MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Cramton Bowl is named for F.J. Cramton, who donated the land on which the stadium is built.
The location, which is now Cramton Bowl, was originally a sanitary landfill owned by Fred Cramton, a local businessman. After a conversation with friends about the need for a baseball stadium, Cramton donated the land to the City so a facility could be constructed there.
The City held the land for a time and then returned it, stating that Cramton's stadium idea was too big of a project for the City to undertake. Cramton then decided to take matters into his own hands; with the help of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Cramton raised $33,000 to build the now iconic sports venue.
Capacity was expanded in 1929 to 7,991. More additions were made in 1946 surging the seating capacity to 12,000. East stands were added in 1962 making the seating capacity 24,000. After new renovations were completed in July 2011 the capacity was reduced to 21,000.
The first baseball game played on the new field was in May 1922 between Auburn University and Vanderbilt University.
Shortly after its completion in 1922 the Philadelphia Athletics decided to move their spring training operations from Eagle Pass, Texas to Montgomery, Alabama. They used the facility for their 1923 and 1924 spring training and exhibition games before moving to a newer stadium in Fort Myers, Florida.
After the departure of the Philadelphia Athletics spring training, Minor league baseball's newly formed Southeastern League placed a team in Montgomery. They became known as the Montgomery Lions. The Lions played in Cramton Bowl from 1927 to 1930. There was no team from 1931 to 1936 due to problems within the Southeastern League.
The team returned for the 1937 season as the Montgomery Bombers and garnered their first major league baseball affiliation with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians pulled out for the 1938 season and were replaced by the Philadelphia Phillies.
After one season the Phillies dropped their affiliation, the team became a co-op franchise and were renamed the Montgomery Rebels. In 1943, the Rebels would disband due to World War II.
On July 11 of that year, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved their Washington Senators farm club from Chattanooga's Engel Stadium to Cramton Bowl to play the out the rest of the season. The Rebels returned in 1946 through 1949 before moving to the newly constructed Paterson Field located just across the street.
On September 23, 1927, Cramton Bowl became the site of the very first game played "under the lights" in the South with Cloverdale taking on Pike Road High School.
Former superintendent D. H. "Sarge" Caraker remembers fondly, "[We] used dishpans for reflectors and sent to California for the lamps. We drew 7,200 people from all over the South to see it."
Cramton Bowl will play host to all home games for Alabama State University through October of 2012, which the university will have completed its own football stadium. Faulkner University also plays home games at Cramton.
Cramton Bowl provided a location for Alabama Crimson Tide football home games in the capital city. The Crimson Tide played home games at Cramton Bowl in the 1922 through 1932 seasons, in 1934, from 1944 through 1946 and again from 1951 through 1954. Alabama's all-time record at Cramton Bowl was 17 wins and 3 losses.
Cramton Bowl probably achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Blue-Gray Football Classic, an annual college football all-star game which was held there each December from 1938 until 2001.
Several area high schools call Cramton Bowl home including the Jeff Davis Volunteers, Lanier Poets, Lee Generals, and Carver Wolverines.
In mid-2010 the City of Montgomery approved a measure for a $10 million renovation and addition to Cramton Bowl. The renovations planned for Cramton Bowl will be a unique mix of the old and the new. The current structure was revamped with updated entrances, a state-of-the-art press box, an aesthetically enhanced plaza area.
Perhaps the most important and impressive addition will be the 90,000-square-foot multi-purpose sports facility, which is nearly complete. The total cost for the multi-purpose facility is another $10 million.