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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.