giants stadium then today
Wikimedia Commons via Gregory J. Kinsley

29+ Abandoned Stadiums and the Fascinating History Behind Them

Culture

| LAST UPDATE 08/03/2022

By Kimberly Knapp

After decades of playing host to some of the world's biggest events, many prized venues have closed. Here's a look at the inspiring - and sometimes bleak - stories behind these abandoned stadiums from around the world.

Tiger Stadium

Fans and followers of the Detroit Tigers have been praying for a World Series win as far back as 1984! They haven’t quite got there yet, and if that wasn’t enough: They also had to leave their stadium behind...

tiger stadium abandoned venuestiger stadium abandoned venues
Wikimedia Commons via Tigerstadiumfan

After 80 years, the Tiger’s official home stadium and on-air field had to be closed down, and the baseball team moved to a new home venue. Though it was given protected status by the State of Michigan and the National Register, in 2009, it was demolished, to the shock of long-term Tiger fans.

Rio Olympics

When Brazil was named the official host country for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the whole country was ecstatic - they were the first nation on the continent to be granted such a title and only the second developing nation after Mexico hosted in 1968! The Olympic stadium soon became the focus of the nation's attention.

abandoned stadiums rio olympicsabandoned stadiums rio olympics
Getty Images via Buda Mendes

But the construction of the stadium was riddled with controversy, and the Zika virus was also ripping through the country at the same time. Despite this, the ceremony and ensuing games were carried off without a hitch. Sadly, the once-lauded stadium has been left empty since then.

Advertisement

Astrodome

The Astrodome was the talk of the town when it first opened in Houston in 1965, both due to its unique structure and structural integrity. It became the first building to deploy Astroturf, hence the stadium's name. For four decades, the venue was the apple of Houston's eyes.

famous sports stadiums todayfamous sports stadiums today
Getty Images via David Portnoy

That all changed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina swept through the American south. The Astrodome switched from a sports venue to a safe house for locals who needed emergency housing in the wake of the disaster. Though it is no longer used for sports, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

Advertisement

Sarajevo Olympics

Here’s another Olympic stadium that got into a little trouble. In 1984, Sarajevo was appointed the next host of the Winter Olympics. Soon the world media had their eye on Bosnia-Herzegovina. At that time, civil and political conflict was sweeping through Yugoslavia, and the stadium became the least of the country’s concerns.

olympics venues sports stadiumolympics venues sports stadium
Getty Images via Elvis Barukcic

Due to the ongoing Bosnian conflict, the finished Olympic venue was left unguarded for some time, and the stadium soon fell victim to local teenagers. Though it was once pelted with graffiti and bullet shrapnel, today it has become a thriving urban art gallery and a popular attraction for domestic and international visitors.

Advertisement

Seattle Kingdome

For almost two decades, the Seattle Kingdome was the favored venue for both of the city’s NFL and MLB teams. But even as the Mariners and Seahawks competed on the field and pitch, the portside venue ran into a series of problems over the course of its short life.

seattle venue sports arenaseattle venue sports arena
Getty Images via Dan Levine

And in one single day, all of those previous problems vanished. In 1994, just as a baseball game was about to start, part of the Kingdome roof slipped off and crashed onto the field. Despite injuring no one, the two teams and their fans did not return to the site. It was later demolished in 2000.

Advertisement

The Pontiac Silverdome

Once seen as the architectural masterpiece of Pontiac, Michigan, the Pontiac Silverdome lived a surprisingly short life. The avant-garde structure was built in 1975 and was heralded as a triumph by local and national media - said to be one of the greatest NFL venues built so far. But not for long...

Pontiac Silverdome empty stadiumsPontiac Silverdome empty stadiums
Wikimedia Commons via Dave Hogg

It may have been a glorious stadium, but its location certainly wasn’t. It was built far from the commercial part of Pontiac, and after 25 years, the NBA and NFL teams could no longer justify playing there. It was abandoned in 2001 and sadly left to rot for 15 years before its demolition.

Advertisement

Shea Stadium

The Shea Stadium was once the jewel in the crown for one of the MLB’s best teams. The stadium was home to the New York Mets and was beloved by players and New Yorkers in general, due to its retro decorations and the signature 9-foot tall home-run apple.

shea stadium mets todayshea stadium mets today
Wikimedia via Edogisgod

But business always comes first, especially in the world of professional sports. And in 2008, when the Mets officially relocated to Citi Field, fans were devastated by the news that the Shea Stadium doors would be closing forever. If that wasn’t enough, the stadium was torn down within the year.

Advertisement

Berlin Olympics

In 1936 it was Berlin’s turn to host the Olympic games. And similar to Brazil and Sarajevo, the world was watching for more than just the fun and games. For the first time in history, the competitions would air on TV, but that wasn’t all: Adolf Hitler had risen to power in Germany by that time, and WWII wasn’t far away.

