After calling four different stadiums home in their first 50 years in the National Football League, the Giants moved into Giants Stadium in 1976. The idea of playing at a stadium built in the Meadowlands first attracted the Giants’ attention when they realized that they could provide 15,000 more seats and help meet the increasing demands of the fans without a major switch in location. Giants Stadium is only 6.9 miles from Times Square, compared to Yankee Stadium which is 6.6.
In May of 1967, a local New Jersey newspaper first proposed the idea of building a Sports Complex. The idea of the complex could not begin until a major sports franchise could be attracted to the concept. With an aging Yankee Stadium, the Giants and the Yankees became immediate targets. The original construction idea called for separate stadiums for football and baseball with convenient parking and easy highway access just miles from New York City.
In 1970, the William Cahill administration began serious efforts to lure the Giants. On Aug. 27, 1971, the Giants signed a 30-year lease for a 75,000-seat Stadium to be built by the 1975 season. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority was established by an act of the state legislature on May 10, 1971 to finance, construct and administer the complex. It was also decided that the complex would include a stadium for football and a racetrack. The Authority was granted powers through legislature to lease property, borrow money, issue bonds and conduct horse racing. To finance the complex the state was authorized to issue revenue bonds backed by the state-run racetrack proceeds. The complex was built and operated with no expense to the taxpayers.
Prior to construction of the facility, the project was hit with many obstacles. First, there were legislative disputes that resulted from objections to the complex, then environmentalists were concerned about the issue of wildlife preservations and air pollution from the increase of cars. Despite these problems, the Authority pushed the project along, hiring real estate consultants, accountants, bond attorneys and brokerage firms.
In Sept. of 1973, New Jersey Governor-elect Brendan Byrne negotiated a new lease with the Giants, and the sale of bonds began and was completed in 1974. Simultaneous construction of the racetrack and stadium began in 1972. Sept. 1, 1976 marked the opening of the Meadowlands racetrack. The Giants made their debut in Giants Stadium on Oct. 10, 1976 against the Dallas Cowboys before a sellout crowd.