It’s no surprise that America’s biggest sport plays week in and week out in some of the nation’s most impressive sporting venues. The NFL has consistently played in some of the most historic locations across America: Fenway Park, old Yankee’s Stadium and the Los Angeles Coliseum. However, with the twenty-first century bringing in some of the biggest ratings the NFL has ever seen, the need to expand to newer, bigger and more dazzling locales has become apparent. Some stadiums have withstood the test of time, while others have fallen and been replaced with spectacular futuristic coliseums that are up for the challenge of meeting the needs of the new age football fan. Here’s the list of the top five NFL stadiums you have to see.
5. Lucas Oil Stadium: Indianapolis, IN
Lucas Oil Stadium with its front window opened — Photo courtesy of Jun Wang
Opened in 2008, Lucas Oil Stadium replaced the RCA Dome as the home of the championship winning Indianapolis Colts. The stadium is unique among other NFL venues as it doesn’t even look like a football stadium at all. The faux brick on the outside of the stadium makes the monolithic structure appear to be an upscale warehouse of some kind. The facade is meant to complement other stadiums in the area. Inside, the stadium can host as many as 70,000 attendees, and the retractable roof can be opened on sunny days to let in sunlight. To aid in natural lighting, the end of the stadium has a large collection of windows that can be opened or removed. Lucas Oil Stadium is everything a modern NFL stadium should be.
4. CenturyLink Field: Seattle, WA
CenturyLink field when it was previously know as Qwest Field — Photo courtesy of Rennett Stowe
Few places can match the sheer noise created by Seattle Seahawk fanatics at CenturyLink Field, formerly known as Qwest Field. The King Dome formerly played host to the Seahawks, and it was legendary for its indoor noise. When plans were made to move outdoors to CenturyLink Field in 2002, some feared the noise and atmosphere would be lost, but the noise stayed. The stadium was built with overhangs on the main grandstands so attendees would not get wet from Seattle’s frequent rains. However, these overhangs helped to push the sound down onto the field and away from the stands, causing visiting teams to make many errors during the course of a game. The city known for its loud music matches every bit of its rocker attitude at this sleek and modern stadium that holds up to 67,000 fans.
3. Mercedes-Benz Superdome: New Orleans, Louisiana
Mercedes-Benz Superdome in downtown New Orleans — Photo courtesy of Infrogmation
One of the most snake-bitten and loveable franchises in the NFL calls one of the most unique and charismatic cities in the US home: the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Built in 1975, the dome is one of the oldest stadiums still in use by any NFL team, but its interior is up to the task of accommodating up to 76,000 people and plays host to several college bowl games, as well as the most Super Bowls of any NFL stadium. The atmosphere and community of New Orleans, the city that can endure almost anything, cannot be matched by any other venue on the schedule. It's truly a place one must see to believe.
2. Cowboys Stadium: Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas — Photo courtesy of David Jones
In 2009, with much pomp and circumstance, the Dallas Cowboys were brought into their new home in Arlington, Texas. The new futuristic stadium rises out of Arlington like a flying saucer, and the inside is just as impressive as the exterior. Boasting the second largest big screen TV in the world, Cowboys Stadium has all the accommodations one would expect of a new age NFL stadium and more. The stadium has a retractable roof, like the old Texas Stadium, but has a seating capacity of over 80,000. With standing room taken into consideration, the stadium can host as many as 105,000 fans. The venue is world class, and as they say, everything is bigger in Texas.
1. Lambeau Field: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Lambeau Field in Greenbay, Wisconsin during a patriotic ceremony — Photo courtesy of Mike Morbeck
Nothing screams American football quite as much as the name of Lambeau Field, named after the founder of the Green Bay Packers. Built 1957, Lambeau Field can host 73,000 attendees in its stands. Dozens of championship games have been decided at this stadium, and the fans themselves are fanatical in their devotion to the Pack, which is no surprise when you consider that Green Bay is the only publicly owned team in the NFL. Despite their incredible devotion, Green Bay fans are notoriously friendly and easy going. Rarely does a game pass without the fans cheering and carrying on in the parking lot with cookouts and bar-b-ques.
The NFL not only has some of the greatest sports venues in the world, but also some of the most devoted and interesting fans that any sport can call upon. Its venues reflect this, and all of them have their own mystique and atmosphere, some more so than others. However, make no mistake, the NFL plays for keeps in the area of must-see stadiums.