The Fascinating Stories Behind These Abandoned Stadiums

Eliza Gray History /
abandoned stadiums around world
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When the final buzzer blared and the crowds disappeared, what laid in store for these prized stadiums? For some, demolition awaited. For others, they lived on as historic landmarks. But some histories were more painful than others…

Tiger Stadium

Loyal Detroit Tigers fans haven't had it easy over the years. Since 1984, they've hoped for World Series wins and have seen some tough blows. One of which was the move from their home beloved stadium.

list olympic stadiums abandoned
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The Tigers and their supporters inhabited that open-air field for over 80 years, and the decision came as an emotional one. But the love for the stadium persisted, and it was eventually honored with historic status from both the State of Michigan and the National Register. However, it was unfortunately demolished back in 2009.

Athens Olympics Beach Volleyball

When the 2004 Summer Olympic venue was first announced, many around the world saw the location as a "full circle" kind of moment, considering that the Olympics dated back to Greece. But the wonderous joy quickly faded as the ceremonial event mutated into a financial catastrophe for the Mediterannean economy.

greece olympic stadium abandoned
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Now, at the time, the event itself was seen as an accomplishment. Viewership rocketed compared to previous years according to Sports Marketing Surveys. But, as the fanfare diminished, Greece was left with a crippling bill. The financial burdens were felt years later, and as a result, many of the venues sat empty and decaying.

Rio Olympics

Brazil made South American history when it was selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. And all eyes were on the nation, as they were the first of the continent to be selected to host, and only the second developing nation chosen, after Mexico in 1968. The government got to work, eager to rise to the opportunity.

olympic stadiums left standing
Getty Images via Buda Mendes

But prior to the event, attention shifted to the growing Zika virus that riddled the Brazilian population. Luckily enough, the ceremony and competitions progressed without any athletes getting sick, and the nation avoided a global catastrophe. But since the games, many of the Olympic locations have been left to rot.

Astrodome

Few could have predicted the humanitarian role that the Astrodome would fulfill. This Houston landmark first made waves as a feat of structural might. It also made history as the root behind the popular artificial field flooring, Astroturf. The stadium was a prized jewel since its debut in 1965, but everything changed in 2005.

astrodome abandoned hurricane katrina
Getty Images via David Portnoy

When Hurricane Katrina hit, the stadium opened its doors to thousands. In what seemed like a split second, the venue transformed to house hordes of stranded Southerners, who were evacuated from their homes. For its humanitarian efforts, the stadium was added to the National Register of Historic Places 9 years later.

Sarajevo Olympics

This former Olympic venue has since transformed into an urban art gallery. Back in 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Games and brought international attention to the former-Soviet Bloc state. And while political unrest surged throughout the region, the venues stood still... With some minor makeovers.

sarajevo olympic venues now
Getty Images via Elvis Barukcic

For Sarajevo, there were more pressing issues than upkeeping the former Olympic venues. Between the fall of the Soviet Union and the Bosnian conflict, the athletic grounds were left in the hands of nature… And some trouble-seeking teens, apparently. The bobsled track was since covered by foliage, bullet shrapnel, and graffiti.

Seattle Kingdome

This former NFL and MLB venue had most certainly seen some better days. Housed in Seattle's port area, the Mariners and the Seahawks once called this dome home for roughly 20 years. But even during its heyday, the Kingdome didn't exactly run smoothly.

MLB stadiums abandoned pictures
Getty Images via Dan Levine

But one day in 1994 changed everything. In the minutes leading up to a baseball game, a slab of the dome's roof plummeted onto the field. Luckily no one was injured, but the incident deeply shook up players and fans alike. The two teams were relocated and the crumbling site was decimated 6 years later.

The Pontiac Silverdome

Amidst all the celebration of its 1975 debut, few could have foreseen the ill-fated future that awaited this Pontiac, Michigan landmark. But upon its build, the stadium was seen as a masterpiece. It was, at the time, one of the NFL's grandest venues and utilized a lot of avant-garde building styles. What could have gone wrong?

abandoned NFL stadiums now
Getty Images via Dave Hogg

Well, for starters, the stadium stood in a less commercial side of town. Over the years, a move for Detroit's NBA and NFL teams became inevitable, and the deal was sealed once and for all in 2001. The Silverdome was left to decay for over 15 years, but demolition came with some snags. It took two rounds to tear the beast down.

