Polo Field and Stadium
A large multi-purpose stadium and sporting field in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Despite its name, polo is rarely played on the Polo Fields.
Exploring the History and Versatility of the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park
If you're a San Francisco local or a visitor looking to explore the beauty and history of Golden Gate Park, the Polo Field is a must-see destination. This expansive field offers a diverse range of activities and has a rich history that's worth delving into. Let's take a closer look at the Polo Field, from its origins to its present-day uses.
A Multifaceted Space for Recreation
The Polo Field, despite its name, is far from a one-trick pony. This vast expanse of greenery in Golden Gate Park serves as a hub for various recreational activities and events, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Here are some of the highlights:
One of the most prominent features of the Polo Field is its seven soccer pitches. Throughout the year, these pitches come alive with the excitement of youth and adult soccer league games. If you're a soccer enthusiast, you'll find plenty of action to cheer for here.
For cyclists, the Polo Field offers a .67-mile (1 km) cycle track. It's perfect for both everyday cyclists and those looking for a challenging training ground. The scenic surroundings of Golden Gate Park make every ride a pleasure.
Running and Horseback Riding
Above the cycle track, there's a .75-mile-long dirt track that caters to both runners and horseback riders. Whether you prefer to pound the ground with your own two feet or enjoy a leisurely ride on horseback, this track provides a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle.
Beyond sports and recreation, the Polo Field has a vibrant cultural side. It's the stage for major civic events, including the renowned Outside Lands Music + Arts Festival. This annual festival draws music lovers from far and wide to revel in a diverse lineup of artists and immerse themselves in the arts.
A Glimpse into the Past
The history of the Polo Field is as fascinating as its present-day activities. Here's a brief journey back in time:
The Polo Field, originally known as the Golden Gate Park Stadium, came into existence in grand fashion. Inaugurated on July 4, 1906, shortly after the Great Earthquake and Fire, its construction was made possible by a popular subscription that raised a significant sum of $20,000. Additional funding of $25,000 from the park's coffers helped bring this ambitious project to life.
The original Polo Field design was a true multitasker. It featured a horse track encircling the field, a bicycle track, and athletic grounds designed, in part, for polo. Tunnels were ingeniously incorporated into the raised perimeter for easy access to the field. The highlight of the original plan was a section of pleated cast-concrete grandstands, about 100 feet long, which was inaugurated on April 3, 1909.
Over the years, the Polo Field's purpose evolved. In 1911, there was a push to complete the Reid Brothers' scheme for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. However, this plan never came to fruition, as the exposition site was relocated to the Marina area.
Today, the Polo Field stands as a testament to adaptability. Polo may be a rarity here, but it's a bustling venue for a wide range of activities. The six regulation soccer pitches, cycle track, and bleachers surround the grass field, offering ample space for sports and spectators. Additionally, a 0.75-mile dirt track accommodates runners and horse riders.
Diverse Events Over the Years
The Polo Field has witnessed a diverse array of events throughout its history:
Cycling Legacy: Cyclists from across the West Coast have utilized the track for over a century, leaving behind a rich legacy of cycling history.
Counterculture Gathering: In 1967, the Polo Field was the site of the Human Be-In counterculture music concert, reflecting the park's role in cultural movements.
Rugby Glory: From the 1960s through the early 1990s, the Polo Field served as the home field for San Francisco-based rugby clubs in the Northern California Rugby Football Union.
Annual Extravaganzas: The annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival graces the Polo Field each August, attracting music enthusiasts from near and far.
Footrace Tradition: For over two decades, from 1986 to 2009, the annual Bay to Breakers footrace held its post-race event, Footstock, at the Polo Fields each May.
In conclusion, the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park is a dynamic and historically significant space in San Francisco. Its evolution from a polo venue to a multifunctional recreational hub is a testament to the city's ever-changing spirit. Whether you're here for sports, culture, or simply to enjoy the great outdoors, the Polo Field has something for everyone. So, don't miss the chance to experience this iconic San Francisco destination firsthand.
Info provided by: SF Rec and Park Department