Chicago Stadium

Last updated
Chicago Stadium
The Madhouse on Madison
Chicago Stadium 1984.jpg
Chicago Stadium in 1984
Address1800 West Madison Street
Location Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°52′54″N87°40′23″W / 41.88167°N 87.67306°W / 41.88167; -87.67306 Coordinates: 41°52′54″N87°40′23″W / 41.88167°N 87.67306°W / 41.88167; -87.67306
Owner Chicago Stadium Corp.
Operator Chicago Stadium Corp.
Capacity 18,676 (basketball)
17,317 (ice hockey)
18,472 (ice hockey with standing room)
Construction
Broke groundJuly 2, 1928 [1]
OpenedMarch 28, 1929
ClosedSeptember 9, 1994
DemolishedFebruaryMay 1995 [2]
Construction cost$9.5 million
($139 million in 2018 dollars [3] )
ArchitectHall, Lawrence & Ratcliffe, Inc. [4]
Tenants
Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) (1929–1994)
Chicago Stags (BAA/NBA) (1946–1950)
Chicago Majors (ABL) (1961–1963)
Chicago Bulls (NBA) (1967–1994)
Chicago Sting (NASL/MISL) (1980–1988)

Chicago Stadium was an indoor arena located in Chicago, Illinois that opened in 1929 and closed in 1994. It was the home of the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks and the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. As of the 2017 census-estimate, it has a population of 2,716,450, which makes it the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, the fourth largest in North America, and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the 5th largest Gross Domestic Product by state, is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

National Hockey League North American professional ice hockey league

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

Contents

History

The Stadium hosted the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL from 1929 to 1994 and the Chicago Bulls of the NBA from 1967 to 1994. The arena was the site of the first NFL playoff game in 1932; the 1932, 1940, and 1944 Democratic National Conventions; and the 1932 and 1944 Republican National Conventions, as well as numerous concerts, rodeo competitions, boxing matches, political rallies, and plays.

Chicago Blackhawks hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Chicago Blackhawks are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They have won six Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926. The Blackhawks are one of the "Original Six" NHL teams along with the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Since 1994, the club's home rink is the United Center, which they share with the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls. The club had previously played for 65 years at Chicago Stadium.

The 1929–30 NHL season was the 13th season of the National Hockey League. Ten teams played 44 games each. The Montreal Canadiens upset the heavily favoured Boston Bruins two games to none for the Stanley Cup.

The 1993–94 NHL season was the 77th regular season of the National Hockey League. The New York Rangers were the Stanley Cup champions. It was the Rangers' fourth championship overall, and their first in 54 seasons, since 1939–40.

The interior of Chicago Stadium in February 1930, prior to a Blackhawks/Bruins game, 13 years before a Bulova Sports Timer became the game clock. Chicago Stadium 1930.jpeg
The interior of Chicago Stadium in February 1930, prior to a Blackhawks/Bruins game, 13 years before a Bulova Sports Timer became the game clock.

The stadium was first proposed by Chicago sports promoter Paddy Harmon. Harmon wanted to bring an NHL team to Chicago, but he lost out to Col. Frederic McLaughlin. This team would soon be known as the Chicago Black Hawks (later 'Blackhawks'). Harmon then went on to at least try to get some control over the team by building a stadium for the Blackhawks to play in. He spent $2.5 million and borrowed more funds from friends, including James E. Norris in order to build the stadium.

Maj. Frederic McLaughlin was an American businessman and soldier. He was the first owner of the Chicago Black Hawks National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

James E. Norris was a Canadian-American businessman, operating companies in the grain and cattle industries, and owner of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. He also had significant ownership interests in the Chicago Black Hawks and the New York Rangers. He is often referred to as James Norris Sr., to distinguish him from his son, James D. Norris. Norris is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, as are his sons James and Bruce Norris.

Opened on March 28, 1929 at a cost of $9.5 million, Chicago Stadium was the largest indoor arena in the world at the time. Detroit's Olympia stadium, built two years earlier, was a model for the Chicago Stadium and had a capacity of over 15,000 people. It was also the first arena with an air conditioning system (though the system was fairly rudimentary by modern standards, and was memorably given to filling the arena with fog during late-season games).

Detroit Olympia architectural structure

Detroit Olympia was an indoor arena that stood at 5920 Grand River Avenue in Detroit from 1927 until 1987. It was best known as the home of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team of the National Hockey League from its opening until 1979.

The Stadium sat 17,317 for hockey at the time of closure. Standees were allowed for many years, and often the official attendance figures in the published game summaries were given in round numbers, such as 18,500 or 20,000. The largest recorded crowd for an NHL game at the stadium was 20,069 for a playoff game between the Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars on April 10, 1982.

Minnesota North Stars former hockey team of the National Hockey League

The Minnesota North Stars were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 26 seasons, from 1967 to 1993. The North Stars played their home games at the Met Center in Bloomington, and the team's colors for most of its history were green, yellow, gold and white. The North Stars played 2,062 regular season games and made the NHL playoffs 17 times, including two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. In the fall of 1993, the franchise moved to Dallas, and is now known as the Dallas Stars.

