29+ Unexpected Stories Behind Abandoned Stadiums
| LAST UPDATE 08/09/2022
Stadiums are the ultimate place for fans and sports stars to unite in an incredible atmosphere. However, when the teams move on and the venues are left abandoned, nothing but memories remain...
Let's face it: fans of the Detroit Tigers have had their fair share of disappointment. But perhaps the harshest blow of all was when the team decided to leave their home stadium after several decades.
For over 80 years, the Tigers would play in the field while their excited fans turned up in droves to support them. The endless love for the venue led the State of Michigan and the National Register to recognize it as a historic site. Unfortunately, in 2009, the stadium was torn down.
As the first country in South America and the second developing nation to host the Olympics, Brazil felt the pressure to represent. For the 2016 Summer Olympics, the Brazilian government knew all eyes would be on them as the hosting nation. Eager to rise to the challenge, they began to construct the ultimate venue.
In the months leading up to the Olympics opening ceremony, Brazil was struck by the tragic Zika virus. Fortunately, the athletes and competitions were unaffected by this pandemic, and a global catastrophe was prevented. However, many of the event's venues have remained unattended and left to rot since the games.
When the Houston Astrodome was constructed in 1965, it was highly regarded as a structural phenomenon and was valued greatly by the locals. The venue is also credited as the birthplace of the widespread artificial field flooring, AstroTurf. But in 2005, everything changed.
The Astrodome went beyond its duties as a stadium and became a safe haven for thousands during Hurricane Katrina. From one minute to the next, the venue was home to as many evacuees from the South as it could fit. In recognition of this humanitarian effort, the stadium joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
It's common for Olympic stadiums to take on a new purpose after the crowds have left. In the case of the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984, the Winter Games arenas have since become urban art galleries. Although Bosnia-Herzegovina has been experiencing significant political unrest, the venues are still standing in some form.
It seems the city was too preoccupied with the political unrest and Bosnian conflict to worry about the state of its Olympic venues, so nature and some artistic teenagers were left to do what they wanted with the sites. The bobsled track is now almost unrecognizable, covered in foliage, graffiti, and even bullet shrapnel.
This venue was once a focal point of sports as an NFL and MLB home base. Located in the Port of Seattle, the Mariners and Seahawks had some of their most significant moments in this arena for twenty years. It wasn't always so smooth sailing for the site, though.
In 1994, disaster struck the arena. Just moments before the start of a baseball game, the arena's roof fell through, and a huge piece of concrete landed on the field. Although there were no injuries, the players and fans were traumatized. Due to the incident, both teams moved out, and the damaged site was torn down in 2000.
The Pontiac Silverdome
When this stadium was established in 1975, it seemed to have a bright future ahead. The Pontiac, Michigan arena was an iconic landmark and viewed as an architectural masterpiece. The NFL venue was one of the best in the league, and its advanced building style was beyond its time. So what went wrong?
Its biggest flaw was its location. The arena was constructed in a more residential area, and therefore it was almost inevitable that the Detroit NBA and NFL teams would transfer elsewhere in 2001. Fifteen years later, The Silverdome was finally removed in 2016.
The classic Shea Stadium proudly called itself the home of the New York Mets since 1964 and was the heart and soul of the popular sports team. Although the venue was the site of some of their most iconic team moments, including the home run celebratory red apple and electric decorations, it would not be their forever home.
Due to various business complications, the Mets transferred their home base to Citi Field. Shea Stadium held a special place in the hearts of the Mets Fans, and many were disappointed about this decision. Although the memories would last forever, the arena was destroyed less than a year later.
When Berlin, Germany, hosted the 1936 Olympic Games, it was a historical moment. This marked the first time the events would be available for the world to see on TV. In the eyes of the camera and world, Germany was a picture-perfect country and exemplary Olympic host. Away from the stadiums, however, was a very different story.
These infamous games took place at a critical point in the country's progression towards World War II. Hitler's racist ideologies were already widespread throughout Germany and its neighboring countries. Following the event's end, some venues were abandoned, while others are still used today for sporting events.
Playing for the Miami Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl was the ultimate goal for many Floridan football stars. Not only was this team seen as one of the best in the NFL, but its home arena was as much a part of its legacy as its skills. Fans attributed the team's eventual downfall to their move to Dolphin Stadium in 2007.
The Miami Hurricanes actually shared their home with the Miami Dolphins, who played in the stadium until 1986. Following this, the team suffered a string of defeats, hitting rock bottom in 2007 with thirteen consecutive losses. The then empty Orange Bowl was destroyed in May 2008.
Even during its prime, most recognized Boothferry Park in Hull, UK for what it truly was - a yellow, gloomy industrial site. Despite its appearance, the venue was home to Hull City A.F.C. for 56 years and was the location of some of their greatest moments.
