The NFL has long been on the forefront of innovation, and this especially rings true when speaking on the edifices its 32 teams call home. Over the next four years, three teams will build and move into new homes. All three of these new spectacles are supremely unique, awe-inspiring and straight-up "cool."
Exterior of open air Levi's Stadium — Photo courtesy of Levi's Stadium
Starting with the 2014 season, the San Francisco 49ers will move into their new home: Levi's Stadium. Like the residents of this fine city, the stadium will be environmentally conscious. There will be solar panels, a "green roof" and water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Bay area natives are also tech savvy, so to accommodate that, the stadium will be fully equipped with Wi-Fi throughout.
Fictional rendering of what a future 49ers celebration could look like — Photo courtesy of Levi's Stadium
The design is of an open-aired nature, with huge plazas in the four corners of the stadium. The northwest corner will serve as the main entrance and will stay open year-round. Fans will be able to stop by, take pictures of the field and buy some cool swag at the team store, even if its the off-season.
Luxury boxes are strategically placed on one side of the field, allowing upper deck seating to be closer to field level. Levi's Stadium (Field of Jeans) will be overly accessible by foot, bike and light rail. It will be under the microscope early, as it has already been slated to host the Superbowl in 2016.
2016 should be the first time the Minnesota Vikings don their home purple inside a new stadium. From the outside, the stadium will resemble the prow of a medieval viking vessel, with a modern touch. There will be tons of faux-glass paneling, allowing what little light shines in Minneapolis to show through.
The designers have set the stadium below street level, which will amplify the views of surrounding skyscrapers. It will be the first fixed-roof stadium built since Ford Field. Said roof will be constructed from a synthetic glass type material, making it basically see-through. Budgeting for the stadium has already gone above $1 billion in planned expenses, so expect a top-notch football cathedral.
The Vikings new ship — Photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have had to share the pitiful Metrodome with the Twins for years, and will watch it deflate slowly over the next couple of weeks. For the 2014-15 seasons, the team will play at the University of Minnesota's stadium while they await construction efforts on their new ship. Fans should get excited, because from various reports, the new digs will put the spectators closer to the action than any other NFL stadium in existence.
Potentially the most interesting of all the new stadiums is the one belonging to the Atlanta Falcons. The internet has highlighted many variations of designs the team was considering, with some really crazy options among them. The version selected looks like some kind of radical geometric origami.
The future home of the Dirty Birds — Photo courtesy of Atlanta Falcons
The new stadium is set to open in 2017 in downtown Atlanta, just south of where the Georgia Dome currently stands. It will be a retractable roof facility, which will allow for potentially half the season's games to be played under the natural elements (though fans will always be covered).
Some of the most interesting features are undoubtedly video-related. The stadium will have a "halo board" or 360-degree video screen that will encompass the top of the stadium. No other current stadium has this. Also teased has been the "100 yard bar." This bar will have a video screen overhead that will pinpoint exactly which yard-line current action is taking place on. And yes, the bar itself will be 100 yards long.
The origami spaceship-like structure will come complete with a dynamic lighting system. Depending on the event or time of year, the stadium could turn red, orange, green or blue. There are even reports the stadium may feature rumble seats that will come into action whenever a big play occurs on the field. Intense!
If you can possibly imagine, the years 2014-2017 will bring with them stadiums that redefine spectating in nearly every quantifiable category. It's great for fans of the game that the NFL and its teams continually strive to put an excellent and innovative product out there for people to enjoy.