Chicago Stadium was an indoor sports arena and a theater in Chicago. It opened in 1929, and closed in 1994.
The stadium was first proposed by Chicago sports promoter Paddy Harmon. Harmon wanted to bring an NHL team to Chicago, but he lost out to Col. Frederic McLaughlin. This team would soon be known as the Chicago Black Hawks (later 'Blackhawks'). Harmon then went on to at least try to get some control over the team by building a stadium for the Blackhawks to play in. He spent $2.5 million and borrowed more funds from friends, including James E. Norris in order to build the stadium.
Completed on March 28, 1929 at a cost of $9.5 million, Chicago Stadium was the largest indoor arena in the world at the time. It was also the first arena with an air conditioning system (though the system was fairly rudimentary by modern standards, and was memorably given to filling the arena with fog during late-season games).
The Stadium sat 17,317 for hockey at the time of closure. Standees were allowed for many years, and often the official attendance figures in the published game summaries were given in round numbers, such as 18,500 or 20,000. The largest recorded crowd for an NHL game at the stadium was 20,069 for a playoff game between the Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars on April 10, 1982.
It was also the last NHL arena to retain the use of an analog dial-type large four-sided clock for timekeeping in professional Hockey games.
In addition to the close-quartered, triple-tiered, boxy layout of the building, much of the loud, ringing noise of the fans could be attributed to the fabled 3,663-pipe Barton organ, the world's largest "pipe organ" (played by Al Melgard) that was played during Hockey games there, earning it the moniker "The Madhouse on Madison". In the Stanley Cup Semifinals in 1971, when the Blackhawks scored a series-clinching empty-net goal in Game 7 against the New York Rangers, CBS announcer Dan Kelly reported, "I can feel our broadcast booth shaking! That's the kind of place Chicago Stadium is right now!" The dressing rooms at the Stadium were placed underneath the seats, and the cramped corridor that led to the ice, with its twenty-two steps, became the stuff of legend.