1929 Chicago Stadium Opens

After it was known as Skid Row and before it was called the MadHouse on Madison, 1800 W. Madison was known simply as Chicago Stadium.

The stadium development was spearheaded by Patrick “Paddy” Harmon, who had experience running dance halls.  In 1926, he and his associates starting buying up property, and before too long they had accumulated an entire city block.  When it opened in the spring of 1929 at a cost of $7 million, it was described as one of the largest stadiums of its kind in the world.

The official souvenir program described the stadium as “a Technical Masterpiece of Construction.”  There was no permanent seating on the floor and this design element allowed for a variety of uses.   In addition to being the home of the Blackhawks and Bulls, the stadium was also used as a high-banked saucer bike track, a rodeo, and the site of a speech by Franklin D.  Roosevelt where he uttered the phrase “New Deal” for the first time publicly.

The stadium even hosted the Chicago Bears and the first NFL playoff game.  Wrigley Field was deemed unplayable due to ice build up, so they moved indoors in front of 12,000 fans.  To learn more about that historic game and the NFL rule changes it prompted, check out Don Hayner and Tom McNamee’s book  The Stadium.  The book is filled with excellent photographs and detailed descriptions of the myriad events spectators witnessed at Chicago Stadium.

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