Over the past two years, we saw the opening of two new football stadiums in Dallas and New York. In fac¬t, since 2000 there have been twelve stadiums opened. When Dallas opened their stadium, they were beaten by the New York Giants, who opened their stadium with a victory over the Panthers on Sunday. Then on Monday, the Jets also opened a stadium. Much like the Cowboys, they lost.
With over one-third of the stadiums less than ten years old and another nine stadiums less than twenty years old, I started thinking about the older stadiums currently in use in the National Football League and how the first game of their home team fared. Therefore, I have made this week’s Top 5 is the Top 5 Oldest Stadiums in the NFL and How the Home Team Fared.
#1 Oldest Stadium – Lambeau Field, Opened for the Green Bay Packers September 29, 1957
New City Stadium (as it was known until 1965) was opened in a dedication by Vice-President Richard Nixon. In the first National League Football game, the Packers beat the Bears 21-17. Packers quarterback led the packers with two touchdown passes, one to Billy Howton who caught eight passes for 165 yards. Other well known participants in the game included George Blanda. Lambeau Field cost $960,000 and had a capacity of 32,500.
Note: Although Soldier Field opened in 1924, the Chicago Bears did not move into Soldier Field until 1971. See #4.
#2 Oldest Stadium – Oakland Alameda County Stadium, Opened for the Raiders September 18, 1966
Oakland Alameda County Stadium was opened in a 32-10 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. During this American Football League game, Len Dawson of the Chiefs threw three touchdown passes. Playing for the Raiders in this game was future head Coach Tom Flores. Flores caught five passes for 71 yards during the game to lead the Raiders. The stadium cost for $25.5 million and the original capacity was 50,000.
Note: I know that I said that this was based upon the NFL teams, the Oakland Raiders are now an NFL team. Please do not email me that the Raiders were not an NFL team in 1966, I know…technicality.
#3 Oldest Stadium – Qualcomm Stadium (formerly known as San Diego Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium), Opened for the Chargers August 20, 1967/First Home Game September 9, 1967
Qualcomm Stadium was opened with a 28-14 victory over the Boston Patriots. This American Football League game saw quarterback John Hadl thrown two touchdowns for the Chargers to Willie Frazier, who had five catches for 105 total yards. Lance Alworth played in the game for the Chargers as well. The stadium was built for $27 million and had an opening day capacity of around 50,000. The stadium was built in the 60s, in which many “cookie cutter” stadiums that had a baseball/football use was constructed. Along with RFK Stadium, it is one of the final two of these types of stadiums in use.
#4 Oldest Stadium – Soldier Field, Opened October 9, 1924 Opened for the Chicago Bears September 19, 1971
The original stadium cost $13 million to build in 1924 and was not renovated until 2001. However, for the Bears entry into the stadium, artificial turf was placed prior to the 1971 season. The seating capacity was around 57,000 after a grandstand was constructed for the new tenants. The first game featured the great Dick Butkus leading the Bears to a 17-15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw had a day to forget, throwing four interceptions.
#5 Oldest Stadium – Arrowhead Stadium, Opened for the Kansas City Chiefs on September 17, 1972
In a game that featured Len Dawson (once again) for the Chiefs and Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, Bob Griesem Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick for the 1972 Undefeated Dolphins, the Chiefs were defeated 20-10. The stadium cost $43 million and held around 77,000 during its opening. The stadium was originally planned to be part of two stadiums (football and baseball) that would have a roof that would roll back and forth between the two stadiums. This became too complicated to build and the idea was never brought to fruition.
There you go, the five oldest stadiums in use by the NFL. Let’s see what catches my eye this week to bring to your attention next week. Until then, have a great week!