Originally the location of Terre Haute’s famous annual 4th of July mile race, the old four-corner track had been the ideal racing center for harness racing in this part of the Midwest. Surely one of the proudest moments in Terre Haute history was the year it won the bid to host the 15th annual Indiana State Fair. Held at the site of Memorial Stadium, from October 1st through the 5th of 1867, the exhibition drew more visitors and more revenue than any before it in the Hoosier State. Although it was the only time the State Fair was held in Terre Haute, one local paper reported on the success of the event praising the efforts of “the enterprising, lively, go-ahead and elegant city of Terre Haute.”
For many years the stadium also served as the home for the Terre Haute Three-I team, the Phillies. It hosted local high school and college football, baseball and soccer games as well. Later a golf course was even added.
Under Mayor Ralph Tucker in the 1950’s the building fell into disrepair, and because of lack of use, seemed to no longer be a paying or self-sustaining proposition. By the mid-1960’s the city council was forced to make a decision on the fate of the stadium, which just 40 years before had been the pride of the city. The city park department estimated that necessary repairs and remodeling costs for the building would be a minimum of $150,000. The alternative, if no other governmental entity wanted the site, would be to tear it down. Mayor Tucker told a meeting of University, city, and county officials that it was impossible for the city to maintain the structure with no more use than it received. At that time Indiana State University did not see the structure as a worthy investment and expressed minimal interest. However, In November 1966, the city council and the Vigo County Board of Commissioners signed a 99-year lease with ISU, turning the operation and maintenance of the stadium over to the University. ISU presented a multi-phase remodeling plan which began in 1967 with the razing of the older portion of seating. Astro Turf was installed at a cost of $2 million. Today the Memorial Arch is the only remaining part of the original 1924 structure. The new stadium was built around it.