The NFL’s First Playoff Game Was Played Indoors in a Hockey Arena


On December 18, 1932, with waist-deep snow and frigid weather plaguing Chicago, the Bears moved their NFL championship game against the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans from Wrigley Field to the indoor facility of the city’s NHL team. The league’s  first playoff game—and first contest played indoors—produced what an Ohio newspaper called a “sham battle on Tom Thumb gridiron.”

Chicago Stadium could only accommodate a field 60 yards long, 40 shorter than regulation, and 48 yards wide, five shorter than normal. The end zones were condensed, too. Because a circus had recently been held at the venue, the teams played on a field composed of 400 tons of dirt. Certain circus leftovers added an unmistakable odor to the night’s array of oddities.


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