Shea Stadium

The New York Mets once called the Shea Stadium home. And during its prime, the classically designed venue was full of fan-favorites. From its signature home run celebratory apple to retro electric decorations, the stadium lived in the hearts of Mets fans and New Yorkers alike.

stadiums left deserted pictures
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But for business purposes, the Mets relocated to Citi Field. And for loyal supporters of the team, the decision came as a devastating blow, that took a lot of time to get over. The original stadium stood empty for almost no time at all. By end of the year, all that was left of Shea was memories.

Berlin Olympics

All eyes were on Berlin as they hosted the Olympic Games back in 1936. And for more than one reason. For starters, it was the first time the event was aired around the world on TV. And Germany had pulled out all the stops in its duties as host, but evil lurked behind the curtain.

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Hitler's rhetoric was already rampant in Germany in the lead-up to World War II, in addition to racial unrest in other countries. Olympic U.S. track star, Jesse Owens, took a stand on the podium, in a gesture honoring the struggle of Black people. The contentious event passed, and many remained standing even after the war.

Orange Bowl

Back in the day, many aspiring Floridan football stars had their eyes set on the Miami Hurricanes. At one point in time, they were considered the end-all-be-all of NFL farm teams, and made their stadium, the Orange Bowl, the place to be. But, as all good things came to an end, so did the Canes' legacy.

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But The Hurricanes weren't the only ones playing at the Orange Bowl. The Miami Dolphins also called that stadium home up till the end of their 1986 playing year. Then the college team called it quits in 2007, leaving the once-glorious stadium to demolition. The Orange Bowl was no more come the Spring of 2008.

Boothferry Park

Even during its years in service, few referred to Boothferry Park as the jewel of Hull, United Kingdom. The industrial-looking venue housed Hull City's A.F.C. team for 56 years and graced the port-side British city with its yellow exterior and looming stadium lights.

abandoned football stadiums england
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When Bothferry Park closed its doors, many wondered what was in store for the large plot of land. Eventually, economic interests took over, and the city decided to opt for demolition. By then, the soccer field had been covered in street art and had suffered from lack of maintenance. The site was bulldozed in 2011.

Athens Olympics

The sheer scope of the Olympics in Athens warrants it another mention. For those needing a refresher, the controversy for the Athens Summer Games only came in the aftermath of the event. In the eyes of fans and athletes, the 17-day event went off without so much of a hiccup.

athens olympic venues deserted
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And despite the consequent surge in tourism that came with holding the event, Greece couldn't stay afloat after the hosting gig. And many pointed to the costly games as the domestic economy plummeted during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Pictured above were the softball grounds from the 2004 event that were left to disarray.

Montreal Olympic Park

Perhaps Athens should have used Montreal Olympic Park as a cautionary tale before agreeing to host the games. For Montreal also took on a major bill in preparation for the 1976 Summer Games. And many questioned if it was even worth it, considering that so many countries protested the Olympics and opted out of attendance.

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The distant white dome in the picture was yet another expensive hiccup that plagued the 1976 event. The Olympic Stadium was built to be the crowned jewel of the city's infrastructure. But, to the dismay of many planners and builders, it failed to live up to its blueprint potential.

Sarajevo Olympics

Do you remember the political unrest that riffled through Sarajevo in the years after the 1984 Olympics? Well, it came with a gruesome cost. Pictured below was the haunting depiction of the Bosnian War's utter devastation. The prized venue was now riddled with bullet and rocket holes.

sarajevo olympic venue cemetary
Wikimedia Commons via MSGT Michael J. Haggerty

But, what was pictured in the foreground arguably shocked many. Yards away from the hollowed athletic grounds was a field covered in tombstones. That's right: Following the large-scale violence of the Bosnian War, the deceased were laid to rest in the plot of land. They served as a daily reminder of the human cost of war.

Dongdaemun Stadium

The year was 1998, and the international climate was ever-changing. Come the Summer Olympics in Seoul, all eyes were on the Eastern Bloc, as whispers of political unrest ran rampant. But attention shifted as the U.S.S.R. and East Germany dominated the podium. Did they know it would be their last time competing at the event?

seoul olympic stadium abandoned
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In the coming years, the Soviet Union's fate became clear. And the Berlin Wall wasn't the only thing that fell: Many of Seoul's Olympic venues met the same fate. While the Dongdaemun Stadium had a short-lived second life as a car park and commercial space, it too was knocked to the ground in 2008.

