War Memorial Stadium (Buffalo)
Main entrance (left field corner) in 2011,
at Dodge Street and Jefferson Avenue
|Former names||Roesch Memorial Stadium (1937)
Grover Cleveland Stadium (1937–1938)
Civic Stadium (1938–1960)
|Location||285 Dodge Street
Buffalo, New York
|Owner||City of Buffalo|
|Operator||City of Buffalo|
|Capacity||• 33,000 (1937)
• 35,000 (1939)
• 46,500 (1960)
|Construction cost||$3 million
($49.4 million in 2016 dollars)
|Buffalo Indians/Tigers (AFL) (1940–1941)
Buffalo Bills (AAFC) (1946–1949)
Buffalo Bills (AFL/NFL) (1960–1972)
Buffalo Bisons (EL/AA) (1979–1987)
Bishop Fallon High School (Monsignor Martin Athletic Association) (1962–1969)
War Memorial Stadium (affectionately known as The Rockpile) was an outdoor stadium in the northeast United States, located in Buffalo, New York. It hosted both minor league baseball and professional football teams, most notably the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League (AFL), and later National Football League (NFL).
The stadium was on a rectangular block near the downtown area and its baseball diamond had an unorthodox southeast alignment (home plate to center field). The main entrance was in the left field corner at Jefferson Avenue to the east and Best Street to the south (behind right field). Its other boundaries were Dodge Street to the north (behind third base) and Masten Park to the west (behind first base) with Masten Avenue farther west. The east-west alignment of the football field was also unorthodox, running along the third base line.
War Memorial Stadium was originally constructed as a WPA project in 1937. It was originally named Roesch Memorial Stadium, though the name was changed to Grover Cleveland Stadium later in 1937 (honoring the former President and Buffalo public official) and then to Civic Stadium in 1938. The name was changed to War Memorial Stadium in 1960.
The stadium originally sat 35,000, but many expansions took place over the years, raising the capacity to over 46,500. Despite this, by the time of the AFL-NFL merger it was one of the smallest stadiums in the league (below the league's new 50,000-seat minimum). After considering and ultimately rejecting a move to Seattle, the Bills left after the 1972 season for Rich Stadium, now known as Ralph Wilson Stadium, which had a capacity of over 80,000.
The stadium hosted the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League, and later the National Football League from 1960–1972, the unrelated Buffalo Bills of the AAFC from 1946–1949 ("Bisons" in 1946), the Buffalo Indians and Chiefs of the third American Football League in 1940 and 1941, Canisius College's baseball and football teams, and baseball's Buffalo Bisons of the International League during the 1960s and again from 1979-1987 (as part of the Eastern League and American Association).
Postseason games hosted
The stadium hosted three postseason professional football games, all in the American Football League.
- 1963 AFL Eastern Division playoff: Boston Patriots 26, Buffalo Bills 8 on December 28, 1963
- 1964 AFL Championship Game: Buffalo Bills 20, San Diego Chargers 7 on December 26, 1964
- 1966 AFL Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs 31, Buffalo Bills 7 on January 1, 1967
In its later years it was poorly maintained. Ron Fimrite, writing in Sports Illustrated (May 7, 1984, p. 100), quoted another writer, Brock Yates, as having once said that this stadium "looks as if whatever war it was a memorial to had been fought within its confines." That look contributed to the oft-used nickname Buffalo residents gave to the stadium: The Rockpile. Ironically, that worn-down look worked perfectly for the 1984 film The Natural, about which Fimrite was writing. All of the baseball scenes in that movie were filmed here in 1983, except for the one scene set at Chicago's Wrigley Field, which was actually filmed at Buffalo's All-High Stadium.
The stadium was deemed unsuitable for National Football League play after the AFL–NFL merger. As part of a deal with Congress clearing the way for the merger, the NFL declared that stadiums seating fewer than 50,000 people were not suitable for league needs. War Memorial Stadium only seated 46,500 people at its height, and could not be expanded. This resulted in the Bills constructing Rich Stadium in suburban Orchard Park and vacating War Memorial Stadium after the 1972 season.
After the Bills' departure, the stadium sat dormant from 1973 to 1978. The last tenant of War Memorial Stadium was the Buffalo Bisons, a franchise that was revived in 1979 before moving to a new downtown stadium, known as Pilot Field, in 1988. The last event at War Memorial Stadium was a Bisons game against the Nashville Sounds (the Sounds won, 7–5) on August 30, 1987; the game drew a capacity crowd of nearly 40,000 spectators.
Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion
War Memorial Stadium was demolished shortly after the Bisons moved downtown to Pilot Field. A high school athletic field (Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion - c. 1997) remains at the old site and serves as one of Buffalo's three major high school football fields (the others being All-High Stadium and the field at Riverside Institute of Technology); the field also previously served as the home of the Buffalo Gladiators, an adult amateur football team. The northeast and southeast entrance to the old stadium was preserved. A small baseball diamond is located on the southwest corner of the field.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "42.906 N, 78.857 W". Historic Aerials. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- Western New York Heritage Press
- "Buffalo Bills nearing move to Seattle". Eugene Register-Guard (Oregon). January 12, 1971. p. 3B.
- "Redford movie being filmed in Buffalo". Evening News (Newburgh, New York). Associated Press. June 16, 1983. p. 8B.
- Mulcahy, Susan (July 20, 1983). "Buffalo wins out for Redford flick". St. Petersburg Independent (Florida). p. 18B.
- Harrington, Mike (August 30, 2012). Bisons' Rockpile finale was 25 years ago today. The Buffalo News. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
2. The site is currently used for grammar school track & field events.
- War Memorial Stadium (2005 Site) Views - Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues
- Photographs of War Memorial Stadium - Rochester Area Ballparks
- A photo slide show of War Memorial Stadium
- A Visual Tour of the Ol' Rockpile
|Home of the
1960 – 1972
|Home of the
1960 - 1970
1979 - 1987