P.T. Harmon Dreaming Big with New Chicago Stadium

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/February 20, 1926

P. T. Harmon, more familiarly known as “Paddy” in these parts, is a short, square-rigged gentleman somewhere in the fifties of life, who is planning a monument to himself in Chicago in the form of a sports arena that is to be known as Harmon’s Stadium.

An offhand statement of Mr. Harmon’s idea might lead to the impression that the gentleman is only dreaming, especially when it is stated that the stadium is to cost $8,000.000. But Mr. Harmon’s friends assure me that he is no dreamer, that he is a mighty practical man, who has made a lot of money out of public dance halls, and that he is not given to foolish statements.

They think he will put over the stadium just about as he says. Aside from the public dance halls, Mr. Harmon has been something of a sports promoter out here for years. Everybody calls him “Paddy.” He seems to be a genial Irishman with many friends. He has a wide, square face and smiles easily. He wears an emerald ring, emerald cuff buttons and an emerald tie pin, or maybe they are tournamalines. Anyway, they are green.

He is as enthusiastic over his stadium as Mr. George “Tex” Rickard was over his new Madison Square Garden. Mr. Rickard slept with the new Garden until the last beam was in place. They call Mr. Harmon the Rickard of the West, but they are quite different types. Where Mr. Rickard is suave and persuasive, Mr. Harmon is bluff and aggressive. Men acquire results by different methods and manners.

I met Mr. Harmon at the Chicago six-day race, which is one of his promotions. He was eating a sandwich in a small impromptu cafe in the basement of the old coliseum. He began talking of his new stadium at once. He already knows it by heart from the architect’s plans.

He plans to seat 60,000 persons, all under one roof, and there will be standing room for many more. It will be quite possible to play football games under cover in this stadium.

With boxing coming on in Chicago, the first thought that occurred to the public mind was that Mr. Harmon will go in strong for the manly art of scrambling ears. However, like Mr. Rickard when he planned his new Madison Square Garden, Mr. Harmon has slight reference to the manly art in his plans. He knows that it is at best an ephemereal pastime at the mercy of legislators and what-not.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Harmon won’t care much if there is no boxing in Chicago at all, so far as any potential revenue to him from that source is concerned. If it comes, he will look for some big matches, to be sure. If it doesn’t come, he will put in hockey and other sports. 

I think there is no doubt about Chicago supporting a stadium of the kind Mr. Harmon has in view. It has no public hall or arena on the order of the new Madison Square Garden, the old coliseum being very small and antiquated for the purposes of modern day sports.

There are some great outdoor stadiums here, including the magnificent structure on the lake front, almost in the heart of the city where the Army and Navy game is to be played in the Fall, and the stadium of Chicago University, which is soon to be replaced by a newer and grander field. Then there are several ball yards of considerable size besides the homes of the White Sox and the Cubs.

But Chicago needs its new Madison Square Garden, wherefore Mr. Harmon is something of a public benefactor, even though he plans to do all right for Mr. Harmon in the stadium. In fact, Mr. Harmon just hopes to make a lot of money.

If he carries out his plans, his stadium will seat nearly three times as many persons as can be seated in Madison Square Garden. It is claimed that it will be possible under the arrangements planned by the architects to empty the place in ten minutes, which will be fairly speedy work.

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