Over the past few years, NFL fans have had a refresher course on what happens when teams move. The St. Louis Rams relocated to Los Angeles, as did the San Diego Chargers, and the Oakland Raiders were approved to move to Las Vegas in 2020.
While moving is a huge undertaking for an NFL franchise, the biggest question is, “Where will they play?” Stadiums are huge, after all, and they aren’t built in a day. Once that’s squared away, what becomes of the team’s old stadium?
What makes an NFL stadium?
For the past 100 years, the NFL has filled stadiums across the country with cheering fans every week of the football season. The oldest stadium in use today is Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the Rams. It was built in 1923 to host the Summer Olympics and has been used by both pro and college football teams. The Rams will use it until next year when their new Inglewood stadium will open.
Apart from a handful of other old stadiums that are still utilized — such as Soldier Field, Lambeau Field, and the Oakland Coliseum (for one more year) — most of the stadiums used in the league’s 100th season aren’t that old.
These days, stadiums are being replaced left and right. Five new ones popped up over the past decade, and two more will open next year. For some reason, stadiums don’t last as long as they used to. In fact, the median replacement age for NFL stadiums is only 31 years.
We have to remember that the NFL is a business. Sure, we get invested in the turnouts, but the reality is that the organization is trying to make money. It makes financial sense to invest in newer, better stadiums if you have the funds in order to entice fans to buy tickets.
What happens to old NFL stadiums?
Most old stadiums end up being demolished to make way for new stadiums. However, some held on for a while. The Silverdome, former home to the Detroit Lions, hosted its last game in 2002. However, it remained open for smaller sporting events like high school football championships, racing, and concerts, before it was finally demolished in 2017.
The Edward Jones Dome, which previously housed the St. Louis Rams, has been used for anything it can get its hands on, from college bowl games to Taylor Swift concerts, while the taxpayers are on the hook to pay off its debt through 2021.
But, ultimately, stadiums meet the same end once their city is ready for something new — they get demolished. Many sites of demolished NFL stadiums have turned into malls, convention centers, or the site of a new stadium. Minneapolis’s Metrodome was demolished, and two years later, the Vikings moved into the new US Bank Stadium.
History has its eyes on the NFL
The NFL has always had a competitive atmosphere, but today we can feel it between all of the new stadiums. Who has the biggest scoreboard? Who has the best audio? Which stadium has the most amenities for fans?
While it’s fun for fans to catch a game in a brand-new stadium, the NFL would do well to remember that people like a little nostalgia, too. We’d appreciate it if we don’t have to see our beloved stadiums, which we grew up loving, explode right away.