On Sunday, Texas Stadium in Irving will be demolished by implosion. On Monday, the Minnesota Twins will christen Target Field, their new home. Meanwhile, the Cubs are tinkering with Wrigley Field, including plans to place a large Toyota sign in left-center field. Take your seats and cheer for these 10 solid facts:
1. Because of frigid conditions in December 1932, the Chicago Bears played the NFL title game indoors at Chicago Stadium. The circus had performed the week before, leaving a layer of dirt -- and some droppings that created an unpleasant scent by game time. The field was only 80 yards long, including end zones. The teams adjusted by kicking off at the 10-yard line and banning field goals. The Bears, led by Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange, defeated the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans 9-0.
2. Wrigley Field was knocked down in 1966. We're not talking about the landmark ballpark at Clark and Addison -- we mean the stadium of the same name in Los Angeles. The California park hosted minor league ball for many years and had a single year of major league glory as the home of the Los Angeles Angels in 1961. In that year, 248 home runs were hit there, setting a major league record.
3. In the Indian city of Mumbai (aka Bombay), "stadium" is slang for a man who is bald on the top of his head, with a fringe of hair all around.
5. When the San Diego Padres moved to the new Petco Park in 2004, they sold bricks on which sponsors inscribed messages. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals bought a brick reading "Break open your cold ones! Toast the Padres! Enjoy this champion organization!" The subliminal message, based on the first letter of each word, was "Boycott Petco."
6. During halftime of a Jets- Patriots game at New York's Shea Stadium in 1979, a show by a model airplane group went bizarrely wrong. A radio-controlled model plane shaped like a lawnmower flew out of control and plunged into the stands, killing a 20-year-old New Hampshire man.
7. Freak accidents also happen on the field. During the 1951 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Mickey Mantle tripped on a water sprinkler, leading to the first of his knee surgeries. But no stadium-infrastructure accident was weirder than that suffered by the St. Louis Cardinals' Vince Coleman during the 1985 National League Championship Series. The Busch Stadium grounds crew turned on a machine to roll out the tarp, not realizing that Coleman was warming up nearby. The tarp rolled over his left leg. He missed the rest of the NLCS and the World Series.
8. The Roman Coliseum was not only an architectural wonder, but also a marvel in crowd control. The ancient stadium could seat 50,000 ticketed customers and many thousands more standing. But even packed with 70,000 people, the stadium could empty in as little as 10 minutes.
9. Wilbur Snapp, organist at minor league baseball's Jack Russell Stadium at Clearwater, Fla., in 1985, objected to an umpire's call and played "Three Blind Mice." The umps ejected him from the ballpark.
10. Four different New York arenas have been called Madison Square Garden in the last 136 years. Among the significant historical events there: the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match in 1971; the murder of the building's architect, Stanford White, in a love triangle in 1906; and the least wholesome performance of the song "Happy Birthday" ever, delivered to President John Kennedy in 1962 by Marilyn Monroe, whose dress was so tight she had to be sewn into it.
Sources: "The World Series' Most Wanted" by John Snyder; "Mickey Mantle's Greatest Hits" by David S. Nuttall; "Amazing But True Sports Stories" by Steve Riach; "Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football" by John M. Carroll; "Architecture of Italy" by Jean Castex; ballparks.com; ballparktour.com; doubletongued.org; snopes.com; Sports Illustrated; Christian Science Monitor; Tribune news services