World War Memorial Stadium
Review by Gary
World War Memorial Stadium was “completed” in 1926 and dedicated on the 8th anniversary of Armistice Day. More commonly known as War Memorial Stadium, this venue was constructed with football and track and field in mind, rather than baseball. Regardless, the stadium would host numerous baseball teams throughout its long existence. Serving its function as a war memorial, the walls feature rectangular bronze plaques with the inscribed names of eighty Guilford County men who died in the Great War.
The architects’ original plans for the stadium were for a 25,000 seat U-shaped coliseum, similar to the Polo Grounds, in what was once a well-to-do residential neighborhood. Despite the ambition of the sponsors at the time, the stadium would never be completed as designed, ending at a final seating capacity of 7,500. It would later be reconfigured to accommodate baseball. The majority of the seating is down the left field line, completing only one half of the “U”, resulting in a “J” design.
The roof was added behind home plate in 1930 as well as the press box, dugouts and stadium lights. Little changed from the 1930s to the 1970s until the South Atlantic League’s Greensboro Hornets (aka Bats) arrived in 1978. Upgrades were made at that time, although most of these were relatively low-cost and utilitarian, except for the steel-frame light towers. The 1930s press box behind the entrance portal was converted to a VIP suite in the late 1980s and a new press box was installed behind seating to the west where it remains today.
The Greensboro Bats vacated in 2005 for a new stadium in town and were reborn as the Grasshoppers. The Bats played at War Memorial from 1994 to 2004 and today the stadium hosts collegiate baseball games. Notably, the cool triple arched entrance that serves as the World War Memorial still greets fans. This is the stadium’s most notable feature and was used in a scene of the 1988 movie “Bull Durham”.
World War Memorial Stadium feels like an ancient Greek coliseum, devoid of recent life, but still holding the memories of many ballgames from the past. Mike & I walked around the playing field and stands visualizing decades of baseball played in this stadium that was built before anyone thought there would actually be a second World War.