Giants Stadium was a stadium, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Maximum seating capacity was 80,242. The building itself was 756 feet (230 m) long, 592 feet (180 m) wide and 144 feet (44 m) high from service level to the top of the seating bowl and 178 feet (54 m) high to the top of the south tower respectively. The volume of the stadium was 64,500,000 cubic feet (1,830,000 m3). 13,500 tons of structural steel were used in the building process and 29,200 tons of concrete were poured. It was owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA).
It primarily served as the home stadium for the New York Giants and New York Jets American football teams of the NFL, but was rented for concerts and many other special events.
The stadium was located at State Route 120 and State Route 3 (which is accessed from Midtown Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel). The New Jersey Turnpike was also nearby.
Giants Stadium was demolished in 2010 and replaced by MetLife Stadium, located adjacent to its former site.
Giants Stadium was the first major league sporting venue in New Jersey (though the Brooklyn Dodgers had played seven home games at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1956 & 1957), and its success, along with that of the Giants in the 1980s was a major impetus behind increased pride and enthusiasm among New Jersey residents.
First year in business
Giants Stadium opened 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 and extending their winning streak to 14 games.
The New York Giants played their first home opener in the stadium on September 18 of the 1977 season (a 20–17 win over the Washington Redskins).
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 New York Sentinels played one game at the stadium in the United Football League inaugural season.
In the second week of the 2005 season, the New Orleans Saints used the stadium for a "home" game against the Giants because of extensive damage to the Louisiana Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. One end zone was painted in Saints colors, Saints banners were hung on the walls around the sidelines, and the Saints wore their home jerseys. The game was rescheduled to a Monday night with a special start time of 7:30 PM EDT, preceding the other scheduled game on Monday Night Football. The Giants were normally not visitors at Giants Stadium unless they were playing the Jets.
The stadium hosted 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 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, 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 also played one home game at Giants Stadium (against Yale) during the construction of Princeton's new stadium in 1997.
Soccer at Giants Stadium
A New York Red Bulls match at Giants Stadium in 2007
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.
Seven games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament were held at Giants Stadium (including the Italy v Bulgaria semi-final), 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, the stadium played host to several matches in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the final, which saw the USA defeat Panama, 3–1 in a penalty shootout after the sides played to a scoreless draw. It again held the final 4 years later for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which saw Mexico defeat the USA 5-0. It has seen many European soccer tours in recent years, hosting games involving such major soccer clubs as Manchester United, Rangers F.C., Celtic F.C, Chelsea, Liverpool, F.C Barcelona, and many others.
It also hosted England's 3-2 victory over Colombia on May 31, 2005. That match saw Peter Crouch and Robert Green make their England debut.
The New York Red Bulls (formerly the New York/New Jersey MetroStars) of Major League Soccer played at the stadium for their first fourteen seasons. They moved to the soccer-specific Red Bull Arena in nearby Harrison, New Jersey in 2010.
1994 FIFA World Cup matches
Pope John Paul II at Giants Stadium
New York Jets playing at Giants Stadium, November 2001
The second 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. The record was broken on September 24, 2009 with an attendance of 84,472 at the U2 concert.
The stadium played host to Amnesty International's final A Conspiracy of Hope Benefit Concert on June 15, 1986. The show was a sold-out, all-day event, running from noon until 11 p.m. and broadcast on MTV. The show was headlined by U2 and Sting and also featured Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Joan Baez, The Neville Brothers and The Police. Additional artists that performed include John Eddie, with Max Weinberg, Third World, The Hooters, Peter, Paul and Mary, Steven van Zandt, with Bob Geldof, Stanley Jordan, Joan Armatrading, Jackson Browne, Rubén Blades, with Fela Kuti and Carlos Santana, Yoko Ono, Howard Jones, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell. Spoken introductions were made by Billy Graham, Bill Bradley, Darryl Hannah, Robert De Niro, Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox and Muhammed Ali. Pete Townshend was scheduled to perform, but cancelled at the last minute, when his father, Cliff Townshend, became gravely ill, which would have been his first US solo appearance. This also marked The Police's final full-live performance together, until their 2007 Reunion Tour, 21 years later.
