Joe Albi Stadium

Joe Albi Stadium

New FieldTurf in October 2006
Former names Memorial Stadium [1]
Location 4918 W. Everett Ave.
Spokane, Washington
Coordinates 47°42′18″N 117°28′59″W / 47.705°N 117.483°W / 47.705; -117.483Coordinates: 47°42′18″N 117°28′59″W / 47.705°N 117.483°W / 47.705; -117.483
Owner City of Spokane
Capacity 28,646 (1996– )
35,000 (1962–1995)
25,000 (1950–1961)
Surface FieldTurf (2006– )
AstroTurf (1970–2005)
Natural grass (1950–1969)
Broke ground April 26, 1950 [2]
Opened September 15, 1950 [3]
66 years ago
Renovated 1996 - field raised and
widened for soccer,
lower seating removed
Expanded 1962 - field lowered,
lower seating added
Construction cost $496,558 [4]
Structural engineer Moffat, Nichol, & Taylor [5]
Main contractors McInnis and Henry George & Sons [2][4]
Washington State Cougars (1950–1983)
Eastern Washington Eagles
Idaho Vandals (1971)
Spokane Shadow (PDL) (1996–2005)
Spokane Spiders (PDL) (2010)
Spokane Black Widows (WPSL) (2010)
Spokane Shock (AFL) (2011)
Spokane Shine (WPSL) (2011-present)
Joe Albi
Location in the United States
Joe Albi
Location in Washington

Joe Albi Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium located in Spokane, Washington. Opened in 1950 and primarily used for high school football, it is located in the northwest part of the city, just east of the Spokane River.


The stadium is located on the former site of the Baxter hospital reservation of the U.S. Army.[6][7] Built in less than four months in 1950, it opened as "Spokane Memorial Stadium" on September 15 with high school football.[8][9] The name was selected through a newspaper contest and adopted by the city council in July.[1] Its original grass field was taken from the lush sod of the parade grounds at historic Fort George Wright, south of the stadium.[10][11][12] The venue had a seating capacity of 25,000 and did not have a running track; city track continued at Hart Field in south Spokane.[13]

The first manager of the stadium was Fred Bohler, the former coach and athletic director at Washington State College in Pullman.[14] In 1954, it was considered as a potential minor league baseball venue;[15] Indians Stadium (now Avista Stadium) opened in 1958.[16]

Memorial Stadium was renamed in the spring of 1962 for attorney Joseph A. Albi (18921962),[17] a local sports booster who led the efforts to fund and construct it.[18] That summer, the field level was lowered by 11 feet (3.4 m) and 7,000 seats were added.[19][20]

AstroTurf was first installed in 1970,[21][22] and was replaced with SuperTurf in 1979[23] and 1984.[24] The playing surface was altered for professional soccer in 1996,[25] essentially undoing the lowering project of 1962. The field level was raised 6.5 feet (2.0 m) and the width of the new artificial turf was extended to 250 feet (76 m), formerly at 191 feet (58 m), and seating was removed.[20] The field was changed a decade later to infilled FieldTurf in 2006.[26]

The stadium has a current seating capacity of 28,646, and the playing field runs in the traditional north-south configuration at an elevation of 1,890 feet (575 m) above sea level.[27] The press box is located at the top of the west grandstand.

Over the years it has hosted various events: concerts (including Elvis Presley in 1957),[28] rodeos,[29] and auto races.[30][31] The most notable team to play at the stadium was the Washington State Cougars, now of the Pac-12, who played several games per season at the stadium for more than three decades.

On the professional level, the field has hosted to three professional leagues. In 1961, the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 14–7 in a CFL pre-season game.[32][33] Then it was the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL playing their second preseason game in franchise history at Joe Albi on August 7, 1976, losing 27–16 to the Chicago Bears.[34]

Washington State Cougars

Prior to the mid-1980s, the WSU Cougars played several home games each season at Joe Albi Stadium, usually before classes began in Pullman in late September. During the stadium's first thirty years (1950–80), WSU hosted the Apple Cup at Joe Albi in the even-numbered years (except 1954), rather than on-campus in Pullman. The Cougars won only three of the fifteen Apple Cups played at the Spokane venue (1958, 1968, 1972). The rivalry game returned to Pullman in 1982, where the Cougars have won seven of seventeen (1982, 1988, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2008, 2012) at Martin Stadium as of 2014.

