10 Spectacular Sports Stadiums That Were Never Built

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The Minnesota Vikings are set to move into their new $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium, the newest shrine to professional sports in America. Other new stadiums and ballparks are either under construction or in the planning stages. Yet not all stadium plans come to fruition. As history has shown, even some of the grandest stadium and ballpark designs from days gone by ended up on the trash heap of history.

 

10. Tampa Bay Rays Propose Spaceship-Like Stadium

Is it a spaceship, or a ballpark? The Tampa Bay Rays released this proposed design for a new stadium in 2007. © Tampa Bay Rays

Is it a spaceship, or a ballpark? The Tampa Bay Rays released this proposed design for a new stadium in 2007. © Tampa Bay Rays

This clearly looks more like a spacecraft than a baseball stadium with a retractable fabric roof. The Tampa Bay Rays released this photo in 2007 of a proposed new stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront, to be built on the site of historic Al Lang Field. Public opposition led the team to abandon the plan in 2009. While the team has long been unhappy with its accommodations at Tropicana Field, it has a lease there through 2027.

 

9. Brooklyn Dodgers Plan World’s First Domed Stadium

A cutaway view of what would have been the first domed stadium in the world, which would have kept the Dodgers in Brooklyn. Credit: Mechanix Illustrated

A cutaway view of what would have been the first domed stadium in the world, the Dodger Dome in Brooklyn. Credit: Mechanix Illustrated

A decade before the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965 as the so-called “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley proposed building the world’s first domed stadium in Brooklyn. Designed by famous inventor/architect Buckminster Fuller, the Dodger Dome would have seated 52,000, a substantial increase over 32,000-seat Ebbets Field. But noted urban planner and local official Robert Moses wanted the stadium built in Queens, not Brooklyn. O’Malley famously moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles to start the 1959 season. The Queens’ site eventually did get a baseball park, Shea Stadium, and is now home to the New York Mets’ Citi Field. The Brooklyn site O’Malley proposed for his stadium is adjacent to the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders.

 

8. New Stadium Might Have Kept Expos in Montreal

Labatt Park in Montreal would have been a definite step up from the despised Olympic Stadium. Credit: StadiumPage.com

Labatt Park in Montreal would have been a definite step up from the despised Olympic Stadium. Credit: StadiumPage.com

The Montreal Expos played almost 30 years in one of the most despised baseball parks, Olympic Stadium, a relic of the city’s 1976 Summer Olympics. In 2000, the team unveiled plans for this attractive, 36,287-seat Labatt Park. Funding problems doomed those plans, however, and the Expos moved to Washington to become the Nationals before the 2005 season.

 

7. St. Louis Proposes $1 Billion Stadium, Rams Move Anyway

Architects designed a wonderful stadium for the St. Louis riverfront, but the Rams moved anyway. © HOK

Architects designed a wonderful stadium for the St. Louis riverfront, but the Rams moved anyway. © HOK

This is the $1 billion facility St. Louis-area business and government leaders hoped to build to keep the Rams from leaving town. Owner Stan Kroenke had his sights set on the more lucrative Los Angeles market, however, and the team moved west after the 2015 season.

 

6. Developer Plans Indoor Track For NASCAR Races

Imagine a race track with a roof. One developer thought this would be a good idea. © Action Sports Photography/Shutterstock.com

Imagine a race track with a roof. One developer thought this would be a good idea. © Action Sports Photography/Shutterstock.com

Why is this a bad idea? Two words: carbon monoxide. Yet a developer announced plans in 1999 to build the world’s first indoor race track, at Pittsburgh International Airport. The facility would have included 60,000 seats around a 1-mile track — and needless to say, one heck of a ventilation system. The developers mentioned the possibility of hosting a NASCAR race, but NASCAR asked the developers not to use the sanctioning body’s name. The developer dropped plans to build the track in late 2001, in large part because the price tag had risen almost $100 million to $400 million.

 

5. Portland Pitches New Park in Bid to Land Expos

This was an early design for a potential MLB stadium in Portland. © Fosler Architecture

This was an early design for a potential MLB stadium in Portland. © Fosler Architecture

Before the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals, Portland made a pitch to land the team. Here is an early architectural concept from 2000 for a new riverfront park in that Oregon city.

 

4. Chargers, Raiders Plan $1.7 Billion Stadium, NFL Says No

The Raiders and Chargers would have shared this $1.7 billion stadium in suburban Los Angeles. © Manica Architecture

The Raiders and Chargers would have shared this $1.7 billion stadium in suburban Los Angeles. © Manica Architecture

After being without an NFL team since 1994, Los Angeles suddenly became the most sought-after destination in the NFL in 2015, as the Rams, Chargers and Raiders all announced their intentions to move to the area. The Chargers and Raiders cooperated on plans to build and share a $1.7 billion stadium in the city of Carson. The city even acquired a 157-acre plot of land on which to build the stadium. But those plans came to a halt in January 2016 when NFL owners rejected the Raiders’ and Chargers’ petitions to move to Los Angeles.

 

3. Red Sox Propose ‘New’ Fenway Park, Fans Protest

The Red Sox' plan to build a new Fenway Park fizzled. © HOK

The Red Sox’ plan to build a new Fenway Park fizzled. © HOK

We know what you’re thinking — a new Fenway Park? Why, that’s almost sacrilege to baseball fans. That’s what many Red Sox fans thought, too, when the team announced plans in 1999 to built a new Fenway adjacent to the old park that opened in 1912. The $545 million stadium would have had the same dimensions and even incorporated parts of the old park, including the beloved Green Monster. After failing to reach a deal with the city of Boston for funding infrastructure and parking garages, the team abandoned its plans in 2005. Sooner or later, however, a new Fenway Park is inevitable; structural engineers estimate the century-old stadium has about 40 to 50 years of use remaining.

 

2. A Domed Yankee Stadium? 9/11 Helped Nix Those Plans

The original design for Yankee Stadium called for a dome. Credit: StadiumPage.com

The original design for Yankee Stadium called for a retractable roof. Credit: StadiumPage.com

Here’s a stadium that actually did get built — albeit without a key component. Original plans for the new Yankee Stadium — and the Mets’ Citi Field — included retractable roofs. But the 9/11 attacks rocked the city’s economy, and both teams’ final stadium plans did not include the lids. Yankees President Randy Levine told Newsday.com a retractable roof would have added up to $350 million to Yankee Stadium’s cost.

 

1. Pittsburgh Plans Stadium Atop River

The original design for Three Rivers Stadium had the stadium built atop the Monongahela River.

The original design for Three Rivers Stadium had the stadium built atop the Monongahela River.

Pittsburgh’s old Three Rivers Stadium was one of the worst of the “cookie-cutter” multi-purpose facilities built in the 1960s and 1970s. Imagine how much more fun it would have been to see a Pirates or Steelers game in this incredible stadium. This was a 1958 design for “Pittsburgh Stadium,” which eventually became Three Rivers Stadium. The facility would have been built across the Monongahela River where the historic Smithfield Street Bridge is today. This design very much comes from the “Jetsons” school of futuristic architecture.

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The author is a longtime professional journalist who has interviewed everyone from presidential contenders to hall of fame athletes to rock 'n' roll legends while covering politics, sports, and other topics for both local and national publications and websites. His latest passions are history, geography and travel. He's traveled extensively around the United States seeking out the hidden wonders of the country.