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Zable Stadium

Walter J. Zable Stadium at Cary Field
Former names Cary Field (1935–1989)
Walter J. Zable Stadium at Cary Field (1990–present)
Location Williamsburg, Virginia
Owner College of William & Mary
Operator College of William & Mary
Capacity Official: 11,686 (2014)
12,259 (2004–2013)
13,279 (1997–2003)
15,000 (1935–1996)
Official record: 18,054 (1985)
Unofficial record: 19,000+ (1949)
Surface FieldTurf Pro
Broke ground 1934
Opened September 21, 1935[1]
Construction cost $138,395 (1935)
($2.38 million in 2016 dollars[2]), $27 million (renovations)
Architect BCWH & McMillan Pazdan Smith (renovations)
William & Mary Tribe football
William & Mary Tribe track and field

Walter J. Zable Stadium at Cary Field, named for Walter J. Zable, former member of the College of William & Mary Board of Visitors, is located in Williamsburg, Virginia and is the home of the William and Mary Tribe football team. It is located centrally in the William & Mary campus, adjoining the Sadler Center (formerly the University Center) building and situated on Richmond Road. The stadium is used for football and track & field. It has an official capacity of 12,259 fans. The attendance figures for William and Mary football games are usually inexact, however, since students are not counted among the official results in an accurate fashion. The area of Cary Field behind the stadium was the baseball field for William and Mary until the opening of Plumeri Park in 1999.


The Stadium at Cary Field was constructed in 1935 at a cost of $138,395 under a grant from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Public Works Administration. The namesakes of the stadium are Walter (W&M class of 1937) and Betty Zable (class of 1940), who made a $10 million contribution to William & Mary in 1990, adding the Zable moniker to the existing Cary Field. The construction of the stadium is distinct in that the primary entrance to the stadium is at the 50 yard line on one side, eliminating prime midfield seating locations. In order to secure the stadium, college officials had it designed for agriculture expositions with a cattle entrance at midfield. No expositions, however, were ever held, but the midfield seats remained lost.

The first football game played at the stadium was the 1935 season opener, a 0-0 tie against the University of Virginia. Zable himself played in the game.

Recent developments

The largest crowd in Zable Stadium history was more than 19,000 in the 1949 loss against the University of North Carolina. Zable did not feature permanent lighting for evening games until 2005, when gifts of $650,000 allowed the construction of lights over the stadium. The gifts were spurred by the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA playoff game that William & Mary hosted against James Madison University. The game was nationally televised by ESPN2, and portable lights were brought in on trucks to allow the game to be played in ESPN's evening time slot. The game featured the largest crowd in recent Zable history and created a demand for additional night games. Previously, displeasure from the Williamsburg community over night games had kept the demand for lights to a minimum.

In 2006, Cary Field's natural grass surface was replaced with FieldTurf pro, the same turf used in over twenty NFL football stadiums. The project cost an estimated $840,000.

On August 26, 2014 the college unveiled the plans for the renovation and expansion that will be carried out by BCWH and McMillan Pazdan Smith. The project is estimated to cost $27 million, with $22 million already raised. An initial $10 million gift from the estate of Zable was supplemented by two $6 million gifts from James and Frances McGlothlin and Hunter Smith.[3] The current plan is to renovate and expand the west side of the stadium, including a suite level, second deck of seating, press box, and upper concourse. The east side of the stadium will also be renovated, as will existing bathrooms and concession areas.[4] The project is scheduled to begin in early 2015, and will be completed in time for the start of the 2016 football season. The construction will not interfere with the 2015 season, which will be played at Zable stadium.


  • Tribe Athletics
  1. ^
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
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