Amherst College Pratt Field
Constructed in 1890 and hosting its first football game in 1891,
Amherst's Pratt Field is the third oldest NCAA football playing site in the
nation. The brainchild of the college's first athletic director, Dr. Edward
Hitchcock, who established at Amherst the nation's first department of
hygiene and physical education, Pratt Field was constructed with a $20,000
gift from Frederick B. Pratt of the Class of 1887. An article from Harper's
Magazine from May 24, 1890, praised Hitchcock in connection with the opening
of the new facility, which, said the article, "was to be constructed in a
college grove of stately pines, familiarly known as Blake Woods. When
completed," the article continues, "these will comprise one of the largest
and most efficiently equipped athletic and recreation grounds of any college
in the country."
Over the years Pratt Field has evolved, reflecting the times with each
successive modification. A grandstand was added in 1897, complete with
towers, flags and arches, and the field's familiar iron gate entrance was
erected in 1926. In 1974, the college constructed nearby Debevoise Field
House with home and visiting locker rooms, while the adjoining Hill Practice
Field was upgraded with a modern lighting system. A press box was added in
1988 and the Neuhoff-Lumley Track was installed around the playing surface in
1989. Finally, prior to the 2000 season, Pratt Field received new bleachers on both sidelines, giving it the perfect mix of new and old.
With modern amenities blending seamlessly with a century-old decor in an
ideal campus setting, Pratt Field will continue to stand as a beacon of small
college football tradition for years to come.