History enthusiasts will revel in this Grays Harbor treasure, as the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium is rich in history, and a shining icon of community pride. Through the years, the stadium has played an integral part in celebrating the community, hosting festivals, music concerts and sporting events. This unique stadium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is nationally recognized for its historical importance, and the stadium’s iconic past continues to inspire the present.
Located near the Hoquiam and Aberdeen border along Cherry Street, the stadium has been a fixture in the community for nearly 80 years. Funded through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA), the stadium officially opened to the public on November 24, 1938. This was the date of the big game between Hoquiam and Aberdeen, the longest running rivalry in high school football in the state.
There was a point during construction when stadium crews recognized that they would not be able to complete the project before the game, so they hired a night crew, working around the clock to meet their deadline. The community held a naming contest, with the winner receiving a free three-year pass to all stadium events. Building materials were locally sourced from old growth fir, much of which was donated by the Polson Logging Company. Smartly designed, the stadium grandstand forms an L shape and is enclosed on the Western side, protecting spectators from encroaching storms from the Pacific Ocean. A unique characteristic of era stadiums, architects built the facility to house both baseball and football fields. As one of the largest of its kind, the stadium has a current capacity of approximately 7,500 and an original capacity of more than 10,000. When it was built, the stadium could house nearly the entire population of the city of Hoquiam.
The WPA constructed 48 grandstands, stadiums and bleachers throughout the country during project years. A testament to local community stewardship and foresight, the stadium is the largest and best-preserved all-wooden structure of its type in the country and perhaps the world. This type of prideful ownership has guided the stadium through the years, as it has become an important symbol of the community.
Over the years, the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium has hosted a wide range of events. Starting in the 1940s and continuing through the 1990s, the stadium has been home to various professional baseball teams and leagues. In the 1940s, the eight team Industrial League kicked things off and the Harborites played through the 1950s and ’60s. The Grays Harbor Ports, Loggers and Mets played during the 1970s as part of the Northwest League. The stadium gained further notoriety in 1978 when actor and comedian Bill Murray fulfilled his dream of playing professional baseball. He joined the joined Loggers for a game and even got a hit. In 1995, the stadium welcomed the Grays Harbor Gulls, who played in the Western Baseball League.
Enjoying the Stadium Today
With its long history, it’s no surprise this stadium is an attraction for locals and visitors alike. From the start, the stadium has supported the local youth sports community by hosting Hoquiam and Aberdeen High School football and baseball, along with youth baseball and youth football. The Grays Harbor College Chokers baseball team currently call the stadium home. Be sure to view each team’s schedule so that you can attend a game in this historic structure.
In addition to hosting sporting events, the stadium also hosts the Hoquiam Logger’s Playday annually in September, where those in attendance can celebrate the region’s logging history, partake in various events to support the community, and enjoy the logging show and competitions.
Planning a Visit
While visiting the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium you might enjoy a visit to the Polson Museum and Aberdeen Museum of History – each offer extensive collections about the area’s history. For a casual dining experience, check out the 8th St. Alehouse and the Grizzly Den in Hoquiam, Breakwater Seafood and Chowder and Billy’s Bar and Grill in Aberdeen, and Savory Faire and the Fishin’ Hole Family Restaurant in Montesano. For fine dining, consider a visit to Rediviva Restaurant in Aberdeen, Ocean Crest in Moclips, the Salmon House in Quinault, and The North Cove Bar and Grill and Tokeland Hotel and Restaurant in Tokeland. For locally crafted drinks, stop by Steam Donkey Brewing in Aberdeen and Hoquiam Brewing Company in Hoquiam.
Nearby accommodations can be found at the Best Western Plus Aberdeen, A Harbor View Inn bed and breakfast in Aberdeen and the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites in Hoquiam. For those destined for the beaches, consider a stay at one of the many hotels and resorts in Ocean Shores and Westport.
Plan a trip to the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium to enjoy its historical charm and soak in the rich nostalgia of this Grays Harbor gem.