A New Surface At Alexander Field

Punahou's Alexander Field | Joseph Wakazuru photo

Because my mother was a 1949 Punahou graduate and my daughters graduated from the school in 2003 and 2008, I receive a copy of the Punahou Bulletin. This month’s cover story about the “Storied Ground of Alexander Field” brought back a flood of memories.

Punahou celebrates the 105th anniversary of its historic football/track and field stadium this fall. The field was named for Samuel Alexander of Alexander & Baldwin lore. The school is in the midst of a $3 million project to renovate and expand the storied facility and install artificial turf.

“We all love grass, but its so overused with the bands, sports and P.E.,” says football coach/associate athletic director Kale Ane. “This will give us a very useable field without concern for all the mud and rain. We’re also maneuvering some of the track and field space. We’re hoping to have it done by the end of August.”

Broadcaster, coach and former Punahou baseball star Pal Eldredge did the voiceover work on a seven-minute video you can watch on YouTube about the history of Alexander Field. “The blood, sweat and tears of Punahou football teams watered the Alexander Field turf for many years,” Eldredge intones.

The old photographs and video images are striking. Color footage of a high school track meet in the late 1940s shows the stadium so crowded that people are literally filling up every aisle; it was standing room only. “It was the heyday of sports before television,” Eldredge explains. “In the 1940s, Alexander Field could draw thousands of fans for a Punahou-Roosevelt track meet.”

Ane remembers watching big-name Olympians run on the Alexander Field cinder track when he was going to school at Punahou.

“Jim Ryun was here, and that was special,” he says. “He ran the mile against our 440-relay team and still dusted them.”

In the 1970s, Alexander Field was used as a site for ABC-TV’s Superstars competition. Producers hired helicopters to dry off the field after some heavy Manoa rains. Ane says he remembers sneaking away during school hours to watch some of his favorite athletes.

“There was this obstacle course and a big wall,” he recalls. “I remember seeing guys like Franco Harris, Bob Seagren and others.”

Varsity football games are played sparingly on the field these days, but I personally recall a preseason game in the late 2000s when Punahou defensive star Manti Te’o lined up in the offensive backfield after a goal line stand and reeled off a 99-yard touchdown run against McKinley, tying a record that cannot be broken. Over the years, I also enjoyed watching the great efforts at the Punahou Relays each spring, still the premier high school track and field meet in the Islands.

Now, through the school’s efforts in print and video, they are looking for other Alexander Field memories. You can share yours by going to