Estadi de Sarrià

Barcelona has enjoyed the fame that arose from their world-renowned team, F.C. Barcelona. But did you know that the coastal Spanish metropolis was home to another soccer team? Standing in the shadows of F.C. Barcelona was RCD Espanyol, and its former decaying home field.

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Before switching over to their current turf, RCD Espanyol called Estadi de Sarrià home for over 70 years. From 1923 to 1997, dedicated RCD fans headed to the stands and cheered on their underdog team. The stadium also got international attention back in 1992, when it held 5 soccer games during the Barcelona Summer Olympics.

Stone Mountain Tennis Center

Stone Mountain Tennis Center had the potential to be great. The enormous facility was built in the lead-up to the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, but its glory was short-lived. After the fanfare of the Olympic Games settled down, the tennis venue stood mainly unused. But why?

unused olympic venues abandoned
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The poor design wasn't behind its failure, rather the structure's location. The Stone Mountain Tennis Center was deep in football country, and never stood a chance to fill its 12,000 person capacity. The venue was torn down a mere 11 years after its debut on the global stage.

Giants Stadium

During its 34-year run, the Giants Stadium housed two NFL teams: The New York Giants and the Jets. And while the Giants managed to take home three Super Bowls during that time, the Jets weren't as fortunate. Things weren't looking good for the Jets... But was their home field to blame?

Jets Giants old stadium
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Alas, no. Both the Giants and the Jets made the move over to the neighboring MetLife Stadium over 10 years ago. The new field worked wonders for the Giants, as they took home another title, but things remained bleak for the Jets. Not as bleak as their former turf, though. The Giants Stadium was torn down in 2010.

Chicago Stadium

Just like the stadium in New York, the Chicago Stadium held two teams… But in different leagues altogether. The Chicago Stadium (or, "The Madhouse on Madison," as Chicagoans called it) was once home to the city's NBA and NHL teams. And as the nickname suggested, lively Blackhawks and Bulls fans caused mayhem on every game night.

madhouse on madison chicago
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Between 1967 and 1994, the stadium was home to the Chicago Bulls. And for the Chicago Blackhawks, 1929 to 1994. Their departure came as a tough blow for fans, many of whom had grown up with the Chicagoan institution. Alas, its time came to an end and, in 1995, the venue was torn down.

Old Yankee Stadium

This former New York stadium was home to one of history's most legendary athletic stories. Nicknamed "The House that Ruth Built," the Old Yankee Stadium saw success after success during its reign. The Yankees snagged 26 World Series while they called this field home.

old yankee stadium demolition
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As the baseball franchise grew over the years, management opted for fancier digs. The Yankees entered their new era when their big move to the Bronx stadium. But they knew how to honor their past, and opted to keep the original name. The legacy of the Yankee Stadium lived on, just in their $1.5 billion upgrade...

RFK Stadium

The consensus among many was that the true beauty of the RFK Stadium was its neighboring monuments, not the venue itself. Captured in this aerial shot were national landmarks, including the Washington Monument and the Capitol building... Oh yeah, and the RFK Stadium!

washington rfk stadium abandoned
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The venue was home to many teams, most notably the Washington Redskins and the Nationals. And while the initial sketches seemed optimal for both sports, fans struggled with poor seating. Each of the teams moved on, and the RFK Stadium was left abandoned. But, unlike some of the other buildings, this one has yet to be taken down.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

New York's Buffalo was once home to a classic piece of sports architecture. The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, or "the Aud," for short, housed the city's NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres, for over 25 years. Between the years 1970 to 1996, hockey fans flocked to the venue in hopes to watch their favorite team take home the Stanley Cup.

Buffalo sabres old stadium
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But, unfortunately for the Sabres and their loyal supporters, Buffalo has yet to win big in the NHL playoffs. And as the years progressed, the franchise outgrew their former digs, and left the Aud behind. After years of graffiti and break-ins, the stadium was taken down once and for all in 2009.

