Sometime after I got my license when I was 17 I began driving around the state. A lot. This is when my love for exploring really began. Before this I never really was one for long car rides and kind of rolled my eyes at the idea of driving a mere 45 minutes to the beach with my parents. But, once I had a car of my own and I had the freedom to go wherever I pleased this all changed. For one reason or another I was immediately drawn to photograph in places where I really shouldn't be. Was it restricted? Perfect. Abandoned? Even better!
Flash forward a few years and I was traveling on other photography work, to a city that I was extremely excited to visit. I knew that where I was going was practically a mecca for abandoned buildings of every kind, so I began to do some research on where I wanted to visit during my stay. I soon found out that there was an abandoned football stadium, and I'm not talking about a high school football stadium here, rather a professional NFL stadium. Not only did it hold sporting events, but bands such as The Who sold out the 80,000 seat venue in it's heyday. "An abandoned football stadium," I thought to myself - I had to see it.
After finishing up my real work, I met up with my friends Taylor in Pierson who were my partners in crime for this adventure. It was a warm Saturday in mid May when we took the thirty minute Uber ride to the site of the colossal abandonment. Thankfully there was a soccer practice taking place on a field adjacent to the stadium, so it didn't look too strange that we asked to be dropped off here. As we approached the structure everything seemed almost too good to be true - no one around, front gate wide open, and a beautiful day. Before I knew it we were inside the stadium with little effort and walked down the first section of seats by the field. I snapped away as we walked from section to section before we decided to head up to the top to get some shots showing the real scale of the place.
As we were completing our loop around the outer edge of the stadium, Pierson grabbed my camera to take a shot of me standing on top of the jumbotron. Suddenly a puzzled look crossed his face before him saying, "other people are here." I turned around and sure enough on the opposite side of the stadium there were three uniformed men yelling at us. Quickly we got off the jumbotron to get out of sight. My mind raced as I tried to devise a plan on what we should do next. My initial reaction was to get the heck out of the stadium as quickly as possible, but then it dawned on me that a football stadium is really just a few big circles so leaving without being spotted was close to impossible.
I took the closest door I could find and we were led down a short corridor where we found a small closet that fit the three of us comfortably. "30 minutes," I said, as I started my phone's timer. We sat in silence and around the 29 minute mark was when we began to hear footsteps on the other side of the wall. My heart was in my throat, I was in another state, it was Mothers Day, and I was going to be arrested. Surely not a call my mom was going to be too happy with. After a few minutes the footsteps faded as we sat in the darkness. "We're not going anywhere until sunset," I whispered. And there we sat for the next 2 hours 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
While it was not completely dark out yet, the sun was low enough to make the stadium at least decently dim enough were we felt comfortable coming out of hiding. I hadn't heard our search party in quite some time so I kept my fingers crossed that they had given up their hunt. We made our way around the stadium to one of the main staircases that would put us near where our point of entry was. We tiptoed down the stairs and within a few minutes we were on the outside of the stadium again. Still weary of our surroundings, we poked our head out from the bushes making sure no one was in sight before we made our final escape to the street. When we finally made it to the sidewalk along the road, we began to give each other high-fives and immediately began to recount the past few hours. There was smiles all around knowing that we were out of harms away.
Today, the stadium is currently in the process of being demolished to make way for a new development. Although what at first seemed to be a simple explore turned into a nerve wracking few hours, I'm happy that I got to see it for myself, knowing that I was one of the last people to ever set foot there.