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Cookie Cutter Stadiums of the Super70s

By Patrick Mondout
October 17, 2003

In the late 60s and early Super70s, four National League teams replaced their ageing - in some cases crumbling - stadiums with modern circular stadiums that looked a lot alike and had Astroturf. These stadiums, Pittsburgh's Three Rivers (see picture on far right), Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, Cincinnati's Riverfront, and St. Louis' Busch Stadium, became known as the "cookie cutter" stadiums because of how generic they were and because of how they all had that multipurpose and closed, circular look.

Technically RFK in Washington, Shea in New York, the Astrodome in Houston, Atlanta-Fulton-County Stadium, and San Diego Stadium also fall into this category of multifunctional, but unattractive and circular stadiums. It seems the others are more often singled out for being particularly unattractive.

Cardinals fans can argue that their stadium shouldn't be lumped in with the others, and it is true that it was more attractive and has yet to see the wrecking ball, but it still qualifies. Although I didn't have to suffer through any of these park's waning days, I do sort of miss them as they were - at least from TV-land - part of my childhood. Here's hoping Busch Stadium remains a testament to Super70s stadiums for a long time to come!

Montreal's Olympic Stadium - which might have really been something special for its time (city officials abandoned a good portion of the project, including what would have been the first retractable roof) - also has many of the drab features common in "cookie cutters." Between Montreal, Philly, Pittsburgh, the Mets, and the Cardinals, the National League East had a lot to answer for!

With success of Camden Yards in Baltimore in the early 90s, a new cycle of stadium building has started which moved away from the generic multipurpose turf stadiums and towards quirky, nostalgic single-purpose grass stadiums. The fans love them and it is getting a lot easier to tell what stadium Sports Center highlights are coming in from these days.

Who Pays For It All?

Another promising trend which has never quite caught on is the private funding of new ballparks. The San Francisco Giants tried to get the local taxpayers to build them a state-of-the-art downtown stadium in the 1990s. The voters said no twice and finally Giants owner Peter Magowan decided to foot the bill himself. He built a beloved park that has sold out non-stop since it opened with his own money and only $250M at that. (Amazing that the only major league stadium to come in on budget in the last 35 years is also the only one not paid for by the local taxpayers. Seattle's new replacement stadiums for the Kingdome cost nearly $1B with $600M the responsibility of the taxpayers and over $100M still disputed!)

The Giants are both competitive and profitable. Major League Baseball - not to mention the other major sports - hope you forget this story by the time your local teams come begging for a half-billion dollar stadium while pleading poverty. You can take it to the bank that the next stadium built in New York will surpass the $1B mark for the first, but not the last, time.



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