Iconic Sports Venues

Persuasion in Public Spaces

by Danielle Johannesen (Volume editor) Mark E. Huglen (Volume editor)
©2017 Monographs X, 224 Pages


From the Colosseum of Rome to Wrigley Field and Madison Square Garden, iconic sports venues are larger than life. They often exist in a seemingly "sacred" space, outside the hustle and bustle of the everyday. At their most basic level, iconic sports venues are revered and idolized. They emanate a sense of persuasion that contributes to how they become meaningful for those who come into contact with them.
This book examines how and why iconic sports venues acquire meaning. Looking at different venues, chapters address how the material features of a site participate in the construction of messages and meanings, and how they influence those messages and meanings. Each chapter includes a description of the venue in question; an interpretation of its mystique; and a discussion of the implications of the interpretation.
A unique and timely contribution to the fields of composition, persuasion, sport management, sport rhetoric, and communication, the goal of this book is to inspire more scholarly research, essays, and projects focused on the persuasive qualities of sports venues. More broadly, scholars, students, and professionals can use the chapters in this book as models for investigating "iconic" structures both locally and globally.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Iconic Sports Venues: Persuasion in Public Spaces (Danielle Johannesen / Mark E. Huglen)
  • Iconic Sports Venues
  • Persuasion and Sports Venues
  • Organization of the Book
  • Works Cited
  • 1. The Ancient Sports Venue in Contemporary Times: The Legacy of the Stadium of Olympia and the Colosseum of Rome (Rachel McCoppin)
  • Introduction
  • Description: The Sacred Rituals of the Greek Stadium
  • Description: The Spectacle of the Roman Amphitheater
  • Interpretation: The Ancient in Contemporary Sports Venues
  • Evaluation: The Legacy of the Venue and Meaning in Contemporary Sports
  • Works Cited
  • 2. Wrigley Field: A Narrative of True Baseball (Rickie-Ann Legleitner)
  • A Mythic History
  • The Role of Spatial Nostalgia in a Capitalistic Game
  • The Importance of Wrigley Field
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 3. The Last Palace Standing: Mitchell’s Corn Palace and the Rise of an Iconic Sports Venue (Jason McEntee)
  • Introduction
  • The Sports Icon of the Prairies: Mitchell’s Corn Palace
  • Breaking Societal and Cultural Barriers on the Hardwood: The Corn Palace’s Legacy in Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 4. Hinkle Fieldhouse: Ensembles of an Iconic Sports Venue (David Rolling)
  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Sport
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Economics
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Infrastructure
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Information and Education
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Public Life, Politics, and Culture
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse as an Iconic Sports Venue through Symbols, Memory, and History
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited
  • 5. Constructing a Mecca for American Golf: Southern Gentility and the Sacred at Augusta National (Clarke Rountree)
  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Interpretation: Golf in General
  • An Interpretive Frame
  • Interpretation: Augusta National in Particular
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 6. With Our Hearts in La Boca: Violence and Identification in La Bombonera (M. Elizabeth Weiser)
  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Interpretation
  • Implication
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 7. Lambeau Field: Stadium-Cathedral for the Green Bay Packers and American Football (Peter M. Smudde)
  • Semiotics and Architecture
  • Stadia
  • Cathedrals
  • Description of Lambeau Field
  • Interpretation of Lambeau Field
  • Evaluation of Lambeau Field
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 8. Playing at Home: The Huron Arena as Domestic Space (Danielle Johannesen)
  • Introduction
  • Description: The Huron Arena
  • Interpretation: The Huron Arena as Domestic Space
  • Evaluation: The Huron Arena as Communicative
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 9. Madison Square Garden: Place, Brand, Media, Icon (Robert Bellamy)
  • Introduction
  • A Short History of the Madison Square Gardens
  • Madison Square Garden as a Brand
  • New York City and Agenda Setting
  • Sense of Place, Nostalgia, and Media
  • Conclusion and Suggestions for Further Research
  • Works Cited
  • 10. The Louisiana Superdome and the Semiotics of Disaster (Michael William Pfau)
  • Dome Background and History
  • Katrina’s Superdome Tropes
  • Synecdoche
  • Metaphor
  • Metonymy
  • Irony
  • Residual Sporting Representations
  • The Superdome and Political Ideologies
  • Liberal Critique: Racism & Looting
  • Liberal Critique: Racial Hyperbole
  • Liberal Critique: Bush Government Response
  • Conservative Critique: Government Failure
  • Conservative Critique: Libertarianism and the Second Amendment
  • Conservative Critique: Racism
  • Conclusion: Renamed but Still Remembered
  • Works Cited
  • 11. The Wrestling Ring as Stage for the Most Popular Form of American Theater (David Beard / John Heppen)
  • Introduction
  • Historical Description of the Wrestling Ring
  • The First Generation of Wrestling Spaces: Wrestling as a Vagabond Sport
  • The Second Generation of Wrestling Spaces: Wrestling as a Televised Vagabond Sport
  • The Third Generation of Professional Wrestling: Multinational Corporations and Local Wrestling Promotions
  • The Features of Today’s Wrestling Ring
  • Interpretation: The Nontraditional Space of the Professional Wrestling Ring
  • The Relationship between “Inside” and “Outside” the Ring in the Performance of Wrestling
  • The Ring Functions as a Prop Itself
  • Wrestling Ring as Mirror of a Local Community
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • 12. Whose Place Is it Anyway?: The Rhetorical Shift From Man Caves to Fan Caves in Dominant American Culture (Deanna D. Sellnow / Timothy L. Sellnow)
  • Emergence of the Man Cave
  • Structuring Reality for Groups and the Members
  • Membership in the Cave: The Significance of Female Fandom
  • Shifting Symbolism and Décor in Fan Caves
  • Implications
  • Works Cited
  • 13. Ralph Engelstad Arena (Mark E. Huglen)
  • Description: Ralph Engelstad Arena
  • Spaces for Players, Coaches, and Athletic Staff
  • Spaces for Fans, Media, and Arena Staff
  • Interpretation: Ralph Engelstad Arena
  • The Context of The Westward Expansion of the United States
  • The Context of Hockey Culture
  • The Context of the Flood of 1997 and Economic Development
  • Implications: Ralph Engelstad Arena
  • Narrative of Human Relations
  • Narrative of Hockey Culture
  • Narrative of Economic Development
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Contributors
  • Index

