Where the Stadium Once Stood

On February 12, 2017 · 11 Comments

I guess the recent Ghost Signs got me thinking about the way things used to be in an earlier age. My memory circled back to a time when professional baseball didn’t exist in Washington, DC and we used to travel to Baltimore to see the Orioles play. This happened a lot when I was a kid, long before the Orioles occupied the beautiful, iconic Camden Yards that so many other ball clubs copied. The Orioles took the field on a much less beautiful and nowhere nearly as iconic Memorial Stadium before that. I even think we saw the Baltimore Colts play (American) football a couple times there too. The Colts left Baltimore in 1983 just to show how far back my mind wandered. What happened to Memorial Stadium after its replacement, I wondered.

Memorial Stadium; Baltimore, Maryland, USA



I drilled into a satellite image and discovered that the old stadium still existed. Well, not really. The city tore it down in 2001. However many fragments remained, spread throughout Baltimore. Its basic shape also remained. A new residential neighborhood occupied much of the land originally part of the Memorial Stadium property. It included a ring-road that approximated the circumference of the stadium itself. Inside that asphalt oval, an open field covered the spot where professional sports teams once played. It offered configurations for baseball, football and soccer.

That made me consider other stadiums wiped from the earth. In many cases new stadiums simply covered the exact footprint occupied by their predecessors. In other instances not a single sign remained at all. However, I enjoyed the ones like Baltimore the most, where people kept their memories alive. Those stadiums continued to exist in an odd ethereal way. The roar of the crowd now silenced, the crack of the bat or the kick of the ball no longer felt, but the stories remained in the landscape.

Some quick searching found several more examples.


Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium; Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Atlanta - Turner Field: Gold Parking Lot - Hank Aaron 715th Home Run Monument
Hank Aaron 715th Home Run Monument. Photo by Wally Gobetz on Flickr (cc)

Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium hosted both the Atlanta Braves of baseball and the Atlanta Falcons of (American) football at various times before a controlled implosion finally took it down in 1997. The brand-new Turner Field rose on an adjacent parcel, and the spot once occupied by Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium became part of its parking lots. The old footprint occupied a large section of the Green Lot (it looked awesome on satellite view). Even more of a bonus, the spot where Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th Home Run continued to be commemorated. Aaron accomplished that feat in 1974, surpassing the lifetime record of Babe Ruth, when Aaron hit a ball over an outfield fence and into the Braves’ bullpen. The memorial in the parking lot replicated the fence and the bullpen at the exact spot where it happened.

I realized that marker made little sense to much of 12MC’s international audience. Just understand that a really great sporting event happened there and its preservation was a nice touch.


Yankee Stadium; The Bronx, New York, USA


Once a ballpark, now just a park.
Once a ballpark, now just a park. Photo by Benjamin Kabak on Flickr (cc)

The New York Yankees baseball team played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx from 1923 until 2008 (map). The team left for a new Yankee Stadium on an adjacent lot. Then the city demolished the old stadium and created Heritage Field on the same footprint. As the New York Times described it,

… nearly every inch, from the pavement stones underfoot to the three natural grass ball fields, has been elaborately designed to pay homage to the Yankees and their celebrated former home. Even the sod is the same that the Yankees, professional baseball’s biggest spender, chose for their new stadium… Even the old diamond and outfield have been saved, delineated with five-foot-wide swaths of blue polymer fiber stitched into the sod by a Desso Grassmaster machine that had to be shipped over from the Netherlands.

Now amateur and high school baseball clubs from all over the city stand where some of the greatest professionals once played.


Milwaukee County Stadium; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Helfaer Field
Helfaer Field. Photo by Rough Tough, Real Stuff on Flickr (cc)

Combine the idea of a parking lot and a small ball field on an original footprint, and that became the fate of Milwaukee County Stadium. Miller Park replaced it in 2000 on an adjacent parcel. Although large surface parking lots grew completely around Miller Park, the former spot of Milwaukee County Stadium became a baseball field. It took the name Helfaer Field with room for 500 spectators in its bleacher seats. People can rent it for "softball, youth baseball, kickball, tailgates, meetings and much more." It looked pretty good on Satellite view sitting there, surrounded by parking lots.


Memorial Stadium; University of Minnesota, USA


2009-0603-01-MN-McNamaraMemorial
McNamara Memorial on Wikimedia Commons (cc)

The Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota played (American) football at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis from 1924 to 1981. The stadium became totally obliterated. An alumni center filled its former spot (map). However one vital feature remained, its entry arch, inside of the alumni center. People could still walk through the old entryway, although its passage no longer led to a gridiron. Instead it opened into a large room called the Heritage Gallery, "a multimedia museum … [that] honors the accomplishments of University of Minnesota alumni, faculty, students and staff."


Waverley Park; Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia



I found faded stadium footprints outside of the United States too. A prime example existed in Australia. Waverley Park in Mulgrave, Victoria once hosted up to seventy thousand Australian rules football fans. Concentric ring roads circled the demolished stadium, part of a masterplanned community, with a grassy centerpiece remaining at the spot of the original stadium now serving as a practice facility,

Today, as Hawthorn football players train on the oval, the sound of boots striking balls evokes memories of a sporting past. For some, the ‘Hawks’ are simply part of the scenery, for others they bring new meaning to ‘backyard footy’, with star players running junior clinics for tomorrow’s footy legends. Residents of Oval Front Homes have box seats, cheering on from their balconies during practice matches and training.

The original stadium no longer existed although a grandstand at one end still held room for a couple of thousand spectators.


