Some people say that newer is always better, especially when it comes to sporting venues. However, some of the stadiums that have been tossed aside and demolished over the years had a certain kind of charm that a lot of us miss. Whether it’s live animals serving as mascots or an unmatched home-field environment, we wish some stadiums were never abandoned.
Out of all of the past NFL stadiums, though, which ones do we miss the most? These five were memorable for decades and offered great fan experiences, only to be replaced by more cookie-cutter mega stadiums that lack a certain charm.
Miami Orange Bowl
Maybe it was the fact that it was such a historic college football venue that makes people miss it, but there was something intangible about the Orange Bowl that made it the signature football stadium in Florida. Located within the city limits of Miami, the Orange Bowl was home to the University of Miami Hurricanes from 1937 until 2007, while the NFL’s Miami Dolphins played there from their inaugural 1966 season until the end of the 1986 campaign.
During the middle years of the Dolphins playing at the Orange Bowl, an actual live dolphin was situated in the end zone for home games. Even when the Dolphins weren’t at the top of their game, the Orange Bowl was home to five Super Bowls, including three of the first five and four of the first 10. Sadly, the Orange Bowl was demolished in 2008 after the Hurricanes rejoined the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
Now known as the Washington Commanders, the franchise hasn’t performed well since making the move to FedEx Field in 1997. When they were still known as the Washington Redskins and playing at RFK Stadium in actual Washington, D.C., however, the team was one of the premier franchises of the NFL.
Teams were legitimately afraid of coming to play games at RFK as the fans would get so rowdy that the stadium would literally shake. While the ‘Skins called RFK their home from 1961 until 1996, the team won three Super Bowl titles and five NFC Championships. After the team moved to FedEx Field, RFK was home to the Washington Nationals for three seasons when they relocated from Montreal, and it took years for demolition plans to come to fruition.
Sticking with the NFC East theme, the New York Giants and Jets now play in the massive MetLife Stadium, but for many years called Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey their home. The Giants moved into the stadium when it opened in 1976, which shouldn’t come as a surprise due to being the stadium’s namesake. It took a few years for the Jets to join, though, as they finally came over in 1984.
Due to playing host to two different franchises for decades, Giants Stadium hosted more NFL games than any other stadium by a wide margin when it was shut down after the final game of the 2009 NFL season. It only took a few months for the stadium to go from hosting its final game to not standing at all, as it was demolished in August 2010.
Mile High Stadium
Fans of the Denver Broncos will always remember the glory days of the 1990s and the Elway-led teams that did the Mile High Salute after each touchdown. Mile High Stadium originally opened up in 1948 and was actually a baseball venue with 18,000 seats that was built where a landfill once was. When the Broncos entered the AFL/NFL in 1960, though, the stadium expanded and was home to the franchise through the 2000 season.
Mile High Stadium felt like a huge home-field advantage for the Broncos, especially as expansion continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. When the Broncos became one of the top teams in the league, the capacity increased all the way to over 76,000. The Broncos moved to a new stadium in 2001 that has switched names several times while the old Mile High was demolished in 2002.
For many years, the Pontiac Silverdome was the largest venue in the NFL. Though not really close to downtown Detroit itself, the Silverdome was still the sports hub for the metro area for decades, opening up in 1975 and becoming the home of the Detroit Lions. The Silverdome was known for hosting other events, as well, including WrestleMania III, the 1994 World Cup, and even the 1979 NBA All-Star Game.
When the Lions left the Silverdome for Ford Field in downtown Detroit, they moved to a much smaller venue and the Silverdome stood empty. After many fumbled demolition attempts, the Silverdome finally (and sadly) came down in March 2018.