Berlin olympics stadium nowBerlin olympics stadium now
Wikimedia Commons via Melvinvk

The controversial event is probably best known today due to the success of African-American Olympic track star Jesse Owens, who stood against the racial divisions espoused in Germany at the time. The Berlin Olympic stadium still stands today and is frequently used for Football games, though the Olympic pools sit abandoned.

Advertisement

Orange Bowl

Once upon a time, the Miami Hurricanes were widely considered to be the best of the best when it came to NFL teams. They were seemingly unbeatable. And as a result, their home stadium, the Orange Bowl, was something of a landmark for Floridians back in the day.

NFL abandoned stadiums todayNFL abandoned stadiums today
Wikimedia Commons via Enchanteddrmzceo

But over the years, the Hurricane’s reputation lessened, and the Orange Bowl was no longer the center of the state. Despite this, it remained home to the Miami Dolphins until 1986, and the Hurricanes continued to play there until 2007. Once they left, the Orange Bowl was officially razed to the ground a year later.

Advertisement

Boothferry Park

For 56 years, Boothferry park was the home stadium for Hull City A.F.C. Though it was a genuinely useful site, it was far from being a beautiful addition to the city. Situated near the port of Hull, the Park was well-suited to its industrial surroundings with its block shape and dull-yellow exterior.

boothferry park abandoned stadiumsboothferry park abandoned stadiums
Wikimedia Commons via Paul Glazzard

After half a decade of servicing the local football fans, Boothferry Park was officially closed to the public in 2002. After almost a decade of planning and confusion, the city council decided that it was in everyone's best interest to demolish the site. It was finally torn down in 2011.

Advertisement

Athens Olympics

We're far from done with the Olympic games and the many national stadiums it has left behind. Let's rewind to 2004, when the Greek capital of Athens was chosen to host that year's Summer Olympics. Unlike the aforementioned Olympic games, the ensuing controversy didn't come until after the games were over.

Athens olympics stadium todayAthens olympics stadium today
Milos Bicanski/Stringer via Getty Images

Despite the 2 ½ week event going off without a hitch, the Olympics were said to have a terrible impact on the Greek economy. So much money was spent on the competition that it was believed to be a major contributor to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. The stadium was left empty for some time after the event.

Advertisement

Montreal Olympic Park

As it turns out, Greece wasn’t the only place that had to pay a fortune to host the Olympics. Back in 1976, it was Montreal that accepted the role of hosting the international competition. But despite the prestige of the event, many Quebecois people doubted whether it was worth the hefty cost.

Montreal sports stadium nowMontreal sports stadium now
Wikimedia Commons via Paolo Costa Baldi

This was especially true since, at the time, various countries had chosen to boycott the event. Still, the Summer Olympics went ahead at Montreal Olympic Park. Though the nearby Expo 67 dome is an icon of the city, the stadium has been unable to maintain long-term ownership. In 2017 it was mainly being used to house asylum seekers.

Advertisement

Sarajevo Olympics

Let’s go back to the Sarajevo Olympics and the armed conflict that ravaged the city and the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the years following the 1984 competition. Though today it’s used as a gallery space, back in the 80s, it almost became a casualty of the war.

historic landmarks sarajevo olympicshistoric landmarks sarajevo olympics
Wikimedia Commons via MSGT Michael J. Haggerty

The stadium only suffered artillery damage, shrapnel, and holes from rocket launchers - but the ground of the stadium was a different story. Toward the end of the Bosnian war, its grounds were used to bury many of the people who had passed during the conflict. Today it is still a memorial and cemetery for those fallen people.

Advertisement

Dongdaemun Stadium

Once again the Summer Olympics would be surrounded by controversy and political upheaval when the games were held in Seoul in 1988. The Olympic spotlight was on USSR and East Germany, not only because they won so many medals but also because it would be their last time ever competing at the event in their current forms.

Berlin sports stadium nowBerlin sports stadium now
Wikimedia Commons via Pcamp

Just a year later, the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was finally reunified, and even the Soviet Union was treading through murky geopolitical waters. But what about Seoul’s Dongdaemun Stadium? Well, for a time after the event, it was used as a commercial space and city carpark before being demolished in 2008.

Advertisement

Estadi de Sarrià

It must be hard for sports teams that have to play in the shadow of giants. And that is certainly the case for RCD Espanyol, Barcelona’s second football team, only somewhat overshadowed by its famed sibling team, F.C Barcelona. RCD Espanyol usually played at Estadi de Sarrià, its home field.

abandoned sports stadium todayabandoned sports stadium today
Wikimedia Commons via César López

And in fact, the team had been playing there regularly for more than seven decades! Starting in 1923, RCD fans frequently flocked to Estadi de Sarrià to support their team. Most famously, the field even hosted 5 soccer games during the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. Its doors were closed just five years later.

