The NFL’s Rams and Chargers are set to move into a new $2.6 billion stadium in suburban Los Angeles in 2020. The Raiders will begin play in a $1.8 billion facility the same year, and the Vikings and Falcons recently moved into similarly pricey venues. These are definitely boom times for stadium construction in pro sports. 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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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. The Chargers later were approved for a move to the city, and will share the aforementioned stadium with the Rams. The Raiders relocated to Las Vegas, where they will begin play in a $1.8 billion stadium in 2020.
3. Red Sox Propose ‘New’ Fenway Park, Fans Protest
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
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
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.