In 1970 and 1971, the Cougars played their entire home schedule at Joe Albi, after the south grandstand at the wooden Rogers Field stadium on the Pullman campus was damaged by fire in April 1970.[35] The Idaho Vandals played their home games at Rogers Field in 1969 & 1970 (after the fire), as its wooden Neale Stadium in Moscow had been condemned during the summer of 1969. On September 19, 1970, WSU and Idaho met up in their annual "Battle of the Palouse," which became known as the "Displaced Bowl" (since neither team was able to play on their home field); the Cougars dominated the second half (38–0) to win 44–16 at Joe Albi in their only victory of the season.[36][37]

Washington State last played regular season football games at Joe Albi Stadium in 1983, when the Cougars defeated both Montana State and UNLV in September.[38] Following the revision of the WSU academic calendar in 1984 (the fall semester starting a month earlier in late August),[39][40] the Cougars have played all of their eastern Washington home games at Martin Stadium in Pullman.[41] Since 2002, except for 2010, the Cougars have played one "home game" per season across the state in Seattle at the Seahawks' CenturyLink Field. "The Seattle Game" resumed in 2011 against Oregon State, followed by Oregon in 2012, Rose Bowl champion Stanford in 2013, and Rutgers in 2014.

Idaho Vandals

The Idaho Vandals played one home game at the stadium in 1971, a 10–0 shutout of Colorado State on September 25, led by running back Lawrence McCutcheon.[42][43][44] UI's new concrete stadium in Moscow was not quite ready and WSU's Rogers Field in Pullman was finally out of service, being transformed into Martin Stadium. The Vandals played their first "home" game of the season on the road at the year-old Bronco Stadium in Boise and were upset by the upstart BSC Broncos.

The new "Idaho Stadium" opened two weeks later on October 9, with a 40–3 win over Idaho State. Idaho had their best season to date in 1971, a record of 8–3 with eight consecutive wins and the Big Sky title. Tartan Turf replaced the natural grass field in 1972 and an arched roof and end walls were added in 1975, enclosed in late September to become the Kibbie Dome.

Eastern Washington Eagles

Joe Albi Stadium is an occasional home of the Eastern Washington Eagles of the Big Sky Conference. Through the 2003 season, it was used for the higher-attended EWU home games, primarily against Idaho, Montana, and Montana State. Since the 2004 upgrade of their on-campus stadium, Woodward Field in nearby Cheney, the Eagles have not played at Joe Albi Stadium. Woodward Field was renamed Roos Field in 2010, coinciding with the installation of bright red FieldTurf ("the Inferno") and continuing upgrades.

NFL Exhibition Games

In 1953, the stadium hosted the first-ever NFL preseason game in the state of Washington when the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Green Bay Packers 13–7 on August 29, before about 17,000 spectators.[45] It went on to host six more NFL preseason games, with the last one occurring in 1976, the second pre-season game for the expansion Seattle Seahawks, who held training camp in nearby Cheney.[46][47]

Current developments

The stadium is used extensively for high school football and marching band competitions. In 2011, professional soccer returned to Spokane with The Spokane Shine calling the stadium home. The former mayor of Spokane, the late Jim West, proposed to sell Joe Albi to a real estate developer interested in demolishing the stadium and turning it into a housing development. After a back and forth struggle, plans to raze the stadium were scrapped.

Amid the debate about what to do with the aging stadium, an issue about its artificial turf surfaced. As a result of the turf being beyond its useful life in early 2006 and deemed unsafe, the Spokane Shadow discontinued its usage of Joe Albi Stadium, citing that the playing surface was too dangerous for PDL soccer games.[48] As a consequence, the PDL terminated the Shadow's membership. A short time later, the playing surface dilemma was solved when the Spokane and Mead school districts agreed to share the cost of replacing the tired AstroTurf with infilled FieldTurf, which was installed in August 2006 for under $700,000.[49] The investment by the two school districts ensures that Joe Albi will endure for at least the life of the new FieldTurf, estimated to be about a decade.[50]

Joe Albi Stadium Summer Classic

In 2011, the stadium hosted an outdoor Arena Football game on July 9, when the visiting Utah Blaze took on the hometown Spokane Shock.[51]

Joe Albi's statue and grave

A bronze statue of Joe Albi as a sports fan was unveiled in 1997 at the stadium.[52] Seated several rows above the field in the southwest corner bleachers (47°42′18″N 117°29′00″W / 47.70506°N 117.48342°W / 47.70506; -117.48342), the 600-pound (270 kg) slightly-larger-than-life Joe is often adorned in the school colors of competing teams.[53]

Albi and his wife Mazie are buried at Fairmount Memorial Park, adjacent to the west side of the stadium.[54]


