This Day In Sports History (July 21st) – Wayne Gretzky
9 Older Stadiums That Need To Go
For any huge sports fan, the stadium his or her team plays in, even if brand new, should be a of kind of shrine to legendary accomplishments, players, and memories. Unfortunately, some stadiums aren’t up to the task. Rather than serving as monuments to past achievements or future hopes, a handful of run-down stadiums suck the vitality out of live sporting events and make you wonder why the team isn’t paying you to sit in the stands. And that’s just no fun. So here’s a list of 9 older stadiums that just need to be put out their misery.
9. Silverdome (Pontiac, MI)
When it first opened in December of 1975, the Silverdome was the largest stadium in the NFL. And of course, it was state of the art. But the years have not been kind to the Silverdome. The Detroit Lions moved out after 26 years back in 2001. Since then, the venue has hosted only a handful of events, most of which were ill-suited for an 80,000 seat venue. It was costing the city of Pontiac a fortune to maintain the stadium, so they decided to put it up for auction. In 1975 the Silverdome cost $55.7 million to build. In 2009 it sold for $583,000. If that isn’t a sign that it’s time to bring in the wrecking ball, what is?
8. RFK Stadium (Washington, DC)
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium kicked off an unfortunate trend in 1961. It was the first of the so-called “cookie-cutter” multipurpose stadiums that dominated the era. The obvious problem with these types of stadiums was that, in trying to accommodate both baseball and football, they ended up being pretty crappy places to watch either. In the case of RFK, which is almost perfectly round—like the stadiums built in New York, Atlanta, Oakland, Houston, San Diego, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia—spectators found that, no matter the sport, they were always about 5,280 feet away from the action on the field. Luckily, all but a handful of these dreadful cookie-cutter stadiums have been replaced by sport-specific venues. Not RFK, though. For some reason, it is still being used DC United of Major League Soccer.
7. Candlestick Park (San Francisco, CA)
If you were born in the last 40 years, it may surprise you to learn Candlestick was actually built as a baseball-only stadium in 1960—perfectly symmetrical with an open outfield. But in 1971, adhering to the trend in professional sport venues, they turned Candlestick into a multipurpose stadium by enclosing the outfield portion of the stadium. The result was a stadium that was just utterly ridiculous for either baseball or football. I mean, just look at it. This place should not even have existed in the first place, and yet somehow the NFL’s 49ers still play there.
6. Izod Center (Newark, NJ)
The Izod Center was built in 1981. This place is so terrible, the New Jersey Nets couldn’t even play there two more years while they awaited the completion of their new stadium in Brooklyn. Let me repeat that: this dump is not good enough for the Nets. They moved to Newark’s new arena, the Prudential Center, for the 2011 NBA season. With no tenants, and with no ability to compete with the new, state-of-the-art Prudential Center, the state of New Jersey (which owns both venues) brokered a deal back in 2009. According to this agreement, sports events would be held in the Prudential Center while family programs and concerts would be held in a downsized Izod Center. But really, they should have just torn the place down and sold the land.
5. Olympic Stadium (Montreal, QC)
This ambitious stadium, which resembles a giant insect, was doomed right from the start. Designed for the 1976 Summer Olympics, it was supposed to have a roof made out of kevlar fabric that could be retracted via cables attached to the 574 foot tower hanging over the stadium. However, the stadium wasn’t even completed in time for the Olympic games. In fact, it wasn’t even completed that decade. (It was finished in 1987, although the “retractable” roof never really worked right, and still doesn’t). Then there were the financing problems. Originally, Olympic Stadium was supposed to cost the taxpayers $134 million dollars. By the time the incomplete stadium was used for the Olympics in 1976, the cost was already $246 million. When the Quebec government finally finished paying for the stadium in 2006, this monstrosity had cost the taxpayers $1.6 billion. And all this for a terrible place to watch sports. The city of Montreal probably would tear the place down, but the building is so complex that would probably cost another billion.
4. Metrodome (Minneapolis, MN)
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was completed in 1982, and from the start it was one of the ugliest baseball stadiums ever, what with that giant wall of collapsed seats out in right field. For football it wasn’t too bad, and probably still wouldn’t be too bad if not for that little problem of the roof collapsing from the weight of the snow. The Minnesota Vikings should have taken that as a sign that it’s time to move.
3. Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, FL)
This list is supposed to be about old stadiums that need to go, and The Trop, finished in 1990, is not even 25-years old. But this place is too bad not to include here. The series of four catwalks hanging from the dome—lettered A, B, C and D—make for the most asinine ground rules in major league baseball. Backyard games of wiffle ball have less confusing rules, and they have to deal with trees and barbecue pits in the field of play. So just consider this my head start on a list that will be written 15 years from now, when, if it’s not already gone, Tropicana filed will be the number one old stadium in need of a bulldozer.
2. Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, NY)
The Nassau Coliseum was home to New York Islanders dynasty in the 1980s. Today it is the NHL’s most obsolete (not to mention smallest capacity) arena, hosting what has become one of the leagues most pathetic teams. My, how things change. The 1972 arena holds only 16,250 for hockey, and has approximately -15 modern amenities. The Islanders just can’t make enough money to be competitive playing in this run-down place. The team has been working on a proposal to reinvent the stadium and its environs for 7 years now. Taxpayers in Nassau county will finally get to vote on whether to approve the redevelopment deal on August 1, 2011. If it doesn’t pass, break out the wrecking ball.
1. O.cO Coliseum (Oakland, CA)
Making it clear that the Oakland Athletics have no more self-respect, the Oakland Coliseum (formerly the MacAfee Coliseum) was recently renamed the O.cO Coliseum. But that is only a fraction of the indignities suffered by this venue. One of only two “cookie-cutter” stadiums still used for major pro sports in North America, and the only one still used for Major League Baseball, poor Oakland Coliseum has only been made worse by horrific “improvements” over the years. In 1996, Oakland Raiders owner Al David turned what was an inoffensive if not quite pretty ballpark into a complete nightmare by enclosing the outfield with an insanely tall addition fans have nicknamed “Mount Davis.” Then, in 2006, the Athletics decided to cover the entire third deck with a green and gold tarp, effectively making those sections the largest billboard in professional sports. Please, someone, make it stop.