Final Game at Palmer Stadium
Then the second-oldest football stadium in the nation, the 45,725-seat Palmer Memorial Stadium officially opened on Oct. 24, 1914, when Princeton hosted Dartmouth before an estimated crowd of 7,000. Knowlton Ames Jr., the son of the legendary Knowlton "Snake" Ames, scored the first touchdown in Palmer as the Tigers defeated Dartmouth 16-12 to make the stadiums opening a success.
Heisman trophy winner Dick Kazmaier 52 performed his football feats to near-perfection here from 1949 through 1951. Princeton was a remarkable 18-1 at Palmer Stadium during Kazmaiers three years.
Undefeated Tiger teams in 1920, 1922, 1933, 1935, 1950, 1951 and 1964 left their marks in the arenas history. In all there have been 14 undefeated seasons at Palmer Stadium.
Princeton had an all-time record of 283-161-17 at Palmer Stadium. The 1995 team was the last of eight Ivy League champions to play in the stadium.
All in a Days Work
The construction of the stadium also was a huge success. The George A. Fuller Co. completed the facility in four months, almost a full month ahead of schedule. In order to expedite construction the workmen were divided into two sections, one assigned to the east and the other to the west side of the structure. Throughout the summer of 1914 there was a friendly race between the east and west crews for the completion of their respective work.
Edgar Palmer 03, the donor of the stadium, was on hand for the opening of this memorial to his father. The stadium officially was dedicated to Stephen S. Palmer Nov. 13, 1914, when Princeton played Yale. In a ceremony on the Friday before the Yale game, Edgar Palmer said that in turning over the stadium to the Trustees of Princeton University in memory of his father, his one wish was that the Princeton teams that play there may play fair and straight and preserve the honor and glory of their alma mater.
Other Athletic Events
Many athletic spectacles took place in the Princeton horseshoe, among them a stirring series of internationally flavored track meets during the late 1930s.
Palmer Stadium also played host to mens and womens lacrosse, including the 1981 mens Final Four, as well as NFL preseason football games.
Furthermore, Palmer Stadium housed its share of meteorological memories. The Tigers closed out their undefeated 1935 season with the famous "Twelfth Man" snowstorm game. On Nov. 23, 1935, 56,000 people packed Palmer Stadium in near-blizzard conditions to watch the Tigers defeat Dartmouth 26-6.
It was the actions of a local cook, however, that made this game memorable. With Princeton well in front in the fourth quarter, a man, later identified as a cook in a local diner, ran onto the field and took a spot on the Dartmouth line. After one play, he was escorted from the field by stadium police.
Fifteen years later, in 1950, Princeton and Dartmouth did battle again with an undefeated season on the line for the Tigers. On this occasion, however, it was a hurricane that wreaked havoc on the game. The contest was played in torrential rain, accompanied by 80-mile-per-hour winds with gusts reaching 108.
Palmer Stadium had been covered for most of the morning prior to the game. At noon, however, the tarpaulins broke their moorings and an inch of water covered the field from one 20-yard line to the other and to within a few yards of each sideline.
Atop the stadium, the tar paper roofing was ripped off the press box and water dripped through in increasing quantities. The gusting winds caused the press box and the radio and public address booths to sway noticeably.
Nearly 5,000 Tiger faithful braved the elements and watched Princeton complete its perfect season with a 13-7 victory against Dartmouth. All three touchdowns were scored by the team driving with the wind.
On the afternoon, there were 19 fumblessix by Princeton and 13 by Dartmouth. Princeton completed just two passes and Dartmouth completed just one.
It frequently was necessary for the referee to hold the ball on the line of scrimmage until the center moved up to claim possession. From the press box it was impossible to tell whether that was necessary to keep the ball from blowing or floating away.
The years between the turn of the century and the World War I saw the construction of several additions to Princeton's athletic facilities. The most notable of these was Palmer Stadium, built in 1914. Donated by Edgar Palmer, Class of 1903, this horseshoe-shaped stadium was erected on the open ground to the south of Prospect Avenue. In its original configuration, it seated 41,000 fans.
Designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, the architect of Palmer Physical Laboratory, Palmer Stadium married Collegiate Gothic ornamentation with the classical Greek plan. Its northern end featured a pair of Gothic entrance towers,and around the exterior structure ran a series of tall, narrow arches.
To keep costs down, the stadium was built of reinforced concrete instead of masonry. This was also its undoing. Because of extensive deterioration of the concrete, Palmer Stadium will be demolished following the 1996 football season.
Source: Princeton University
This Season May Be the Last for Palmer Stadium, But What Happens to Home Schedule During '97?
T he season doesn't start for more than a month, but the Ivy Football League's media day held a week ago Tuesday produced some news that was announced and some that wasn't. The news that wasn't announced was far more interesting.
The fate of 82-year old Palmer Stadium was sealed some time ago. The 45,725-seat structure, beset by problems of crumbling concrete for many years, will be demolished to make way for a new and smaller arena seating approximately 30,000 people. What hasn't been determined for certain yet is the timetable, but the thinking was it would happen after the 1997 season with a new stadium in place for the first football game in September, 1998.
Now rumors are circulating that this season will be Palmer's last, and the scenario of completing construction on the new stadium between seasons was too optimistic. That will leave the Tigers without a home field for the five games scheduled to be played here in 1997.
There has been no official announcement on this from the University, but officials acknowledge that one will have to be made soon. If Palmer Stadium is unavailable for 1997, there are several possibilities to solve the problem of where to play.
The five opponents scheduled to play here include Cornell, Fordham, Colgate, Columbia and Yale, not the most exciting home schedule in any case. Depending on the home schedules of other nearby teams and their willingness to help out, the Orange and Black might go 20 miles north to Piscataway to play in Rutgers Stadium or 50 miles south to play in Penn's Franklin Field.
40,000 in the Meadowlands?
There is also the possibility the Princeton-Yale game on November 15 would be scheduled for Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. One published report said that contest "would probably draw 40,000." Let's wait and see what kind of records the two teams are playing with when they meet before deciding 40,000 would want to trek to Giants Stadium.
In 1989, the two teams met here with undefeated league records and didn't draw 30,000. And as far as Princeton alumni are concerned, the Meadowlands parking lot is a far cry from the comforts of Ivy and Cottage clubs.
One thing is certain, Princeton won't be asking the College of New Jersey (nee Trenton State) if it can borrow its field in Ewing Township.
A final possibility is for Old Nassau to work out a switch with one or two teams, playing on the road there in 1997 and here at some later date. For example, Princeton is scheduled to play at Colgate in Hamilton in the year 2000. Those sites could be switched. Fordham is scheduled to play here in 1997, '98 and '99, but its site in the Bronx is close enough that those who cared enough to witness that usually unappetizing contest could travel there.
Source: Princeton Town Topics