Pierce Memorial Field is like the Ernest Hemingway of stadiums – it’s tough, poetic, and has seen it all. Built as a Public Works project in 1939, Pierce was the setting for the Harold Gomes-Paul Jorgensen featherweight boxing match in 1959. It was home to the Stingrays soccer team for half a decade. Babe Ruth and Ted Williams both played here. Foreigner played here. If you ever saw a rodeo in Rhode Island, it was probably at Pierce Memorial Field. And every Fourth of July, the stadium’s 8,000 seats are full of people watching the fireworks.
But the structure is also showing its age. In 2017, renovations began on the stadium, whose infrastructure had fallen into disrepair.
“Pierce Memorial Field is one of our city’s most treasured landmarks,” said Mayor Bob DaSilva in an email to The Bay. “Our city is working hard to not only maintain the complex through routine upkeep, but we are seeking to improve Pierce through a number of capital improvement projects.”
In the two years since, workers have made striking progress: The field house restrooms have been fully renovated, the field house has new flooring and LED lights, and multiple tennis and basketball courts have been resurfaced. New walkways are now ADA-compliant, and new handicapped parking spaces have been added to the parking lot. The stadium now has a new sound system and enclosed courtyards.
The most noticeable upgrades are also the most symbolic: Pierce has a new flagpole and a new scoreboard. The baseball field is in the process of receiving a new one as well, and a whole new backstop is currently under construction.
“Pierce Memorial is not only home to thousands of spectators each year,” added Mayor DaSilva, “but it is also home to the thousands of Townies who receive their diploma on graduation day and the many, many families who attend our annual fireworks display. With these renovations, Pierce Field will remain a place for all to enjoy for generations to come.”