Stagg Stadium to Close While University Conducts Feasiblity Study

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Stockton, Calif. - University of the Pacific's Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Stadium has been temporarily closed because it no longer meets current standards. The University will no longer schedule events in the stadium until a feasibility study can be completed analyzing the costs and efforts needed to modernize the historic sports arena.

The feasibility study will be conducted during the next few months and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2012. The study is necessary to determine the cost of safety improvements and bringing the 28,000 seat arena up to modern accessibility standards.

"Like many Pacific alumni, I have many fond memories of Stagg Stadium and it will always hold a dear place in my heart, said Ted Leland '70, vice president for external relations and director of Intercollegiate Athletics.  "However, the fact is we haven't booked any events into it for months, because the stadium is not up to modern standards. We simply can't keep it open in this condition."

Since Pacific ended its football program in 1995, the 61-year-old monument has hosted only a handful of annual events. These mainly included area high school football games, Tigers women's soccer games and the annual Moonlight Classic drum and bugle corps competition. Stagg Stadium also served as the summer home to the San Francisco 49ers football team from 1998 until 2002. However, in the past few years, the number of events held in the arena has decreased as area high schools have built their own stadiums and competing soccer teams have declined to play in Stagg because it doesn't meet modern NCAA requirements.

The stadium opened in 1950, built on land donated by Amos Alonzo Stagg. The community donated the complete $165,000 cost to build the structure. Modeled after the original Stanford Stadium built nearly two decades earlier, the structure uses earth berms with seats built on top. The stadium also has a private 300-person room, called the Pacific Club, on the top level. The club has not been rented in more than a year, Leland said.

The arena was originally named Pacific Memorial Stadium, but was renamed in honor of Mr. Stagg in 1988. In 1986, new lights were donated by Tiger boosters Ralph McClure, Bob Eberhardt, Jim Anthony and the Bank of Stockton. The last upgrade to the stadium was in 1997 in advance of 49ers Training Camp when all stairways were cemented and the remaining wooden bleachers were replaced with aluminum.

Once the feasibility study is completed, University leadership will then make a decision on next steps for the stadium.

Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Stadium was an instant Stockton landmark when it opened in 1950. Overnight, it became the city's center of sports, entertainment and grand ceremonies.

When football games were not being played, the stadium hosted a plethora of University and community events, from high school graduation ceremonies to soccer games and, rock concerts. It even played as summer home to the San Francisco '49ers.

However, the past few years have seen Stagg Stadium more empty than full. Pacific shuttered its football program in 1995 due to the high costs of the team and shrinking attendance. All of the high schools in Stockton have built their own stadiums and no longer use Pacific's facility. And the Stockton Arena is more likely to host a rock concert than Stagg.

This week, the University announced Stagg Stadium would close due to needed repairs, upgrades and changes required to make the facility meet modern standards. Officials will make a financial assessment to determine if the arena can be repaired or if it should be replaced.

"Stagg Stadium really was the centerpiece of the Stockton campus, because it hosted so many big events," said Ted Leland '70, vice president for external relations and director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "A lot of our alumni have a lot of fond memories of events there, but unfortunately time has taken its toll on the stadium, and now we have to make some hard choices about its future."

In the beginning

Stagg Memorial Stadium is located on the west edge of the Pacific campus along Pershing Avenue. It is adjacent to the Alex G. Spanos Center, home of the Tiger basketball and volleyball, Chris Kjeldsen Pool, where Tiger water polo and swim teams compete, and Bill Simoni Field, where Tiger softball plays. Its namesake is the legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, who was Pacific's head football coach from 1933 to 1946. Stagg, who was known on campus as "The Grand Old Man of Football," donated the land to Pacific for its new stadium.

The stadium was originally built in 1950 following a two-month fund drive that netted $165,000, the entire cost of the construction, mostly through the sale of scrip that was redeemable for tickets over a 10-year period. Stagg was built with an original seating capacity of 35,975 with room for expansion to over 44,000, but a series of structural changes reduced its capacity to 30,000.

The design of Stagg was based on the original Stanford University stadium - a dirt berm that surrounds a sunken field with bleacher-style seating placed on top and a road on the rim. The Stanford Stadium was demolished in 2005 and replaced with a new, more modern facility for many of the same reasons facing Pacific today.

Through the efforts of University Regent Lowell Berry, construction of the then-named Pacific Memorial Stadium began in May 1950 and was completed for the season's home opener against Loyola on October 21. Loyola scored with 34 seconds remaining to upset the Tigers 35-33 in front of a crowd of 32,000.

For the next 45 years, the stadium would be the home of Tigers Football, hosting more than a dozen games each year. The stadium was rededicated in Stagg's honor on October 15, 1988. San Jose State came from behind to defeat Pacific, 35-17 in that game.

Not just a football stadium


The stadium would also host many other events. For example, it was home to the Pacific Women's Soccer Team, which used it through the 2011-2012 season. One of the largest events ever held in Stagg Stadium was a 1998 San Francisco 49ers scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers held their annual training camp at Pacific from 1998 to 2002.

