Pennsylvania Highways
Three Rivers Stadium Implosion

Three Rivers StadiumOn February 11, 2001 at 8:00 AM, what people thought would never happen did:  Three Rivers Stadium was imploded after 31 years of operation.  Gone by the wayside like the eight track tape, the vacuum tube, and the Commodore 64, Three Rivers was being replaced by two new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers.  PNC Park and Heinz Field began operation that same year.

Aerial picture of Three Rivers Stadium from 1995
Aerial picture of Three Rivers Stadium from 1995.  (USGS)

For the history of the stadium:
For facts on the stadium:

Scene from Interstate 279 northbound
Scene from Interstate 279 northbound, with Three Rivers off to the left.

I can say that I was a part of the history of Three Rivers Stadium.  While I was at KDKA-TV, I was a member of their softball team.  After one of the Sunday afternoon Pirate game in July 1998, we played the charity organization Family House.  In the end, the KDKA All Stars would rise victorious.

Me (second from the left end of the bench) sitting on the field.
Heading for first base after a towering shot to shallow left.

The day of the implosion was a very cold one with the temperature in the teens.  However, crowds gathered all around the Golden Triangle.  From Mount Washington to Point State Park, people came to see a bit of history.  Yours truly was one of the many standing in the park on the banks of the Allegheny River to witness the final moments of Three Rivers.

The Golden Triangle at 7:00 AM on the day of the implosion.  (Jeff Kitsko)
The last scene of Three Rivers Stadium.  (Jeff Kitsko)
The last time the Goodyear blimp would cover an event at Three Rivers.
(Jeff Kitsko)
The reason for the name of the stadium:  the confluence of the Monongahela and
Allegheny Rivers to form the Ohio River.  (Jeff Kitsko)
They came by land and sea...well maybe not sea per se, but river.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Crowds gathered along Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Pittsburghers waiting for the implosion in Point State Park.  (Jeff Kitsko)

Three Rivers StadiumJust before 8 AM, the lucky winner of the Carnegie Science Center raffle to select the person to push the detonation button, former Three Rivers employee Elizabeth King of Mount Washington, did her job.  In a mere 19 seconds, the stadium that stood for almost 31 years fell to the ground into a pile of 8,000 tons of scrap metal and concrete.  Following the final curtain call, the Zambelli International fireworks company put on a display in commemoration of the event.  Controlled Demolition Incorporated, who was in charge of the implosion, reported that it went off without any problems.  The biggest concern was debris falling into Heinz Field which was only 65 feet from Three Rivers.

As the stadium is falling to the ground.  (Jason Kosmiski)
Seconds after the stadium fell and the dust cloud is moving toward Point State
Park.  (Jeff Kitsko)
  The first sight, after the dust cleared, of the area that was once home to the stadium.  (Jeff Kitsko)
A panoramic picture of the debris.  (Jeff Kitsko)
A closer view of the rubble after the implosion.  (Jason Kosmiski)

The Pittsburgh Steelers: The Official Team History
by Abby Mendelson (1996)

Perhaps the most storied football team in the National Football League, the Steelers began their climb up the ladder to greatness through many loosing seasons.  The 1970s saw them reach the top, when they became the first team in the history of the NFL to win four Super Bowls.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
by David Finoli and Bill Ranier (2003)

The Pirates are not only the oldest professional sports team in Pittsburgh, but also one with five championship wins.  World Series wins in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979 puts the team at the top tied with the Steelers in championships for the "City of Champions."

Three Rivers That Spawned the City of Champions
by Gregory S. Spalding (2001)

Chronicling the history of Three Rivers Stadium, this book covers the 31 most significant games to take place on its field.  It also contains trivia and other notable moments during the decade where Pittsburgh was elevated to the "City of Champions."

Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Steelers
Three Rivers Stadium
Three Rivers Stadium - Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority
Stadium Implosion - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Three Rivers Stadium - Ballparks by Munsey & Suppes
Three Rivers Stadium - Bruce Cridlebaugh
Three Rivers Stadium - Steelers Fever
Three Rivers Stadium:  History - WTAE-TV

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Page updated May 06, 2008.
Content and graphics, unless otherwise noted, copyright Jeffrey J. Kitsko. All rights reserved.
Graphics and information courtesy of the Pittsburgh Sports and Exhibition Authority and WTAE-TV.