by Dan Ford
Milne Stadium is one of the great, historic school properties in New Mexico. To appreciate its history one should go back to the early days in Albuquerque and one of its early giants, John Milne.
The new high school was built in 1912 at the corner of Broadway and Central. The building still stands and was turned into residential condos many years ago. In 1912 it was surely the largest, state of the art school in the Land of Enchantment. The Bulldogs started playing football in the 1890s. They played on a field nearby the new school known as “Hopewell Field”. It had no seating, no scoreboard, no fence around it. It was, just as the name implies, a field.
John Milne was born in Scotland in 1880. He came to Albuquerque as a teacher in 1907. He served as the AHS principal from 1908 until 1911. Then he became the Superintendent of schools and he obtained a piece of property in 1914 for $3,000. The property was beyond the town limits and didn’t appear to have much potential. It sat there until 1922 when the district built Lincoln Junior High on part of the acreage. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs continued to play at Hopewell. Then they developed the beginnings of a field on Milne’s empty property and called it “Lincoln Athletic Field”. It was the beginnings of Milne Stadium. The first game played there was a Friday afternoon game (no lights) on September 25, 1936. Final score; Albuquerque 25 Santa Rosa 0.
The only other football field in Albuquerque was on campus at UNM and known as University Field.
In 1939 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) upgraded the stadium and it was officially renamed “Public Schools Stadium” later that year. The local fans still referred to it as “Bulldog Field” for many years until Highland High came along in 1949 and both schools shared the stadium.
Lincoln Junior High was closed and became the maintenance facility for APS. It can be seen from I-25 and recognizable from its 90-year-old brick architecture. It is practically across the stadium parking lot from the football field. Lincoln is technically at 915 Locust Street.
John Milne was the APS Superintendent from 1911 until 1956 when he retired. His official retirement date was July 1, 1956. He was still on salary as a consultant to the new super when he died on September 5, 1956 while vacationing in California. He had been in ill health and died of a heart attack. He was 76 years old.
Upon his death Public Schools Stadium was renamed in his honor in 1957.
Milne has been the site of many playoff and state championship football games not to mention state track meets. Wilson Stadium came along in 1963 and was also named for an APS legend who had just passed away in April of 1962. F.M.”Tony” Wilson, the Bulldog coach and later AD starting in 1923 until his sudden death.
ANOTHER STADIUM STORY — FARMINGTON
This story has a kick to it. The father of Farmington High School sports is certainly Floran Hutchison. He came from a small town in eastern New Mexico in the early 1940s. He coached all of the teams at FHS which was the habit at the time. But he also put in an effort to build a field for football. He planted grass. He added lights and a scoreboard. He would later retire from coaching to become the AD and then later was the procurement officer for the district.
Farmington has had only one public high school in town since the turn of the 19th century. They started playing football as early as 1911, before statehood. A new field was built for them in 1960 on the campus of FHS. It was aptly name “Farmington High School Stadium”. That was all fine until a new school, Piedra Vista, came along in 1998. They needed to use the same field and, in fact, played Roswell in the championship game there in 2000.
So, if you are from the new school, you don’t want to play at Farmington High School for your home games. If you are a Scorpion fan, you want to retain the history of that facility.
The solution was surprisingly easy. The stadium in Farmington was renamed for the father of sports in Farmington … “Floran Hutchison Stadium” …. or “FHS” for short. I just call it “The Hutch”.