The Detroit Tigers have been searching for a World Series victory since 1984. Their fans have also been searching for the people responsible for the demolition of Tiger Stadium. From 1912 through 1999, Tiger Stadium was home to the Detroit Tigers, and from 1938-1974 the Lions called Tiger Stadium home.
In 1975, the site was declared a State of Michigan Historic Site, and in 1989 the hallowed grounds were added to the list of National Register of Historic Places. Despite these protective designations, Tiger Stadium was unable to avoid demolition, which took place in 2009. In 2000, the Tigers moved to their current home, Comerica Park.
Athens Olympics Beach Volleyball
The 2004 Olympics was a homecoming of sorts, considering the whole Olympic idea spawned in ancient Greece. What was supposed to be a joyous affair for the Greeks actually became a recurring nightmare that hasn’t fully been resolved. The 2004 games, by and large, were considered a success. The level of competition was fierce, the venues were nice, and no major negative events detracted from the athletes.
However, for Greece, they finished 15th place in the overall medal count, not the ideal number for the host nation. To boot, following the games their economy tanked. As a result, the vast majority of the venues built specifically for the games are now abandoned and in shambles.
The 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro, was the first time the Olympic Games were held in South America. They were also the only time a summer Olympics was held in the host country’s winter season. Digest that yet? Good. These games were also the second to be held in a developing country after the 1968 games in Mexico City.
Leading up to the games, many people were concerned with the Zika virus epidemic and the pollution found in Guanabara Bay, where many events were held. Fortunately, nothing came of the virus and all aquatic events in the bay were smooth sailing. After the Olympics, which saw Brazil win seven gold medals, the vast majority of stadiums, venues, and courses were abandoned.
By the looks of things, water quality, not air quality, should have been the main concern leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The 2008 Olympics were the most expensive summer games of all time, and the second most expensive overall. Overall, the games were considered a success. One of those successes was the quality of the facilities that were erected in China prior to the Olympics.
However, like many other Olympic host cities, the venues, at the game’s conclusion, turned into unused concrete monoliths. Stadiums and arenas became eyesores that populated the city. One of those eyesores, which now looks more like a polluted moat guarding a defunct castle, was the Shunyi canoeing and kayaking park.
The city of Houston needed a hero, and they got one in the shape of a domed stadium. The Astrodome opened in 1965 to much fanfare. Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome was an early adopter of artificial turf. The turf, later dubbed AstroTurf, was one of many quirky elements in the cavernous dome both the Astros and Oilers called home for decades.
In 2014, the Astrodome was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Houston’s most recognizable dome remains largely unused and exists in a partially decrepit state. During Hurricane Katrina, the Astrodome became a temporary shelter for thousands of displaced residents from the South East.
What has since become a place for teens to presumably meet up after dark and do illicit things was once the Olympic luge and bobsled track from the 1984 Winter Olympics. Those graffiti-covered walls once were pristine slabs of concrete covered in a thin sheet of ice. The ’84 Winter Olympics, held in Sarajevo, the capital of the now-dissolved state of Yugoslavia, went by without too many fireworks.
Really, the most exciting part of those games is what has since become of the venues. Since the Bosnian war, the abandoned vestiges of the 84′ games have taken on an eerie feel, often covered with graffiti, overrun with overgrown vegetation, and filled with bullet holes from the armed conflict that engulfed the region.
Is this a military base in Siberia or a harbor outside of Seattle? If you guessed the first option, you’d be thousands of miles off. What is pictured here is an exterior shot of Seattle’s famed Kingdome, home of the Seahawks and Mariners from the 1970s through 1999. The Kingdome was a quirky fan-favorite of those Seattle faithful, but the loveable dome wasn’t without its fair share of problems.
In 1994, a portion of the ceiling collapsed during the Mariners’ pre-game warmups. This narrowly avoided disaster, along with the other minor incidents, was the impetus for the city to approve funding for new stadiums. On March 26, 2000, the Kingdome was demolished by implosion.