Advertisement

Stone Mountain Tennis Center

In 1996 the next Summer Olympic games were to be hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. To accommodate the enormous event, the state built the enormous Stone Mountain Tennis Center. And as some readers might have guessed by now, things did not go smoothly for this Olympic stadium.

sports venue todaysports venue today
Wikimedia Commons via Thomson200

Though the Olympics came and went and were a great success for Atlanta, the same couldn’t be said for Stone Mountain Tennis Center. The clue was in the name: tennis. Atlanta is a football city through and through - and competitive tennis never really caught on, leading to the venue’s demolition only 11 years later.

Advertisement

Giants Stadium

Giants Stadium was built to house both the New York Giants and the Jets. And with two major NFL teams under its belt, the stadium should have lasted a lifetime. Instead, it lasted only 34 years, even though the Giants managed to nab three Super Bowl wins in that same period. What happened?

giants stadium then nowgiants stadium then now
Wikimedia Commons via Gregory J. Kinsley

Unlike its sibling team, the Jets saw very little success during its time in Giants Stadium, and eventually, both teams moved to the better-equipped MetLife Stadium. Although the Giants saw continued success, little changed for the Jets. Seemingly, the stadium wasn’t at fault for that, but it was still demolished in 2010.

Advertisement

Chicago Stadium

Giants Stadium wasn’t the only venue to host two famous teams at the same time. Chicago Stadium was also home to their NBA and NHL teams, the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, respectively. The stadium became such a local attraction due to its raucous games that it earned the nickname “The Madhouse on Madison!

Chicago Stadium then nowChicago Stadium then now
Wikimedia Commons via Subwoofer

The Chicago Blackhawks had been there from 1929 to 1994, and the Bulls joined later in 1967. Safe to say, the stadium was a beloved local institution, and fans were gutted when the closure of the Chicago Stadium was announced in 1995 - just months before it was officially demolished.

Advertisement

Old Yankee Stadium

Any fans of legendary baseball player Babe Ruth will be familiar with New York's Old Yankee Stadium. After all, it was playfully known as "The House that Ruth Built" for years! During its lifespan, the stadium saw phenomenal success, with the Yankees winning 26 World Series on its pitch.

yankee sports stadium todayyankee sports stadium today
Wikimedia Commons via Jim Henderson

Of course, over the decades, the Yankees only became more famous, and it was decided that the team needed a more upmarket home base. In 2009 the team moved from the Old Yankee Stadium to the new Bronx Stadium, which they chose to give the reverent name “Yankee Stadium” in honor of its forefather.

Advertisement

RFK Stadium

The RFK may have been a somewhat generic baseball stadium, but the building surrounding it was anything but! This stadium was more famous for its neighbors than the games that went on inside. From above, one can see both the Washington Monument and the Capitol building nearby!

RFK Stadium then nowRFK Stadium then now
Wikimedia Commons via MSGT Ken Hammond

In its lifetime, the RFK Stadium was used as a home base by many sports teams and was most famous for being home to the Redskins and the Nationals. Unfortunately, the seating at the stadium left much to be desired, so the venue was officially shut down in 2019. Though it still stands today, that’s likely to change soon.

Advertisement

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

For more than 25 years, New York's NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres, was based in one of the city's most timeless pieces of architecture - the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, also affectionately known as "the Aud." From 1970 to 1996, the team was a staunch contender for the Stanley Cup, and the Aud was the best place to watch them.

sports stadiums todaysports stadiums today
Wikimedia Commons via Mpmajewski

Despite years of hoping and dreaming (for both the team and their followers), the Sabres still have not won the big prize. Still, they have remained a successful and lucrative team: so much so that they left the Aud for greener pastures back in 1996. The iconic building was demolished in 2009.

Advertisement

Miami Marina Stadium

For those who have never heard of motorboat competitions, the Miami Marina Stadium has plenty to teach us. Back in 1963, the stadium was built specifically for this form of sports, making it the first-ever venue solely dedicated to motorboating. But unfortunately, time has not been kind to the Miami Marina.

famous sports stadiums Miamifamous sports stadiums Miami
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Despite its decay, many have tried to preserve the local landmark over the years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018, and the community has even rallied together to clean and repair the stadium in hopes of protecting its long history as a sports and entertainment venue.

Advertisement

Roman Colosseum

Back in 70 AD, the Roman Colosseum was once an extraordinarily advanced and Avante-Garde piece of architecture. Not only did it host countless bloody battles between Roman gladiators, but it also hosted… ship fights! That’s right, the structure could be filled with water, and ships would be brought in for a battle.

