Some sports stadiums are charming and unique, while others are what’s known as “cookie cutter” and bland. In recent years, stadiums have also become extremely expensive as modern designs don’t come cheap, with multiple stadiums now costing 10 figures to complete, and have to be maintained. We all want to see our favorite teams play in a unique stadium, but sometimes the cost just doesn’t make sense.
Still, many architects have issued proposals for stadiums that might have broken the mould in their time, becoming massive destinations. From race car driving to baseball and even potential Super Bowl sites, some bright minds have given their best to come up with new stadium ideas. This even happens in cities that either don’t have teams, or even the certainty that they might be getting one.
Some amazing designs have been put aside over the years in all of the major professional sports, leaving us to wonder what could’ve been. These are stadiums that include playing above water to having spots for helicopters to land that aren’t centerfield. Here’s a look at sports venues for both the U.S. and Canada, that have been fully designed by architects, but never made it to the construction stage of the process, in what would have been homes to some of your favorite teams for many years.
20 Pittsburgh Indoor NASCAR Track
With the season as long as it is, weather plays a big part into the NASCAR season. The race tour has yet to race indoors, though that almost changed in the early 2000s. A proposal was put into place to build a new track in Pittsburgh, but the $400 million estimated cost proved to be too much as sponsorships in NASCAR began to dip as fans started turning away.
The planners of the project hoped that the plan would be temporarily shelved and things would get better for NASCAR, but it never came to be. Instead, we’re left with ideas of what a race indoors could look like, especially when it would’ve been the size of Bristol Motor Speedway.
19 Las Vegas National Sports Complex
Sin City got itself an NHL team that dropped the puck in 2017, and will have the Raiders move from Oakland starting in 2020. Over the years, though, there have been many hopes to have all four major sports, which has included a lot of stadium proposals. The most ambitious came in 2011 in the form of the Las Vegas National Sports Complex.
The complex would have housing for football, baseball, basketball and hockey, with the AAA Minor League team, the 51s, signing on for the project. The plan called for the complex to be located in nearby Henderson, but was quickly scrapped after its design. Instead, T-Mobile Arena was built on the Las Vegas Strip for the Golden Knights (and possible NBA team) while the 51s moved to a shiny new park in the suburb of Summerlin, and the Raiders are getting a brand new stadium.
18 Pontiac Dome
While the Detroit Tigers played their home games in the historic Tiger Stadium, the Detroit Lions moved to the city of Pontiac in 1975 to play in an indoor field known as the Pontiac Silverdome. Pontiac also wanted to lure the Tigers in there to play next door, proposing the Pontiac Dome that would bring Motown baseball inside as Detroit’s downtown area was hurting financially.
The plan was scrapped as the Tigers remained at their classic ballpark until the construction of Comerica Park downtown thanks to a lot of local government support. Eventually, the Lions made their way back to downtown Detroit to play in Ford Field, which sits just across the street from Comerica Park, making it easy to go to games at both stadiums on the same day like the Pontiac proposal had hoped for.
17 Labatt Park
After the 2004 season, the Montreal Expos shut down their time at Olympic Stadium and headed to the United States capital, becoming the Washington Nationals. It wasn’t without effort to keep the team in Canada, though. Hoping to entice the team to stay, a proposal was made for what would be known as Labatt Park in downtown Montreal.
The renderings of the stadium were beautiful, and a much more pleasant look than the domed Olympic Stadium. Had the stadium been built, the Expos were likely to have stayed. If the MLB looks to expand back into Montreal, there’s a chance that the stadium plan could share some similarities to what the renderings back in the late 90s looked like.
16 National Car Rental Field
In 2016, the St. Louis Rams headed west to the city where the team started, Los Angeles. Like Montreal’s departure for Washington, there was a stadium proposal announced that was done in hopes of keeping the Rams in the Gateway to the West. The proposal was National Car Rental Field, which could have also been used for other sporting events.
The stadium wouldn’t have come cheap, with a price tag north of $1 billion. Taxpayers weren’t ready to foot the bill despite National already agreeing to the naming rights (hence the name), shooting it down in 2016. With that, the Rams were on their way back to Los Angeles where a new stadium is in the works.