| vii →


1.1. The Roman Colosseum. Photograph by Rachel McCoppin.

3.1. 2015 Corn Palace with New Domes. Photo by Rich Steadman. Photo used with permission from The World’s Only Corn Palace (http://cornpalace.com).

3.2. Tip-Off between Mitchell and Yankton, 1923 State Basketball Championship Game. Image courtesy Dakota Wesleyan University Archives, McGovern Library, Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota.

4.1. Interior of Hinkle Fieldhouse. Image courtesy Butler University Sports Information Department.

4.2. Exterior of Hinkle Fieldhouse. Image courtesy Butler University Sports Information Department.

4.3. Exterior of Hinkle Fieldhouse, 1928. Image courtesy Butler University Sports Information Department.

4.4. Interior of Hinkle Fieldhouse, 1994. Image courtesy Butler University Sports Information Department.

6.1. La Bombonera from the doorway of the Museum of Boca Passion. Photograph by Elizabeth Weiser.

7.1. The triadic relationships for architecture. Figure by Peter M. Smudde.

7.2. Model of the semiotic production for architectural signs (i.e., built environments). Figure by Peter M. Smudde.

7.3. The archetypal stadium: Colosseum of Ancient Rome. Image from Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Colosseum#/media/File:AmphitheatrumFlavium.jpg

7.4. Example schematic plan for a cathedral (“Architecture of Cathedrals”). Image from Wikimedia Commons. ← vii | viii →

7.5. Lambeau Field satellite image from NASA World Wind via Wikimedia Commons.

7.6. Lambeau Field atrium interior. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

11.1. The steel frame of the wrestling ring. Photograph by John Heppen.

| ix →


This book is the result of several years of work. Our thanks to Barry Brummett for encouraging us to move forward with this project. Of course, thank you to the chapter authors for their excellent scholarship, professionalism, and dedication to this book. Each chapter truly enhances our passion for the project as a whole. We want to thank the editorial staff at Peter Lang, including Mary Savigar, Stephen Mazur, Sophie Appel, and Bernadette Shade, for their enthusiasm and support for this book. Finally, thank you to Owen Williams for the insightful conversation and feedback about various iconic sports venues.

| 1 →


Iconic Sports Venues: Persuasion in Public Spaces


An iconic sports venue is larger than life. Iconic venues such as Madison Square Garden, Lambeau Field, and Wrigley Field exist in a seemingly “sacred” space outside the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In this way, iconic sports venues emanate a presence of persuasion that contributes to how the venues become meaningful for those who come into contact with the space. Whereas the presence is experienced by human beings, the presence is not totally definable or totally measurable.

In part, the presence of an iconic sports venue participates with the material conditions in which the venue stands. Yet further, the presence of an iconic sports venue borrows from the available aesthetic, symbolic, and mythic constructs of the community in which it belongs and the rituals and performances of those associated with the sporting events it houses.

