As early as 1959, Phillies owner R. R. M. Carpenter Jr. proposed building a new ballpark for the Phillies on 72 acres (290,000 m2) adjacent to the Garden State Park Racetrack in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The Phillies' then-home, Connie Mack Stadium, was starting to show its age (it had been built in 1909), had inadequate parking, and was located in a declining neighborhood. Furthermore, in 1959 alcohol sales at sporting events were banned in Pennsylvania but were legal in New Jersey. The proposed ballpark would have seated 45,000 fans, been expandable to 60,000 and would have had 15,000 parking spaces.
The American League's Philadelphia Athletics had moved to Kansas City, Missouri after the 1954 season, the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors had moved to San Francisco in 1962, and Philadelphians weren't about to lose another professional sports franchise. In 1964, Philadelphia voters approved a US$25-million-bond issue for a new stadium to serve as the home of both the Eagles (who played at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field) and the Phillies. Because of cost overruns, the voters had to go to the polls again in 1967 to approve another $13 million. At a total cost of $60 million[clarification needed], it was one of the most expensive ballparks to date.
The stadium was named by the Philadelphia City Council, in 1968, for the veterans of all wars. As early as December 1969, the Phillies expected that they would play the first month of the 1970 season at Connie Mack Stadium before moving to the new venue. However, the opening was delayed a year because of a combination of bad weather and cost overruns.
The stadium's design was nearly circular, and was known as an "octorad" design, which attempted to facilitate both football and baseball. San Diego Stadium in San Diego had been similarly designed. As was the case with other cities where this dual approach was tried (other examples include RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Shea Stadium in New York City, the Astrodome in Houston, Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh), the fundamentally different sizes and shapes of the playing fields made the stadium inadequate to the needs of either sport.
The stadium opened with a $3 million scoreboard complex that at the time was the most expensive ever installed.