WashU’s Francis Field to be Renamed Francis Olympic Field

WashU’s Francis Field to be Renamed Francis Olympic Field

St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 17, 2019 – In recognition of its significant place in Olympic history, Washington University's Francis Field is being renamed "Francis Olympic Field." The renaming of the venue will be celebrated at a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the No. 24-ranked Washington University football game against No. 5 North Central (Ill.), which kicks off at 5 p.m.

Ticket prices for Saturday's game are $6 for adults, $2 for senior, youth and military and free admission for ages two and under.

St. Louis area Olympians, Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin, and members of the St. Louis Sports Commission's Olympic Legacy Committee will be part of the festivities.

Francis Olympic field is home to the WashU football, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country and men's and women's track and field teams.

Francis Olympic Field served as the main stadium for the 1904 Olympic Games. The venue hosted multiple events, including track and field, archery, cycling, gymnastics, and weightlifting. Completed in 1904, Francis Field's permanent stands represented one of the first applications of reinforced concrete technology, making the facility, at the time, truly state-of-the-art. Today, as the home to several of Washington University's athletic teams, Francis Olympic Field is the oldest modern Olympic stadium still in active use. The venue is named for David Rowland Francis, a former Missouri governor and Washington University alum, who helped bring the Games to St. Louis.

"This is an exciting moment for Washington University and the St. Louis region," said Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. "The name Francis Olympic Field serves to reaffirm our historic ties to the Olympic Games. It also uplifts the university's long-standing commitment to athletics; the values of respect and human dignity regardless of background; and increased access to education, health, and wellness – hallmarks of our WashU identity."

The Francis Olympic Field renaming is another major milestone in the St. Louis Sports Commission's effort to raise the profile and impact of St. Louis' status as an Olympic city. The Sports Commission's Olympic Legacy Committee partnered with Washington University to propose the new name, which was approved by the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The new name, the Olympic rings, and text proclaiming the venue was site of the 1904 Games will appear on the Francis Olympic Field press box.  Additionally, the historic gates on the east side of the field have been updated.

"The renaming of Francis Field also highlights the evolution of sports and its impact in bringing people together regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic standing," said WashU Director of Athletics Anthony J. Azama. "What an exciting day to recognize the Olympics and St. Louis while simultaneously supporting the WashU student athletes football game versus North Central."

The renaming of Francis Field follows last year's unveiling of the 16-foot-by-9-foot Olympic Rings "Spectacular" on Washington University's campus. The sculpture has since been an attraction for tourists and residents alike while serving as a symbol of St. Louis' contribution to the Olympic Movement. The St. Louis Games were responsible for a number of Olympic "firsts," including being the first Olympics to take place in the Western Hemisphere; the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals; the first to include diving, boxing, freestyle-wrestling, and the decathlon; and the first to include an African-American Olympian – George Coleman Poage, who won two bronze medals in the hurdles and remained in St. Louis to teach at Sumner High School. St. Louis is one of only three cities in the United States to host the Summer Games, and one of only 43 cities in the world to host the Olympic Games. 

In addition to the Olympic Rings Spectacular and the Francis Field renaming, the Sports Commission's Olympic Legacy Committee will soon unveil signage identifying all the venues that hosted 1904 Olympic events and the Olympic marathon route. Also, as part of the worldwide celebration of Olympic day every June, the organization invites young people from around the region to Francis Olympic Field to run the track with Jackie Joyner-Kersee and other area Olympians.