Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia is my selection for the tenth most historic site in American soccer history. While it is undoubtedly better known as the venue for the University of Georgia Bulldogs (American) football team, it was also the site of the 1996 Olympic Soccer Finals.
Sanford Stadium was built in 1928 for a mere pittance of $360,000. It has been renovated several times, and now seats more than 92,000 fans. One interesting thing about the field is that it is sort of a pet cemetary. Every Uga in history (Georgia’s bulldog mascot) is buried under the pitch.
It is said that games played at Sanford Stadium are played “between the hedges” due to the English-style hedges that surround the field. Though the origin of the hedges is unknown, many believe they were introduced as a crowd control method to prevent fans from storming the field.
The 1996 Men’s and Women’s Olympic Soccer finals though were not played “between the hedges” because the dimensions of the pitch required their removal. On August 1, 1996, the US WNT bested China 2-1 at Sanford, securing the US a Gold Medal. That’s why Sanford Stadium is the tenth most historic site in the history of American soccer.