In this introduction, we provide a definition of “iconic sports venue” and explain the focus of this book: to show how real, specific sports venues function persuasively. Next, we situate the book within the broader body of existing scholarship related to sports, persuasion, and public venues. In focusing on the material conditions of venues, including architectural features, seating arrangements, physical objects, decorative elements, and others, the chapters in this book are drawn from scholars working in many fields. We employ an interdisciplinary approach to persuasion. Further, we provide an overview of the chapters included in the book. We explain our rationale in selecting chapters for the book and describe the scholarly methods and approach of each chapter. Finally, we invite other scholars from across the disciplines to continue to see the value of this book in demonstrating how iconic sports venues function as complex sites of persuasion. ← 1 | 2 →

Iconic Sports Venues

While diverse scholarship exists on the notion of “iconicity,” at its most basic level an iconic sports venue is something revered, something idolized, something that has seemingly larger than life presence. A sports venue is a space where players, fans, and personnel of many kinds gather to experience an event.

Sports venues are meaningful for individuals, schools, communities, and professional organizations. There are economic impacts associated with venues. There are emotional impacts as well; for example when an iconic sports venue is torn down, a sense of loss is felt by those who were connected in some way to the building. When an iconic sports building is torn down, a sense of loss is often felt even for those who have never been to the venue. Seeing the building only on television, or perhaps only imagining the building via a radio broadcast, enables a powerful connection.

For some, a pilgrimage to an iconic sports venue becomes an important, if not defining, life event. Some people travel across the world to experience an iconic sports venue; indeed, these pilgrimages demonstrate the “need to be there.” For example, people travel from around the world to visit the Roman Colosseum, Lambeau Field, Madison Square Garden, Wrigley Field, and others. There is a yearning and need to bask in the essence of what makes the venue iconic.

This book engages the question of how and why iconic sports venues come to be meaningful. Specifically, the chapters in this book address not only how the material features of a venue participate in the construction of messages and meanings but also how those material features influence messages and meanings.

Persuasion and Sports Venues

Persuasion means, in the spirit of Cicero, to “to move in some way.” Traditionally, another term for persuasion is “rhetoric.” In their Introduction to Places of Public Memory: The Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials (2010), Greg Dickinson, Carole Blair, and Brian L. Ott explain that “rhetoric” is a distinctly public discourse (2–3). Sports venues are part of public narratives and the settings for important rituals and myths that serve the public. Most scholarship dealing with sports venues focuses on how humans—both athletes and spectators—behave at sporting events. Much of the scholarship focuses on sports as “performative.” Leading books in this area are Sporting Rhetoric: Performance, Games, and Politics (2009) edited by Barry Brummett; ← 2 | 3 → and Sports and Identity: New Agendas in Communication (2013) edited by Brummett and Andrew W. Ishak.

Sporting Rhetoric focuses on how sports are performed in popular culture: the essays trace the performative aspects of sports. Sports and Identity focuses on the ways people participate in sports and how participation in sports shapes identity. Another book, The New Cathedrals: Politics and Media in the History of Stadium Construction (2006) by Robert C. Trumpbour, addresses economic, media, and political aspects of new stadium development to show how sports venues are now like theme parks. Yet another book, Sports Architecture (2013) by Rod Shead, covers the design of sports facilities, including spectator needs, owner needs, and participant needs. This book includes discussions of feasibility studies and planning, as well as insightful case studies.

In Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field (2015), Andrew C. Billings, Michael L. Butterworth, and Paul D. Truman articulate a range of scholarship in the area of communication and sport. Areas of scholarship identified by the authors include sports media, such as the emergence of entire networks devoted to sport, as well as social media; fan cultures; and gender, race, and ethnicity in sport. Other areas identified by Billings, Butterworth, and Truman include politics, such as nationalism; parent-child relations; commodification in sport; and the construction of identity in sport. The book provides insight into the many areas of scholarship in the field of communication and sport.


X, 224
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (February)
Iconic Sport Venue Persuasion Communication Rhetoric Criticism
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. X, 224 pp.

Biographical notes

Danielle Johannesen (Volume editor) Mark E. Huglen (Volume editor)

Danielle Johannesen (Ph.D., University of South Dakota) is Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Her critical and creative work has appeared in The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History, and Culture; Brevity; South Dakota Review; and Midwestern Gothic, among others. Mark E. Huglen (Ph.D., Wayne State University) is Professor of Communication at the University of Minnesota Crookston. He has received multiple awards, including the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. He has written numerous articles and books.


Title: Iconic Sports Venues
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
235 pages