Great sporting arenas are more than just constructions: they represent the dreams of fans, the triumph or disaster of competitors, and the memories of great events of the past. However, some of these great modern cathedrals that we once thought would last forever have now been abandoned and in some cases completely destroyed. Below we look at some of the world’s most notable abandoned or vanished sporting venues.
The Houston Astrodome, opened in 1965, was one of the most advanced facilities anywhere in the world, with its revolutionary domed roof and Astroturf (which is named after the stadium) making it the “eighth wonder of the world”. Once simultaneous host to MLB, NFL and NBA teams, the stadium slowly became outdated and all its tenants moved elsewhere. The last significant event at the stadium wasn’t sporting at all: it was a makeshift shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Many plans have been put forward to renovate the stadium and use it as a park or even a parking lot, but despite its addition to the National Register of Historical places in 2014, these have come to nothing.
14. Tiger Stadium
Between 1912 and 1999, the Detroit Tigers played baseball in the Target Stadium, and they were joined by NFL’s Detroit Lions between 1938 and 1974. The ground was so important that in 1975, it became a Historic Site of the State of Michigan, and it made it onto the National Register of Historical Places in 1999. However, this wasn’t enough to save the historic ground; the Tigers left in 2000 to move to Comerica Park, and the stadium was demolished in 2009.
13. Maracana Stadium
There were many misgivings in sporting circles when Brazil was awarded the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. There were serious doubts as to whether the country’s infrastructure would hold up and whether venues would be adequate. The Brazilian government spent $3 billion on building new stadiums and upgrading those already in place, and the events went relatively well, but many of the venues are now abandoned and crumbling. The Maracana Stadium, which has held two World Cup finals and the Olympic athletics, became seriously vandalized after the 2016 games, although a French company has now taken over management and is now promising to carry out renovations.
12. Northlands Coliseum
Daryl Katz, owner of the Edmonton Oilers, managed to persuade the city of Edmonton that paying the majority of the $500 million needed for a new stadium for his hockey team was a good investment, and the venue opened in 2016. Although the city has benefited from the renovations to the downtown district, the Coliseum, the Oilers’ old stadium, is now barely used; plans to renovate it were abandoned when it was found that building a new facility would be cheaper than renovating the old one.
11. Herschel Greer Stadium
As with the Edmonton ice rink Northlands (above), the Herschel Greer baseball stadium in Nashville has fallen into disuse since losing its minor-league team. Nashville City Council is now trying to decide what should happen to the stadium, with demolition having been proposed, but nobody’s holding their breath for a decision anytime soon.
10. The Dome
The Dome at America’s Center (more often just referred to as “The Dome”) once housed the St. Louis Rams, but they have long since moved to LA. With the loss of the NFL franchise the 70,000 seater stadium is empty 99% of the time, just occasionally being reopened for rock concerts (although in 2018 this happened just once).
9. Beijing Olympics
The Beijing Olympics in 2008 were the most costly Summer Olympics ever held, and it was easy to see where the money went with many top-quality new facilities created in the city. Once the games were over, however, the familiar Olympic story unfolded, with the expensive venues being abandoned and left as useless white elephants. The Shunyi canoeing and kayaking park is one of these desolate facilities.
8. Sarajevo Olympics
Now looking more like an abandoned underground parking lot and only visited by those up to no good, these graffitied walls were once covered in ice for the world’s premier luge and bobsled riders to slide down in the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. Tragedy has overtaken what was then Yugoslavia (now Bosnia) since, and most of the games venues are abandoned and in some cases pockmarked with bullet holes from the bloody wars that swept across the country a few years later.
7. Colisee Pepsi
Once upon a time, Québec city in Canada had their own NHL hockey team, the Québec Nordiques, playing out of the Colisée Pepsi or Pepsi Coliseum. The team long ago moved to Colorado, where they are now the Avalanche, and although a local hockey team played at the venue up to 2015, it’s now been mothballed, and even if Québec gets another NHL franchise, it’s highly unlikely they would reopen the stadium.
When it was opened in 1975 in Pontiac, Michigan, the Pontiac Silverdome was the NFL’s biggest stadium, with a number of architectural innovations such as the dome coated in Teflon. Home to the Detroit Tigers as well as a pair of soccer teams, and host to numerous one-off sporting events and rock concerts, the venue fell into disuse when the Lions moved to their new home at Ford Field in 2001. Demolition began in 2017 and was completed a year later, with Amazon currently planning to take over the site as a warehouse.
The Kingdome in Seattle once housed the Seattle Seahawks and the Mariners baseball teams from the 1970s through to 1999 and was well-loved by its fans, but it had a number of problems. Part of the ceiling fell down in 1994 as the Mariners were warming up. In that case, fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt, but the incident and other similar mishaps encouraged the building of new stadiums, and in 2000 the Kingdome was demolished in a controlled explosion.
4. Joe Louis Arena
The Detroit Red Wings played in the Joe Louis Arena from its opening day in 1979 until 2017. However the team now has a new home and the stadium, which was kept for a little while as offices, is currently in the process of being demolished.
3. Rio Olympics
South America was awarded the Olympic Games for the first time in 2016, with Rio de Janeiro being the host city. There were numerous concerns before games about the Zika virus and sewage in the seas where the sailing events were to be held. Luckily, neither of these factors influenced the games, which were quite successful and in which the home nation won seven gold medals. However, a lack of funding and big events has left most of the venues abandoned and falling into ruin, not only the Maracana Stadium.
2. Igman Olympic Jumps
Once a pristine venue for some of the sport’s elite daredevils, the Igman ski jumps now stand sadly neglected and marked by the ravages of civil war. The former Yugoslavia hosted the 1984 WInter Olympic games, but eight years later the whole region erupted into civil war and the state split into separate countries. The ski jumps now stand as a sad monument to former glories.
1. Athens Olympics Beach Volleyball
In 2004 the Olympics came home to the original venue of Greece where they began nearly 3000 years ago. However, it wasn’t the triumphant homecoming the Greeks had hoped for: not only did the home nation perform underwhelmingly, coming 15th in the middle table, but the investment required for the games overstretched an already fragile economy, which collapsed after 2004, leaving most of the venues to fall into disuse and disrepair.