Ah, oui, Stade Olympique is well, still open! But it makes our list because it hasn’t actually had a main tenant since 2004! The multi-purpose stadium made headlines for hosting the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. Nicknamed “The Big O” (get your mind out of the gutter!), the doughnut-shaped stadium also was nicknamed “The Big Owe” due to the astronomical cost, as well as the Games in general! Canadians. Eh.
Despite being… snowed under by the debt from the games, it’s interesting that at the time, many nations boycotted these games – which wasn’t a good thing, leading to more politics and less competition. Let’s go back to the budget – the stadium had a total cost (and was in fact, unfinished) of C$1.1 billion!! And that was in the 70s. That’s a heck of a lot of dollars. In mid-November of 2006, the debt owed was finally repaid – almost 30 years after it opened. It’s total cost? C$1.61 billion – making it the second most expensive stadium, beaten only by Wembley Stadium in London!
Maple Leaf Gardens (Toronto, Canada)
The historic building which has seen some of the greatest hockey matches on ice, ever, is none other than the Maple Leaf Gardens. Considered one of the “cathedrals” of the game, it was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League from 1931 to 1999. Fun fact: it was one of the few venues outside of the United States where Elvis Presley performed in concert, back in 1957! Over the years its housed many teams and held many fans, as well as hosting game 2 of the world-famous Summit Series where Team Canada faced off against the USSR!
In 1999, Maple Leaf Gardens closed, when the NHL’s Maple Leafs moved to the Air Canada Centre and was sadly left alone for a number of years. However, in 2011, it was reopened to the public, though there seemed to be more foodies than hockey fans – due to the reopening constituting the installation of a retail center and eateries! At least this wasn’t an abandoned waste of money!
Stadion Za Lužánkami (Brno, Czech Republic)
Currently inactive, and clearly overcome with weeds, the Stadion Za Lužánkami was in fact built back in the 1950s, used for football, and acted as the home ground of FC Zbrojovka Brno. During the 60s and 70s, the 50,000 pax stadium was the biggest in Czechslovakia! In 2001 however, the stadium was closed after 1. FC Brno moved to a new home. According to FIFA criteria, the stadium was no longer suitable, and the club was thus, forced to move.
Sitting idle, there were plans to renovate the stadium and see the possible return of the much-loved football club. In 2012 however, it was announced that funds were lacking – as a result, these financial concerns put the reconstruction plans on hold. The stadium fell further into disrepair. That was until FC Zbrojovka Brno captain Petr Švancara, took things into his own hands, and via crowdfunding, managed to restore the stadium so that he could play a farewell game! Due to the success, the FC’s youth team train at the stadium – apparently there are concrete plans for a massive $48 million US overhaul. So this one; not such a sad, lonely story after all!
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (Buffalo, New York, USA)
Located in Buffalo, New York, the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, or “the Aud” (look, we don’t know who came up with that nickname but clearly creativity wasn’t their strongest suit) was opened 80 years ago, in November of 1939. During the 40s, the Auditorium hosted teams from the AHL, NHL, NBA, MSL, MILL, NPSL, and RHI. (Yes, off you go, google what those acronyms stand for!)
In 1970 the auditorium underwent some renovations and was home to the Sabres between 1970 and 1996. Despite hosting concerts and events such as Disney on Ice, there just wasn’t enough interested fans who wished to attend events the Auditorium held. It closed in 1996 after the sporting teams’ seasons all ended, and remained vacant and well, abandoned. It was sadly demolished in 2009, though a lot of work had been done for the demolition crew already – the venue had been vandalized and looted to the extreme.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington D.C., USA)
Ok ok, so this one might still be technically operational, but we’ve got a feeling that the District of Columbia may want to demolish and repurpose the land it’s occupying. Operated by Events DC, the venue is in fact under a lease that runs until 2038 from the National Park Service (they own the land) – so maybe they won’t sell up… we’ll check back in, in 20 years’ time! Heh. But check that aerial – RFK, Capitol Building and Washington Monument. It’s like the political Bermuda Triangle; wonderful for a politics student to get lost between them. Despite the cool geographical situation, there was a serious problem at RFK: the losing streak it somewhat caused for the Redskins between 1961 and 1996.
The home base all those years, it was occupied by the Nationals for two years as of 2005. Wow, 2005 is 14 years ago. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. One of the first major stadiums designed to host both baseball and football, its signature “cookie-cutter” design was a first for American architects. Aside from baseball and football matches, RFK Memorial Stadium also hosted NFC Championship games, MLB All-Star games and American friendlies and World Cup matches. Not to mention boxing matches, a cycling race, marathons, concerts and a Le Mans auto race! Talk about multi-purpose.