Maybe the Lions’ problems didn’t start on the field and actually begin with this horrendous stadium that. The Pontiac Silverdome opened in 1975 in Pontiac, Michigan, to much fanfare. The stadium was the largest in the NFL and featured many architectural firsts like it’s Teflon-coated dome. But like the car brand of its namesake, the Silverdome was doomed.
An isolated eyesore nestled in the Michigan tundra, the Silverdome served as the Lion’s cage until 2001. Once the Lions left for Ford Field, the dome remained largely unused and vacant. In 2017, after years of going unused, the dome was partially demolished. In 2018, the final crippling blows brought down the remainder of the dome.
Nansen Ski Jump
Milan, New Hampshire, with a population of about 1,000 people, is but a blip on the radar. However, back in 1936, Milan was the talk of the town and region, thanks to the newly-built Nansen Ski Jump. At the time, it was the largest ski jump in the eastern United States and was the spot where Olympians from the east coast would train.
The glory days of the Nansen Ski Jump left as quickly as they came, and by 1988, the jump was out of use and left to rot. Recently, conservation efforts have been launched to restore the jump to its original beauty. Today, the jump still stands in the middle of a park managed by the state.
The beloved home stadium for the New York Mets stood from 1964-2008. The quirky stadium, located in Queens, was iconic for its rising apple after Mets home runs, neon signage located throughout the concourses, and its orange foul poles, the only of its kind in MLB. Although Shea was a fan-favorite, ownership, aligning with the stadium modernization trend, decided a new stadium was necessary.
In 2009, the Mets moved into their new abode, Citi Field, leaving old Shea abandoned and forgotten. The demolition of Shea was completed in early 2009, much to the chagrin of the diehard Mets fans who refused to accept their old stadium’s fate.
The politically charged 1936 Olympics in Berlin were the first games to be televised and were considered, at the time, the most decadent Olympics to date. Behind the lavish facade of nice venues was the evil rooted in pre-war Germany, namely the blatant racism and anti-Semitism that was displayed at the games.
Despite the outward display of racism, African-American athlete Jesse Owens led the games with four gold medals. Germany led all countries in the overall medal count with the United States coming in second. These games were the last Olympics until 1948, following the end of World War II.
What happened to the storied program that belonged to the Miami Hurricanes? The Canes were once the most dominant team in the land and the most coveted program for recruits. Somehow, someway, somewhere, this trend stopped, and the Canes began to fade into irrelevancy. Today, the program is a shell of itself, and the stadium that once housed all of its glory no longer stands.
The Miami Orange Bowl was the iconic venue of the Dolphins until the conclusion of the 1986 season and was the home of the Hurricanes until the end of the 2007 season. Demolition of the stadium concluded in May of 2008.
With all due respect, Boothferry Park, Hull City A.F.C.’s home from 1946-2002, looked like an absolute dump. The stadium held about 16,000 people and was a landmark for the light towers that rose above the city of Hull, England. Combine the perpetually bleak, gray skies of England with the old stadium design that lacked color, personality, and any luxury amenities and you have Boothferry Park.
It was a forgettable venue that was literally forgotten. After Hull City left, the stadium sat abandoned for years while vandals raided and graffitied the place to their heart’s content. In 2011, the final demolition took place, clearing Hull of this monstrosity.
Back to Athens we go. What’s left to be said about the 2004 Olympics? We mentioned the economic collapse following the games, we touched on the immense amount of feta cheese and pita bread that was consumed, and we spoke about how the games came and went without any major incidents. We also discussed the utter disregard Athens has had for their Olympic venues.
Pictured below is the softball field that once saw some of the world’s greatest softball players hit massive dingers to Sparta and throw pitches faster than any Greek God could ever throw their spear. Today, the venue is abandoned, with weeds and other shrubs taking over the infield.