Roman Colosseum then nowRoman Colosseum then now
Wikimedia Commons via Suicasmo

These days, this extraordinary structure gets more use as a tourist site than it does for any fierce fighting, and just as well. The colosseum has UNESCO heritage status, and though it is still being actively maintained, archaeologists and historians have long been in awe that the building has remained standing.

Advertisement

Chernobyl Stadium

Though the Chernobyl Stadium was not built to host enormous sporting events like many other places, residents of Pripyat, Ukraine, loved watching local sports as much as any other population. So the Chernobyl Stadium was built, perfectly able to accommodate the 50,000 people living in Pripyat.

Chernobyl Ukraine then nowChernobyl Ukraine then now
Wikimedia Commons via Adam Jones

Judging by the name, many readers will already know the fate of this stadium. In 1986, a devastating nuclear disaster took place at the nearby powerplant at Chernobyl, and the stadium and everything around it was abandoned. The ruined venue still stands today, though it hasn’t seen a game for decades.

Advertisement

Old Wembley Stadium

When a venue is called the "cathedral of football" by God-tier sportsmen like Edson Arantes do Nascimento (also known as Pelé), we know it has something special. Just as the player said, this stadium was long considered the "heart" of soccer and was one of the most beloved stadiums of its time.

Wembley Stadium then now Wembley Stadium then now
Wikimedia Commons via Adrian Cable

For almost 80 years, Old Wembley stadium was the home of England’s national team, and it was revered by players and fans alike. But football lovers around the world had to wave goodbye to the iconic building in 2002, when it closed its doors for the last time. It was demolished in 2002.

Advertisement

Civic Arena Pittsburgh

From 1967 to 2010, the Civic Arena (also known as Mello Arena) acted as the home stadium for Pittsburgh’s NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a beloved bit of infrastructure for locals who flocked to the arena for over forty years to see their favorite team compete.

civic arena then nowcivic arena then now
Wikimedia Commons via Perry Quan

It was also somewhat infamous for a minor design fault - the arena’s mechanically-operated roof didn’t quite open and close when it should. While that wasn’t a huge issue, it may have contributed to the executive decision to officially close the dome structure after 40 years, leaving it to be demolished in 2012.

Advertisement

Stadion Dziesieciolecia

The Stadion Dziesieciolecia first opened its doors in 1955, and it quickly became a popular spot for locals and visitors in Warsaw, Poland. With more than 70,000 seats, the stadium was the perfect home for the Polish national football team - as well as many other national events and festivals.

polish sports stadium todaypolish sports stadium today
Wikimedia Commons via Ejdzej

Despite decades of success, the Stadion Dziesieciolecia was falling apart by the 1980s, and rather than have it fully repaired, the national team opted to move to a brand new stadium. From that point on, the venue was used for the Warsaw flea market and eventually closed in 2008.

Advertisement

Maple Leaf Gardens

For almost half a century, the Maple Lead Gardens were a staple of not just Toronto sports culture, but Canadian culture as well. During this period the Toronto Maple Leafs took home the Stanley Cup a whopping eleven times. But similar to many popular teams, the Maple Leafs soon moved on to a new home.

NFL maple leafs stadium NFL maple leafs stadium
Wikimedia Commons via Rick Harris

The Maple Leaf Garden was such an important landmark that many locals couldn’t bear to part with it. So instead, the arena was renovated and redesigned as a supermarket! While it may seem unorthodox, the new store allowed the beloved site to live on with a new purpose.

Advertisement

Nansen Ski Jump

Back in 1936, the Nansen Ski Jump was one of the most impressive sports sites in New England and a super valuable asset to the US national ski team. It was actually built to help train alpine skiers so they could compete in the 1936 Olympic Winter Games!

Olympic Winter Games venueOlympic Winter Games venue
Wikimedia Commons via Sirberlinnh

Over the years, new training facilities were built across the country, and the once-iconic ski jump soon faded into obscurity. By the 80s, there was no longer any Olympic training carried out on the site, and the Nansen Ski Jump was left abandoned - though there have been various attempts to revive the old landmark.

Advertisement

Athens Olympics Beach Volleyball

Of course, we have to end our list with one final Olympic throwback. Remember the 2004 Summer Olympics that helped to torpedo Greece’s economy? Well, they also built a separate stadium for the illustrious games, just to host beach volleyball. Of course, volleyball doesn’t net much revenue compared to other Olympic sports.

historic venue Greece olympics historic venue Greece olympics
Wikimedia Commons vis Arne Müseler

So today, the venue lies abandoned, like so many other spaces built for the Athens Olympics. According to Sports Marketing Surveys, the event helped to revitalize Olympic televised viewership, but today these stadiums only serve as a reminder of the terrible financial burden that befell the nation not long after.

Advertisement