Alarming Decrease In Longevity Of Pricey Modern Sports Stadiums

By Harry Dole


Atlanta Falcons Kicker Matt Bryant after game at Georgia Dome in Atlanta
The perfectly serviceable Georgia Dome in Atlanta is the latest modern stadium scheduled to meet its fate with the wrecking ball after a very short lifespan. Josh D. Weiss – USA TODAY SPORTS


There was a time when sports stadiums had a longer lifespan than most human beings, even though they were built at a time when there were fewer advancements in construction and engineering.  With taxpayer funded stadiums today, the short-lived very pricey disposable stadium has now become the norm, as many modern stadiums last a fraction as long as ones which were built in the first half of the 20th century.

The iconic Yankee Stadium lived and prospered in the South Bronx for 85 years with the help of several renovations through the years.  By comparison, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta has a current life expectancy of twenty-five years, as it is scheduled to be demolished in 2017, after a new proposed stadium is built for the Atlanta Falcons and other sporting events.  To add to the “wasteful” insanity, the Georgia Dome was renovated in 2006 and 2007 at a whopping cost of $300 million.

The obsoleteness of stadiums which are in excellent condition and considered state of the art not too long ago is not unique to the Georgia Dome.  The Astrodome (Houston), Texas Stadium (Irving), the Silverdome (Detroit), the Kingdome (Seattle), Giants Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ) and the Hoosier Dome (Indianapolis) all saw their tenants move out after less than forty years of use.  In fact, the Silverdome, the Kingdome and the Hoosier Dome all lasted less than thirty years, although they were domed and not exposed to the elements.

By comparison, open air stadiums such as Soldier Field (Chicago), Lambeau Field (Green Bay) and Candlestick Park (San Francisco) still house NFL teams after fifty years of service.  If these grand-daddy of stadiums are good enough for storied franchises such as the Bears, Packers and 49ers, why isn’t a twenty-five year old modern stadium good enough for the Falcons, a team which will never be confused as a historically illustrious franchise?  The answer is quite simple.

We are currently living in a society where many desire the newest and shiniest houses, automobiles, tech toys, etc.  For example, a six month old cellphone in mint condition quickly becomes obsolete when the newer model with more bells and whistles is put on the market.  Individuals will desire the new cellphone so they can show off and make themselves feel good in a shallow sort of way, even though the older one works just fine and they may never use the added features of the new one.

New and shiny football stadiums for NFL teams are similar to new cellphones for materialistic me first individuals…with one huge exception.  Whereas most people who desire a new cellphone have to pay for it themselves, sports team owners are now deceiving taxpayers into paying for these new stadiums with empty promises of benefits to the local economy.

At a time when school budgets, social and infrastructure programs are being cut, billionaires are using taxpayer funds to pad their enormous bank accounts and egos.  Is there something wrong with this picture?

It is rather alarming how easy it is to dupe an unsuspecting public into agreeing to financing this insidious form of corporate welfare.  Unless public awareness is raised about taxpayer money going towards the sole benefit of the obscenely wealthy, economic inequality will continue to rise to record levels.

Of course, having an abundance of politicians who only look out for the interests of the well-heeled, at the expense of the middle and lower classes, the owners have their enablers and some would say accomplices entrenched in place.  These deals would not be made if politicans had the best interests of their constituents in mind.

At this rate, it is only a matter of time before the ten year old modern stadium becomes just as disposable as a six month old cellphone.  Since there is little or no risk to those financially benefitting from very expensive stadiums, it is highly unlikely the lifespan of newer stadiums will be going up anytime soon.

The Soldier Fields and the Yankee Stadiums have nothing to worry about, as their records for longevity will not be eclipsed anytime soon by today’s pricey and fleeting white elephants.

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