15 Boston Sports Megaplex
It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox not calling Fenway Park home. After all, it’s the oldest active stadium in Major League Baseball, and an iconic destination for fans of the sport. In the late 1990s, though, the stadium was almost replaced by a new Fenway, which would’ve been part of the Boston Sports Megaplex.
The proposal came in 1999, and would have been adjacent to the old Fenway. The designs between the two stadiums weren’t much different, with the dimensions even remaining identical. It would’ve been mostly structural upgrades to usher the stadium into the new century. Instead, the surrounding area became more developed and renovations to Fenway Park were made.
14 Delta Dome
Portland has made their desire for a professional sports team outside of the NBA one of the worst kept secrets in athletics. The city has come out with many proposals over the years to entice the NFL, MLB and NHL to join the Trail Blazers. Their most ambitious plan came before the Blazers were even there, in the form of the Delta Dome proposal.
The dome would’ve held 46,000 people and had an almost identical structure to that of the Houston Astrodome, with the NFL being the main target. Instead, the stadium plans were scrapped by Portland residents that didn’t want to pay the $25 million estimated cost, and instead focused on upkeep of Providence Park.
13 Rays Ballpark
The home of the MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field is usually declared as the worst stadium in all of U.S. professional sports. Because of that, there have been several proposals for new stadiums, especially with talk of the team moving. Among the plans that had the most support was Rays Ballpark, which would have been on the waterfront in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The stadium proposal looked very unique, as well. It would’ve had a sliding roof made out of fabric, with a structural waterfront design similar to the ones in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. After four years of pushing the idea in the late 2000s and early 2010s, however, the plan was eventually scrapped.
12 West Side Stadium
The New York Jets have basically been playing second fiddle in their own city since their inception. The team has shared stadiums throughout their entire existence, including playing in Giants Stadium from 1984 to 2009. Since then, they’ve continued to share with the Giants, now playing in MetLife Stadium.
There was a time before MetLife, though, that the Jets almost moved to Manhattan’s west side. A proposed stadium was going to be built on top of the old rail yards in the area, as well as having a retractable roof. The plan came along in the mid 2000s with a proposed opening date of 2008 and a massive cost, but the Jets continued to consolidate with their NFC counterparts.
11 San Diego Stadium
Just like the Rams, the Chargers made the move to Los Angeles in recent years, and are looking to play in a new joint stadium. It was clear that San Diegans didn’t want to pay a massive bill for a new Chargers stadium in the city, even as Qualcomm Stadium continued to deteriorate. One of the last gasps to keep the Chargers in San Diego was a stadium that would’ve been a modern marvel in the city’s downtown area.
In what would’ve been a short walk to Petco Park, San Diego Stadium was brought to a vote to the citizens of San Diego. In the end, they decided that the cost wasn’t worth it and the Chargers headed up I-5 to Los Angeles.
10 Sonics Arena
The Seattle SuperSonics ceased to be in 2008 when the team moved to Oklahoma City, becoming the Thunder. Before the team departed, though, Seattle came up with a proposal that would keep the team there, replacing Key Arena. The plan was to place the new Sonics Arena in the SoDo neighborhood, while also allowing for a potential NHL team.
A new stadium would’ve cost more than a half billion dollars, which is part of the reason why the stadium plans were halted. Instead, renovations have been placed underway for Key Arena as it was announced in 2018 that the city was the newest destination for an expansion NHL team.
9 Chicago Domed South Side Stadium
It’s hard to imagine that Chicago Bears playing outside of the elements, but that was almost the case when they were at their best in 1985. A stadium was proposed to replace both Soldier Field and the White Sox’s Comiskey Park, with two connected arenas. Not only that, but there was to be one roof that could slide back and forth and cover each field depending on what team was playing.
The sizes of the two stadiums would’ve differed, which could have created some interesting overlaps when the roof was sliding. The Bears chose to remain at Soldier Field, and they’d eventually get a massive renovation, while the White Sox moved to a new park years later.
8 Armour Field
Speaking of the White Sox new park, they moved out of Comiskey in 1990 to their new digs of the same name that’s now the laughably bad Guaranteed Rate Field. One of the proposals for the White Sox was to move to Armour Square Park, with a new neighborhood design that would’ve look much like Wrigley Field on Chicago’s northside.
The reason for that was because the architect that designed the project was Philip Bess, a Cubs fan that wanted to fit a park within a neighborhood, taking up just one city block (again, just like Wrigley). The White Sox decided to head into the more urban part of Chicago’s south side, standing out like a sore thumb in one of baseball’s greatest stadium “could’ve beens.”
