This is a view of the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on Interstate 95 Northbound earlier this afternoon with a bit of a nostalgic tint to it. I assure you, with the heavy traffic, I wasn’t moving.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with stadiums and arenas. When I’m traveling, I love to drive by the local stadium just to get a look at it, understand the perspective of the fan when he or she comes to a game. Quite often, I’ll actually pre-plan a route and go out of my way to drive by stadiums.
For example, if I’m driving from upstate NY to see my relatives in Long Island, I won’t take the straight shot from the George Washington Bridge to the Throgs Neck Bridge on the Cross Bronx Expressway. Why? Because there ain’t shit to see on that drive except the Bronx. The Cross Bronx is tolerable now, but when I was a kid, that road was hell on asphalt. It looked like Hill Valley when Marty McFly came back to 1985 in Back to the Future Part II after the Biff Tannen of 2015 took the Sports Almanac back to 1955…anyway. Trash strewn all over the place, stripped or burning cars, graffiti on every flat surface imaginable. My mom would have to be put under when we drove through the Bronx.
Now, I’ll take the slightly longer route down the Major Deegan, go by Yankee Stadium (the Taj Mahal), over the RFK Bridge with a gorgeous view of Manhattan on the right, then by Citi Field (former site of Shit, I mean Shea Stadium), and finally by the US Open Tennis Center (and site of the 1964 World’s Fair where the climatic scene from Men in Black was set). Mucho cooler-o.
There is nothing like a stadium to me when you combine the architectural beauty with the intense, emotional personal experiences that people associate with these buildings. It always takes my breath away when I first walk into a stadium that I haven’t been in before. Even better, in my San Diego days, I had the unique experience of being on the field at halftime of a Chargers game. On Monday Night. On Veteran’s Day. With Bob Hope all of 10 feet away. I was standing at the 45-yard-line as 70,000+ fans roared when they drove ol’ Bobby out in a Hummer. I remember scanning the crowd and it just didn’t seem real. And I think I got a little excited. I understood then why athletes find it so hard to walk away from their careers.
I do have mixed feelings about domes. When I was in Seattle years ago, me and some friends went to a few Mariners games at the old Kingdome. How we got those tickets is a whole other story. We got to see Randy Johnson pitch, Ken Griffey hit a monstrous upper-deck homer, and a young Alex Rodriguez pick it at short, but watching a baseball game in a dome was slightly off-putting. It felt like we were watching a game in a big garage. Damn, that was some team though.
The only dome that holds a special place in my heart is the Astrodome in Houston. Sorry, Carrier Dome. Not only did the Bad News Bears beat the Houston Toros there in 1977 (“Let them play!”), but I saw my first and only rodeo and Alan Jackson concert all in the same night. That night at the Astrodome was as gloriously bizarre as the Cross Bronx Expressway was back in the early 1980s. Thanks Dean-o.
Categories: Seed Views