Giants Stadium is the home stadium for the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL football teams, and Red Bull New York (formerly MetroStars) of Major League Soccer. It is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which also hosts the Meadowlands Racetrack and the Continental Airlines Arena. Official seating capacity as of 2004 is 80,242.
Giants Stadium was the first major league sporting venue in New Jersey and its success, along with the success of the Giants in the 1980s was a major impetus behind increased pride and enthusiasm among New Jersey residents.
Because the Jets play in a stadium named for another NFL team, the Jets officially refer to the site as simply The Meadowlands; it is used on all official NFL and team game notes regarding Jets' home games.
Giants Stadium opened October 10, 1976, as 76,042 fans witnessed a loss by the Giants to the Dallas Cowboys. College football made its debut at Giants Stadium October 23, 1976, with Rutgers University defeating Columbia University, 47-0.
The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League moved to Giants Stadium for the 1977 season and remained until the league folded in 1985. Soccer legend Pelé played his last game here on October 1, 1977, playing the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for his old Brazilian team, Santos.
In 1984, the New York Jets became co-tenants with the Giants.
Other professional football teams that have called Giants Stadium home over the years include the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League; the New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League of American Football; and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen of the XFL.
The stadium has also hosted numerous college football games, including the Garden State Bowl from 1978–1981; Kickoff Classic from 1983 to 2002; the New York Urban League Classic since 1981; and the Army-Navy Game on several occasions, most recently in 2002. Syracuse University also played two home games at Giants Stadium during the 1979 season, against West Virginia and Penn State, while the Carrier Dome was under construction.
Nine games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament were held at Giants Stadium, along with several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup. In 2003, the SuperCoppa Italiana, an annual match pitting the winners of Serie A (Italy's top division) and the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup), was held in Giants Stadium instead of in Italy because both clubs involved (Juventus and AC Milan) were touring the United States late in the summer, when the event is normally scheduled. In 2005, it played host to many matches to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, including the final which saw the USA victorious over Panama in a 3-1 penalty shootout after both sides failed to score goals during regulation and extra time. It has seen many European soccer tours in recent years paying venue to such big clubs as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and many others.
The largest crowd to ever attend an event at Giants Stadium was 82,948, as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during a rainstorm on October 5, 1995.
Concerts have also been a part of the Giants Stadium experience, as performers ranging from Bruce Springsteen to the Grateful Dead, and rockers Bon Jovi have taken the stage before appreciative audiences. The majority of the Paradise City music video by Guns N' Roses was filmed at the stadium in 1988.
To accommodate these varied events, Giants Stadium has sported various playing surfaces in its history. AstroTurf was the original surface for the playing field. This surface was covered by sod for the World Cup. A system of interchangeable grass trays was implemented from 1999 to 2001, but was replaced by a new artificial surface, FieldTurf, in 2002.
When the New York Jets left Shea Stadium and moved to Giants Stadium in 1984, many predicted the stadium would be renamed. Understandably, the Jets organization preferred not to reside in a facility named after another team. However, under the terms of the stadium lease, changing the name of the stadium requires the Giants approval (which the Giants have showed no desire to do). While the stadium has a decidedly blue atmosphere, matching the Giants' team colors, when the Jets play there, the walls are covered with green banners, matching their colors. The endzones are also repainted green, with Jets logos. In mid-December, traditionally the stadium hosts a Saturday-Sunday NFL doubleheader, with the Giants playing a home game one day and the Jets playing the other. The night between the games is a challenge for the stadium grounds crew, as they have only hours to convert the stadium from one team's colors to the other. As per the NFL schedule, the Giants and the Jets play each other once every four years. In that case, there is a predetermined home team, and a predetermined away team. In those games, the "away" team gets a rare away game in their own home stadium. The Giants and Jets typically play each other every year in the NFL Preseason, and the teams rotate annually home/away.
For some years a rumor circulated that the remains of Jimmy Hoffa had been buried under one of the end zones at Giants Stadium. This led a wag in Sports Illustrated to suggest that "This lends new meaning to the term coffin corner!"
Thanks largely to the dual occupacy of Giants Stadium by two NFL teams since 1984, it has surpassed Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Bears for fifty seasons) as the venue to have hosted more NFL games than any other in league history.
On September 29, 2005, it was announced that Giants Stadium would be replaced with an $800 million stadium that is scheduled to be opened in 2010. The New Meadowlands Stadium will be nearby the current stadium. The New York Jets were planning a move to a new domed stadium on Manhattan's West Side sometime near the year 2010. However, with the political defeat in June 2005 of the West Side Stadium plan, the Jets ended up agreeing to share the new Meadowlands stadium with the Giants. The stadium will be built by 2010.