field and also financed the entrance gateway.
In 1933-34 the area was greatly enhanced by the addition of Strong Stadium, a gift of Mrs. Josephine Strong in memory of her husband, Walter Ansel Strong ‘05, a trustee of the college for almost two decades and the former publisher of The Chicago Daily News. Given Mr. Strong’s long and supportive relationship with his alma mater, as well as his interest in athletics, it seemed most fitting that the stadium be named in his memory after his sudden death in 1931.
The then-1,600 seat stadium was dedicated on October 13, 1934, with much fanfare, and served two years later as the setting for the city’s centennial observance for several nights running. Besides football contests, the stadium also hosted the Beloit Relays, a premier Midwestern college track & field meet which was initiated in 1937, as well as serving as an outdoor cathedral for religious services held in conjunction with a national meeting of Congregational and Christian church delegates.
Over time, improvements were gradually made, including updated locker rooms and heating and cooling systems in 1964. Gradually, the stadium capacity has been increased to its present 3,000-seat setting.
And now, with Saturday’s home opener, the Stadium has been transformed again with the addition of field turf, a new scoreboard and a new track surface, which is scheduled to be completed by the Homecoming Game on October 1.
Much like over 120 years ago, a group of loyal, passionate benefactors have stepped forward to help fund a facility that will serve the present student body and many more “Beloiters” to come.
UP AHEAD IN BUCCANEER ATHLETICS
It’s another busy week for the Buccaneers. Go to www.beloit.edu/bucs to get the entire schedule and catch up on last week’s season-opening results.