Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl celebrates 100 years

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – For 100 years, fans have packed the stands at the Cramton Bowl for a good game.

“I rank Cramton Bowl in the same light you look at Wrigley Field or Fenway Park,” said Johnny Williams, executive director of the Central Alabama Sports Commission.

He described the stadium as a “great treasure.”

Before athletes ever hit the 50-yard line at Cramton Bowl, Williams said the games were played on the diamond. Baseball was how the facility got its start.

“The baseball field drew the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, all kind of teams would come through here on a train going usually to New Orleans for spring training,” Williams said. “So Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and all those guys have played on this field.”

The stadium has changed a lot over the years. Williams said it was the first facility below the Mason-Dixon Line to have lights. Before then, games could only be played during the day.

“You played on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon,” he said with a chuckle.

And before the megastadiums of the 21st century, this where two prominent state SEC schools played.

“Alabama and Auburn both used this field as their home field several times during the ‘30s and ‘40s, because this stadium was nicer than what was on the home campuses,” Williams said.

The city of Montgomery knows the stadium’s value. More recently, the city borrowed $20 million to add a multiplex and renovate the bowl. And according to the mayor, they’re still working to preserve its legacy.

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“We’re doing some touch ups on it that we think will provide a better atmosphere for high school games, as well as college football games,” Mayor Steven Reed said.

Up to 14,000 people are expected to pack the stands for the annual FCS kickoff game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Red Tails Classic will be hosted the following week on Sept. 4.

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