The stadium played host to The Tattoo the Earth Tour on July 20, 2000. The show featured performances by Slipknot, Slayer, Sevendust, Sepultura, Hed PE, Mudvayne, downset., Hatebreed, Full Devil Jacket, Famous, Amen, U.P.O., Nothingface, PPM, Cold, Relative Ash, Systematic, Six Feet Under, Candiria, Lamb of God, God Forbid, Darkest Hour, Unearth, All That Remains, Dropkick Murphys, Sick of It All, Tiger Army, Converge, The Unseen, Reach the Sky, Stretch Arm Strong, Kill Your Idols and Nashville Pussy, including the only appearance by Metallica during the tour and also featured 42 tattoo artists from Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Malaysia, Manitoba, Spain, Switzerland and the US.
The stadium has also played host to music festivals, including The Monsters of Rock Festival, Ozzfest and The Bamboozle (in the parking lot, annually, since 2003).
Many locals say it is the home turf of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, due to the fact that they came from Freehold, New Jersey.. Springsteen wrote the song, "Wrecking Ball" partially in response to the closing of the stadium and in 2009 performed it for the first time during his final appearance at Giants Stadium.
Metallica and Guns N' Roses brought the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour to the stadium twice on July 18, 1992 and July 29, 1992, with Faith No More as their opening act on both dates.
Depeche Mode performed at the stadium on June 16, 1990 in front of 42.000 people. The concert was part of their World Violation Tour.
The seating capacity over the years went as the following:
- 76,891 (1976–1993)
- 77,121 (1994)
- 78,148 (1995–1998)
- 79,469 (1999–2001)
- 80,242 (2002–2010)
Demolition work on Giants Stadium began at approximately 10:00 AM EST on February 4, 2010 at the Gate B spirals, the closest point to the new stadium. The demolition work was expected to cost more than $10 million and took approximately four months to complete. As of May 10, 2010 approximately 50% of the Stadium has been demolished. On May 19, 2010 at 8:30pm, demolition crews pulled down the press box, the highest part of the stadium. In the early afternoon of June 28, 2010, the last section of stadium grandstand came down, leaving just two later demolished upper level escalators standing. Much of the stadium's memorabilia was sold to a sports memorabilia company, such as the framed pictures from the suites, all of the building's signage and a good portion of the saved bowl seats. Other property was liquidated to other NJSEA facilities such as the IZOD Center and Monmouth Park Racetrack.
Changes and co-tenants
To accommodate these varied events, Giants Stadium has sported various playing surfaces in its history. From its opening until the end of the 1999 NFL season, Giants Stadium sported an AstroTurf playing surface. 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 installed a grass field with interchangeable trays each spring that was removed prior to football season, forcing the team to play the remainder of its season on the AstroTurf field used by the football teams. (It should be noted that when the New York Cosmos called Giants Stadium home, they played on the stadium's artificial surface and never used a grass field.)
The AstroTurf was replaced in 2000 by a system of interchangeable grass trays similar to those put in place for soccer, but was kept in place under the trays to aid in draining the field when it got wet. Over the three seasons Giants Stadium used a grass surface, the conditions would worsen as the season went on and the field quality was typically rated just as low as the old, hard AstroTurf had been. Giants Stadium finally scrapped the grass in favor of FieldTurf for the 2003 season, and the surface remained in place until the stadium closed.
When the New York 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 required the approval of the Giants and they were unwilling to do so. As such, for years afterward the Jets referred to Giants Stadium as "The Meadowlands" whenever they played there. Eventually the Jets began referring to the stadium by its name.
Thanks largely to the dual occupancy of Giants Stadium by two NFL teams since 1984, it 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. The game played between the Jets and Miami Dolphins on September 14, 2003 was the 366th regular season NFL game at Giants Stadium breaking Wrigley's regular season record.
