The old Downing Stadium on Randalls Island
|Former names||Randall's Island Stadium (1936–1948)
Triborough Stadium (1948–1955)
|Location||New York City, New York|
|Owner||New York City Department of Parks and Recreation|
|Opened||July 11, 1936|
|New York Yankees (AFL II) (some games, 1936–1937)
Negro League games (1936-40)
Olympic trials (1936–1964)
New York Yankees/Americans (AFL III) (some games 1940–1941)
Brooklyn Dodgers (CFL) (1966)
New York Stars (WFL) (1974)
New York Cosmos (NASL) (1974–1975)
New York Centaurs (A-League) (1995)
Several concerts (1938–2002)
Tibetan Freedom Concert (1997)
Downing Stadium, previously known as Triborough Stadium and Randall's Island Stadium, was a 22,000-seat stadium in New York City. It was renamed Downing Stadium in 1955 after John J. Downing, a director at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
Built on Randalls Island in the East River as a WPA project, 15,000 attendees witnessed Jesse Owens compete at Randall's Island Stadium in the Men's Olympic Trials on July 11, 1936, the opening night of the new facility. Downing Stadium also hosted the Women's Olympic Trials in 1964. It was the site of an international soccer friendly in which England defeated the USA, 10–0, on May 27, 1964.
Triborough Stadium served as one of two home stadia of the football New York Yankees of the second AFL (along with Yankee Stadium) in 1936 and 1937; about four decades later, Downing Stadium became the home of the New York Stars of the WFL in 1974, and the New York Cosmos of the NASL in 1975 (for years after the Cosmos played there, the words "COSMOS SOCCER" remained on the stadium to be seen from the nearby highway viaduct on the Triborough Bridge).
In 1938, the stadium hosted the Carnival of Swing, one of the first large outdoor jazz festivals. Televised American football began at the stadium with the 1939 Waynesburg vs. Fordham football game on September 30, 1939.
The stadium was also used for some Negro League baseball games in the 1930s and was the site when the United States played Scotland in soccer in 1949. Additionally, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the Continental Football League played their home games there in 1966. The stadium also played host to the All Blacks several times, in the course of larger tours to Europe. They last played a New York Metropolitan selection in October 1972, beating their hosts 41–9.
While Downing Stadium had hosted concerts throughout the years, (Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1938. Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, and Grand Funk Railroad at the three-day New York Pop Festival in 1970 ), once the stadium stopped being a major sports venue, this became its primary use, serving as a venue for rock concerts such as Pearl Jam and Tibetan Freedom Concert. In October 1997 the stadium played host to a Gaelic football match between Cavan and Kerry in the NFL, this game was moved to New York in order to commemorate the 1947 All Ireland Final between the same teams which was played at the Polo Grounds. The stadium was torn down in 2002 in order to be replaced by a newer complex, Icahn Stadium, which was completed in 2004. The stadium lights, which were taken from Ebbets Field after it was torn down, were left in place to light the new field.
The site was considered for a 48,000 capacity soccer specific stadium, based on the design of the City of Manchester Stadium, had the New York City bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics been successful. The plan was shelved when New York lost out to London.
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