Cathkin Park; Glasgow, Scotland, UK


Cathkin Park
Cathkin Park. Photo by Tom Brogan on Flickr (cc)

I found a particularly early example in Scotland, a football (soccer) stadium called Cathkin Park in Glasgow. Professional football there dated back to 1884 when the Queen’s Park club called it home. Third Lanark took over in 1903 and remained there for more than sixty years until the team folded.

Sadly there are no fond memories for Third Lanark fans of that era. They were shattered to witness the Cathkin gates being closed for the final time on 30th June 1967.

Much of the stadium was removed as it fell into disrepair (map). However, terraces ringing three sides of the stadium remained in place, as did the old field. The area became a public park and a home field to various amateur and student teams.

On February 12, 2017 · 11 Comments

11 Responses to “Where the Stadium Once Stood”

  1. Mark Sundstrom says:

    Nice article. You made me think of two baseball fields I attended as a child but no longer exist in any form. One was called Wrigley Field, somewhere in Los Angeles, where a minor league team (Pacific Coast League?) called the Angels played. I don’t know where it was located, but perhaps the Web knows. The other was Westgate Park, in San Diego, where the minor league Padres played for many years and I saw quite a few games there. When the major league team was established, Westgate Park was torn down and replaced by the Fashion Valley shopping mall.

  2. Tom De Bruyn says:

    Arsenal FC has a nice example too. They left Highbury, their original stadium built in 1913, in 2006 to move to the new Emirates Stadium a few blocks away. Although the old stadium was demolished, new flats were built exactly where the stands were, and the former field became a park and community garden. I think it’s a great example of how you can put the ground to a completely different use and still reference the history of the place.

    https://www.google.be/maps/place/51%C2%B033'27.7%22N+0%C2%B006'10.3%22W/@51.557695,-0.1050477,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d51.557695!4d-0.102859

  3. Randy Clark says:

    Lost Ballparks by Lawrence S. Ritter baseball

  4. Fritz Keppler says:

    Another football stadium, now dismantled, is known for a non-athletic event that took place there. On the campus of the University of Chicago in a squash court under the bleachers of the the old Stagg Field, the first atomic chain reaction took place in 1942.

    http://www.uchicago.edu/features/how_the_first_chain_reaction_changed_science/

  5. SounderBruce says:

    Seattle’s former MLB stadium (for the short-lived Pilots, who only played one season in 1970 before moving to Milwaukee) is now the parking lot of a Lowe’s store. There’s a chance it will be redeveloped in the future into housing and offices (since it’s across the street from a new light rail station), so hopefully something can be done to honor the stadium’s legacy.

  6. I believe there is a sign memorializing the location of old Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. (which is now the site of Howard University Hospital). My dad was an ardent fan of the Senators, and we once tried to find the exact location when I was younger. Not sure if the sign is still there…

    The Mall of America was built over the former location of Metropolitan Stadium (old home of the Vikings and Twins). Home plate is memorialized with a golden replica of the base on the floor of the Nickelodeon Universe attraction. There is a chair fastened to the wall where a home run that Harmon Killebrew hit a 522-foot home run. (See more here: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/the-mall-of-americas-unusual-tribute-to-harmon-killebrew?urn=mlb,wp6755)

    Lastly, Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha (former home of the College World Series) was torn down in 2012. I visited a year later and the site was replaced with a parking lot for the Zoo. There is an attraction called “Infield at the Zoo” which is a mini sort of replica of Rosenblatt, saving the location of home plate and also serving as a memorial to the College World Series champions crowned during the long use of the stadium.

  7. splen says:

    In Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood you can drive by a piece of the wall from Forbes Field:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pittsburgh,+PA+15212/@40.4414923,-79.9529001,3a,75y,145.57h,89.91t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sO95Tph9ato-jsmHLw9AC1A!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DO95Tph9ato-jsmHLw9AC1A%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D178.70697%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x8834f388349f928d:0x9676b2ac723e683f!8m2!3d40.4828051!4d-80.0367259!6m1!1e1

    Every October 13th, fans gather there and listen to a replay of the radio broadcast of game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which ended when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th to give the Pirates a 10-9, and World Series win.

    Some 400 feet away inside Posvar Hall, home plate from Forbes Field is still preserved:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7a/ForbesPlateinPosvar.jpg/220px-ForbesPlateinPosvar.jpg

  8. Joe says:

    St. Louis’s home for baseball for nearly 100 years was Sportsman’s Park. The site today is occupied by a Boys and Girls Club and includes a youth baseball field on the site:

    https://goo.gl/maps/5foE2zH51pu
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sportsman%27s_Park_site_2012-2.JPG

    The more recent former home for Baseball was Busch Memorial Stadium, which partially overlapped with the current stadium. The former stadium is remembered as part of an entertainment complex that was built on the remaining ground with an “infield” roughly in the place of the old stadium’s infield (although the replica one is smaller than an actual MLB infield.

    https://goo.gl/maps/24UKSGU1wTn

  9. Brandon says:

    Longtime reader Brandon here. I actually work right across the street from the old Memorial Stadium, in the building labeled as JHU Eastern! What a delightful surprise it was to check your blog on my lunch break and see a map of where I’m currently sitting! We still use “across from Memorial Stadium” as the best way to describe to visitors where our building is.

    What’s interesting about the building I work in is that it is also an old relic that has been repurposed. Currently, JHU owns what was formerly Eastern High School. This was a major Baltimore school back in the day until they shut it down. Hopkins bought it and turned it into admin offices for both the university and the hospital. Eventually, they realized they weren’t using all of the space, and the top floor is now rented out as an incubator for tech start-ups, oddly enough (which is where I work).

    This is quite a juxtaposition to the building itself, which very much feels and looks like an old school. Our offices are in old classrooms and the hallways and bathrooms are right out of the 1950s. This is certainly an area of the city that enjoys preserving its history!

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