Non-sporting events also happened in the stadium, including rock concerts by Chicago, the Byrds, Ten Years After, and Huey Lewis and the News. In September 1999, the Promise Keepers hosted an evangelical event that attracted more than 30,000 people. Many other events in Stagg Stadium drew a variety of different interest groups, including Chivas Soccer events, CIF and All-Star Game Football, high school graduations and many Moonlight Classic Drum and Bugle Corp events.

Major renovations

The first major expansion of the facility was in Sept. 8, 1973, when the Pacific Club was added to the stadium's east rim. Built at a cost of $250,000, the Pacific Club was a gift from Pacific Regent and former Tiger student-athlete Alex G. Spanos. It features glass walls on both sides and offers a view of both the Pacific campus and the playing field. It seats 300 people and was used for a variety of University functions when not in use during athletic events.

Another improvement came in 1982 with the addition of a 17-by-35-foot computerized scoreboard. The unit was installed at a cost of $140,000 and was first used in the home opener that year against UC Davis. An improved lighting system was added to Stagg Stadium in August 1986. The lights, made possible through the efforts of Tiger boosters Ralph McClure, Bob Eberhardt, Jim Anthony and the Bank of Stockton, more than doubled the amount of light during events.

In 1989, with the support from many contributors, the University installed aluminum seats to replace the stadium's original wooden seating. Many of those seats include the names of individual donors who contributed to the project. The last upgrade to the stadium was in 1997 in advance of 49ers Training Camp when all stairways were cemented and the remaining wooden bleachers were replaced with aluminum.

The beginning of the end

Use of the stadium would start to decline in 1995. That year, Pacific's Board of Regents voted to end the football program, citing the high costs and shrinking attendance at games. Several area high schools used Stagg for football games, but over the next two decades, those schools would build their own stadiums - the last being Stagg High School, which opened its facility in 2010.


Other community organizations also found other homes for their events, either in competing arenas in the region, or because of the condition of Stagg. The stadium no longer meets currents standards and does not offer many of the modern conveniences that newer and larger facilities in the area have, such as large snack areas and state-of-the-art locker rooms. Last year, the Lion's Club, which held its annual All-Star Football Game at Stagg for more than a decade, announced it was moving the game to Modesto Junior College because of the deteriorating quality of Stagg.  The number of "home" women soccer games has also dropped over the years as other schools have declined to play at Pacific because of Stagg does not meet modern needs.

Today, one is more likely to see joggers running the stairs of Stagg Stadium than a sports team using the field. Despite that, Stagg Stadium's legacy continues in the many lives it has touched and the memories that were made there.

Timeline

  • May 1950 - Construction begins on Pacific Memorial Stadium
  • Oct. 21, 1950 - Loyola beats Pacific 35-33 in the first game played at the stadium in front of a crowd of 32,000
  • Nov. 4, 1950 - Pacific beats Santa Clara 33-14 for its first win in the stadium
  • Nov. 17, 1951 - The largest crowd in stadium history, 41,607, watches Pacific lose to USF 47-17
  • April 29, 1972 - Rock group Ten Years After plays at the stadium, with opening groups Wild Turkey and Tower of Power
  • May 5, 1972 - Rock group Chicago performs at the stadium
  • Sept. 8, 1973 - The 300-seat, multi-purpose Pacific Club on the east side of the stadium is dedicated
  • June 1979 - The Moonlight Classic Drum & Bugle Corps event is held at Stagg and would be an annual event in the stadium for the next 32 years.
  • 1982 - Digital Scoreboard is added
  • 1986 - Lighting is upgrading, doubling the amount of light produced during an event
  • Oct. 15, 1988 - The stadium is rededicated Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Stadium in honor of the former legendary University of Chicago and Pacific football coach
  • 1989 - Aluminum seats are installed to replace the wood seats
  • 1997 -All stairways were cemented and the remaining wooden bleachers were replaced with aluminum
  • Summer 1998 - 2002 - The San Francisco '49ers use the stadium for pre-season training
  • Sept. 9 - 10, 1999 - The Promise Keepers hold an event in Stagg, attracting more than 30,000 people for the evangelical meeting
  • Nov. 11, 1995 - Pacific plays what proves to be its final football game at Stagg Memorial Stadium, a 45-29 loss to Nevada. Pacific's board of regents suspended the program following the 1995 season.
  • June 22, 2002 - Huey Lewis and the News performs in the stadium
  • Sept. 10, 2010 - Stagg High School opens its own football stadium, ending the need to use Stagg Stadium for home games or graduation events. It was the last high school in Stockton using Stagg on a regular basis
  • December 2011 - The Lion's Club announced it was moving its annual All-Star Football Game to Modesto Junior College due to deteriorating conditions at Stagg
  • Feb. 26, 2012 – The University announced it was closing Stagg and would conduct a feasibility study to determine the facility’s future