University May Build Bubble Over Stadium

The country’s oldest concrete stadium may get a face lift—or at least a new hat.

Administrators are currently considering a plan to put a seasonal dome over Harvard Stadium and also add turf, stadium lights and locker rooms within the walls of the stadium’s “horseshoe,” the area beneath the bleachers.

The move represents a major step in ongoing efforts to address what officials see as the chief shortcomings in Harvard’s undergraduate athletic resources—namely, a lack of sufficient recreational space and adequate locker rooms—without building on top of existing fields.

The construction of the dome would also allow for greater flexibility in the long-anticipated renovation of the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC).

“You could do much more with the MAC if you did some reorganization on the other side of the river,” Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby said in an interview Friday. “In an ideal world, there could be much more recreational space.”

Plans for the MAC renovation are ongoing, Kirby confirmed Friday. He said he expected plans for the center would be announced by the end of the year.

Funding either of these projects might prove difficult, as expenses rise while the University’s endowment payout remains flat, Kirby said.

“The main consideration regarding the scope and timing of renovations to the Stadium, like those of the MAC, are really financial,” Kirby wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

The stadium changes, however, are all but definite.

“Alterations are something we have to do no matter what, given the structural integrity of the stadium,” Kirby said. “The timing is the real question.”

Ebullient About the Bubble

As Harvard Stadium celebrated its 100th birthday this weekend, Kirby reflected on the need not only to maintain the landmark structure, but also to improve it.

“It’s a great, beautiful stadium. It needs work,” he said. “Regular maintenance has to happen. But it may be capable of hosting many more activities than it currently can host.”

Director of Athletics Robert L. Scalise said Friday that while no concrete plans for construction yet exist, several options are under consideration, such as building a removable dome that would extend the stadium’s season throughout the winter and constructing locker rooms and facilities underneath the field.

“There are a lot of things we are thinking about considering,” Scalise said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to have intramural football tournaments or ultimate Frisbee games [there]?”

Scalise also listed putting turf and lights in the stadium as ways to extend the use of the football field well into the year and possibly open it up for use by other teams and recreational purposes.