The story of William A. Shea Municipal Stadium, New York

The William A. Shea Municipal Stadium, better known as simply the Shea Stadium, was one of North America’s most famous and iconic sporting venues. However, even those who don’t follow American sport are more than likely to have heard of the Shea because of its association with The Beatles and a number of other well-known performers.

Construction

The Shea Stadium was located in Queens, New York City and opened in April 1964 having taken nearly three years to build. The initial capacity was 55,000 for baseball and 60,000 for American football. It was named after William A. Shea in gratitude for his successful efforts to bring National League baseball back to New York City.

Shea was constructed as a circular stadium with pre-cast concrete sections attached to a framework of steel. Its unique feature, at that time, was that two of the sections of seating could be moved on runners to alter the configuration of the stands from a stadium suitable for baseball to one better adapted to football. The stadium’s lighting was unusual for that era too, featuring a lighting ‘ring’ on top of the stands rather than free-standing towers.

Shea’s Heyday

Shea was home to the New York Mets Major League Baseball team between 1964 and 2008. It also hosted American football’s New York Mets between 1964 and 1983. As one of America’s most prestigious baseball venues, the Shea Stadium hosted a number of World Series matches over the duration of its life. The New York Yankees and New York Giants have also played games at the Shea at times when their own stadia were unavailable.

Many people not familiar with America sport will have heard of the Shea Stadium because it was the venue for one of the most famous concerts by The Beatles during their US tour of 1965. The Beatles played to a crowd of 55,000 fans in one of the first examples of ‘stadium rock’. In later years Shea played host to concerts by many other pop, rock and jazz artists.

Demolition and Legacy

The Shea Stadium was demolished in 2009. Although much-loved by New Yorkers, the Shea was no longer able to provide the standards of comfort and access required for the twenty-first century. A new state-of the-art stadium, Citi Field, was built nearby. Although the site of the Shea is now just a car park for its replacement stadium, it lives on in the affections of US sports fans.