Soon after Shibe Park opened on April 12, 1909, people began calling for the construction of a new stadium. The situation had escalated by 1953, the year that the park was renamed Connie Mack Stadium. The building had become an eyesore. Parking around the old ballpark had become congested, and the surrounding neighborhood had begun to deteriorate.
The movement for a new stadium suffered numerous setbacks, but a bond issue was passed by the voters and goundbreaking ceremonies were finally held on October 2, 1967. The total cost was projected at $40.5 million, with an additional $3.6 million for parking.
The first event held at the new Philadelphia Veterans Stadium was the 1971 baseball season opener between the National League Philadelphia Phillies and the Montreal Expos, with the home team winning 4 - 1. Attendance for the game was 55,352, the largest baseball gathering in Pennsylvannia history at the time.
The first football game was played on August 16, 1971, a pre-season exhibition game between the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills.
Stadium appointments included a 126,000 square foot AstroTurf artificial playing surface and a state-of-the-art sound system. The high-tech scoreboard system was called "the largest, most expensive, and most sophisticated in all of sports." The scoreboards are gone now, replaced by a new giant screen "Phanavision" and animated scoreboard.
In addition to being the favorite venue of the Army-Navy Football Classic, the "Vet" serves as the home field for the Temple University Owls football team, a Big East Conference member, for more than 15 years. Notable rivials have included Penn State, Miami, West Virginia, and Syracuse.
The regular infusion of capital dollars has ensured that the people of Philadelphia have a stadium in which they can take pride. Some $64 million has been invested in structural repairs, seat additions, and other improvements since 1985, and a $10 million program for 1996 to complete the seating replacement on the lower, to improve outdoor lighting, to replace the AstroTurf field, to extend the fire sprinkler system, to replace the remaining elevators, as well as to make various structural repairs and power plant upgrades.
"To Philadelphia's spirited football fans - who have an opinion on everything - Veterans Stadium always has been a huge open-air soapbox. Natives call it, simply, the Vet. Located in south Philadelphia, Veterans Stadium looks a lot like Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium and Pittsburgh's Three Rivers. There's a hardness, though, about the stadium and an intimidating presence to the fans who pack the Vet on weekends to watch the Eagles - "Iggles" in Phillytalk - that make a visit unique.
Dispite the addition of plush penthouse suites, luxury boxes and fancy elevators, the Vet definitely is showing its age. Neither Big Bird, the unofficial mascot that roams the stands, nor the Eagle cheerleaders can distract a visitor from that fact. Done in the popular earth colors of the '70s, the orange, yellow and brown seats are hard, molded plastic. (Those seats were replaced in 1996 prior to the Phillies hosting the All-Star game. They're now all blue.) The AstroTurf surface, often criticized for being dirty and brick-hard, has been replaced serveral times and was ripped up again after the 1994 season. New scoreboards and video boards are planned, and every seat will eventually be replaced, but talk of building a stadium for the co-tenant baseball Phillies persists.
Even so, Eagles fans remain a rowdy lot, especially when they lose. Ask any Redskins fan who has dared wear a headdress during the visit."
As written by The Sports Staff of USA TODAY in "The Complete Four Sport Stadium Guide" for Fodor's Sports
December 5, 1998 (Wire Services) - Nine fans were injured when a railing collapsed during the Army-Navy game at Veterans Stadium.
EAGLES TO PAY PHILADELPHIA $8 MILLION
June 18, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Philadelphia, Pa. - When the accounting was done, the Philadelphia Eagles owed the city $3
million as a result of lawsuits each had filed.
The city said it was owed $8 million by the team for luxury suite leases at Veterans Stadium for
the 2000 and 2001 season while the Eagles claimed the city owed $8 million in losses for a missed
game in 2001 when the stadium's playing surface forced cancellation of a game.
In the end, the courts ruled that the city owed the team $5 million and the team owed the city
$8 million, so the team paid the $3 million balance.