Meade Stadium is home to the Rhode Island football team. The stadium was constructed in 1928 and named Meade Field after local politician John E. "Jack" Meade, a local politician and devoted alumnus who was said to have never missed a home football or basketball game until his death in 1972 at the age of 78.
A football field house was constructed in 1933 and a year later the west concrete stands were built to accommodate 1,500 fans. The facility was renamed Meade Stadium in 1978 when a 50-row concrete, aluminum and steel grandstand was opened, bringing the seating capacity to 8,000. Larger press box, concession and restroom facilities were added in 1980, natural turf was installed in 1983 and a computerized scoreboard was added in 1986.
During the summer of 2000, the field house and west grandstand were demolished to make room for the Ryan Center, reducing the seating capacity of Meade Stadium to 5,180. In the summer of 2002 a new underground irrigations system was installed and the football team moved into their spacious, state-of-the-art locker room facilities in the Ryan Center.
In the summer of 2003, the press box was redone, with new windows, flooring and a paint job.
Back in 1915, the yearbook photo was a hallowed ritual. At what was then Rhode Island State College, the senior class numbered in the dozens, and each graduate enjoyed a half-page spread. But John Edward Meade settled for a single line in what was mockingly called "The Phantom Roll," the handful of graduates too busy, bashful or blase to pose.
Nearly a century later, John Meade is still here if in name only. Since 1936 the football field has been called Meade Stadium, but the average fan can tell you more about Hofstra's backup punter than about the man with his name on every program cover. It's all Meade's fault, of course, for dying in 1972 at the age of 78. Out of sight, out of mind. At the time, most Rhode Islanders over 40 could recall when the Nasonville native had been a power in state politics, a respected civil engineer, an Army officer in both world wars and a member of the Committee of Three that ruled the college from 1935 to '38.
The Committee of Three oversaw the new Board of Regents, which took over after the Democrats seized control of the state government for the first time in decades in the disputed election of 1934, a donnybrook that makes Bush-Gore look like a Cub Scout picnic. Meade was a prominent Democrat in the General Assembly and a protege of Sen. Theodore Green and Gov. Robert Quinn. With New Deal public works money pouring in, the Regents dotted the campus with new buildings. By coincidence, two of them were named Green Hall and Quinn Hall. Meanwhile the football field -- then little more than a field -- took on Meade's name. It was a controversial move, bestowing tributes on active politicos, as opposed to retired ones, and it played a minor role in the Democrats' demise in 1938.
Meade soon left the board and the Assembly, but he remained a leading civic figure for another 25 years as Providence's deputy director of public works. And when the college needed him, he rendered valuable service as a behind-the-scenes fixer. In the late '40s, when the estimated cost of Keaney Gym spiraled out of control, Meade saved the project by getting the Assembly to cough up more money. In the early '50s, he helped grease the skids for the college's hotly debated elevation to university status. Meade was a fixture at Ram football games, even though he never touched a pigskin as an undergraduate. Yet he left an everlasting imprint on Rhode Island football.