Chet Anderson Stadium was built in 1939. It’s seen its share of games over the years. The history of the field, and the stadium, are quite interesting.
(from bsubeavers.com) In 1926, R.E. Mendenhall, BSU’s first staff member to hold a PhD who taught history and physical education, organized the college’s first football team. The team played four games that fall against local high schools. The first game played on the Bemidji State field (often referred to as Diamond Point Field) was held Oct. 27, 1926 against Cass Lake High School. Bemidji was victorious, winning the battle 13-0. The team ended the first season in Bemidji State history with a record of 1-2-1.
In August of 1935, with sponsorship by local organizations, citizens of Bemidji and the faculty, a $2,400 lighting system was installed in time for the upcoming season. Forty lights, mounted on eight 60-foot poles, illuminated the field brilliantly for the 1935 home opener Sept. 13 against Itasca Junior College. This would be the first night game to be played in Bemidji State history. The dedication for the new lighting system took place during halftime with a crowd of 1,500 in attendance. Bemidji State president M.W. Deputy, Mr. F.J McPartlin and Mr. H.Z. Mitchell spoke at the dedication ceremony and the game was preceded by a torchlight parade through the business section of the city.
A practice field was built in 1938. The field was built extending from the already-existing field west to Birchmont Road. A concrete building was also constructed at the southwest corner of the playing field to house football equipment.
In 1939, BSU received a $172,000 federal grant provided for sports fields, and all but a small portion was used to upgrade BSU’s athletics facilities. The projects included two new football fields and relocation of the existing fields, as well as a track, softball and baseball diamonds, soccer field, tennis courts and a general playing court. Concrete bleachers for the football field were included in the improvement plans. One of the new fields would be used as a practice field for football, while the game field was built inside the round cinder track. The location of the new field constructed as part of that project is the exact location of today’s field.
Throughout spring and summer of 1940, work continued on the new sports fields as well as the concrete bleachers. The 1940 football season opened on the newly constructed field as BSU played host to Concordia College on Sept. 27. But the $25,000 bleachers would not be complete until the 1941 season.
In 1941 the bleachers, one on each side of the field, were completed. The newly constructed bleachers housed two rest rooms, two shower rooms, a refreshment stand, two first-aid rooms, two ticket booths and offices for the coaches. The inside passageway of the bleachers was home to a 160 foot long and 11 foot wide cinder track used by the track team for training during inclement weather. The bleachers were made of reinforced concrete and were 180 feet long and 40 feet wide. The seats consisted of 15 rows of redwood benches set atop steel straps and would seat an estimated 1,500 people.
An enclosed sports booth, six feet wide and 14 feet long, occupied the position above and in the center of the north side bleachers. A glass front was installed to protect sports writers from inclement weather. With both bleachers completed the estimated capacity of the stadium was 3,500.
The present-day stadium and field has undergone modifications throughout the years, but the main structures are the same today as 60 years ago.
In 1989, a new scoreboard and new playing surface were installed.
The facility was named the Chet Anderson Stadium on Oct. 5, 1996, in honor of former head coach Chester A. Anderson (1955-1965).
In July 2013, construction crews began work on the playing surface of “The Chet”. The project totaling $1.3 million, included demolition of the running track surrounding the field and the installation of a new entry plaza with the focus of the project being the installation of a new drainage system and synthetic playing surface. Crews removed the natural grass surface, originally installed in 1989, installed a perimeter curb, drainage system and turf, complete with BSU’s athletic logo.
At no time since 1939 have more important games been played at The Chet! In the last two weeks, the BSU Soccer team has played in three NCAA Tournament games (will be a fourth on Sunday!) at The Chet, while the BSU Football team hosted their first ever NCAA Tournament game at The Chet today. In the previous 83 years, The Chet has been a cool place to watch a game. Alright, sometimes a COLD place to watch a game. It’s setting next to Lake Bemidji is unlike anything else in college sports.
I’ve often wondered how in the heck The Chet was built in 1939. Do you have any idea how thick that concrete is for the stands? We’re talking FEET thick…as in SEVERAL FEET thick. It was a WPA project! If you have to Google what a WPA Project is, you weren’t alive for the “down” years of BSU Football. In the ’80’s and the ’90’s, BSU Football went 62-137-3…including two zero win seasons, four one win season, and six two win seasons.
BSU Soccer, which moved to The Chet when the artificial turf went in in 2013, started out in 1996. Jim Stone got here in 2001. When he started, he had to knock on dorm room doors looking for players. In 1996, their first season, BSU went 0-13. They got one win in 1997. one in 1998, and three wins in 1999. Since 2017, when they made their first NCAA Tournament, BSU is 80-12-16.
In the last two weeks, BSU Soccer has hosted six NCAA Tournament games (playing in four of them), while the Football team hosted their first ever NCAA Tournament game this weekend. The soccer Elite Eight game on Sunday will be the last of the year at The Chet. It’s cold. It doesn’t have running water. It doesn’t have locker rooms. It doesn’t have a lot of creature comforts…but it’s OUR Chet!
RH “Bob” Peters made this a hockey school. Lately, Brent Bolte and Jim Stone have made this a football and soccer school too!
Yes, I’d like running water. I’d like heated bathrooms. I’d like a bigger press box. I’m sure you’d like a wind block for late season games. Most schools in the NSIC have video boards, and lots of creature comforts. I’m sure you would like those things too. If our teams keep winning, and playing later in the year, maybe it’s time for a new “The Chet”. If you’d like to contribute to a NEW “The Chet”, please contact BSU. They would LOVE to hear from you!
Listen to the Elite Eight Soccer game on 94.3 The Legends or online here at beaverradionetwork.com.
Listen to the Soccer Archive from Friday: here
Listen to the Football Archive: here