In the Spring of 1967, a sportswriter in a local New Jersey paper proposed the idea of building a sports complex in New Jersey. The idea was discussed, but could not proceed unless a major sports team could be enticed to come play across the river. With the original Yankee Stadium approaching its 50th birthday, its two tenants, the Yankees and the Giants, were targeted. The original concept called for a separate stadium for football and baseball, which would give the Giants their first home of their own, having split their history between the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.
In 1970, NJ Governor William Cahill began wooing the Giants, and in August of 1971, the dream became a reality when Giants owner Wellington Mara signed a 30 year lease for a 75,000 seat stadium to be ready for the 1975 season. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority was established shortly thereafter to finance, construct, and administer the complex. The initial plans called for a stadium, racetrack, and aquarium to be built on the Meadowlands of East Rutherford. Thanks to the Authority's ability to lease property, borrow money, and issue bonds backed by the horse racing proceeds, the complex was amazingly built at no expense to the taxpayers, and without personal seat licenses.
Despite several obstacles prior to construction, the NJSEA was able to forge ahead, and construction on the stadium and racetrack began simultaneously in 1972. In September of 1973, NJ Governor-Elect Brendan Byrne negotiated a new 30 year lease with the Giants, and on September 1st, 1976, the Meadowlands officially opened for business with horse racing at the brand new Meadowlands Racetrack.
On October 10, 1976, after more than 50 years of playing in someone else's house, the New York Football Giants had a brand new home of their own, and a New Jersey landmark was born.
Giants Stadium has been the site of many memorable moments, from NFC Championship games to a Papal mass. As we prepare to say goodbye to Giants Stadium, Big Blue View will bring you a weekly series of some of the great moments the Big Blue Bowl has seen over the years.
Remember, if you guys have Giants Stadium stories you would like to share, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.