War Memorial Stadium (Buffalo)


War Memorial Stadium (Buffalo)

War Memorial Stadium (affectionately known as The Rockpile) is the name of a stadium that formerly stood in Buffalo, New York. The stadium was on a rectangular block near the downtown area. Its main entrance was at Jefferson Avenue to the east (behind left field) 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. 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. [ [http://wnyheritagepress.org/photos_week_2006/civic_stadium/civic_stadium.htm Western New York Heritage Press] ] 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 by far one of the smallest stadiums in the league, and so in 1973 the Bills left "War Memorial Stadium" in favor of their current stadium, now known as Ralph Wilson Stadium, which had a capacity of over 80,000.

History

The stadium hosted the Buffalo Bills of the NFL from 1960-1972, the unrelated Buffalo Bills of the AAFC from 1946-1949, 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). The track also hosted a NASCAR Grand National race on July 19, 1958, won by the Ford of Jim Reed, but is better known as the US debut of NASCAR legend Richard Petty [http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/story/3627208/Speed-Reading:-NASCAR%27s-greatest-all-star-race] .

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 except for the one scene set at Chicago's Wrigley Field, which was actually filmed at Buffalo's All-High Stadium.

The stadium sat dormant for much of the 1970s. 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.

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 the home of the amateur Buffalo Gladiators. The northeast and southeast entrance to the old stadium was preserved. A small baseball diamond is located on the southwest corner of the field.

ee also

*Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

Notes

2. The site is currently used for grammar school track & field events.

External links

* [http://www.littleballparks.com/Stadium/2005/Buffalo_old/Buffalo_old.htm War Memorial Stadium (2005 Site) Views - "Ball Parks of the Minor Leagues"]
* [http://www.frontiernet.net/~rochballparks/buffalo/wm.htm Photographs of War Memorial Stadium - "Rochester Area Ballparks"]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDMcPnNOZb4&NR=1 A photo slide show of War Memorial Stadium]
* [http://rockpile.buffalonet.org/ A Visual Tour of the Ol' Rockpile]

succession box
title = Home of the
Buffalo Bills
years = 1960 – 1972
before = first stadium
after = Rich Stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
Buffalo Bisons
years = 1960 - 1970
1979 - 1987
before = Offermann Stadium
after = Pilot Field


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