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Letters from alumni about PU football and the new stadium

May 28, 2002

Your "Scenes from a campus" article (cover story, May 15) points out that the new football stadium has earned "widespread acclaim." Maybe so, but not from this writer.

From the spectator’s viewpoint, there are two glaring omissions. First, there are no chair seats to give aging backs needed support. Second, there are no hand rails to hold onto when walking up or down the stairs.

Probably it would be far too costly to install chair seats at this late date. But surely it should be neither difficult nor expensive to add hand rails.

John Schmid, Jr. ’45
Sebring, Fla.

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November 12, 2001

A few thoughts about Princeton's football team and stadium. First, since we beat Yale this past week, who cares what the record is or was or will ever be for the rest of the year! At least according to my father, Class of '40, Princeton could be 1-754 but so long as that one win was against Yale, well, as my brother said, "Hell, to him it was as good as an undefeated season." My dad also played football under coach Chrisler, who invented the newfangled spangled helmets that Princeton players have been running around in for the past few years. Crisler was only around for a few years however, so why his helmet design should take precedence over the simple one worn for decades, including Kazmaier and his great teams, is a mystery

Imagine now, that God forbid, we had LOST to Yale last week, and we were now sporting a 1-7 record, instead of 2-6. Well, I bet all kinds of ruckus would have been thrown your way in the form of letters offering chopping blocks for a certain maneuver. I for one, however, think the problem with our record isn't related to anything but these new helmets with that weird design on them. For decades of watching Princeton football, I had seen only the old familiar orange helmet with the black stripe running over the middle. Imagine my unbridled delight when I went to the game and my only game of the year and saw Yale out there in their familiar white helmets with the "Y" on the side. Thank God, they kept with tradition, so at least I knew that they too had not been reinvented to be able to play in our new stadium. As we may have learned, changing uniforms doesn't change the heart of the matter, or stadiums either.

Which brings me to the stadium. I count it exteriorly as the UGLIEST stadium in the universe. Inside, the playing field DOES seem to have the right dimensions, but that whole ring of whatever it is around the field: If it is supposed to resemble old Palmer Stadium, why for cripes sake, didn't they make that little square at the top of and between each column (think, prefab) an arch. Look, it would have only required a few extra thousand dollars to build a form to make an arch and just pour the concrete into that. Then we would have gotten our prefab Palmer look alike. But, no, we get a building for about $40 million that looks like it was either a K-Mart blue-light special, a very stupid bunker for a very stupid army because it is above ground, or was the result of something created and approved of by, dare I say it, a committee." We also noticed that many of the sky boxes are empty and wondered if they could help relieve student housing problems or be used for boutiques .... a kind of stadium market place. Since, the stadium is still looking for a sponsor's name, a corporate sponsor probably, I suggest we approach K-Mart and ask for the key donation. K-Mart Stadium at Princeton, it has a certain ring to it don't you think? After all, unlike old Palmer, the new stadium is plastered with advertising signs in the end zone. It's great to be so obviously commercial for a 'private institution.'

One last thought about the stadium. I notice after but a few three years or so, that the numbers that mark each row are already fading, that the bolts at the very top of the stadium that hold the fence up that keeps people from falling over into the concourse below, are rusting at a furious rate. You'd think for $40 million you could get numbers that don't fade in three years and paint that is rust resistant. Most important, a coke bottle, a camera, can still fit between the bottom of the rail and the cement bulkhead and fall to the concourse some 70 feet or so and smash someone on the head. Not a pretty thought. I rolled a coke inadvertently between that crack a year ago and thank God, no one was hit. I wrote the athletic department but evidently they don't think it is worth too much attention since nothing has been done. Do you think a death would get their attention? Or a lawsuit?

Sounds negative? All of this was some of the idle conversation that occurred between my brother and a classmate, between the few moments when the announcer wasn't blaring absurdities or advertising the latest gimmick. We liked the old announcer who shut up long enough to let the folks in the stands hear each other and get a cheer going. Less is more. Interestingly, for all the hype about the "new" Princeton football stadium and helmet design, I didn't hear one in unison cheer all day, like, "Here we go Tigers, Here we go." Or how about the simple "Deeeeeeefense." So much for bringing the fans closer to the field. In the name of blather from an overly verbose announcer, to all the commercial junk, the paying spectator and/or alumnus has been taken out of the game.

The old helmets, the old stadium, the old nostalgia probably isn't what I remember it used to be, but having said that, I know at least, what it was not. I would trade all the blather in a second just to hear the fans actually get involved in the game. When the message board flashes, for only God knows how many bucks, "Make Some Noise," it seems to we have killed off the best of Princeton football by overkill. The best and brightest now need an electronic prompter to cue cheering. No wonder there were so few cheers and so little emotions in the stands. Maybe we should return to a time when hearts and minds, and not wallets and prefab concrete and weird helmet design and electronic teleprompters, knew the heart of Princeton football. So, here is some real noise, some fodder for the God's of Princeton Football, including the Friends of Princeton Football, to think about

.I was very happy to see the Yalies in their old garb. And I was happy to see us win. I just wish I could have shared more of my enthusiasm with my friends, and my fellow spectators through that overbearing announcer. I will be back next year, to see if anything has changed. Most important, to see if that gap between the rail and the cement at the top of the stadium is filled so no one gets killed by objects inadvertently dropped. It is a long way down.

Kit Raymond '74
Princeton, N.J.

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