10 Sports Arenas That Should Be Torn to the Ground
In an age where our government is screaming poverty (all the while spending trillions of dollars on god-knows-what), it's hard to imagine pushing for the construction of a posh new home for an already-spoiled sports franchise if it must involve public money.
Nevertheless, there are a number of sports arenas—whether they be football stadiums, ballparks, basketball and hockey arenas, or any other sports venue—that need to be taken out back and put out of their misery. Arenas that, at their best, were state-of-the-art a generation ago, and at their worst, are an impediment to teams signing top-tier players or are even crumbling before our eyes.
Here are the top 10 sports arenas that should be torn to the ground—or stocked full of dynamite and blown the hell up.
You understand, right? Tear these suckers down.
Honorable Mention: Silverdome (Pontiac, MI)
The suburban stadium that the Detroit Lions called home from 1975 to 2001, which was the scene of some of Barry Sanders' greatest runs, Super Bowl XVI (the San Francisco 49ers' first of five Lombardi Trophies), the 1979 NBA All-Star Game (the last All-Star Game before the NBA's Magic-Bird renaissance) and WrestleMania III (Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant!), has sat vacant for long stretches of time since the Lions left for Ford Field, the team's shiny and new downtown stadium, a decade ago.
But, almost unbelievably, the Silverdome lives on in Pontiac, Michigan, used for events such as Jehovah's Witness gatherings, Monster Jam, a match between European soccer titans AC Milan and Pinathinaikos and snocross events.
Nevertheless, it would be no surprise to see the Silverdome's current owner (Greek-born Canadian real estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos, who bought it from the City of Pontiac for—no joke—$583,000) tear down what my Detroit-raised friend Letzmann calls "a huge sunroom with a dirty carpet and creaky plastic chairs (not to mention the lingering smell of Wayne Fontes)."
Honorable Mention: XL Center (Hartford)
The former home of the NHL's Hartford Whalers (who split town in 1997 to become the Carolina Hurricanes) and current home of the AHL's Connecticut Whale, the XL Center (originally known as the Hartford Civic Center) has a somewhat checkered history, starting with the collapse of its roof following a college basketball game between the UConn Huskies and UMass Minutemen in 1978 (at left).
Affectionately known as "The Mall" (because of the old Civic Center Mall, which has long since been razed), the XL Center's arena (actually called Veterans Memorial Coliseum) has received few renovations since the late '90s, excepting the recent addition of hand-me-down Jumbotrons from the Staples Center.
It seems that if Hartford really wants hockey to return to the Constitution State, a new arena is probably needed, despite former Whalers owner Howard Baldwin's plan for a $105 million renovation of the arena where Ron Francis, Mike Liut and Kevin Dineen once roamed.
10. Oracle Arena (Oakland)
What was originally known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena has been the Golden State Warriors' full-time home since 1971, although the team had played some portion of its home games there since the doors opened in 1966.
Situated just between I-880 and the O.co Coliseum (home of the Raiders and A's, which we'll get to later), Oracle Arena is exactly what one would expect from its era. Stuck in a bad neighborhood and surrounded by acres of parking lots, it is part of an entertainment oasis that goes dark once the final horn sounds, whistle blows or out is made.
The arena itself feels like a concrete coffin dumped haphazardly in the middle of an urban wasteland. Narrow concourses and aging facilities rule the day and, despite its reputation as one of the loudest arenas in the Association, Oracle Arena isn't fit to house an NBA franchise, especially in a market the size of the Bay Area.
New owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have been left with no choice but to explore replacing the team's home, potentially with an arena on the San Francisco side of the Bay near AT&T Park, home of Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants.
Hopefully a physical move would prompt a change to one of the dumbest team names in professional sports (where exactly is "Golden State"?) and a return of the franchise's original West Coast name, the San Francisco Warriors.
9. Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
It's a damn shame that one of the premier Southern football stadiums is a bland, lifeless dome. This is a stadium that played host to two Super Bowls (XXVIII in 1994, and XXXIV in 2000), and which the SEC Championship Game and Peach—er, Chick-fil-A Bowl—call home.
Football was meant to be played outside, and the weather in Atlanta during the fall and winter doesn't even require a retractable roof. But year in, year out, we're subjected to watching what should be iconic moments in college and pro football instead being played out in a stadium that has about as much character as an airplane hangar.
It's clear that a major motivation for keeping the Georgia Dome is the ability to host events that necessarily must be held indoors. The stadium twice hosted the NCAA Final Four (in 2002 and 2007) and three NCAA regional semifinals and finals (in 2001, 2004 and 2006), and will again in 2013 and 2012.
So, if the state of Georgia (which owns and operates the Dome) does eventually replace this oh-so-blah monstrosity, the new stadium will need a retractable roof to allow for Atlanta to continue to host similar events.
8. Rexall Place (Edmonton)
Like so many of its compatriots on this list, Rexall Place is completely lacking in charm—an aging concrete box more than three miles from downtown Edmonton.
Despite a series of renovations to the arena over the last 36 years (including, most recently, a $3 million locker-room renovation in 2007), owner Daryl Katz rightfully has his sights set on replacing an arena that, no doubt, holds great significance to countless Edmontonians, but which so desperately needs to go.
A team that has won the Stanley Cup five times deserves better digs than this sad remnant of the '70s.
7. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington)
RFK Stadium was the first of the "cookie cutter" or "concrete donut" multipurpose stadiums, hosting its first game on October 1, 1961, with the NFL's Washington Redskins losing to the New York Giants 24-21.
Instantly recognizable for its undulating design and setting against the backdrop of our nation's capital, it served as the home of the Redskins (1961-1996), as well as Major League Baseball's Washington Senators (the version that became the Texas Rangers, 1962 to 1971) and Washington Nationals (2005 to 2007).