Montreal Olympic Park
What you’re looking at here is the Olympic Park built for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. The ’76 Games are generally considered to be lackluster, with the city of Montreal being strapped with debt for decades following the games. The games were also boycotted by dozens of nations, leading to a politically charged climate with less competition.
Other issues included the incredibly expensive yet highly dysfunctional Olympic Stadium, pictured in the background. The stadium was way over budget and was supposed to include a retractable roof. The roof, as it turned out, never fully worked and was a giant headache.
This eerie picture shows just how devastating the Bosnian War of the mid-90s was. The field that is currently marked by hundreds of gravestones was once part of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. The stadium in the background, the one that looks like it absorbed dozens of missiles, was once the area where the world’s greatest athletes congregated.
Today, it’s nothing more than a reminder of the violence and death that transpired a decade after the games concluded. East Germany led the 1984 Games with nine gold medals while the Soviet Union led all countries in the overall medal count with 25.
The 1988 Olympics, held in Seoul, South Korea, were the last games for the Soviet Union and East Germany. Wanting to go out with a bang, the Soviets dominated the medal count by massive margins. These games were also the last time Team U.S.A. basketball was represented exclusively by amateurs.
Many of the venues used at the 1988 Games are still around and have been modernized. Dongdaemun Stadium, however, is not one of them. The stadium opened in 1925 and held roughly 23,000 people. In 2008, after years of going unused, the stadium was demolished. Prior to demolition, the stadium was used as a flea market and parking lot.
Estadi de Sarrià
Did you know that Barcelona had two teams in La Liga? The team everyone knows is F.C. Barcelona, the club where the world’s best soccer player, Lionel Messi, rose to prominence. The other club in Barcelona, the neglected team that gets no attention outside of its faithful diehards, is RCD Espanyol.
RCD Espanyol currently plays their home games in RCDE Stadium which opened in 2009. Prior to that move, RCD Espanyol played in the now-vacant Estadi de Sarria (below) from 1923-1997 and in Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys from 1997-2009. The stadium hosted five soccer games at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Stone Mountain Tennis Center
The real problem with Stone Mountain Tennis wasn’t the capacity (it was large) or the quality of the facility (it was built for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta), it was the fact that this major tennis center was built in the heart of football country. The 1996 Summer Olympics saw the United States top the medal count for the first time since 1984.
The games also the construction of the Stone Mountain Tennis Center at a cost of $22 million. Stone Mountain seated 12,000 fans and was state of the art. However, just 11 years after making its 1996 debut, Stone Mountain closed shop and has since been demolished.
Giants Stadium operated from 1976 through 2010. It was primarily the home of the New York Giants and the Jets. For the Giants, Giants Stadium was home to great success. For the Jets, not so much. That franchise has been mired in misery for decades. Maybe ownership thought a change of scenery, aka a new stadium located 20 feet away, would change things up.
Nope, not so much. Since the Giants/Jets move to MetLife Stadium in 2010, the Giants have won one Super Bowl, while the Jets have remained one of the most futile teams in the NFL, constantly looking up to Tom Brady in the AFC East. In 2010, Giants Stadium was demolished and has since become a parking lot.
The Madhouse on Madison, as it was colloquially known by the Chicago faithful, was the arena that housed the Chicago Bulls from 1967-1994 and the Chicago Blackhawks from 1929-1994. The nickname spawned from the raucous, rabid crowds that filled the tightly packed arena nightly.
Another quirk that undoubtedly aided the Blackhawks was the shorter-than-regulation- ice rink that was constructed pre-NHL regulations. This shorter rink gave a distinct advantage to the Blackhawks by enabling them to play a more aggressive style of hockey other teams weren’t used to. In 1995, the cherished arena was demolished. Fortunately for Chicago, the Bulls’ success transitioned with them to their new home, the United Center.
