Monday, November 4, 2013

Stadium Over the Mon

Stadium Over The Mon from the Carnegie Library collection

Ol' GW was looking over tweets between football games yesterday (just in case Cliff Lee was coming to Pittsburgh, lol), and lo and behind, our blogger buds From Forbes to Federal posted a picture of the Stadium over the Monongahela. Now Mr. Weenie is along enough in years to have sneaked into Forbes Field as a cash-strapped but nimble-footed lad, but this proposal from the fifties had completely slipped quietly into his gray matter's no-man land.

Its genesis began in 1958, when the Pirates sold Forbes Field to an ever expanding Pitt for $2M. As part of the deal, the university would lease Forbes Field back to the Pirates until a new ballyard was built.

One of the earliest suggested designs suggested a new multi-purpose stadium atop a bridge(s) spanning the Monongahela River. It was designed to be a 70,000 seat stadium with mainly covered seating, hotels, gardens, parking for 4,500 cars, a covered marina and even a 100 lane bowling alley, as proposed by Eric Sirko and drawn up by NADCO Engineering Company and consulting architect, Mailly of Paris.

It was described, in perhaps a bit of a pun, as  "Completely Self-Liquidating. No Tax Loss. No Land Acquisition. A 'First' in the World."  It looks as if it would have spanned the Smithfield Street Bridge and touched down on Station Square by the Gateway Clipper docks. So the Smithfield Street Bridge would have to come down (or be used as a foundation) and the Station Square complex drastically cut. The effect on navigation would have been problematic. The face of Downtown and North Shore would have been altered in ways difficult to imagine, as would already tortured traffic patterns.

It doesn't look like it ever got past the drawing board stage; that same year, the City acquired the land on the North Shore where Three Rivers Stadium, after considerable political posing, rose in 1970. We can't find any mention of the estimated cost of the project, and our guess is that alone would have have doomed the proposal; the savings in property costs would likely have been dwarfed by the construction expense.

Still, a pretty cool idea, even if overreaching. It would have been the venue of the century.


Chris said...

North Side, not North Shore. Jeez that's annoying. I guarantee you, no one was calling it the North Shore when the land was acquired in 1958. Is Carson Street the main drag on the South Shore?

Ron Ieraci said...

Well, Chris, that's what the City calls it for better or worse; I believe that it went by Chateau back in the fifties.

I think that the end of South Side anchored by the SS Works is being touted as the South Shore. Welcome to hipster city, lol.