After the closure of Boothferry Park, locals eagerly awaited what would be next for the site. However, as most often is the case, the building was assigned by the city for demolition in the hopes of turning over a profit on the land. By the time it was destroyed in 2011, the field was covered in street art.
The Athens Olympic Summer Games in 2004 went incredibly smoothly and was considered a remarkable success in the eyes of its spectators and athletes. Greece had pulled out all the stops and built the perfect venues for the events. However, as many of us know, things took a turn once the games came to an end.
Although there was a helpful wave of tourism due to the hosting gig, the country suffered a tremendous financial loss, ultimately resulting in the 2007-2008 Greek economic crisis. Many blamed the expensive events for the domestic economic decline, and the various arenas were left in the hands of nature.
Montreal Olympic Park
Like Athens, Montreal took on more than they could handle when they agreed to host the Olympics in 1976. Desperate for their time in the spotlight to be noteworthy, Montreal paid detrimental amounts of money to fund their new Olympic sites. Would it be worth it in the long run?
Unfortunately not. The white dome was an incredibly expensive project and had not been cost-efficient. Although some of Expo 67 is still in use, the stadium section has struggled to find a permanent tenant ever since. In 2017, the mostly-unused site was used as a housing center for asylum seekers.
The aftermath of the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984 was so tragic it's worth noting here twice. The political unrest in the country was severe, and so were its impacts. This is perfectly demonstrated by the visible bullet and rocket holes in the once admired event venue.
And although for many that was tragic enough, the devastation continued beyond the athletic grounds. The nearby field was used as a graveyard for the Bosnian war victims. This site served as a long-lasting reminder of the real human consequences of war.
When Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1998, conversations surrounding the Eastern Bloc outnumbered those about the upcoming games. A particularly tense moment in world politics, the world wondered what would be for the U.S.S.R and East Germany. When both countries dominated the leaderboards, it seemed an unlikely coincidence.
Over the next few years, the Berlin Wall was torn down, and so were many of Seoul's Olympic venues. The legacy of the South Korean Olympics mirrored that of the Soviet Union in that it was short-lived. After a small stint as a car park, Dongdaemun Stadium was dismantled in 2008.
Estadi de Sarrià
F.C. Barcelona may be Barcelona's most famous and successful sports team, but there is another soccer team in town, RCD Espanyol. The lesser-known and less successful team established their home base in Estadi de Sarrià in Barcelona in 1923. Since 1997, they have played in the RCDE Stadium in the wider Barcelona urban area.
Estadi de Sarrià was their home for seventy years. The RCD fans would stand and cheer while their team fought against their underdog status. The stadium even got its few moments of international fame when it hosted five soccer games during the Barcelona Summer Olympics.
Stone Mountain Tennis Center
There were hopes of greatness for Stone Mountain Tennis Center when it was built for the 1996 Atlanta, Georgia Olympics. It was believed the large tennis venue would host numerous events for many years to come. Although it served well during the games themselves, it was rarely used since.
The building was actually designed perfectly, and if it were located anywhere else, its destiny would have been fulfilled. Unfortunately, however, its isolated location in the depths of football country reduced its chances of reaching its 12,000 person limit. In 2007, a decision was made to tear it down.
Two of the biggest NFL teams at some point in their lives have referred to the Giants Stadium as home: The New York Giants and the Jets. While the stadium seemed like a lucky charm for the Giants, who won three Super Bowls in that time, the Jets were looking elsewhere in a desperate attempt to improve their scores.
However, when both teams moved over to MetLife Stadium in 2012, theories of a connection between location and skills proved less probable. The Giants continued with their winning streak, while the Jets went in the opposite direction. The Giants Stadium was demolished in 2010.
Like the Giants Stadium, Chicago Stadium was home to two sports teams. Referred to by the locals as "The Madhouse on Madison," the city's NBA and NHL teams would play at the venue in front of excited Blackhawks and Bulls fans. Game nights turned the stadium into a madhouse!
The Chicago Stadium housed the Chicago Bulls from 1967 till 1994, not as long as the Chicago Blackhawks, who were there from 1929 till 1994. Local fans were devastated when the teams announced their relocation as the stadium was a massive part of their lives. In 1995, the venue was destroyed.
Old Yankee Stadium
The old Yankee Stadium may have had a crumbling appearance, but while Yankee fans were cheering the team's 26th World Series, they couldn't have cared less about the peeling paint! Lovingly referred to as "The House that Ruth Built," the venue goes down in sports history as a masterpiece.
With the success of the baseball franchise, a decision was made to buy the more expensive and modern Bronx Stadium. Understanding the team's attachment to their original home, the Yankees decided to keep their old stadium's name. It may have been a little fancier inside, but the level of support and success remained.
To the inevitable disappointment of the RFK Stadium's architects, it seemed people were more excited by its surrounding landmarks than the building itself. From an aerial view of the site, national monuments such as the Washington Monument and the Capitol building can be spotted.