Old Yankee Stadium
The House that Ruth Built was the stadium behind the most dominant sports dynasty in history. For nearly half a century, the New York Yankees were the best team in baseball. The original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 and saw the Yankees win 26 World Series.
Although the stadium had many unique features and was a fan favorite, ownership deemed the classic ballpark not suitable for the future and opted to build a multi-billion dollar stadium in the Bronx, also dubbed Yankee Stadium. The original stadium closed shop in 2008 and was demolished in 2010. Today, Heritage Park lies on the original park’s grounds.
What a cool shot. You get RFK Stadium, the Capital Building, and the Washington Monument. What you don’t get to see is all the losing that took place at RFK. RFK was the cookie-cutter stadium for the Redskins from 1961-1996 and the Nationals from 2005-2007. The stadium can best be described as average.
It was built for both football and baseball and wasn’t ideal for either. The seating for baseball was far from the field as were the dimensions, making hitting home runs a challenging task. For football, the upper deck was further away than traditional stadiums designed with football in mind. Today, the stadium is without a permanent tenant but has yet to be demolished.
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
The primary team that occupied the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, dubbed “the Aud,” was the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo made this concrete relic their home from 1970-1996. The venue was very similar to other areas built around the same time in that fans were closer to the action and the noise levels were insufferable.
The problem for Buffalo was they were unable to capitalize on their fan base’s efforts and win the Stanley Cup. After the Sabres left, the Aud remained vacant until the city of Buffalo demolished it in 2009. Prior to the demolition, the Aud suffered from severe vandalism and looting.
Baltimore Memorial Stadium
This isn’t the first thing to get ripped from the city of Baltimore’s hands. That distinction belongs to the Colts, who abandoned the city in the middle of the night back in 1984. It wasn’t until 1996 that football returned to the largest city in Maryland. When the Ravens made their debut, they did so in Baltimore Memorial Stadium, the ugly brick structure that the Orioles called home from 1954-1991.
In 2001, the stadium was demolished over a ten-month period. Rubble from the demolition was then used to create an artificial reef in the Chesapeake Bay. So for those passionate Baltimore fans longing for a chance to visit Baltimore Memorial Stadium, for old times sake, get scuba certified and take a dive.
Miami Marine Stadium
The second Miami-based stadium to make this venerable list, Miami Marine Stadium was built in 1963 as the first stadium built specifically for powerboat racing in the United States. In 2018, Miami Marine Stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Clearly that designation has helped the stadium avoid the pitfalls of abandonment and neglect…
The stadium was also the site of many acclaimed speakers and renowned musicians such as Elvis and Sammy Davis Jr. Although the stadium, which is lauded for its uninterrupted views of downtown Miami, is currently in a state of despair, many locals have taken up grassroots efforts to clean it up and restore it to its original state.
Well, technically speaking, the Roman Coliseum is an abandoned sports arena, one that hosted games in millennia. The Coliseum was originally built as a massive venue to watch gladiators duel it out to the death. The staggeringly large and technologically advanced (for its time) arena also hosted naval warfare games, as it could be flooded and filled with water.
It’s crazy to think that the Romans could build something so impressive without the use of cranes or the organization of unions. Or maybe the lack of unions was a good thing. Today, much of the structure has been destroyed, but what remains is a testament to the quality craftsmanship the Romans displayed.
Were the Olympics ever going to be staged in the nuclear town of Pripyat, where the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe occurred back in 1986? Probably not. Was Pripyat ever going to have a major soccer team? No. But the nuke town did have a sizeable community of 50,000, and that community wanted to watch sports.
So that community built a stadium, roughly the size of a traditional high school stadium in the U.S. Sadly, the town was evacuated after one of the nuclear reactors at Chernobyl went off, creating an international crisis. The catastrophe left Pripyat an eerie ghost town, full of relics and artifacts that haven’t been disturbed in decades.
