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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bill Pierce’s Almanac: High school football at Albi

Since the beginning of high school football in Spokane, local teams have used a number of different venues for their games.

Early on, Natatorium Park and the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, along with local baseball parks were often game sites. Recreation Park, built in 1905, located a few blocks north of the Fairgrounds, was used by schools until the early 1920s. Even the current Avista Stadium has hosted high school football in the past.

In 1922, Gonzaga University built an 11,000 seat football stadium. That served as a home for high school ball until it was deemed unsafe after the 1947 season. It was condemned and torn down in 1949.

For the following two years, the Spokane City League used Ferris Field, then the ballpark for the Spokane Indians. To accommodate football, the seating was enlarged from 7,000 to 12,000.

Seeing the need for a new stadium, a project was initiated with the Athletic Round Table making a donation to get things underway. Even though the costs weren’t completely covered at the time, the new stadium was completed four months after construction began.

Located on the site of the old Baxter Hospital Grounds, just west of the present VA Hospital, Spokane Memorial Stadium opened in September of 1950 with a seating capacity of 25,000. The original turf was from the parade grounds at Fort George Wright.

The stadium has undergone a number of renovations since 1950. It was renamed Joe Albi Stadium in 1962. The grass was replaced by artificial turf in 1970. Replacement versions of turf were installed over the years, but had become dangerous to use by 2005.

Although all the Greater Spokane League schools have their own football fields, most have no lighting or adequate seating.  Central Valley, Gonzaga Prep and University are the only schools in the GSL that host home games.

Since the five Spokane public high schools, along with Mead and Mt. Spokane, use Albi as their home field, the Spokane and Mead School Districts donated just under $700,000 for Field Turf to be installed in 2006, giving the facility a needed update, and the ability to continue to host high school football to the present day.

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

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