30 Abandoned Sports Venues That Win the Eerie Olympics
From impressive Olympic complexes that encapsulate an entire nation’s pride to the local field that lets a city show off its team spirit, where a sport is played is as important as the final score. But when a team relocates or the world turns its attention to the next big event, sports venues are often abandoned.
These neglected and deteriorating arenas all make a bid for the gold medal in the "creep factor" Olympics. Find out which of the world’s eeriest abandoned venues make our top 30.
Houston Astrodome | Texas, United States
The Houston Astrodome opened in 1965 under the way-less-cool name Harris County Domed Stadium. During its 43-year run, the stadium claimed quite a few firsts in sports arena history. It was the world’s first multi-purpose, domed sports venue, acting as homebase for MLB’s Houston Astros, the NFL’s Houston Oilers, and, for a stint in the ‘70s, the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
Olympic Bobsleigh & Luge Track | Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina (formerly known as Yugoslavia) won the bid to host the 1984 WInter Olympics in its capital city, Sarajevo. The bobsleigh and luge track overlooks the city from its position on the mountain Trebevic. Roughly 50,000 spectators trekked up to the track to watch the heats.
Miami Marine Stadium | Miami, Florida, United States
Located on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida, the Miami Marine Stadium is definitely one of the most unique venues on the list. When it opened in 1963, Marine Stadium was known as the first American facility built for the purpose of powerboat racing. But it soon became a hit venue for boxing matches and concerts; it even had a starring role in the Elvis Presley film Clambake (1967).
Avanhard Stadium | Pripyat, Ukraine
In 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant outside the Ukranian city of Pripyat caused one of the most devastating nuclear disasters in history. With HBO’s Chernobyl mini-series capturing the attention of audiences in 2019, the once-abandoned, radiation-filled disaster zone is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination. Within the Exclusion Zone, visitors can catch a glimpse of an overgrown amusement park or spend the night in Pripyat’s only hotel. One thing tourists can’t do, however, is play a pick-up soccer game at Avanhard Stadium.
Hellinikon Olympic Canoe/Kayak Slalom Center | Athens, Greece
With a motto that read Welcome Home and absolutely no expense spared, Greece was determined to make the 2004 Summer Olympics unforgettable. Even the medals, which since 1928 had depicted a Roman Coliseum, were redesigned to feature the Panathenaic Stadium. The Olympic facilities got the gold treatment as well.
Linnahall Amphitheater | Tallinn, Estonia
The 1980 Summer Olympics were notoriously boycotted by 66 countries, including the United States, due to the host nation’s involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War. While some athletes competed independently from their countries under the Olympic flag, the games still saw record-low attendance. Nonetheless, the Soviet Union built several new stadiums—some even referred to as palaces—for the games, including Linnahall.
Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground | Beijing, China
In 2008, Beijing hosted one of the most impressive—and expensive—Summer Olympics. The city’s Chaoyang Park was developed into a massive complex with nine venues in total, one of which was the Beach Volleyball Ground. With a capacity of 12,000, the courts held a myriad of Olympic matches and warmups, but then interest in the venue faded.
Washington Coliseum | Washington DC, United States
Before its 1941 opening, the plans for the Washington Coliseum were initially met with resistance. The coach of the George Washington University basketball team complained that there were too many seats behind the scoreboard and that the sidelines were nearly nonexistent.
Rio Aquatic Center | Rio De Janeiro
While it’s true that host cities often spend unheard of amounts of money on Olympics infrastructure, it’s also true that Rio De Janeiro planned to set a new standard. The Rio Aquatic Center, which claimed a cool $50 million of the $14.2 billion expense budget, was built to be disassembled. After the games, officials planned to turn the center into new community swimming centers—one in Madureira Park and one in Campo Grande. But due to financial and political perils, this transformation has yet to happen.
Stadium of Delphi | Delphi, Greece
Though Delphi is most commonly associated with oracles, the archeological site also contains a treasury, a theater, and a gymnasium. And, at the very top of the site, a stadium that measures in at about 584 feet. Dating back to roughly the second half of the 4th century BCE, the Stadium of Delphi is the most well-preserved ancient stadium in Greece.
Athlete’s Village Pool Complex | Berlin, Germany
Although Berlin’s Olympiapark Schwimmstadion, an aquatics venue built for the 1936 Summer Olympics, is still in use today, many of the training facilities and athlete’s accommodations lie abandoned. The Olympic Village is roughly nine miles from the central stadium and once housed 5,000 athletes. Now, it’s home to overgrown trees, rust, and cobwebs.
Igman Olympic Jumps | Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
The Igman Olympic Jumps were used for ski jumping during the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. The structure features a large hill—367 feet high—and a normal hill—a shorter 295 feet. During the games, upwards of 90,000 spectators flocked to Igman, where a Finnish skier, Matti Nykänen, set a record, jumping 381 feet.
Maracanã Stadium | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Maracanã Stadium was originally built for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. At the time, it was, well, a bit of a mess. Work on the stadium didn’t actually wrap up before the World Cup, which meant it looked like a construction site. And, to make matters worse, it lacked a press box and restrooms. When Brazil won the bids for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, the city of Rio seized the opportunity to refurbish Maracanã.
Northlands Coliseum | Edmonton, Canada
Opening in 1974, Northlands Coliseum was home to the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers as well as the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Though it cycled through a series of names, including Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Center, the Northlands Coliseum moniker outlasted the rest.
Sochi Olympic Stadium | Sochi, Russia
When the 2014 Winter Olympics kicked off, the facilities in Sochi weren’t exactly dubbed state-of-the-art. Journalists snapped pictures of half-finished hotel rooms with faulty plumbing—if the rooms had toilets at all—and it seemed like a race for event organizers and construction workers to tie up loose ends. Russia had big plans for Sochi: the arenas were meant to serve as Russia’s center for international events. As of now, that’s a nyet.
