Downing Stadium

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Downing Stadium
Downing Stadium Randalls Island bb.jpg
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
Capacity 22,000
Surface grass
Broke ground 1935
Built 1935–1936
Opened July 11, 1936 (1936-07-11)
Closed 2002
Demolished 2002
Architect Robert Moses
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.[1]


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.[2][3] Downing Stadium also hosted the Women's Olympic Trials in 1964.[1] It was the site of an international soccer friendly in which England defeated the USA, 10–0, on May 27, 1964.[4]

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,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

On June 15, 1975, soccer star Pele made his debut for the New York Cosmos against the Dallas Tornado. The pitch was spray painted green to look better on the television coverage of the game.[8]

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 [9]), 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.[10] 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,[11] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Collins, Glenn (August 20, 2004). "Built for Speed, And Local Pride; Track Stadium Emerges On Randalls Island". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  2. ^ Daley, Arthur J. (May 8, 1936). "$1,000,000 Randalls Island Sports Project Impresses Olympic Officials". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  3. ^ Daley, Arthur J. (July 12, 1936). "Metcalfe 2d in Sprint". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  4. ^ "England's Matches 1960-1965". England Football Online. Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
  5. ^ Crossley, Andy. "July 17, 1974 - New York Stars v Birmingham Americans". Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Scottish Eleven Ends Soccer Tour With 4-0 Victory Over Americans". The New York Times. June 20, 1949. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  7. ^ "New Zealand Rugby Team Downs New Yorkers, 41-9". The New York Times. October 22, 1972. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  8. ^ Carlisle, Jeff (2009). Soccer's Most Wanted II: The Top 10 Book of More Glorious Goals, Superb Saves, and Fantastic Free-Kicks. Washington, DC: Potomac Books. ISBN 1-59797-193-6. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "500 Lights From Ebbets Field Will Shine on Randalls Island". The New York Times. June 4, 1960. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 

Coordinates: 40°47′38″N 73°55′27″W / 40.79389°N 73.92417°W / 40.79389; -73.92417