Sanford Stadium was also the host of the Olympic soccer games during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Nearly all know Atlanta hosted these summer games, but many are unaware of the sacrifices Sanford Stadium made to support the event. Olympic soccer fields must be 120 yards long and 80 yards wide. Soccer fields require more width the football fields, and the iconic hedges posed an issue to the width requirements. Many were in shock as it was announced the hedges must go!
The hedges have been been around since the stadium’s first game against Yale, all the way back in 1929. To support the width of the soccer field, they left the field for the first time in 67 years. The legacy of the original hedges did not die when they were removed. Samples from the original hedges were moved to a secret site and cultivated for three years so they could be replanted once the games were over. Learn more about the complete history of the hedges here. The hedges have lived to see many more games and even a solar eclipse.
Despite its long history of hosting events, Monday’s solar eclipse was some people’s first visit to Sanford Stadium. Nursing student, Kimmi Lebendiger, said she had never been to Sanford before going to see the eclipse with her friends. Although Lebendiger said she was “surprised by the amount of people who attended,” she added that “it was fun.” Additionally, she said that the guest speakers and the atmosphere truly made her feel like she picked the right place to watch the eclipse. With plans to return to Sanford, Lebendiger said she was excited to go back and that her “memorable experience” was the kind you only get once in a lifetime.