Zemp Stadium History
Named in honor of long-time Bulldog supporter, Blakeney Zemp, the stadium sits just off Highway 521 on the grounds of Historic Camden. With its rich history and hometown charm, Zemp Stadium is a must-visit for any high school football supporter.
Prior to calling Zemp Stadium home, the Camden football program had previously played on the property behind the old Episcopal Rectory, Monument Square on the corner of Laurens and Broad Street in Camden, a “sand-spur infested” lot on West Dekalb Street on the site of the former Powe Veneer Plant, Polo Fields behind the old Kirkwood Hotel, the Wateree Mills Field, and the baseball field and Fair Grounds near the current Zemp Stadium location.
Zemp Stadium has been the site of many memorable moments during its long, illustrious history. Two state championship games have been played there – a Thanksgiving Day game in 1936 that saw Camden defeat Honea-Path and again in 1957 as the Bulldogs defeated Lancaster before an estimated crowd of 6,000.
On its way to the 1964 State Championship, Camden defeated Eau Claire 7-0 in what many long-time Bulldog fans call the most famous game ever played at the stadium.
Three classic moments in recent years came during the 1990 season: the first a win over Sumter, then against Hartsville that saw Bobby Engram make a one-handed touchdown catch to win in overtime – a play that many call the most famous play in CHS history- and then again in the Upper State title game against Daniel. The game was played in front of the largest crowd in the history of the stadium and propelled Camden to the State Championship game.
Prior to the 1997 season, Zemp Stadium saw the largest renovation in its history. The stadium layout was flipped, with the homeside moving to what was the visitor’s sideline. An increased-capacity grandstand was constructed with a new pressbox, new dressing and restroom facilities, a new home concession stand, and a new scoreboard in the south endzone.
Since the renovation, Zemp Stadium has continued to provide stunning moments for Bulldog fans. During a 2001 playoff game, Camden trailed Wilson with just nine seconds to play and faced elimination from a chance at a perfect season and a state title. On the game’s final play, Kelvin Grant returned a kickoff 88 yards to lift Camden to a 19-17 win and allowed the Bulldogs to continue its march to Williams-Brice Stadium where the team eventually defeated Union to bring home the championship.
Zemp Stadium saw yet another facelift prior to the 2017 football season. A new video board replaced the aging scoreboard in the south end zone, allowing for graphics, videos, advertisements and more to be displayed during games.
Following the season, Zemp began its biggest transformation in nearly two decades. The old visitor side stands were torn down and a new home side is being constructed and will be ready for the 2018 season. The new home side will feature an upgraded press box as well as new concessions and restroom facilities.
Now in its 88th year, Zemp Stadium thrives and is a must-visit for all high school football fans in the Palmetto State.