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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Rockpile's opener

   October 16, 1937 -- Consider yourself an old-timer if you know what Roesch Memorial Stadium is. It actually was the name of War Memorial Stadium when it first opened in 1937.

   The stadium was a Works Progress Administration project in the Depression. It seated 35,000 people initially, although a variety of expansion projects moved its capacity to a bit under 50,000 by the early 1970's.

   The new facility's first event came on this date when it hosted an intersectional college football game on that day, as Colgate lost to Tulane, 7-6. It was a tougher test for Tulane than its previous game; it beat Mississippi College, 84-0.

   Name changes for stadiums and arena happened back then too. The facility's name was switched to Grover Cleveland Stadium later in 1937. That idea lasted a year, as the generic Civic Stadium was used starting in 1938.

   The building was in use until the Bisons moved downtown to Pilot Field in 1988. However, the site is still used for sports. The Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion was constructed on that spot and is used for a variety of events.

--- Budd Bailey

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