Seating capacity

Chicago Stadium at Night, 1950 Curteich Linen Postcard Chicagostadiumnight150.jpg
Chicago Stadium at Night, 1950 Curteich Linen Postcard

"The Madhouse on Madison"

Detail of console of the huge Barton pipe organ originally installed in the Chicago Stadium. The massive console boasted six manuals (keyboards) and over 800 stops, with thousands of pipes and percussions installed in the center ceiling high above center court. Barton organ originally installed in the Chicago Stadium, Chicago IL USA; console detail.jpg
Detail of console of the huge Barton pipe organ originally installed in the Chicago Stadium. The massive console boasted six manuals (keyboards) and over 800 stops, with thousands of pipes and percussions installed in the center ceiling high above center court.

In addition to the close-quartered, triple-tiered, boxy layout of the building, much of the loud, ringing noise of the fans could be attributed to the fabled 3,663-pipe Barton organ, boasting the world's largest theater organ console with 6 manuals (keyboards) and over 800 stops, and played by Al Melgard. Melgard played for decades during hockey games there, earning the Stadium the moniker "The Madhouse on Madison". For years, it was also known as "The Loudest Arena in the NBA", due to its barn-shaped features. When the Stadium closed in 1994 the organ was removed and prepared to be installed in the 19th hole museum. Soon after the Museum closed, sending the organ along with another theatre organ to a warehouse in Phoenix Arizona. In October 1996, A propane tank explosion melted and destroyed both Pipe Organs, excluding the console. The Organ is currently in the residence of Phil Maloof and is in good working condition with new pipes.

Bartola Musical Instrument Company

The Bartola Musical Instrument Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, was a producer of theater pipe organs during the age of silent movies.

Al Melgard was the third and best-known organist for the Chicago Stadium, from 1930 until retirement in 1974, at age 84.

In the Stanley Cup semifinals of 1971, when the Blackhawks scored a series-clinching empty-net goal in Game 7 against the New York Rangers, CBS announcer Dan Kelly reported, "I can feel our broadcast booth shaking! That's the kind of place Chicago Stadium is right now!" The dressing rooms at the Stadium were placed underneath the seats, and the cramped corridor that led to the ice, with its twenty-two steps, became the stuff of legend. Legend has it a German Shepherd wandered the bowels at night as "the security team."

In the 1973 Stanley Cup Final against Montreal, Chicago owner Bill Wirtz had the NHL's first goal horn installed in the building, reportedly because he liked the sound of the horn on his yacht. [7] This practice would, in the ensuing years, become almost commonplace in professional hockey.

Nancy Faust, organist for 40 years at Chicago White Sox games, also played indoors at the Stadium, at courtside for Chicago Bulls home games from 1976–84, and on the pipe organ for Chicago Blackhawks hockey there from 1985-89.

It also became traditional for Blackhawk fans to cheer loudly throughout the singing of the national anthems, especially when sung by Chicago favorite Wayne Messmer. Denizens of the second balcony often added sparklers and flags to the occasion. Arguably, the most memorable of these was the singing before the 1991 NHL All-Star Game, which took place during the Gulf War. This tradition has continued at the United Center. Longtime PA announcer Harvey Wittenberg had a unique monotone style: "Blackhawk goal scored by #9, Bobby Hull, unassisted, at 6:13." The Chicago Stadium also provided a unique fan experience. On the west side of the building was the Players/Employee/VIP Visitors Parking Lot. It is also where Teams/Bands/Politicians/Performers would enter the building through the legendary Gate 3 1/2 (Appropriately placed between Gates 3 and 4 on the North and South Sides). Although protected by fencing, it was where fans could see the talent get out of their cars or teams exit their buses before going into the building. It was also a great autograph and informal "meet and greet" opportunity.

In 1992, both the Blackhawks and the Bulls reached the finals in their respective leagues. The Blackhawks were swept in their finals by the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing at Chicago Stadium, while the Bulls won the second of their first of three straight NBA titles on their home floor against the Portland Trail Blazers. The next time the Bulls clinched the championship at home, was in the newly built United Center in 1996 (when they did so against the Seattle SuperSonics), their second season at the new arena, and the Blackhawks would not reach the Stanley Cup Finals again until 2010 (in which they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games), their 16th season in the new building, although they won their first championship since 1961 in Philadelphia. The Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup at the Stadium in 1938; they did not win the Cup again at home until 2015 at the United Center.