7 The New Orange Bowl
The Miami Orange Bowl was not only host to the college football game of the same name, but was also the home to the Miami Hurricanes for 70 years and is now the site where the Marlins new stadium sits. Hoping to keep the Orange Bowl alive, a proposal was made in 2004 for a multi-purpose stadium next to the old site for both football and baseball, keeping the Orange Bowl namesake.
The Marlins would be the primary tenant with baseball dimensions in mind, but the plans were thrown out when the Hurricanes announced they were moving to what’s now Hard Rock Stadium, which has seen a major facelift. At least the Marlins ended up in the old Orange Bowl site either way.
6 Rockies Stadium
In 1993, the Colorado Rockies joined Major League Baseball, two years after the team was announced as one of the two expansion squads. With that, a stadium was needed, and Coors Field has been the home for the Rockies ever since. There were some interesting proposals that were submitted before Coors Field, though, which included one from architect Jim Conrad.
This unique stadium sat in the middle of a structure that looked like a massive fidget spinner with buildings being used for businesses and possibly even residential use. A helipad on the stadium’s design even made its way in there, in what Conrad hoped would be a massive hub for anything and everything in the Mile High City.
5 Mets Olympic Stadium
The Summer Olympics haven’t been in the United States since Atlanta in 1996, and New York City hoped to change that for 2012. A lot of new structures were proposed (including the Jets West Side Stadium), as well as a new home for the Mets. The baseball team ended up at Citi Field, though almost had their own unique stadium also on the West Side.
Like Turner Field, many of the seats that would’ve been used for this proposal were to be torn down following the Olympics so that the Mets could use it as a permanent home. It would’ve made for an interesting 2012 as the teardown began, as the Mets would’ve played in Yankee Stadium for a year. Once London was given the 2012 Olympics, however, all plans were tossed and Citi Field was given the go-ahead.
4 Redskins Stadium
Since Dan Snyder bought the Redskins (which seems like an eternity if you ask the fans), he’s made it no secret that he wants the team back in Washington, D.C. However, major battles have put everything at a stalemate, and it seems that if the Redskins do move, it’s going to still be in Maryland.
If they’d been given the nod to go back to metro D.C., the proposals for the new stadium were quite interesting. In what looks like a modern Arrowhead Stadium on the inside, the new Redskins Stadium exterior offered places for wall climbing and even a moat for waterskiing. Snyder may not be a fan favorite, but his proposed stadium was nothing short of ambitious and unique.
3 Patriots Hartford Stadium
In 1998, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that the team was moving from Foxboro, Massachusetts to Hartford, Connecticut. There was even a press conference with a stadium deal in place. The stadium would’ve been right on Hartford’s waterfront, and established the first major professional sports team in Connecticut.
The stadium timeline moved at a snail’s pace, though, and Kraft grew weary. With finances being battled over and other hiccups, Kraft decided enough was enough. The team remained in Foxboro and construction began on a new stadium that’s eventually become known as Gillette Stadium. We’ll never know if there could’ve been an NFL dynasty in Connecticut.
2 Royals Downtown KC Stadium
Since 1973, Kauffman Stadium has been host to the Kansas City Royals, but that wasn’t always the case. Renovations on the stadium began in 2007 and lasted for three years, costing a quarter billion dollars. In an alternate timeline, the Royals would’ve found themselves in downtown Kansas City in a brand new $360 million stadium.
The designed stadium is similar in style to that of Petco Park and Camden Yards that have used surrounding buildings as part of the look and feel. The high cost of the stadium and the Royals attachment to Kauffman Stadium is what ultimately did this one in, though people certainly didn’t have problems with the actual look of the stadium.
1 Pirates Stadium
The current home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park, is often heralded as among the best in all of sports, and for good reason. It’s unique, it’s charming and right on the river. One proposal that came out in the late 1950s before they eventually moved from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium, though, would have literally been on the river.
Way ahead of its time, a platform was proposed to be built on the Monongahela River with the new stadium being the centerpiece of said platform. Surrounded by parking and structures and skyscrapers on both sides, this was one of the most ambitious proposals of all-time. The only good thing about this plan being scrapped was that any demolition could have presented a logistical nightmare.