Giants Stadium

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An aerial view of Giants Stadium
Giants Stadium, frequently referred to as The Meadowlands, is the home stadium for the New York Giants and New York Jets football teams of the NFL, and the New York Red Bulls soccer team of MLS. It is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which also hosts the Meadowlands Racetrack and the Izod Center (known as the Continental Airlines Arena until October 2007). Maximum seating capacity is 80,242, making it the second-largest NFL stadium behind FedExField. It is also the ninth-oldest stadium used by an NFL team. Because the Jets play in a stadium named for another NFL team, the Jets officially refer to the site as simply The Meadowlands, as do all official NFL and team game notes regarding Jets home games.

Contents

History

Giants Stadium was the first major league sporting venue in New Jersey, opening on October 10, 1976, as 76,042 fans witnessed a loss by the Giants to the Dallas Cowboys. College football made its debut at Giants Stadium on October 23, 1976, with Rutgers University defeating Columbia 47-0. The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League moved to Giants Stadium for the 1977 season and remained until the league folded in 1985. In 1984, the Jets became co-tenants with the Giants, having departed their former home, Shea Stadium, in Queens.

Other sports and concert events

The Meadowlands during a Jets game
Other professional football teams that have called Giants Stadium home over the years include the New Jersey Generals of the USFL; the New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League of American Football; and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen of the XFL.

The stadium has also hosted numerous college football games, including the Garden State Bowl from 1978-1981; the Kickoff Classic from 1983 to 2002; the New York Urban League Classic since 1981; a number of Rutgers homes games (including all their home games during the 1993 season); several Notre Dame-Navy and Notre Dame-Army games; and the Army-Navy Game on three occasions, most recently in 2002. Syracuse University also played two home games at Giants Stadium during the 1979 season, against West Virginia and Penn State, while the Carrier Dome was under construction. Columbia also played some home games at Giants Stadium in 1983, due to construction at its home stadium. Temple University, needing a home field due to a schedule conflict with Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, used Giants Stadium as their home field versus Penn State in September 1996. Princeton University also played one home game at Giants Stadium (against Yale University) during the construction of Princeton's new stadium in 1997. Nine games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament were held at Giants Stadium (including one semifinal), along with several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup. In 2003, the SuperCoppa Italiana, an annual match pitting the winners of Serie A (Italy's top division) and the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup), was held in Giants Stadium instead of in Italy because both clubs involved (Juventus and AC Milan) were touring the United States late in the summer, when the event is normally scheduled. In 2005, it played host to many matches to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the final which saw the USA victorious over Panama in a 3-1 penalty shootout after both sides failed to score goals during regulation and extra time. It has seen many European soccer tours in recent years paying venue to such big clubs as Manchester United,Celtic F.C, Chelsea, Liverpool, and many others. In 2006, the Red Bulls set a franchise attendance record in an exhibition game against FC Barcelona, with the stadium fully sold-out for the first time.The largest crowd to ever attend an event at Giants Stadium was 82,948, as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during a rainstorm on October 5, 1995. Concerts have also been a part of the Giants Stadium experience, with notable acts such as the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, U2, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Depeche Mode, and Green Day, taking the stage before appreciative audiences. Most of all, Giants Stadium as a concert venue is associated with Bruce Springsteen, who played there six nights in the summer of 1985 during his Born in the U.S.A. Tour and an even greater ten nights on his The Rising Tour during the summer of 2003. Bruce Springsteen will be returning to Giants Stadium on July 27, 28 and 31, 2008 in support of his Magic Tour (Bruce Springsteen). The majority of the "Paradise City" music video by Guns N' Roses was filmed at the stadium in 1988. There is also a major ski apparel equipment sale each year at the stadium.

Changes and co-tenants

Giants Stadium, 2000
To accommodate these varied events, Giants Stadium has sported various playing surfaces in its history. AstroTurf was the original surface for the playing field. This surface was covered by Bermuda grass sod for the World Cup in 1994, identical to that at the Rose Bowl where the other semifinal and the finals were held (so that both teams in the finals would have played on identical surfaces). The grass was removed after the World Cup, as it would have died in the New Jersey winter. The MetroStars, however, installed a grass field each spring, but was removed prior to the football season, forcing the team to play its final home games each year on AstroTurf. The AstroTurf was removed in 2000 and a system of interchangeable grass trays was implemented from 2000 to 2002, but was considered a failure, since the quality of the field worsened as the NFL season progressed. (Part of the problem may have stemmed from the fact that the original AstroTurf field was kept in place under the grass, to help in drainage.) It was replaced by a new artificial surface, FieldTurf, in 2003.

When the Jets left Shea Stadium and moved to Giants Stadium in 1984, many predicted the stadium would be renamed. Understandably, the Jets organization preferred not to reside in a facility named after another team. However, under the terms of the stadium lease, changing the name of the stadium requires the Giants' approval, and the Giants refused to change the name. The proposed new stadium is expected to bear a sponsor's name as bids for the naming rights are currently being accepted - it is not yet known if such an agreement will include renaming the current stadium if and when it is finalized. While the stadium has a decidedly blue atmosphere, matching the Giants' team colors, when the Jets play there, the walls are covered with green banners, matching their colors. In addition, the gates outside the stadium are covered with green Jets logos to hide the standard blue and red. As of 2007, both the Jets and Giants have returned to using color in the endzones (the Jets script is now a dark green, the Giants script is now blue), so the grounds crew must paint one logo on over the other when the stadium is being converted. In mid-December, traditionally the stadium hosts a Saturday-Sunday NFL doubleheader, with the Giants playing a home game one day and the Jets playing the other. The night between the games is a challenge for the stadium grounds crew, as they have only hours to convert the stadium from one team's colors to the other. As per the NFL schedule, the Giants and the Jets play each other once every four years. In that case, there is a predetermined home team, and a predetermined away team. In those games, the "away" team gets a rare away game in their own home stadium. The Giants and Jets typically play each other every year in the NFL Preseason, and the teams rotate annually home/away.Thanks largely to the dual occupancy of Giants Stadium by two NFL teams since 1984, it has surpassed Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Bears for fifty seasons) as the venue to have hosted more NFL games than any other in league history.


Jimmy Hoffa

For some years, a popular urban legend purported that the remains of Jimmy Hoffa had been buried under one of the end zones at Giants Stadium. This led a wag in Sports Illustrated to suggest that "This lends new meaning to the term coffin corner!" In a similar vein, sportscaster Marv Albert once said that a team was "kicking towards the Hoffa end of the field."

New Meadowlands Stadium

On September 29, 2005, it was announced that Giants Stadium would be replaced with an $800 million stadium that is scheduled to be opened in 2010. The New Meadowlands Stadium will be nearby the current stadium. The Jets were planning to move to a new domed stadium on Manhattan's West Side sometime near the year 2010. However, with the political defeat in June 2005 of the West Side Stadium plan, the Jets ended up agreeing to share the new Meadowlands stadium with the Giants. The Giants and Jets hope the stadium will be built by 2010. Once the New Meadowlands Stadium is completed, Giants Stadium will be demolished to make way for parking and possible expansion of the Meadowlands Xanadu complex.

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