The 1980’s era of NFL football was dominated by multi-purpose stadiums (i.e., cookie-cutter stadiums) that were designed to accommodate both football, baseball and other entertainment activities. While these stadiums were multi-functional and useful, they were hideous and generally disliked by fans (well, at least this particular fan disliked them). The cookie-cutter stadiums were devoid of personality and often times utilized the dreaded AstroTurf – a surface that put a physical strain on the players and one that took away from many of the natural elements (grass, dirt, uniform stains and mud) that make football a joy to watch. Behold, the list:
5. Cleveland Municipal Stadium. This stadium opened in 1931 as a multi-purpose stadium to handle both baseball and football. Bathrooms generally consisted of 1 toilet with a long trough as the urinal, site lines in the stadium were often obstructed by a load-bearing beam and there was rarely enough maintenance to handle the crumbling stadium.
4. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. This stadium and its field were nasty looking both in person and on television. As seen below, the 50 yard line seats for this stadium, normally premium seats in a football stadium, were set too far back from the field. Moreover, there was dirt in place of grass in many places on the football field due to the conversion from the baseball use of the stadium (which included a dirt infield). Also, as a result of the stadium not having its own full-time groundskeepers until 1989, the field always looked horrible.
3. Riverfront Stadium. The best thing about this round behemoth is that it was near a river. But, you would have no idea you were near a river if you were sitting inside the stadium. Completely lacking in personality, carpeted with AstroTurf and too round (if that's possible), this stadium was lifeless. Its location to the river and its occasionally loud fans could not help it overcome itself. COOKIE-CUTTER!
2. Three Rivers Stadium. There was little difference between the eyesore that the Steelers played in and Riverfront Stadium. Three Rivers Stadium was characterized by its round shape, AstroTurf, a river you wouldn't know you were next to if you were inside the stadium and seats too far from the field. That pretty much sums it up for Three Rivers Stadium.
1. Veterans Memorial Stadium. This stadium had it all - the worst quality of AstroTurf, a field too far away from the seats in the stadium, rowdy fans in the 700 level, overpriced concessions, no maintenance (or terrible maintenance when it existed), bathrooms that did not work and a JAIL in the basement of the stadium. A JAIL! This stadium was so putrid that not only was it bad for the fans, it was also a career ender for players. In 1993 Chicago Bears' receiver Wendell Davis tore both his patella tendons on the gapped and unevenly patched AstroTurf. In 1999, Dallas Cowboys' receiver Michael Irvin suffered a neck injury on the AstroTurf that led to Irvin's retirement. Moreover, the NFLPA repeatedly threatened to sue the City of Philadelphia over the poor conditions of the turf.