Georgia Tech sports have been thrilling Atlantans and the student body for well over a century but the centerpiece of most of these events, Grant Field, was begun just one hundred years ago. The huge facility came to life in the first months of 1913 to provide space for track, baseball and football contests and named for Hugh Inman Grant.
The area known as “Tech Flats” had been around for a while but was largely undeveloped until local businessman, John W. Grant, made Tech president, Dr. K. G. Matheson, an offer he couldn’t refuse. He provided $25,000 (approximately half a million dollars in modern funds) for an athletic stadium which local reporters said “will rival the big stadiums of California, which are famous in athletic and collegiate circles the world over. There will be nothing like it in the South.”
Work began almost immediately with the grading and leveling of the Flats and the construction of the first grandstand on the west side, which would seat 5,000. Much of the labor for this would come from Tech students. Fulton County provided $30,000 worth of work (largely by convict labor) grading the hills and filling in the valleys of the four acre “Tech Flats,” which doubled the size of the athletic fields. A quarter mile oval for track was at the North Ave. end of the area in front of the new concrete grandstand. The overall design was completed by New York landscape architect, Charles W. Leavitt, who channeled a swampy creek in the ravine to run underground.
Along with the $25,000 given by Grant in memory of his son, Hugh Inman Grant, who had died a few years earlier, the total cost of the new tri-sports facility was expected to be $100,000. It was planned that other stupendous events would also be held here, like “sham battles,” pageants, drills and military tournaments which would be open to all the citizens of Atlanta.
As spring arrived, it was said that the “Tech boys watch the work with growing interest from day to day” while the new field and grandstand was sure to provide the “greatest stimulus to athletic activity” on campus. Even before all the work was completed, the school’s baseball team was using the field to practice for their season opener in April of 1913.
The original grandstand was expected to seat 5,000 on 25 concrete tiers. Over the years, this modest beginning has grown exponentially to where it now can hold 55,000 spectators. It remains the “oldest continuously used on-campus site for college football” in the South. In 1988, the football stadium was renamed for Coach Bobby Dodd. However, its official title remains the Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field and that all began 100 years ago in the spring of 1913.