Old Wembley Stadium
Pele, the world’s greatest soccer player, once said that “Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football.” The biggest stadium in England, Wembley was the home for the English National Team from 1923-2000. The stadium was dated and featured few if any modern amenities, and if England was ever to get their national team back on track, they needed to get a new stadium.
After the national team moved to the new Wembley Stadium, the old sat vacant for two years before being demolished in 2002. Much to the dismay of millions of fans worldwide, the two white towers seen below were not saved from the demolition.
Civic Arena Pittsburgh
Mellon Arena, as it was more commonly known, was the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1967-2010. Appropriately dubbed the igloo, Mellon Arena was easily recognizable for its classic domed shape. The dome was supposed to be retractable but was very finicky and posed many problems. Operators of the dome halted all full retractions of the dome after 1995. The dome remained permanently shut after 2001.
Quirky and finicky roof aside, the Mellon Arean was an architectural success and landmark adored by the city of Pittsburgh. Demolition of the historic hockey venue was completed in 2012, despite protests from locals who believed the iconic venue should remain intact.
Opened in 1955, Stadion Dziesieciolecia was the largest stadium in Warsaw, Poland, and one of the country’s premier stadiums. With a capacity of 71,000, the stadium was used for festivals and soccer. Because of its large capacity, the stadium was also home to the Polish National Team until 1983.
However, by the 80s, the stadium began to fall apart, and it slowly transformed from a premier stadium to a massive yet empty venue with no permanent tenant. Starting in the late 80s, the Stadion Dziesieciolecia became a massive market and bazaar where people hawked everything from software to potatoes. In 2008, the stadium closed up shop for good.
Stand Athletic F.C.
Stand Athletic F.C. was founded in 1964 but, unlike its name suggests, no longers stands. The club dissolved in 2009 after years of playing in the lower tiers of the English football system. As you can see from the stadium below, Stand Athletic F.C. was never really destined to do great things. By the looks of things, their stands could, at most, hold about 100 people.
There isn’t much else to say about this club that no longer plays. Yes, their passionate fanbase, however big or small, may be upset that their club is gone. But if they were so passionate about keeping Stand Athletic F.C., maybe they would have invested a bit more than 200 bucks into their field and stands…
Green Point Stadium
Green Point Stadium was a stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, that held about 18,000 people. Primarily used as a soccer stadium, Green Point was the home of two major South African soccer clubs, Santos Football Club and Ajax Cape Town.
When there was no soccer to be played, Green Point acted as a concert venue that drew some of the biggest names in the industry including Janet and Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Def Leppard, U2, and many more. In 2007, the stadium was partially demolished to make room for the Cape Town Stadium that was constructed for the 2010 World Cup.
From the Rubber Bowl’s opening in 1940 to 2008, the Rubber Bowl served as the home of the Akron Zips football team, a Division I school located in northeast Ohio. Located on Akron’s periphery, the scenic stadium had a seating capacity of 35,000. In 2009, the Akron Zips moved to InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, their new stadium with a decreased capacity.
Outside of football, the Rubber Bowl hosted numerous concerts including Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and more. In 2017, the city of Akron acquired the right to the aging, decrepit stadium with the intent of demolishing it, which began in 2018.
Maple Leaf Gardens
One of the most hallowed grounds in hockey, Maple Leaf Gardens acted as the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League from 1931 to 1999. During that span, the Leafs won 11 Stanley Cup titles. Maple Leaf Gardens was also the home of the Toronto Raptors, albeit only for six games from 1997 to 1999, when the Rogers Centre, their first home, was unavailable.
The stadium had a capacity that ranged from 15,000 to 16,000, and much like other old stadiums, Maple Leaf Gardens was built with obstructed sightlines, small concourses, and steep seats, which provided fans with an intimate, close experience. Due to the proximity of the fans, the Leafs often had great home-ice advantage.
This article was originally published on Tiebreaker.com as 30 Abandoned Stadiums That Once Made Sports History