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Bubble over football field allows practices to be held in all weather, increasing stadium usage

Gloomy skies over a football stadium. On the field sits a large white bubble.
The Bubble over Powers Field in Princeton Stadium is erected each year following the final football game of the season.
Andrew Bosworth / The Daily Princetonian

Each winter, a “bubble” is erected over Powers Field in Princeton Stadium following the final football game of the season. The Bubble is used by varsity, club, and intramural sports and allows for further utilization of the field during the winter months. With the days of the Bubble numbered as spring approaches, The Daily Princetonian looked at the history of the Bubble, which teams utilize it, and how it affects play during the winter months.

The Bubble dates to April 2017, when the University received a $3.5 million gift from an anonymous donor to pay for the “climate-controlled seasonal air structure,” enabling the football field to be used year-round.


Each fall, the football team typically plays five home games. These are all the varsity athletics games that take place in the stadium. In the 2023 season, home games were attended by 1,791 to 8,345 people. As Princeton Stadium has a capacity of 27,773, this means that the field is only about 30 percent full at even the most-attended home games. The introduction of the Bubble allows for a significant increase in the use of the field beyond these sparsely patronized home games.

According to Assistant Director of Athletic Facilities & Operations Michael Huggins, due to the design of the field and its removable pieces of turf, installation of the Bubble occurs with minimal impact on the playing surface.

Green turf with black dots on the right. On the left, concrete with large cable wrapped around pin, supporting the Bubble.
The turf can be removed to attach Bubble cables.
Andrew Bosworth / The Daily Princetonian

The Bubble allows for additional practice on turf during the winter in a warmer environment, helping teams succeed during colder months.

In 2018, men’s lacrosse head coach Matt Madalon described the Bubble to the ‘Prince’ as an “outstanding resource,” attributing early success in the season to the Bubble. 

“Maybe some of our counterparts are outside in sleeting rain, and we have a facility that allows us to go inside and teach and get a really productive practice and maybe keep you a little healthier,” Madalon told the ‘Prince,’ adding to his praise of the Bubble six years earlier.


“It was really nice having the Bubble in the cold sort of late at night,” Club Frisbee member Oren Swagel ’26 said.  “Not having to be out in the cold late is definitely nice. But you know when we play in tournaments we’re not playing in a bubble. The Bubble means there’s no wind; it’s not cold. So, it’s sort of an artificial condition that we’re never going to play in, but in the dead of winter it’s really helpful.”

Varsity, club, and intramural teams compete and practice in the Bubble all winter and into the spring until the Bubble is dismantled. The field can be further subdivided for use by multiple teams and groups.

“Field usage is always a challenge here,” Madalon said. “There's just so many varsity sports and club sports, but in our varsity practices, we're the only team on the facility.”

After 311 club sports reservations for the Bubble in 2022, club sports teams only reserved only 75 slots in 2024. In 2022 and 2023, the total number of reservations — including club teams, varsity teams, and camps — was around 1000. In 2024, only 791 reservations were made throughout the winter.

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All 39 club sports are sent practice request forms at the beginning of each semester. Campus Recreation works to distribute times and locations fairly. 

“With many of the varsity spaces, we work to create an equitable balance with Athletics to get our club teams on Athletic fields for practice,” Assistant Director of Campus Recreation and Programming Ro Ramirez wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Generally speaking, the majority of outdoor varsity practices occur between 4–7 p.m. and our Sport Clubs have the ability to request those same spaces between 7–11 p.m.”

This year, Campus Recreation fielded requests for practice in the Bubble from four club sports: Men’s Ultimate Frisbee, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, and Flag Football. Men’s Rugby has also held practices in the Bubble.

“The only preferences we look to satisfy are for teams requesting fields, times, and days that they have traditionally practiced on in previous semesters/years,” Ramirez wrote. “Outside of that, we work to schedule teams who are in their season of competition, but we are continuing to see fantastic growth in our program where teams are looking to compete through the entire academic year now.”

The Bubble’s utility may be limited to some teams, however. After many winter practices in the Bubble in 2023, Club Frisbee reduced their Bubble reservations this season as they believed the Bubble provided an unrealistic playing environment as they prepared for winter games. 

“We realized that the Bubble is this artificial condition that we’re not actually going to play in and if we end up at a tournament and it’s 30 degrees and windy, we kind of have to know how to play in that,” Swagel said.

Even so, during a rain-ridden practice, Club Frisbee decided to venture to the Bubble until they were kicked out by a team who had reserved it.

“We hopped in, and then someone came and was like, ‘Hey, we have this reserved,’” Swagel said. “We obviously left, but because it was there, we were able to use it for a little bit.”

The men’s club rugby team practices about five times a year in the Bubble. The football field the Bubble covers, however, is narrower than a rugby pitch by at least ten meters. On March 23, the team was set to play a game against Temple University on the Finney and Campbell fields. As the teams prepared to play in the rain, they were notified of a location change.

“Somehow a slot opened up and 10 minutes before the game started, they're like ‘Okay, you guys are going to play inside the Bubble,’ which is a really nice experience because we were soaking wet outside,” sophomore scrum-half Azhar Razin told the ‘Prince.’ “It's nice that the Bubble gave us warmth and protection from the rain.”

At this last-minute move to the Bubble, only one goal post was set up, so in each half only one team could kick for penalty points. The teams switched scoring directions after half the game. The Tigers won 62–12.

In the past three years, the Bubble has started to come down around April 10. Installation and removal each takes around a week to complete and will be done by the time Princeton Stadium hosts commencement and the Saturday night orchestra concert and fireworks show during Reunions. Huggins estimates the Bubble will last between 15 and 20 years.

Andrew Bosworth is head Data editor and Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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