Since the stadium was originally built for the Giants, the stadium's lower walls were blue and the seats and the stadium's four gates were red and blue to reflect that. When the Jets moved in, green banners were hung over the walls and eventually over the outer gates of the stadium anytime the team hosted a game.
In mid-December, traditionally the stadium hosted 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 was a challenge for the stadium grounds crew, as they only had 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 was 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 third week of the NFL Preseason, and the teams annually rotated the home and away teams.
The Jimmy Hoffa urban legend
For some years, a popular urban legend purported that the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, whose disappearance coincided with construction of the stadium, had been buried under one of the end zones at the field. This led Sports Illustrated to suggest that this "takes on special meaning when a punter goes for the 'coffin corner.'" In a similar vein, sportscaster Marv Albert once said that a team was "kicking towards the Hoffa end of the field." This was tested by the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters, and they were unable to find any sign of a body.
- October 10, 1976: The Giants played their first ever regular season game at Giants Stadium, a 24–14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in front of 76,042 in attendance.
- October 1, 1977: Soccer legend Pelé played his last game, an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos. He played the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for his old Brazilian team.
- October 28, 1978: Rutgers beat Columbia 69–0. The Lions' humiliating defeat was the last game in one of the oldest rivalries in college football. Columbia's young coach Bill Campbell retired from coaching after the game and went on to a vastly more successful career in the Silicon Valley.
- November 19, 1978: Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled the handoff to Larry Csonka with just seconds remaining in the game, allowing Herman Edwards (later a Jets head coach) to scoop it up and run it back for a touchdown, giving the Philadelphia Eagles an improbable 19–17 win. This play would be known as "The Miracle at the Meadowlands," and helped lead to the hiring of Ray Perkins as head coach, and later George Young as general manager. Pisarcik's career in New York never recovered, and Phil Simms was drafted shortly after.
- September 6, 1984: The New York Jets moved into Giants Stadium, losing their first game to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 23–17.
- July 29, 30 and 31, 1984: The Jacksons performed three sold out shows during their Victory Tour.
- July 14, 1985: The Baltimore Stars defeat the Oakland Invaders, 28–24, in the 1985 USFL Championship Game, the final game in league history.
- August–September 1985: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band performed six sold out shows on the final leg of their Born in the U.S.A. Tour.
- December 28, 1985: The first NFL playoff game at The Meadowlands, and AFC Wild-Card game between the New York Jets & New England Patriots was won by the Patriots 26–14.
- December 29, 1985: The New York Giants played their first home playoff game at Giants Stadium, a 17–3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
- January 11, 1987: The New York Giants shut out the Washington Redskins 17–0 in the NFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena. Two weeks later, the Giants would win Super Bowl XXI, their first Super Bowl victory.
- November 8, 1987: The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17–10 in ESPN's first televised regular season game.
- June 30, 1989: The Who sold out four consecutive shows performing portions of the rock opera Tommy to open the first of two sets each night.
- June–July 1994: Giants Stadium served as a venue for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, opening with Ireland's 1–0 win over Italy, and concluding with Italy's 2–1 win over Bulgaria in the semifinals.
- July 18, 1994: Pink Floyd performed their final US show ever on their Division Bell Tour in which they performed The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety..
- October 19, 1997: Following the Jets defeating the Patriots, two individuals were violently accosted and stabbed by an underage and drunken Patriots fan. The incident would lead to various lawsuits and the establishment of higher security standards and no alcohol being served after the 3rd quarter at Giants Stadium.
- December 13, 1998: The New York Giants defeated the then-13–0 Denver Broncos 20–16 in front of 72,336 in attendance.
- October 23, 2000: In what has been called the greatest game on Monday Night Football, the New York Jets came back from a 30–7 deficit by scoring 30 points in the fourth quarter and another 3 in overtime to beat the Miami Dolphins 40–37. The game is known as the Monday Night Miracle.
