Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Chicago Stadium
Chicago Stadium

Chicago Stadium

Golden Gloves Program, 1944
The Chicago Stadium was the city's premier all-purpose indoor arena for 65 years. Built for $7 million by West Side promoter Paddy Harmon, it opened with a boxing match on March 28, 1929. After that came midget car races, rodeos, political conventions, rock concerts, water shows, six-day bicycle races, circuses, soccer games, and church services.

Situated close to the Loop at 1800 W. Madison, the Stadium, as it was known, was built to offer affordable seats with unobstructed views. Constructed with steel trusses that spanned 266 feet without supports, it was one of the biggest arenas of its kind, drawing crowds up to 20,000.

Here Chicagoans saw championship hockey, basketball, and even football —the Bears were forced inside by snow and cold in 1932. Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated on the Stadium floor, Bobby Hull skated across it, and Michael Jordan flew off it.

Outside, fans would crowd by the Stadium's fabled Gate 3 1/2 to see sports stars and performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and ice-skating superstar Sonja Henie. Inside, they'd get an earful. With the acoustics of a shower stall, it was renowned for its crowd noise and booming pipe organ.

Owner William Wirtz leveled the aging Stadium in 1995 in favor of the United Center, a sleek, modern arena built next door.

Chicago Daily News. Various issues.
Chicago Sun-Times. Various issues.
Hayner, Don, and Tom McNamee. The Stadium, 1929–1994: The Official Commemorative History of the Chicago Stadium. 1993.