Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company

05/18/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/18/2024 07:36

Hersheypark Stadium Celebrates 85th Anniversary in 2024

09:17 AM

Hersheypark Stadium Celebrates 85th Anniversary in 2024

Historic Venue Commemorates 85 Years with Longest Summer Concert Season

As the most prominent outdoor stadium between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Hersheypark Stadium has given those visiting The Sweetest Place On Earth the opportunity to sing along with their favorite performers live in concert, along with playing host to local and regional sporting events and competitions.

First opened to the public on May 18, 1939, the venue will celebrate its 85th anniversary in 2024, a feat to be commemorated with its longest summer concert season to date. From legendary rocker Stevie Nicks to household names like Justin Timberlake and Foo Fighters, the 2024 Hersheypark Stadium Summer Concert Series is not to be missed. Take a look back at the remarkable history of Hersheypark Stadium with information and photos provided by the Hershey Community Archives.

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  • Dylan Scott at Hersheypark Stadium 2021
    Photo: Jesse Faatz
  • Hersheypark Stadium Stage (Photo Credit_ Jesse Faatz)
  • Hersheypark Stadium ESG 2021
  • Crowd at Hersheypark Stadium
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Construction and Opening in 1939

In the 1930s, world-famous chocolatier and philanthropist Milton S. Hershey launched his "Great Building Campaign" to bolster the local economy during the Great Depression. Hershey, Pa. residents found work building structures that would eventually become some of the most prominent tourist attractions in the area, including Hersheypark Stadium. The Hotel Hershey, Hersheypark Arena and Hershey Theatrewere also structured as part of the campaign at this time. The result was a town that offered facilities and features unheard of for a community of its size. Today, we are fortunate to continue hosting world-class entertainment in a small-town setting.

Hersheypark Stadium was the last major project of Hershey's Great Building Campaign. The venue was completed in the spring of 1939, intended to house college, professional and high school football games, along with outdoor entertainment. The addition of the Stadium helped Hershey's development of a greater sports center, joining the Hersheypark Arena, four golf courses and Hersheypark, which at that time included a baseball diamond and football practice field.

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    Stadium; field construction, assorted views
  • HersheyparkStadium_Historic
    Stadium; field construction, assorted views
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    Stadium; construction; construction of scoreboard. Arena and Convention Hall in background.
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    Stadium; spectators; scoreboard under construction
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    Stadium; field; goal posts; east stands
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    Aerial View; Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus; tents, Stadium, Arena, Museum
Stadium; Midget Auto Racing, cars on track, 1939.

Home to Football and Presidents

Beginning May 18, 1939, the Stadium hosted Midget Auto Races every Thursday night. Later, Monday night races were also added. Fans enjoyed seeing the small, fast cars on the Stadium's quarter-mile track. Hersheypark Stadium was formally dedicated with a concert by the Allentown Band and a fireworks display on July 4, 1939.

Since then, the venue has hosted a wide variety of events. Hersheypark Stadium has served as the playing field for the annual Cocoa Bean Football Game since 1943, matching Hershey's two high school teams - Hershey High School and the Milton Hershey School - against one another.

In 1953, The National Republican Party's birthday celebration for then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower was held at the Stadium. The commemoration featured demonstrations from professional golfers, including Lew Worsham, Patty Berg and Ben Hogan, and performances from six high school marching bands. President Eisenhower is not the only President to have visited the Stadium grounds. On October 21, 2004, a Victory 2004 rally for President George W. Bush was held at the venue.

Hersheypark Stadium has also housed many professional football teams over the years as a base for their summer training camps, including Pennsylvania's own Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Stadium; Derry Township School students and Hershey Industrial school students in center grass.
Hershey Stadium
Courtesy of Hershey Community Archives
Stadium aerial view; event in progress


In the 1980s, Hersheypark Stadium emerged as a popular venue for large-scale rock concerts. With seating on the ground, the venue offered space for up to 30,000 concertgoers. Many notable performers have graced the Stadium stage since its inception, such as U2, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, Britney Spears, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett and countless others.

The top 5 highest grossing shows to play at Hersheypark Stadium are as follows:

  1. Lady Gaga on August 28, 2022
  2. The Rolling Stones on October 1, 2005
  3. Def Leppard / Motley Crue on July 12, 2022
  4. Paul McCartney on July 19, 2006
  5. Guns N' Roses on August 13, 2017
Fans waiting outside of grandstands; U2 concert, August 1992
Hersheypark Stadium Concert Overview
Venue exterior; NSYNC and P!NK show in 2000
Hersheypark Stadium Concert Crowd
Hersheypark Stadium Aerosmith Crowd
Aerosmith plays for a packed crowd in 2003.

Celebrating 85 Years

As it enters its 85th anniversary year, Hersheypark Stadium continues to act as an important and leading source of live entertainment in the Central Pa. region. The 2024 concert season is the longest ever at the Stadium, with shows beginning in May and concluding in October. It will also be one of the biggest ever, as some of the most notable names in music are set to take the stage in The Sweetest Place On Earth. Check out the full lineup below and make a plan to join us for what will be a monumental season of shows at Hersheypark Stadium. We look forward to celebrating 85 years of live entertainment with you at our one-of-a-kind venue!

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Whether you're an avid concertgoer or sports fanatic, we'd love to see any and all memories you've shared with us at Hersheypark Stadium over the years! Include us in your photos on Facebook, Twitterand Instagramto celebrate memories of the past.Be sure to tag us and use #HersheyparkStadium as you visit us for our 2024 Summer Concert Series!

See the stars under the stars at Hersheypark Stadium and experience the most prominent names in the music industry as they make their stop in Central Pa. Hersheypark Stadium also plays host to regional high school sports, band competitions and more.