  1. 1 2 "Council adopts stadium name". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. July 14, 1950. p. 1.
  2. 1 2 "Stadium work begins (photo)". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. April 26, 1950. p. 1.
  3. "Memorial Stadium opens". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. September 16, 1950. p. 3.
  4. 1 2 "Stadium committee lets contract". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. April 21, 1950. p. 1.
  5. "Stadium engineers selected". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. October 11, 1949. p. 1.
  6. "Stadium site (photo)". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. October 17, 1949. p. 1.
  7. "Stadium takes form (photo)". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 14, 1950. p. 1.
  8. Ferguson, Frank C. (September 9, 1950). "Spokane Stadium". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 3-This Week.
  9. "Gonzaga winner in offense-loaded M-G-R stadium dedication". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. September 16, 1950. p. 8.
  10. "Stadium to get turf from fort". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. July 21, 1950. p. 1.
  11. "Sod for stadium". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. August 8, 1950. p. 1.
  12. "Turf promises good playing field". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. August 18, 1950. p. 18.
  13. "Many records may fall Friday in annual all-city track meet". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. May 11, 1955. p. 25.
  14. "Bohler takes stadium reins". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. August 2, 1950. p. 5.
  15. "Memorial Stadium may be used for pro baseball". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 15, 1954. p. 19.
  16. "Record opener crowd sees Spokane win over Seattle". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. April 30, 1958. p. 1.
  17. "Stadium is renamed for Joe Albi". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. March 28, 1962. p. 9.
  18. Missildine, Harry (March 28, 1962). "A heartwarming logical move". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 12.
  19. "Stadium work resumes". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 28, 1962. p. 3.
  20. 1 2 "Soccer work kicks off at Albi". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. June 26, 1996. p. B1.
  21. "Renovation of Albi Stadium progresses: turf is down". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). July 8, 1970. p. 7.
  22. Missildine, Harry (September 13, 1970). "Joe Albi Stadium: $750,000 'new look'". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (football section). p. 1.
  23. "New turf's on schedule". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). June 22, 1979. p. 15.
  24. Bonino, Rick (April 23, 1984). "City agrees to pay $345,000 for turf". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington0. p. A1.
  25. "City allots $1.5 million for Albi turf". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. June 19, 1996. p. C5.
  26. "Albi turf project underway". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. July 21, 2006. p. C5.
  27. Topographic map & aerial photo from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
  28. "Presley whips 12,000 into near hysteria". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. August 31, 1957. p. 6.
  29. "Turf at stadium up for discussion". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 27, 1960. p. 5.
  30. "Stadium track nearly finished". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. May 8, 1952. p. 17.
  31. "Sod at stadium to be repaired; auto races out". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. April 28, 1958. p. 1.
  33. "7,511 fans watch Calgary defeat Roughrider gridders". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. August 2, 1961. p. 25.
  34. "Seahawks return to work". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. August 9, 1976. p. 15.
  35. "Fast blaze ruins Pullman stadium". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. April 4, 1970. p. 1.
  36. "W.S.U. football". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. (fall 1970). 1971. p. 30.
  37. Missildine, Henry (September 20, 1970). "Cougars roar back, swamp Vandals". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 1-sports.
  38. - WSU results - 1980-84
  39. "No Cougars in Spokane this Season". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. March 27, 1984. p. C1.
  40. Blanchette, John (March 28, 1984). "Cougars won't have a Ball at Albi this season". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 23.
  41. - WSU results - 2000-04
  42. "C.S.U. football". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. (fall 1971). 1972. p. 48.
  43. "Idaho's Robbins proud of win". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. September 29, 1971. p. 15.
  44. "Idaho results - 1970-74". College Football Data Wareahouse. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  45. "Rookies impress Cardinal coach". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. August 31, 1953. p. 16.
  46. Brown, Bruce (August 9, 1976). "Seahawks return to work". Seattle Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 15.
  47. "Exhibition games played at neutral sites". Football Geography. p. 15. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  49. - news release - Joe Albi Stadium FieldTurf - 2006-07-20
  50. Prager, Mike (March 31, 2006). "Deal announced on Joe Albi Stadium". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. B3.
  51. The game featured all the traditional rules of the Arena Game, including a 50-yard field with walls and rebound nets. The Shock won 76-49.
  52. "City Council transforms 'Joe Fan' into 'Joe Albi'". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. April 22, 1997. p. B1.
  53. Pettit, Stefanie (November 13, 2008). "Albi Stadium's Joe a fan for the ages". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington.
  54. "Joe Albi". Find a Retrieved February 19, 2015.

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