A visit to the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium in Grays Harbor is well worth it for the traveler looking to learn more about the area’s rich history. Located along the Hoquiam and Aberdeen border near Cherry Street, the stadium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is nationally recognized for its historical importance. Through its 80-year history, the stadium has played an integral part in celebrating the community by hosting festivals, music concerts, and sporting events. The stadium even hosted a rally for a presidential candidate. Join me in exploring the history of the stadium and see how it’s iconic past continues to inspire the present.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal WPA (Works Progress Administration) funded the stadium, which officially opened to the public on November 24, 1938. This was an important date in local history, as this was the day of the big game between the Hoquiam and Aberdeen football teams, the longest running rivalry in high school football in the state. In fact, during the construction of the 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 open to the public for the stadium, with the winner receiving a free three-year pass to all stadium events. Constructed from local old growth fir, much of which was donated by the Polson Logging Company, the stadium grandstand forms an L shape and is enclosed on the western side, protecting spectators from encroaching storms from the Pacific Ocean. Stadium architects designed the facility to house both baseball and football fields, a rare feature of the era’s grandstands. With an original capacity of over 10,000, the stadium was able to house nearly the entire population of Hoquiam when it was built.
During the WPA project years, crews built 48 grandstands, stadiums, and bleachers, however none where as large as the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium. 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.
The Hoquiam Olympic Stadium has hosted a vast range of events through the years. Beginning in the 1940s and continuing through the 1990s, the stadium has been home to numerous professional baseball teams and leagues. The eight team Industrial League played in the 1940s and the Harborites made a home at the stadium through the 1950s and ’60s. The Grays Harbor Ports, Loggers, and Mets played during the 1970s as part of the Northwest League. In 1978 actor and comedian Bill Murray fulfilled his dream of playing professional baseball when he joined the Loggers for a game. In 1995 the stadium welcomed the Grays Harbor Gulls, who played in the Western Baseball League.
Enjoying the Stadium Today
Each year in September the stadium hosts the Hoquiam Logger’s Playday, 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.
The stadium’s rich history makes it an attraction for both locals and visitors alike. Since the day it opened, the stadium has supported the local youth sports community, hosting Hoquiam and Aberdeen High School football and baseball, along with youth baseball, and youth football. The stadium is also currently the home of the Grays Harbor College Chokers baseball team. Be sure to check out each team’s schedule so that you can attend a game in this historic structure.
Planning a Visit
While visiting the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium you might enjoy a visit to the Polson Museum and Aberdeen Museum of History, which each offer extensive collections about the area’s history. Since you’ll be in town for a little while, here are a few excellent places to grab a bite. 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. If you’re looking for a casual dining experience, check out the 8th St. Alehouse and the Grizzly Den in Hoquiam, Breakwater Seafoods and Chowder and Billy’s Bar and Grill in Aberdeen, and Savory Faire and the Fishin Hole Family Restaurant in Montesano. 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.
Whether you’re stopping by or traveling through Grays Harbor, be sure to plan a trip to the Hoquiam Olympic Stadium to enjoy its charm and soak in the rich nostalgia of this historic structure.