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Notable Stadium Anniversaries Outside MLB

By Zac Richardson -- April 25, 2012 1:03 PM EDT


With Fenway Park in the books for 100 years of service, now is as good a time as any to look at other sites with either similarly significant tenures or notable anniversaries on the horizon. Franchise relocation has of course become quite prevalent over the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

Fenway's tenants, for example-- the Red Sox-- shared Boston for 51 years, until their (older) sibling franchise left town for Milwaukee, before ultimately settling in Atlanta. And the effects of population shifts and desires to modernize, combined with an American tendency towards disposability, would make university campuses seem unlikely grounds for stadium/field/arena/gym preservation, as well. But as unique a case as Fenway Park may be, when examining the four major professional sports, as well as NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I Basketball teams, a surprising number of venues have stood the test of time.

A couple of weeks back, another venerable Major League Baseball organization and ballpark observed a notable anniversary, as Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium turned 50 years old. Given the age-differential, as well as with the Dodgers being in the midst of an ownership transition, the celebration was decidedly more low-key than the Fenway gala-- but the milestone is still impressive and worthy of honoring, nonetheless.

Two years from now, however, baseball will likely see a scene similar in scale to last week's in Boston, when Chicago's Wrigley Field is feted for joining Fenway in the centenarian club. The team has plans for renovations to coincide with the anniversary of Wrigley's opening, and as a possible extension of the festivities, the Cubs are also rumored as frontrunners to host the 2016 All-Star Game. This would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Cubs actually playing at Wrigley-- as it was initially called Weeghman Park, and home to the Federal League's Chicago Whales, before having the Cubs move in.

No other MLB parks are more than 50 years old, with Angel Stadium of Anaheim and the presumably days-are-numbered (or the A's residence there, at least) O.co Coliseum in Oakland both clocking 46 years of service.

Neither the National Basketball Association nor the National Hockey League have arenas topping 50 years of age, with the New York Knicks' and Rangers' shared home of Madison Square Garden (now in its fourth incarnation, with the current one being 44 years old) coming in near the top of the list for both leagues. For the NBA, the Golden State Warriors' Oracle Arena in Oakland is slightly older at 46, and in the NHL, the New York Islanders' Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale is 40 years old (with ongoing tension regarding the financing of stadium renovations, as well as the possibility of the team being relocated).

The Chicago Bears' Soldier Field has been in the same location for longer than any other National Football League stadium, but as it was nearly completely demolished and rebuilt from 2002-2003 (including a subsequent stripping of Nation Historic Landmark status in 2006, as a result), the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field therefore tops the list for the NFL-- still going strong at 55 years of age, following a pair of renovations within the last decade. The San Francisco 49ers' Candlestick Park is the only other NFL stadium more than 50 years old, coming in at 52, though the 49ers plan to play in a new Santa Clara home as early as 2014.

The limited number of enduring NFL stadiums is somewhat surprising, as longevity is essentially the norm for NCAA Division I FBS programs. In fact, better than half of these schools play in stadiums more than 50 years old, and ten are 90 or older. These include Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium (99), Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium (98), Mississippi's Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (97), Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium (95), Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium and Washington's Husky Stadium (92), Kansas' Memorial Stadium and Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (91), and the versatile Rose Bowl (home field for UCLA since 1982) and Ohio State's Ohio Stadium (90).

Six more will hit the 90 mark next year. That list includes California's Memorial Stadium (which is going through major reconstruction), the Sooners' Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, USC's Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Illinois' Memorial Stadium, Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, and Michigan State's Spartan Stadium. There are another six reaching 90 the year after that; the Longhorns' Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Colorado's Folsom Field, Army's Michie Stadium, Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium, Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, and LSU's Tiger Stadium.

Other notable anniversaries and sites include four fields turning 85 this year. That list includes North Carolina's Kenan Memorial Stadium, Texas A&M's Kyle Field, the multifaceted Legion Field - present home for Alabama-Birmingham, and the Wolverine's Michigan Stadium. Southern Mississippi's M.M. Roberts Stadium turns 80, and Toledo's Glass Bowl is 75.

When compared with NCAA Division I FBS programs, fewer NCAA Division I basketball arenas in number as well as proportionally are more than 50 years old (between 10-15%, overall), but there is still a healthy amount. At 102 years of age, Northeastern's Matthews Arena is the oldest, and it was notably also home to the Bruins and Celtics before they moved into the original Boston Garden. Next in line is Fordham's Rose Hill Gymnasium (87), followed by Lavietes Pavilion (86 years old, and home court for Harvard since 1982), Washington's Alaska Airlines Arena and Penn's legendary Palestra are both 85.

Butler's famous Hinkle Fieldhouse and Minnesota's Williams Arena are 84, Tulane's Fogelman Arena is 81, and Yale's Payne Whitney Gymnasium is 80 years old. Rounding out the list, California's Haas Pavilion will be 80 next year, and New Hampshire's Lundholm Gym and Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena both will turn 75.

Dodger Stadium and especially Fenway Park have rightfully enjoyed their moments in the spotlight this spring, but clearly plenty other sites around the country and in various sports will be celebrating significant anniversaries in the next couple seasons, as well-- or simply adding on to their impressive records of durability. But it is advisable to make plans and enjoy these treasured pieces of history sooner than later, as fans well know that today's Wrigley Field is tomorrow's Tiger Stadium (which opened the same day as Fenway, but now sits demolished and dormant in Detroit).


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