Going to a professional sports event can be a memory that lasts a lifetime. The sights, sounds, and smells endure the passage of time, and that nostalgia can take you straight back to childhood. Taking your children to the ballpark or stadium is almost a rite of passage, handed down generation to generation, and holding to strict customs.
Unfortunately, at some point, nostalgia and custom must give way to common sense. Ballparks get old, fields and courts become dilapidated, and eventually it can even start to take away from the experience for the younger generation.
While I am as upset at the tearing down of Candlestick Park as anyone, at some point you have to realize that the time has come for a new stadium. There are old stadiums in use all over America, and as much as some of them are beloved icons, here are the five that I think are ready for retirement.
5. Fenway Park, Boston. Before you call me a heretic and stop reading, let me explain. I am not saying that Fenway Park needs to be torn down, far from it; Fenway Park should be immortalized as a museum for Red Sox history. However, I am saying that the Red Sox need a new place to play baseball. Opened in 1912, Fenway has been the home to the Boston Red Sox ever since. With quirky features like “The Triangle”, and “Pesky’s Pole”, and of course the iconic “Green Monster”; Fenway has been frustrating hitters and fielders alike for over 100 years.
4. Soldier Field, Chicago. As an Army veteran, I can appreciate a professional sports stadium dedicated to the memory of people who gave their lives for their country. However, Soldier Field has become a dilapidated, outdated stadium that is literally falling apart. Opened in 1924, Soldier Field is the oldest outdoor football stadium in use, and home to the oldest team in the NFL, the Bears. After 89 years, it’s time for this Soldier to retire.
3. Wrigley Field, Chicago. It may seem like I am picking on Chicago, but the truth is the Cubs have been playing in this iconic park for 97 years and it’s time for a change. Again, this place should be transformed into a museum, and the Cubs given a new place to play baseball. Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in use, after Fenway, and the last to rely on its hand turned scoreboard. The field wasn’t even lit for night play until 1988, the last in the league to install lighting.
2. Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento. Formerly known as Power Balance Pavilion, though as a Sacramento native I will always remember it as Arco Arena, Sleep Train Arena was opened in 1988 and is the home of the Sacramento Kings. This arena is the youngest on this list, but is one of the worst on the list. Boasting one of the smallest seating capacities in professional sports, at 17,317, Sleep Train Arena has never been a nice place to watch a game. Thrown together to give the Kings a permanent home, as they had been playing in the temporary Arco Arena I for three years, Sleep Train Arena is cramped and already falling apart.
1. O.co Coliseum/Oracle Arena, Oakland. Oakland-Alameda Coliseum has had a lot of names over the years, and O.co Coliseum may be the most ridiculous. Since my grandmother was an A’s fan, I spent a lot of afternoons in my childhood in Oakland Coliseum. That was in the 80’s and 90’s and it was falling apart then. Opened in 1966, the Coliseum is home to the Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders, and the nearby arena is the current home of the Golden State Warriors. It’s time that the Raiders and Athletics each had their own stadiums and the outdated O.co was torn down. Oracle Arena isn’t quite as bad the coliseum itself, but the Warriors have already opted out, and will be moving to San Francisco sometime in the future.
I completely understand the nostalgic feeling associated with sports venues, especially icons like Wrigley and Fenway. I know the feeling of losing a place that has decades of memories, thrilling victories, and agonizing defeats. When Candlestick Park falls, you can bet that more than a few tears will fall with it, but even the Yankees realized that after 85 years, the Bronx Bombers needed a new home and pulled down the iconic original Yankee Stadium.