Ask Benny: A potpourri of Franklin Field facts

Dear Benny,
Does Franklin Field host any events besides football games and the Penn Relays? What’s the average attendance at Franklin Field events? And why was the Army-Navy game played there?
— Curious Researcher

Dear Curious,
Whew! Your grab bag of questions took Benny to several sources, starting with Dave Johnson, the Penn Relays director, and a good source for Franklin Field history .

Johnson told me that during its history, the nation’s oldest college football stadium has hosted a variety of events, including baseball games, soccer matches, concerts and military reviews.

Today, the facility is home to Penn’s football, sprint football, field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and track teams, as well as the site of Commencement exercises and the occasional concert.

According to Johnson, dual track meets can attract as few as 50 spectators, while the Saturday climax of the Penn Relays fills the stadium to near its current capacity of 52,593. Penn football games drew an average of 12,073 fans in 2003, according to the Athletic Department communications office.

As for Army-Navy, the 2003 Army Football Guide shows that Franklin Field hosted the legendary rivalry on 18 occasions starting with the fifth matchup in 1899 and ending in 1935, when the game was moved to Philadelphia’s Municipal (later JFK) Stadium. Philadelphia was picked to host the game because it was a neutral site roughly midway between West Point and Annnapolis; 77 of the 104 Army-Navy games have been held here. Until the 102,000-capacity Municipal Stadium opened in 1926, Franklin Field was the largest sports stadium in the city.

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Originally published on April 29, 2004