Last analog game clock in any NHL arena

It was also the last NHL arena to retain the use of an analog dial-type large four-sided clock for timekeeping in professional hockey games. Boston Garden and the Detroit Olympia (as well as the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in its pre-NHL days) had identical scoreboards but replaced them with digital timers in the mid-1960s, with Boston having their digital four-sided clock in use for the 1969–70 NHL season. After removing the balcony-edge game clocks at either end and at mid-ice zones of the Stadium, the replacement four-sided game clock suspended over center ice of the Stadium, built by Bulova [8] as their "Sports Timer", was installed in Chicago in 1943. Each side of the clock had a large diameter 20-minute face in the center that kept the main game time for one period of ice hockey, with a set of shorter black-colored minute and longer red-colored sweep-second hands, and a pair of smaller, 5-minute capacity dual-concentric faces for penalty timekeeping, to the left and right of the primary 20-minute face — with each of the 5-minute penalty timers having its own single hand and each clock face, both the central main timer's dial and flanking penalty timer dials (when a penalty was counting down) illuminated from behind during gameplay. The "outer" face of each penalty timer had a single hand that avoided obscuration of the "inner" face and its own, "solid" single hand, through the use of metal rods forming the outer hand's "shaft", holding its hand's "pointer" head [9] — the set of two concentric faces for each penalty timer dial could handle two penalties for each set, with an illuminated "2" on each penalty timer dial lighting up to display a minor penalty infraction. It was difficult to read how much time was left in a period of play on the main game timer's large face, as each minute of play was marked by a longer line on every third "seconds" increment on the central main dial, due to the minute hand's twenty-minute "full rotation" timing capacity for one period of ice hockey. The difficulty was compounded on the main central dial from the aforementioned minute and sweep-second hands being in constant motion during gameplay. The "Sports Timer's" only digital displays were for scoring and for penalized players' numbers, each digit comprising a six-high, four-wide incandescent light dot matrix display.

That clock eventually was replaced by a four-sided scoreboard with a digital clock, first used on September 21, 1975 in Blackhawks preseason play, [10] crafted by the Day Sign Company of Toronto, much like the one used at the end of the 1960s (and constructed by Day Sign Company) to replace the nearly identical Bulova Sports Timer game-timekeeping device in the Boston Garden, and then in 1985 by another, this one with a color electronic message board. That latter scoreboard was built by White Way Sign, which would build scoreboards for the United Center.

The Stadium was also one of the last three NHL arenas (the others being Boston Garden and the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) to have a shorter-than-regulation ice surface, as their construction predated the regulation. The distance was taken out of the neutral zone.

Demolition

Commemorative plaque in the pavement on the north side of Madison Street United Center 9.JPG
Commemorative plaque in the pavement on the north side of Madison Street
Chicago Stadium in mid-demolition, March 1995 Chicago Stadium-March95.jpg
Chicago Stadium in mid-demolition, March 1995

After the Blackhawks and Bulls moved to the United Center, the Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. Its site is now a parking lot for the United Center across the street. CNN televised the demolition, showing devoted Blackhawks and Bulls fans crying as the wrecking ball hit the old building. The console of the Barton organ now resides in the Phil Maloof residence in Las Vegas, Nevada. Also, the center of the Chicago Bulls' floor resides in Michael Jordan's trophy room at his mansion in North Carolina.

Two of the Stadium's main parking lots, which are still used for United Center parking, retain signs that read "People's Stadium Parking"

Notable events

Bulldogging photo of Cowboy Morgan Evans at the late 1920s Tex Austin Rodeo in Chicago Stadium. Cowboy Morgan Evans.jpg
Bulldogging photo of Cowboy Morgan Evans at the late 1920s Tex Austin Rodeo in Chicago Stadium.

Basketball

Hockey

Football

Soccer

Boxing

Concerts

In Film

Other events

See also

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References

  1. "Work on Chicago's New Sports Arena". Milwaukee Journal . July 3, 1928. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  2. Chicago Stadium Goes Down – SFGate
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  4. Kamin, Blair (September 19, 1993). "Is Comiskey Upper Deck A Problem?". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  5. 2012–2013 Chicago Bulls Media Guide
  6. 2012–2013 Chicago Blackhawks Media Guide
  7. Grossman, Evan (April 25, 2016). "The history behind the NHL's ubiquitous sound for scoring: the goal horn". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  8. "Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society — The Arena Clock". www.rireds.org. Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  9. Closeup of Chicago Stadium's Bulova Sports Timer showing close-up details
  10. Langford, George (August 14, 1975). "Hakws' Johnston could report to camp on time/Tick, clock, tick (photo caption)". The Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL USA. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  11. Soderstrom, Carl; Soderstrom, Robert; Stevens, Chris; Burt, Andrew (2018). Forty Gavels: The Life of Reuben Soderstrom and the Illinois AFL-CIO. 2. Peoria, IL: CWS Publishing. pp. 104, 107-108. ISBN   978-0998257532.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Chicago Coliseum
Home of the
Chicago Blackhawks

1929–1994
Succeeded by
United Center
Preceded by

Maple Leaf Gardens
Montreal Forum
Madison Square Garden
Pittsburgh Civic Arena
Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

1948
1961
1974
1991
Succeeded by

Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens
Montreal Forum
Philadelphia Spectrum
Preceded by
International Amphitheatre
Home of the
Chicago Bulls

1967–1994
Succeeded by
United Center
Preceded by

The Forum
Kingdome
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1973
1988
Succeeded by

Seattle Center Coliseum
Astrodome