After RFK, the floodgates opened and similar characterless, eccentricity-free eyesores popped up around the country in Queens, Atlanta, Oakland, Houston, San Diego, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle and Minnesota. Other initially baseball-only ballparks were converted into multipurpose facilities in San Francisco and Anaheim.
Most (but unfortunately, not all, which we'll see in a bit) of these aging scourges on humanity have been vacated by their initial or most recognizable tenant and/or demolished. While RFK no longer hosts any NFL or MLB teams, it's still hanging on as the home of MLS's D.C. United despite its deteriorating condition.
6. Power Balance Pavilion (Sacramento)
Hard to tell whether it's a NBA basketball arena or a suburban office park, right?
The Maloof brothers' efforts to extract the Kings from Sacramento are well-documented, and the inadequacies of Power Balance Pavilion (formerly ARCO Arena) play no small role in that drama. The arena is the smallest in the NBA with a capacity of 17,317 and was the cheapest to construct at $40 million back in 1988. It's aging quickly, and the threat of the team skipping town has been lurking since for 15 years.
It remains to be seen whether Joe and Gavin Maloof relocate the team to Anaheim or elsewhere, or if Sacramento can keep the Kings around. Either way, one thing is sure: Power Balance Pavilion's days as a NBA arena are numbered.
5. O.co Coliseum (Oakland)
Another multipurpose stadium constructed in the 1960s, the stadium originally known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is just biding its time until the team finds a new home either in Oakland or, more likely, San Jose.
Attending an A's or Raiders game, it's easy to see why both teams are clamoring for a new home base. The Coliseum sits in an undesirable part of Oakland, far from any other vibrant neighborhoods and surrounded by acres of parking lots.
Fans sit seemingly miles from the action, especially at A's games where foul territory is the largest in all of Major League Baseball, and the aging facilities do not help to attract more fans. In fact, Raiders games are regularly blacked out, and A's games are the least attended in all baseball.
Devoid of any truly redeeming qualities (and the last of the remaining multipurpose stadiums to house both an NFL and MLB team), it lost any tiny amount of charm it did have when the outfield seating section known as Mount Davis was constructed in conjunction with the Raiders' return from Los Angeles in 1995.
4. Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Minneapolis)
Since its completion in 1982, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome has served as the home of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. As the Metrodome began to show signs of age, two prior long-time tenants, Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins (1982-2009) and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team (1982-2008), left for new digs and the Vikings ramped up their campaign for a new stadium.
There was no surer sign that the Homer Dome had run its course when, in December 2010, 17 inches of wet snow accumulated atop the structure's canvas roof, causing it to collapse, dumping snow all over the football field below and forcing the Vikings to play one game at TCF Stadium while the roof was repaired.
The roof collapse only hastened the Vikings' push for a new stadium, which, in this writer's opinion, should be open-air.
Hey, if the Packers can play in wintry conditions, why can't the Vikings?
3. Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg)
Built in the early 1990s in an attempt to lure the Chicago White Sox and then the San Francisco Giants to Florida, the Tropicana Dome eventually found its long-desired tenant when the Devil Rays began play in St. Petersburg in 1998.
But, by that time, stadium design and urban planning had taken drastically different turns with the advent of retro-style ballparks built closer to or in downtowns beginning with Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Trop was already outdated by the time the team now known as simply the Rays took up residence.
It's an embarrassingly bad venue for America's national pastime, as stale, bland and lifeless don't even begin to describe its problems. Batted balls hitting catwalks high above the field and affecting the outcome of games, and—oh yeah—a history of hazardous waste in the ground are some of the bigger grievances fans and the team alike have about the Trop.
Who wouldn't want to play here?
2. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Uniondale, NY)
I don't care if Bruce Springsteen still loves playing in this dump all these years later. Whether the Islanders stay on Long Island, move to Kansas City or go somewhere else (dare I say Hartford?), Nassau Coliseum needs to be dynamited.
Forty years old in 2012, the Coliseum has been a source of discontent for the Islanders and their fans alike for a long time. Most recently, Nassau County voters shot down a $400 million plan to renovate the arena, which was the home of the Islanders' four consecutive Stanley Cup champion squads from 1980 to 1983.
But, if something isn't done to fix the situation soon, Springsteen shows may be the only thing Long Islanders will be able to see at the Coliseum.
1. Candlestick Park (San Francisco)
After the primary 12 kilovolt overhead distribution line that powers Candlestick Park snapped just outside the stadium shortly before the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers' clash on Monday Night Football back in December, leaving the entire stadium in near darkness, is there any question that Candlestick Park—cold, windy, muddy, remote and outdated Candlestick Park—needs to meet the wrecking ball?
The story goes that, in 1958, San Francisco Giants owner Horace Stoneham, having just moved his team west from New York, was scoping out a location for his team's new ballpark and eventually decided on Candlestick Point after being kept from the site during the time of day when the prevailing winds rushed from the Pacific Ocean, across San Francisco Peninsula and eventually reached the location of what would be the Giants' home for 40 seasons.
Candlestick Park opened in 1960, initially not entirely enclosed by bleachers and with views across the Bay. But when the NFL's San Francisco 49ers moved in for the 1971 season, the stadium was enclosed entirely with an upper deck of stands, causing Candlestick's infamous winds to begin swirling inside the ballpark.
Today, Candlestick Park is badly outdated, survived minor structural damage caused by the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, has an entire section of stands empty for each game due to being blocked by the convertible grandstand and feels like a cold, wet swamp.
Now, the stadium is literally falling apart, with power lines snapping during national telecasts (even if it was Jed York with wire cutters).