February 11, 2001: Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh is imploded during a 19-second detonation viewed at a distance by 20,000 fans. That ended a run of more than 30 years for the facility, which was home to both the Pirates and the Steelers. Three Rivers opened in 1970, one of several multi-purpose stadiums built at the time and hailed as the future of major sports. But a few decades later they had all become sterile, generic and obsolete. Later that year, the new PNC Park would become the home of the Pirates, while the Steelers moved to the new Heinz Field.
Three Rivers was the site of some great moments in sports. One was Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th and final hit in 1971 (he was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve of that year while on his way to deliver aid to victims of a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua). Another was the Immaculate Reception by Franco Harris in 1972, the play that shocked the Oakland Raiders and sent the Steelers to their first AFC Championship Game. The first World Series night game was hosted there in 1971. And we can’t forget that the “Terrible Towel” made its debut at Three Rivers in December of 1975 as the Steelers were on their way to their second Super Bowl.
One of the positives of Three Rivers’ circular configation was its setup for concerts. The Rolling Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, U2, Elton John, the Grateful Dead and Alice Cooper all played there during their heyday. And there’s the late Meatloaf singing the National Anthem at the 1994 All-Star Game.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)