If we're talking about the stadium in its own right, it wasn't much of a venue. The poor seating left the Washington Redskins and Nationals fans unhappy, and eventually, the teams found more suitable homes. Although it remains unused, it is surprisingly still standing.
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, often referred to as the 'Aud,' was home to the NHL Buffalo Sabres between 1970 and 1996. Over these twenty-five years, loyal hockey fans watched anxiously from the Aud's stands hoping their team would win the Stanley Cup.
Sadly, after years of being unable to claim that winning title, the Sabres decided they had outgrown the venue and needed to play elsewhere. They relocated to the KeyBank Center, and the auditorium fell victim to graffiti and break-ins until its demolition in 2009.
Miami Marina Stadium
As the country's first official venue for motorboat competitions, Miami's Marina Stadium has been a historical site since its establishment in 1963. Although it is no longer in use, various attempts at multiple levels have been made to protect its legacy and beautiful landscape.
In 2018, the landmark was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the local community takes great pride in the site and does its best to keep the area clean. Its long list of visitors includes Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis Presley.
Unlike the other stadiums on this list, the Roman Coliseum has gone up in visitor numbers since its abandonment as a sporting arena. Built in 70 AD, the structure was praised for its advanced architecture, impressive to archeologists and historians still to this day who are in awe that it is still standing.
The Colosseum was the site of some of the most brutal fights in Roman history. This also included ship battles when it was filled with water. With its rich history and remarkable design, it understandably gained UNESCO-protected status, ensuring it is preserved for years to come.
Pripyat, Ukraine, set its sights small when building Chernobyl Stadium. Rather than aiming for a large stadium that could host global competitions such as the Olympics, the 50,000 city inhabitants just wanted somewhere for their local teams to compete in front of a crowd.
However, after a terrifying incident at the local nuclear plant, soccer games would soon become the least of their priorities. As the people fled to safety, all the city's buildings, including their beloved Chernobyl Stadium, were tragically left to decay.
Old Wembley Stadium
Edson Arantes do Nascimento once referred to this stadium as the "cathedral of football." The football legend viewed the site as the "heart" of the sport, and he certainly had a point. When the old Wembley Stadium was built, it was the largest of its kind and went on to be the home of the nation's team for eighty years.
Loyal fans spent many memorable hours at the venue and were therefore heartbroken to hear of its impending destruction in 2003. Fortunately, the space freed up was used to build the new and improved 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium, which has hosted some of the most significant sporting events since 2007.
Civic Arena Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Penguins saw great success during their time in the Civic Arena. Winning three NHL Stanley Cups between the years of 1967 and 2010, its fans were shocked and upset to hear their favorite hockey team was looking for a new place to call home.
It seemed structural issues were to blame for this decision, notably its mechanical roof, which rarely worked when needed. Although it was shaped like an igloo, it was no longer a suitable home for the Penguins. After forty good years, the team left, and in 2012, the arena was torn down.
Established in 1955, Stadion Dziesieciolecia was the focal point for sports and culture in Warsaw. The 70,000 seat stadium was home to Poland's National Team and hosted numerous festivals throughout the years. Unfortunately, it eventually took a toll on the place.
After many years of wear-and-tear, the stadium no longer resembled its original form. At the start of the 1980s, Stadion Dziesieciolecia was severely damaged, and the national team was forced to find a new site. After a short stint as a local flea market, the arena was removed in 2008.
Maple Leaf Gardens
For fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Maple Leaf Gardens is a site of legendary success. The venue in which the team won eleven NHL Stanley Cups holds a special place in their hearts. After the Leafs decided to relocate, fans were desperate not to see the stadium go to waste.
The Torontonians may have lost their beloved sporting venue, but the building remained in its place. Although the site was converted into a commercial shopping center with markets set up where ice once lay, the building's design touchingly acknowledges its history.
Nansen Ski Jump
In 1936, the Nansen Ski Jump was pretty revolutionary. Many alpine skiers visited New England looking to train on this iced structure designed to resemble the conditions of a snowy mountain. The site was mainly used by athletes preparing for the Olympic Winter Games.
As other more advanced conditioning sites became available, Olympic athletes chose to train elsewhere. By 1988, the area was left stranded and unused for many years. Recently, efforts have begun to regenerate the jump in the hopes it can become a competitive training site once more.
Athens Olympics Beach Volleyball
The decision for the 2004 Summer Olympics to take place in Athens, Greece, was noted by many as monumental due to the Greek origin of the games. This joy, however, was short-lived as the entire Mediterranean economy plummeted into decline shortly after the closing ceremony.
Sports Marketing Surveys note that the events had some of the highest viewership numbers on record. Unfortunately, Athens discovered that this popularity did not translate into a profit, and the city was left with a hefty bill. Unable to recover financially for many years, the empty sites were left to decay.