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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 4:32 PM
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Short-Lived Sports Venues

One of the more unusual aspects about North America's consumer culture is the tendency for professional sports venues to be declared obsolete and replaced not that long after they're built. For instance, a large majority of the major league professional sports venues built in the postwar era of the 1950s, 60s and 70s have been, for the most part, replaced. The few remaining examples of those types of structures from that era generally have plans for replacements in the works.

What's interesting about this is that the buildings are seldom in poor strucural shape when they're demolished and they are still perfectly capable of hosting the events for which they were designed. The considerations are mainly driven by the businesses that occupy them. The older venues somehow inhibit the team's ability to maximize its revenue potential, so the owner will generally aim to replace it with something more lucrative. In some markets the owner will pay for the replacement, but for the most part the public ends up subsidizing or outright paying for these venues under the threat of team relocation to a friendlier jurisdiction (read: one that is willing to pay for a new venue).

The idea for this post came to me when reading about the plans in place to replace the Georgia Dome. On one level, it's astounding that a barely 20-year old venue which is still in excellent condition, can be deemed in need of replacement. But as team owners get better and better at playing muncipalities off of one another, it's not shocking that the typical lifespan of the new venues is getting shorter.

Here are a few of the short-lived professional sports venues that I can think of. (All images sourced from the Wikipedia entry for the corresponding venue)

Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, which stood from 1966 to 1997



Miami Arena, which stood from 1988 to 2008 (but was only used as a major league venue for its first 11 years before being replaced)



Charlotte Coliseum, which stood from 1988 to 2007 (but was only used as a major league venue for its first 14 years, and once again in its final year before being replaced)



Georgia Dome, built 1992, scheduled for replacement



Richfield Coliseum, which stood from 1974 to 1999 (but was only used as a major league venue for its first 20 years)



What are some of the other short-lived professional sports venues out there?
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 6:06 PM
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The Seattle Kingdome was opened in 1976, and demo'd in 2000.

http://www.vintageseattle.org/catego...t_post/page/2/
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 6:11 PM
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Forgot about the Kingdome!

Another dome with a similar lifespan was Indianapolis' RCA Dome, home to the Colts from 1984-2007. A really nice looking stadium that didn't even make it to the quarter-century mark before being replaced:



Source: Wikipedia
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 6:28 PM
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Houston voters are voting today on a ballot measure to save the Astrodome from destruction.
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Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 6:46 PM
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To be fair most stadiums designed from 1950-1990 in North America were terrible, and in terrible locations.
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 7:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Architect View Post
To be fair most stadiums designed from 1950-1990 in North America were terrible, and in terrible locations.
Terrible in what way?
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2013, 8:38 PM
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I was going to mention the Miami Arena, but you already have it.
Originally home to Florida Panthers, Miami Heat and Miami Hurricanes basketball, all 3 fled to new arenas. It wasn't "terrible", but it definitely didn't excite either.

Orlando just replaced their Arena too. According to Wikipedia it opened in 1989 and closed in 2010. Fun times were had there, but it likewise lacked a soul.


src: http://sting.com/tour/date/id/537/
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 4:07 AM
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Terrible in what way?
Many of them were ugly, boring and cookie-cutter with no character. In my neck of the woods the Silverdome was replaced by Ford Field, which is objectively a much better stadium.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 5:30 AM
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The Pyramid here in Memphis was only open from 1991-2004. Once the FedEx Forum opened both the Grizzlies and the Memphis Tigers Men's team moved there. It's currently being converted into a Bass Pro Shops superstore.


http://dlynx.rhodes.edu/jspui/handle/10267/8888
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 8:48 AM
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Joe Louis Arena (blt 1979) in Detroit probably won't survive the decade with the new multi-purpose arena soon to be built in Detroit's midtown.


DrVenkman

The monstrosity should have never been built, and certainly not right on the Detroit River.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 1:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guiltyspark View Post
Many of them were ugly, boring and cookie-cutter with no character. In my neck of the woods the Silverdome was replaced by Ford Field, which is objectively a much better stadium.
Agreed. 1975-2002. Though it still stands albeit vacant 90% of the time. There's been attempts to reuse it, namely for soccer, but they might as well stick a fork in it.


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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 2:55 PM
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Quote:
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Many of them were ugly, boring and cookie-cutter with no character. In my neck of the woods the Silverdome was replaced by Ford Field, which is objectively a much better stadium.
Part of my fascination with these types of structures is the fact that even if they were ugly or boring, they were, with limited exceptions, 100% functional and useful, and perfectly capable of hosting the events for which they were designed. The Silverdome, for example, would still be completely capable of hosting a NFL team today.

Let's face it, the Orlando Arena and the Silverdome weren't replaced because they didn't meet the needs of the fans. As a fan, you buy a ticket, show up and watch sports... the venue is merely a backdrop to what is taking place on the field, the court or the ice. Even if a place like the Metrodome is a little boring, it's hard to make sense of demolishing a $100 million dollar facility to replace it with a $1 billion dollar facility on that basis alone.