- January 14, 2001: On a field of painted mud, the New York Giants defeated the Minnesota Vikings 41–0 in the NFC Championship Game in front of 79,310 in attendance to send the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.
- July–August 2003: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band broke their own record with 10 sold-out shows on the Rising Tour.
- December 20, 2003: The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets 21-16 in ESPN's 200th NFL regular season game.
- September 1, 2005: The punk rock band Green Day sold out Giants Stadium with Against Me! and Jimmy Eat World. It was their biggest concert played in North America.
- December 26, 2005: The New York Jets & The New England Patriots played each other in a classic battle on the last Monday Night Football game on ABC. The Patriots defeated the Jets 31–21.
- January 8, 2006: The largest crowd to witness a Giant game, 79,378, watched a Giants 23–0 playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.
- July 29, 2006: Bon Jovi played their eighth consecutive sell-out of Giants Stadium. This was also the last concert of their Have a Nice Day Tour.
- July 7, 2007: The "New York" portion of Live Earth, a worldwide series of concerts of pop and rock music featuring various bands and musical artists planned to inspire global warming activism, was held at Giants Stadium. Kenna, KT Tunstall, Taking Back Sunday, Keith Urban, Ludacris, AFI, Fall Out Boy, Akon, John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Clarkson, Kanye West, The Smashing Pumpkins, Roger Waters, Bon Jovi and The Police all performed.
- August 18, 2007: 66,237 attended as the largest crowd ever for a regular-season MLS match at Giants Stadium (or any match between two MLS teams here). The MetroStars/Red Bulls previously had several matches with 50,000–65,000, and this day's match was also their highest attendance home or away for a regular-season match. This LA Galaxy versus Red Bulls match also set a new high for an MLS match that was not a part of a double-header, even beating the highest MLS Cup Final attendance (in 2002: 61,316).
- September 9, 2007: New England Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs set an NFL record by taking the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown against the New York Jets in a 38–14 opening day victory. The play also tied the record for the longest play in NFL history at the time, matching the 108-yard missed field goal returns by the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester against the Giants in 2006, and the Bears' Nathan Vasher the previous season against San Francisco. That record was broken 8 weeks later when San Diego Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie returned a missed field-goal 109 yards for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
- December 29, 2007: The New England Patriots closed out their undefeated 16–0 regular season at Giants Stadium with a 38–35 win over the New York Giants in front of a record regular season crowd on 79,110. In the fourth quarter, Patriots QB Tom Brady broke Peyton Manning's NFL record of 49 TD passes set in 2004, with his NFL record 50th TD pass, a 65-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randy Moss, who on the same play set the record for most touchdown receptions in a single season with 23, breaking the record held previously by Jerry Rice with 22 touchdown receptions set in 1987.
- June 8, 2008: The USA played then world #1 Argentina to a scoreless draw in front of a crowd of 78,682.
- July 26, 2009: In the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final 79,156 fans witnessed Mexico beat the USA 5–0, Mexico's first win against the USA on American soil in a decade.
- September 23–24, 2009: U2 played two consecutive sold out shows at Giants Stadium, their last two shows of the famous venue, as part of their U2 360 tour. On the second night of the performance, Bono announced that the attendance record has been broken. He also joked that "not even the pope had as many people there." The final attendance was 84,467.
- October 9, 2009: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played in the final concert at Giants Stadium. The concert capped a five-night stand of performances in September and October, highlighting Springsteen's classic albums, Born To Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Born In The USA as well as debuting a new song in honor of New Jersey and Giants Stadium entitled, "Wrecking Ball." 
- October 24, 2009: The final soccer game at Giants Stadium was played between the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC, with New York winning 5–0.
- December 27, 2009: The Giants played their final home game in the stadium against the Carolina Panthers, losing by a score of 41–9.
- January 3, 2010: The Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 37–0 in the final game at Giants Stadium. The victory would also earn the Jets a playoff berth.
In popular culture
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