Stadium Hall of Fame
These arenas don't have the cache and importance of the first ballot group, but they're next in line in my stadium hall of fame.
Lambeau Field – The only NFL stadium with aura. Think about that. Lambeau is the only stadium in the NFL that’s special, unique, different. The only NFL stadium where fans of other teams want to go – regardless of who’s playing – just to see the building. The Fenway Park or Wrigley Field of the NFL. Great teams, players and moments from the Packers in the 60s and the Favre Era.
The Louisiana Superdome – An engineering marvel it is the largest fixed dome structure in the world and was the largest dome in the world until Atlanta’s Georgia Dome was built in 1992. Being the longtime home to the New Orleans Saints gets it no special credit, but hosting six Super Bowls, four Final Fours, 30+ Sugar Bowls and three BCS title games does. How about this, first host of the NWA Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament.
Pauley Pavilion – Home to the greatest college basketball ever played. Alcindor, Walton, nine NCAA titles. Aside from the men’s basketball history, the building saw 18 NCAA men’s volleyball championship teams, five NCAA women’s gymnastics titles, three women’s volleyball championships and two men’s gymnastics champions making it clearly the home of the nation’s most collegiate athletic success. On top of it all, it was at Pauley Pavilion where Mary Lou Retton in 1984 became the first non-Eastern European to win the women’s gymnastics all-around gold.
Notre Dame Stadium – It’s different, it just is. I hate Notre Dame, but this has been the most important ground in college football for 75 years. Touchdown Jesus, Rockne, moments, games of the century, Rocket, rivalries.
After the 11 immortal sports venues listed on the first ballot of my stadium Hall of Fame and the four listed above who go in next, here are the final members:
The Great Western Forum – Along with the Boston Garden this was the set for the TV show which was NBA basketball in the 1980s. 30+ year home of the Lakers and Kings, the building has seen West, Chamberlain, Baylor, Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Shaq, Kobe and Gretzky. Host of two NBA All-Star games, one NHL All-Star game and the 1984 Olympics basketball.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Churchill Downs – These three venues signify and define their sports and have for decades. All of the most memorable moments and competitors from open wheel racing, NASCAR and horse racing starred at these arenas.
Texas Stadium – Instantly recognizable for its “hole in the roof” design. The Cowboys are the most popular team in America’s most popular sport and this has been their home for almost 40 years. Ninety percent of all American’s have watched some part of a Thanksgiving football game from Texas Stadium at one point in their life.
Dodger Stadium – Oldest ballpark on the West Coast, home to the Dodgers for almost 50 years, classic through and through. One of the last baseball-only stadiums built before the “concrete donut” era of the 60s and 70s, Dodger Stadium remains cool, contemporary and chic half a century after its construction in a city obsessed with new and trendy. The Farrah Fawcet or Christi Brinkley of stadiums – looks great regardless of age. Home to eight World Series.
The Polo Grounds – Longtime home to the National League’s New York Giants (Willie Mays made his famous “over the shoulder” catch there) and the NFL’s New York Giants, the stadium also hosted at various times the Yankees, Mets and Jets. Numerous major college football games were played there featuring Notre Dame, Yale, Army and Navy when those teams mattered.
Ebbets Field – No park elicits more romance, heartache and sentimental yearning than Ebbets Field. Its importance to community, its place in the historic demographic shift of mid-20th Century America, unrivaled for nostalgia and mythology. Unremarkable among its peer stadiums Ebbets Field in its vacancy and demolition came to symbolize the end of baseball’s Golden Age and a loss of innocence in the sport and nation.
Cameron Indoor Stadium – Great players, great games, great moments, a throwback to the basketball “gyms” of yesteryear featuring the highest quality of play today. There’s a magic, charm and feeling to the building that has been lost largely around college basketball.
The Spectrum – 30 year home of the 76ers and Flyers. Host of 10 NBA and NHL championship series. Host to innumerable major college basketball games including the famous Duke-Kentucky Eastern Regional in 1992 and the 1976 and 1981 Final Fours.
Pebble Beach Golf Links – Some of the most scenic real estate in America, the course hugs the Pacific coastline in Central California offering breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. Four time host of the U.S. Open with another coming in 2010 it has also hosted a PGA Championship. Stunning beauty.
Last left out: Tiger Stadium in Detroit, the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Soldier Field in Chicago.
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