Feature Article

December 5th, 2017 | Uncategorized |

Parents, players, and coaches cover the turf of Elwood – Olsen Stadium on an unusually beautiful November day in Sioux City.  The average sized crowd of a couple thousand people exit through the gates on different areas of the grounds. Some people head back to their tailgates on the north-east side of the stadium.  The Morningside College Mustangs football team had just won their quarterfinal playoff game, and would get ready to hit the road for the semi – finals of the NAIA Football Championship series.  The game that had just concluded would be the last event the Stadium would host in the fall, it’s busiest season.  Football, the stadium and college’s most popular sport, wouldn’t play another game in the historical stadium until August, as the rest of the post season would be on the road.  But this certainly won’t be the last game or event Elwood – Olsen Stadium will host, the structure has been there for decades, and will likely be there for many more.

Nestled in the hills of the Morningside neighborhood in Sioux City Iowa, the stadium is far from easy to find.  It can not be seen from any highway, or any of the main drags of the city.  The only way to find the stadium is to catch the Morningside College signs on  Highway 75, Gordon Drive, Lewis Boulevard, Highway 20 or Interstate 29.  Even then, once in to the Morningside neighborhood, the college is not easy to find.

OlsenStadium-Cropped_0001Photo credits

Elwood – Olsen Stadium has residential streets on three sides of it, and houses up the hill on the north side.  The busiest street would be Peters avenue, the street that goes right through the college, only to get cut of by Morningside avenue and Linn Street to the east and the west.  So for the most part, Sioux City’s most famous football field is hidden from the world.

Although hidden, the Stadium is an very important part of the lives of residents of Sioux City and Morningside College.  The three public high schools in Sioux City; East High, North High, and West High, all use the stadium for their Football games, band contests, and Track meets.  Thursday and Friday nights in the fall always have high school football at the stadium, as well as a number of College Football Saturdays. Both Soccer teams primary season is played in the fall, and both teams practice daily on the field.  When the spring rolls around, there are not many tracks that are used more than the track in Elwood Olsen Stadium.  Track practice everyday for the College.  Track meets almost every other week for high schools.  And not to mention the two day extravaganza that is the Sioux City Relays.

SCRelaysOlsen Stadium During the Sioux City Relays

Photo Credits

Public School Stadium was opened in 1940 as a stadium that could be used by the local High Schools.  The business manager for the Sioux City Community School District, H.C. Roberts, conceived the idea, and oversaw the 6 year project.  The Stadium would be named H.C. Roberts Stadium after his death in 1964.

Sioux-City-Iowa-IA-Public-School-Football-StadiumPostcard of Public School Stadium in it’s early days

Photo Credits

When the school district struggled to keep the stadium updated and well kept, they would agree to a 99 year lease with Morningside College, so the school could fix up the stadium.  Before playing in the stadium, Morningside used Bass field in the middle of campus for it’s athletics.  Bass Field has since been turned into a softball field and outdoor recreational ground.

2ba5dc970411da90b250f83f09935039-460x293Postcard of Morningside College’s Bass Field

Photo Credits

“It was a big burden on the school district financially,” said Dave Nash, head now head coach of the Morningside Track team, formally coach of West High School Cross Country, and former Morningside Student Athlete.  “The stadium was hard to look at, with all the weeds growing through the cracks and paint chipping off everywhere.”

df53cd3f-65ec-52fd-9b58-d70f1da33b1b.preview-300Roberts Stadium in 2004, pre-renovation

Photo Credits: Sioux City Journal

Morning side College would quickly change that, as they refurbished the stadium to be pleasant to the sports fan’s eye.  Since then, the stadium has gone through three renovations to keep the historical structure standing.  The next renovation, in 2004, would update the stadium with new lights and a public address system.  The Bleachers would also get a major face lift in this renovation as well.

Only the next year, in 2005, the stadium would receive an even larger renovation, giving it a new track and field turf.  The parking lot would be expanded upon, and locker rooms would be renovated.  The stadium walls would be painted as well, changing the colors from orange to Maroon.  A digital scoreboard would be added, setting Roberts Stadium apart from many high school and small college stadiums in the area.

23483456191_0a78954a51_bView of the south side seating of the stadium

Photo Credits

Controversy surrounded Sioux City and Morningside College, when the school decided to change the name of Roberts stadium, to Elwood Olsen Stadium, after the major donor in the 2004 and 2005 renovations.

“Many people didn’t want the name to change,” Nash explained, “There are still many today that refuse to call it Olsen Stadium.”

Olsen Stadium continues to receive updates even today.  This past year, 2017, a brand new scoreboard was added with a video board.  This adds to a terrific game atmosphere, featuring both a starting lineup and entrance video.

The track has received many changes to go along with the rest of the structure.  Naturally it was a cinder track originally, just like any other track at that time.  The surface has since became a harder all weather version.

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Photo Credits

“The track has always been harder than most, which may not be great for the shins, but makes it a faster track than the others,” said Nash, someone who has certainly ran on them all in a sense.

Probably the thing that makes Elwood Olsen Stadium as great as it is, is the fans.  The Stadium seats 10,000 people, which makes it the highest capacity in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, and tied for the fourth largest NAIA stadium.  The best part of having a stadium this large, is that the fans show up to fill it, and they are loud.  The stadium reaches noise levels on third down that away teams aren’t always used to.  Not only do the fans yell, but the cowbell always is a necessary tool for every Morningside Football fan.  Cocktail horns are not a rare site either.

Tailgating is a big part of a game day atmosphere for football games.  You can walk outside in the Morningside neighborhood on a Saturday morning, and smell the tailgate grills 5 hours before game time.  The famous, and sometimes infamous cheapskate hill across peters avenue from the stadium can have as many as 30 cars parked with countless rabid fans partying away.

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Photo Credits

Elwood Olsen Stadium will likely remain a large part of Morningside Students and Sioux City residents for years to come.  So when you’re walking around the east side of Sioux City, and you hear a dull roar, or smell the grilled foods float through the air, you know where it’s coming from.

 

 

 

 



One Response to “Feature Article”

  1.   fuglsang

    Include photo credits. Most of these look they come from Morningside’s website.

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