By: Cory Boaz
Notre Dame, St. Peters, Hagia Sophia, AT&T Stadium. This is not a statement putting a stadium devoted to Sport on the same architectural significance compared to the historical masterpieces listed before. It is however stating that their most basic purpose are assembly spaces and indeed great.
There are not any new basilicas or cathedrals in the common understanding being built today. Construction projects aren’t being commissioned today that will take decades to complete and will have the intricate detailing that only master craftsmen can complete. It is rare to design a facility today that is supposed to last 50 years, let alone 500-plus. This is not because of the construction techniques or material usage, it is mostly because the facilities have become obsolete or the desire to have the next best thing for the same purpose outweighs keeping the old.
Texas Stadium began construction in 1969 and the Dallas Cowboys played their first game within 2 years later. Less than 40 years pass and the stadium is demolished in a controlled implosion to make way (albeit ~20 miles away) for the new Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in 2009. This example has become the norm for stadia specifically in the United States. Since then, three new NFL stadiums have opened or are under construction to replace facilities making it 14 total since the turn of the stadium. That is a lot of turnover for a 32 team league (although some teams do share). Who knows how many more will be replaced in the next 15 years. Add baseball and basketball to the list and a new “church” is being built at least once per year.
Personally, I am a college football fan for the University of Illinois (I accept your condolences) and I once had a goal of visiting all college football stadiums in the power conferences for a game. Since conference expansion and new construction, that is likely never going to happen. However, those stadiums that I have had the chance to experience on game day have left a lasting impression.
Obviously, Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois will always hold a special place in my heart. But places like the Big House in Ann Arbor, Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Kyle Field in College Station provide potentially the same grandeur as those houses of the holy and some may argue more worshipping occurs in these universities on Fall Saturdays then on Easter Sunday.