These venues were replaced, in most cases, at significant public expense, because they simply didn't meet the business needs of the owners. How else do you explain shutting down a 13-year old sports venue like the Pyramid in Memphis?
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 4:06 PM
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bah, Just a tangible example of how billionaire owners willingly ransom their teams to extract more money from taxpayers for luxurious new stadia (with seat options out of the price range of most citizens). Among the poorest possible use of public monies. Especially since studies show the dubious value of professional sports teams to cities' economies. Where the hell is the moral outrage? Ah, just like in ancient Rome: distract the plebes with gladiator shows.
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  #14  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 4:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
bah, Just a tangible example of how billionaire owners willingly ransom their teams to extract more money from taxpayers for luxurious new stadia (with seat options out of the price range of most citizens). Among the poorest possible use of public monies. Especially since studies show the dubious value of professional sports teams to cities' economies. Where the hell is the moral outrage? Ah, just like in ancient Rome: distract the plebes with gladiator shows.
Yeah. The Forum replacing the Pyramid here in Memphis is a perfect example of politics. At least there was some decent logic to building the Forum off of Beale (the Pyramid is north of downtown in the Pinch where there's literally nothing going on but surface parking). The game experience/atmosphere/surrounding atmosphere is much better at the Forum, and I think that helps it out overall as an arena.

Now that Bass Pro is leasing the Pyramid from the city and has taken of the payments for it most people are fine with the Forum. A Bass Pro shop is a pretty crappy idea of what to do with the Pyramid, especially since they have their superstore, hotels, entertainment, etc. all in the Pyramid where they can keep people in there without them having to leave to eat or sleep. At least the tax payers of Memphis aren't paying for it anymore.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 4:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
bah, Just a tangible example of how billionaire owners willingly ransom their teams to extract more money from taxpayers for luxurious new stadia (with seat options out of the price range of most citizens). Among the poorest possible use of public monies. Especially since studies show the dubious value of professional sports teams to cities' economies. Where the hell is the moral outrage? Ah, just like in ancient Rome: distract the plebes with gladiator shows.
I can handle publicly-funded stadiums on the basis that it forms part of the overall cultural infrastructure. A new arena or stadium every 50 or 60 years doesn't seem that unreasonable.

Where it starts to get weird for me is when governments get involved in replacing relatively new facilities that aren't in any way deficient or non-functional. It blows me away that there is serious discussion about replacing the Georgia Dome at public expense. The place is barely 20 years old, it's gigantic, it has every creature comfort... but it's still not good enough anymore and time to replace it with a billion dollar palace.

As of January 2013, there was still $99.975 million of debt outstanding on the Georgia Dome, which cost $214 million to build. A new venue is expected to cost $1.2 billion. The purported reason for the new venue (so far as I can tell) is because the NFL now requires a retractable roof on its stadiums, and apparently won't grant Atlanta the Super Bowl without such a facility. (How did NYC get the Super Bowl?!?) That seems like an absolutely crazy justification for an expenditure pushing $1.5 billion.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 5:36 PM
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Quote:
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Terrible in what way?
Sorry for the late response, but most of them were ugly, concrete, circular buildings with zero character, in the suburbs surrounded by parking lots, and were built to be multi-purpose but in doing so weren't ideal for either sport they were trying to host. A more recent example of that would be the Skydome. I am biased in that regard because I like the Skydome and see it as an integral piece of downtown Toronto, but as far as feel goes it is not a great baseball park and is a terrible football stadium. When it gets quiet in there it gets really quiet. And even when it gets loud it doesnt seem so compared to better designed single-purpose stadia.

To me I see no uniqueness between RFK Stadium, the former Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Shea Stadium (except for it missing a side), Three Rivers Stadium, Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium, Busch Memorial Stadium, etc. etc.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 5:53 PM
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A fishing tackle shop in a stadium. unbelievable.

of course they also sell turkey fryers. which describes the politicians that permit these excesses and what they should receive in punishment.
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 6:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
A fishing tackle shop in a stadium. unbelievable.

of course they also sell turkey fryers. which describes the politicians that permit these excesses and what they should receive in punishment.
Are you talking about Bass Pro? They are giant stores that sell everything from hunting and fishing goods to camping supplies and 30 foot boats. You should be glad that pyramid building is being saved.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 6:34 PM
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
Part of my fascination with these types of structures is the fact that even if they were ugly or boring, they were, with limited exceptions, 100% functional and useful, and perfectly capable of hosting the events for which they were designed. The Silverdome, for example, would still be completely capable of hosting a NFL team today.

Let's face it, the Orlando Arena and the Silverdome weren't replaced because they didn't meet the needs of the fans. As a fan, you buy a ticket, show up and watch sports... the venue is merely a backdrop to what is taking place on the field, the court or the ice. Even if a place like the Metrodome is a little boring, it's hard to make sense of demolishing a $100 million dollar facility to replace it with a $1 billion dollar facility on that basis alone.

These venues were replaced, in most cases, at significant public expense, because they simply didn't meet the business needs of the owners. How else do you explain shutting down a 13-year old sports venue like the Pyramid in Memphis?
But you don't just buy a ticket, show up and watch sports... Stadiums can take on an almost cathedral like importance (I am looking at you Big House). They are part of the identity of a team and a city. Since the stadiums of the 70s had no character, they really could not fulfill that role. The newer stadiums all have unique features and beauty is actually being considered an important part of the equation when they are built now. I think the stadiums that were built in the 90s, 00s and 10s will last at least 50 years. Time will tell though.
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Old Posted Nov 6, 2013, 6:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guiltyspark View Post
Are you talking about Bass Pro? They are giant stores that sell everything from hunting and fishing goods to camping supplies and 30 foot boats. You should be glad that pyramid building is being saved.
As far as being saved vs. demolition, the City of Memphis couldn't afford to tear it down. There were other (extremely weak) proposals out there such as an indoor theme park, an aquarium, a casino (although gambling isn't leagal in TN other than the TN Lottery). I don't necessarily have a problem with Bass Pro moving into the Pyramid other than the fact that it will look like this in about a year:

http://media.commercialappeal.com/me...56841_t607.JPG
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