Softball Stadium (Hellinikon Olympic Complex) | Athens, Greece
When Athens won the 2004 Summer Olympics bid, all of Greece was thrilled that the games would be returning home for the first time since 1896. A Herculean 10,625 athletes competed in the games—roughly 600 more athletes than predicted. Athens spared no expense, creating the iconic Hellinikon Olympic Complex on the site of a former airport. The complex was split into five venues—a general indoor arena, a baseball center, a canoe/kayak slalom course, a hockey center, and a softball stadium.
Stade de Paris | Paris, France
In preparing for the 1924 Olympics, France had a tall order ahead: rebuild Paris in the wake of World War I’s devastation. Of course, the Olympic platform proved to be a great way to rally behind a cause and get folks back to work. In the spirit of the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger), Parisians built numerous state-of-the-art facilities and history’s first dedicated Olympic Village.
Stadion Za Lužánkami | Brno, Czech Republic
Opening in 1953 with a whopping 50,000 seats for spectators, Stadion Za Lužánkami was the largest and most impressive venue in the Czech Republic. The Zbrojovka Brno football club called it their home pitch since the venue’s inception and set the all time attendance record for a Brno match when 44,120 spectators came out to watch the team take on Slavia Prague. Unfortunately, this record-setting venue has sat idle since 2001.
Trampolino Olimpico | Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
Before the ski jump in question was renovated and turned into the Trampolino Olimpico for the 1956 Winter Olympics, it was known as the Franchetti Jump. Thanks to generous donations from Baron Franchetti and a nearby hotel, a local sports club constructed this rather modest wooden platform in 1923. While the Franchetti allowed skiers to make jumps around 130 feet high, the renovated olympic jump saw skiers flying between 200 and 260 feet into the air.
Strahov Stadium | Prague, Czech Republic
Built as an arena for synchronized gymnastics of all things, Strahov Stadium is the largest stadium, and second largest sports venue, ever constructed. What’s it’s capacity? Well, an unheard of 250,000 spectators can fill its stands. You might wonder, But how can they all see what’s going on? Since Stahov was built for large-scale gymnastics displays, the field is three times as long and three times as wide as a standard soccer field. Meaning it’s several fields in one. Though this is impressive, it’s no wonder the bulk of the stadium fell into disrepair.
Fort Lauderdale Stadium | Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
The Fort Lauderdale Stadium is best known for being the Bronx Bombers home away from home. Or, at least, formerly. And while this dilapidated structure is only a small step down from Yankee Stadium itself, it’s still a step down. After using it as a Spring Training homebase between 1962 and 1995, the 27-time World Series champs officially called it quits.
National Olympic Stadium | Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Okay, we’ll admit it. This next one is a little unusual. The National Olympic Stadium in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh is a lovely, multi-purpose sports venue. But it was sort of abandoned from the moment it opened. How can that be? Well, despite its very specific name, the stadium never actually hosted an Olympic event. In fact, Phnom Penh never hosted the Olympics at all.
Stand Athletic FC “Stadium” | Ewood Bridge, England
Though the Stand Athletic Football Club stadium—if you can call it that—isn’t on the same scale as an Olympic-sized venue, it’s still a sight to behold. The football club itself was formed in 1964 and eventually dissolved in 2009. And with it went this little pitch in Greater Manchester.
Olympic Ski Jump | Grenoble, France
The hills are alive with the sound of wind creaking through this abandoned—but absolutely breathtaking—former Olympic ski jump. During the 1968 Winter Olympics, this Grenoble-adjacent venue in Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte seated an impressive 50,000 spectators.
Red Hill Skate Rink | Brisbane, Australia
Known by locals as a landmark, the Red Hill Skate Rink hasn’t seen visitors zipping around on the skate floor since a devastating fire swept through the complex on Boxing Day in 2002. Despite the lack of disco music, flashing lights, and beer pitchers, the skating rink is still pretty heavily frequented by locals. Particularly, local artists.
Stone Mountain Tennis Complex | Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Built to host tennis events at the 1996 Atlanta-based Summer Olympics, the Stone Mountain Tennis Complex cost around $22 million to build. With a communal plaza, a main stadium court and 15 outer courts for training, the stadium could seat around 12,000 spectators.
Laoshan Bicycle MotoCross Park | Beijing, China
Marking our final trip down memory lane to the 2008 Summer Olympics is Beijing’s Laoshan Bicycle MotoCross Park. Famously, the Beijing Summer Olympics were watched by 3.5 billion people worldwide and went down in the record books as the second-most expensive games, just behind Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympics. How much did it cost? Roughly $44 billion.
Reims-Gueux Circuit | Reims, France
Unique to our list, the Reims-Gueux Circuit was established in 1926 as the second venue of the Grand Prix de la Marne. This Grand Prix motor racing course was known for its now-famous triangular shape and featured a once-robust timekeepers’ building (featured above). But despite being located in the Champagne region of northeastern France, this circuit’s future is anything but bubbly.
Meadow Park | Gloucester, United Kingdom
In 2007, the National League South-Side Gloucester City Football Club had to leave their home stadium behind. And we don’t mean they had to walk away from it, or that they relocated for any of the normal reasons. It was a real SOS (Save Our Stadium) situation. Thanks to some particularly heavy rainfall, the small pitch and stands flooded.
Coliseum | Rome, Italy
While countless teams—from the Oakland Athletics to Harvard University’s Crimson—have called their homefield simply "the Coliseum," there’s only one true Coliseum. And that is the first-of-its name venue, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, right in the heart of Rome. Built between 70 and 80 AD, Wonder of the World became a symbol of Imperial Rome and the new standard in stadiums. (Sorry, Greece.)