Seating capacity: 52,593
Record track & field attendance: 54,310 (April 24, 2010)
Sports shared with: football, field hockey, lacrosse, sprint football
Track facilities: 9 lanes (42"), wide turns, Rekortan surface (laid 1998), exterior "corner" water jump; athletes must cut out to lane 5 for multi-lap race
Field facilities: all jumps in-stadium (2 long jump runways); all throws at Rhodes Field, 700 yards away
2011 home meets: Big 5 Invitaitonal (March 26), Penn Invite (April 2), The Penn Relays (April 28-30)
Major meets hosted: USA championships (1919, 1941), Eastern regional Olympic Try-outs (1908), USA v. USSR (1959), NCAA championships (1961, 1976), Bicentennial Meet of Champions (1976), Liberty Bell Classic (1980), Martin Luther King Games (1971, 1972, 1979), IC4A championships (1904-05, '08, '10, '12, '15, '18, '20, '23, '25, '27, '29, '31, '34, '36, '44, '47, '51, '68, '70-72, '76-80), Heps championships (1940, '43, '49, '61, '69, '71-72, '74, '77, '80, '90, '97, 2000, '06, '09)
More stadium info: Wikipedia, PennAthletics.com, Seating chart, IvyLeagueSports.com, Stadiums of Pro Football, Turner Construction, Ballparks.com, ESPN Sports Travel
Whether or not this is the greatest track stadium in the USA is dependent on taste, but it is inarguable that there is nothing else like Franklin Field. There is certainly nothing like the Penn Relays. This stadium and its signature meet should be on the bucket list of every sports fan.
The NCAA calls this the oldest football stadium in the nation. The first grandstand was wood and opened in 1895. The first brick and wood grandstand used for track was opened in 1905, the current version of the lower deck was first used for track in 1922, and the upper deck was added for track starting 1926. This was the site of the first football broadcasts for radio and for television, and the first Wide World of Sports broadcast covered the Penn Relays.
Among the more famous and thrilling moments in this stadium was the May 1971 "Dream Mile" matchup at the Martin Luther King Games, in which Marty Liquori narrowly defeated Jim Ryun. Also memorable is Renaldo Nehemiah's anchor duty in 1979, when three times he made up huge deficits for his Maryland Terrapins in the space of four hours, the latter two in 19.4 and 44.3 (at a time when the low-altitude world records were 20.00 and 44.26). The biggest crowds at Franklin Field were there to see two of the greatest athletes of all time, Paavo Nurmi in 1929 and Usain Bolt in 2010.
Other great and not-so-great moments include the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960 dealing Vince Lombardi his lone career playoff loss, and Howard Cosell in 1970 being drunk during a Monday Night Football broadcast and throwing up on Don Meredith's boots.
Thanks to Penn Relays director Dave Johnson for his help on this page.