Creative Reuse for Dead and Abandoned Stadiums

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It's a bit early to consider turn off the lights and mothball Busch Stadium for the off-season, but win or lose, baseball heaven will soon be quiet. And with it, the surrounding streets, parking garages and Ballpark non-Village. What, if anything can be done to bring activity to a very seasonal attraction? Personally, I'd like to see a stadium built with street-facing retail to keep the scene less than dead during the down time.

Football stadiums inflict many more dead days than smaller and busier baseball, hockey and basketball venues (the later two frequently and easily accommodating a wide range of uses). Even those attached to convention centers often find conflict with the NFL and major convention calendars. Then there's the re-use of stadiums. Major concert tours, monster truck shows, outdoor hockey and more have taken place. What else could be tried? What would be a good fit in St. Louis?

Other stadiums are seeing efforts at renewed lift and not simply demolition. The Pontiac Silverdome could have been demolished for a few million dollars, but was instead sold to a Canadian investor for $583K. He's spent more than 10x that amount on modest renovations and has plans to invest $50M more. In Pittsburgh, several ideas emerged for the reuse of the Igloo (past home to the NHL's Penguins), including a permanent training facility for Cirque Du Soleil. However, it appears that the city favors demolition.


{the Pontiac Silverdome – former home of the NFL Detroit Lions}


{The Igloo – former home of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins}

Then there's Indianapolis' Bush Stadium. Home to the minor league Indians from 1931-1997, it still stands, and has seen several attempts at resuse. From storage for the Cash for Clunkers program, to dirt sprint car track, to simply abandoned. A new plan would convert the original grandstand into apartments and add more residences in the outfield. I don't know if it will work, but the effort at finding a reuse is very admirable.


{Bush Stadium – Indianapolis, dumping ground for Cash for Clunkers}


{Bush Stadium – Indianapolis, as the 16th Street Speedway}


{a re-imagined Bush Stadium as an apartment complex}

All of these examples (please share more in the comments) should open our minds to the idea that even the seemingly most obsolescent buildings, those built for a very specific purpose, can find activity during the off-season and reuse in their sporting afterlife. It's fun to imagine all-new purposes, but the overwhelming challenge remains activating a stadium and really, it's surrounding area while the built-for events are not taking place.

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