Miami Marina Stadium

Miami's Marina Stadium made history back in 1963, as it marked the country's first venue dedicated to motorboat competitions. But since the glory days, it has been avoiding decay and dereliction. In attempts to preserve the coastal landmark, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 2018.

miami marina stadium abandoned
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But initiatives to save the stadium happened on a community level, too. Many Miamians have done their fair share of cleaning. Because besides its gorgeous landscape, the stadium also has a rich history to protect. The venue was also graced by legendary artists like Sammy Davis Jr. and the King of Rock & Roll.

Roman Coliseum

This may be the only entry on the list that became more famous as the years went on. Way back in the day, it was home to gruesome fights between Roman soldiers. It also had the potential to fill like a basin, and hosted ship fights as well. The structure has a reputation for its avant-garde architecture, considering its age.

european sports stadiums abandoned
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Dating back to 70 AD, the fact that any of the structure was still standing amazed archeologists and historians. It gained UNESCO status, in efforts to preserve its wonders for generations to come. No touchdowns or home runs occurred here, but something tells us that the Colosseum's events were a little bloodier.

Chernobyl Stadium

Even during its heyday, few believed that the industrial municipality of Pripyat would ever host a global sporting event like the Olympics. But, there were still 50,000 people living there that wanted a place to cheer on their local teams. Hence, the modestly-sized Chernobyl Stadium came to be.

abandoned buildings chernobyl accident
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But, as folks would soon learn, soccer games wouldn't exactly be the top priority, following the horrific accident at the local nuclear plant. All of Pripyat's buildings were abandoned in its aftermath, leaving its infrastructure to ruin… Including their once beloved stadium. Chernobyl Stadium was left untouched for decades.

Old Wembley Stadium

This next stadium was once described by Edson Arantes do Nascimento (or Pelé for short) as the "cathedral of football." The pro footballer believed that the venue was "the heart" of the sport. And, he wasn't wrong. Old Wembley Stadium was the grandest venue of its time and housed Britain's national team for nearly 80 years.

old wembley stadium abandoned
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The stadium was a beloved institution to loyal fans. So, the relocation to the national team's updated stadium came as a crushing blow. And just a couple of years later, the original stadium was destroyed, leaving a hole in the hearts and minds of diehard English supporters for years to come.

Civic Arena Pittsburgh

Civic Arena, also referred to as Mellon Arena, was a landmark in the city of Pittsburg for decades. The local NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, saw three Stanley Cup wins during their time on its ice. And despite its structural flaws, the thousands of Penguins fans filled the dome on every game night from 1967 to 2010.

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The most commonly known architectural hiccup was its mechanically operated roof. The structure was designed to open and close on command… But seldom worked. And after over 40 years in the igloo-looking dome, the Penguins moved on, leaving the original venue largely abandoned. The building was finally knocked down in 2012.

Stadion Dziesieciolecia

During its prime, Stadion Dziesieciolecia was a multi-purpose staple in the city of Warsaw. Over the latter part of the 20th century, the 70,000-plus stadium housed Poland's National Team, in addition to being used for local festivals. From its debut in 1955, Stadion Dziesieciolecia was the place to be.

abandoned stadiums around europe
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But the years of use started to catch up with the stadium. By the 1980s, Stadion Dziesieciolecia began to crumble, prompting the national team to find a new location. Dziesieciolecia had a second life as a local flea market before eventually shutting its doors for good in 2008.

Maple Leaf Gardens

For die-hard hockey fans, Maple Leaf Gardens was an NHL institution for the better half of a century. During its glory days, the arena was decorated 11 times over with the Toronto Maple Leaf's Stanley Cup wins. Eventually, the team relocated to a new area. But with so much rich history at stake, what laid ahead for the stadium?

maple leaf gardens renovation
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Though times had changed, Torontonians weren't ready to say goodbye to this local landmark. So, the building was repurposed to be a commercial site. Where center-ice once lay, shoppers pick up their grocery items. But don't worry, the store's design made sure to pay tribute to the building's history.

Nansen Ski Jump

This next sports venue brought major fanfare to New England residents back in the day. The people of Milan, New Hampshire couldn't get enough of this Olympic conditioning sight back in 1936. The Nansen Ski Jump was built to help competitive alpine skiers train for the upcoming Winter Games.

nansen ski jump abandoned
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But soon, better options became available for training. And by 1988, Olympic athletes set their eyes on other, more state of the art locations for their conditioning. The Nansen Ski Jump was abandoned and sat unused on State parklands. But as of late, revival projects commenced to try and revitalize the jump.