Based on the entire game-day experience, what is the best stadium in the NFL? Athlon ranks the 2013 stadiums based on home-field advantage, ammenities, game-day atmosphere, history and tradition, among other things.
Opened: 1966 Capacity: 53,200 Record: 155-101-3 (Playoffs: 14-3)
The Raiders have to share a stadium with a pro baseball team, which forces bizarre sight lines and seating configurations for football fans. There have been plenty of huge games and historic moments in this building but it is old and desperately needs an upgrade. Additionally, there may not be a more dangerous atmosphere in the NFL than The Black Hole — which is just the way the Raiders fans like it.
Opened: 1967 Capacity: 71.561 Record: 193-156-3 (Playoffs: 5-6)
There is a reason the Chargers have threatened to leave the city many times. The on-going battle to keep the Bolts in San Diego hinges largely on the ability to build a new facility. Qualcomm has seen some big moments as it has hosted Super Bowls and MLB All-Star games, but it is also in need of major renovations if not complete destruction.
St. Louis Rams
Opened: 1995 Capacity: 66,000 Record: 67-73 (Playoffs: 4-1)
The Rams are trying to move out of this building for a reason — or, at the very least, force major upgrades. It was originally built as a convention center and has multiple seating configurations. There is a distinct lack of character or creativity in the building and it is why the Rams' new lease requires the facility to be upgraded significantly by 2015. Time Magazine voted EJD the seventh-worst major sports stadium in the US.
Opened: 1982 Capacity: 64,121 Record: 158-85 (Playoffs: 6-4)
The crowd is great and the atmosphere for Vikings games is fantastic but the Metrodome is literally a dump. As in, the roof caved in once because of heavy snow and the building’s condition has forced ownership to threaten to leave town multiple times. The Thunderdome is scheduled to be torn down in February and the Vikes will play in TCF Bank Stadium while a brand-new facility is constructed in the same location.
Opened: 1987 Capacity: 75,540 Record: 122-85 (Playoffs: 5-3)
This building has hosted five Super Bowls and has seen some great times (mostly when No. 13 was playing). But the building itself has had six different names, has an atmosphere that is anything but electric and is in dire need of across the board upgrades. Not housing the Marlins any longer is a plus but otherwise, this is one of the worst places to watch a game in the NFL.
Opened: 1995 Capacity: 67,246 Record: 84-60 (Playoffs: 2-1)
It can appear a little cheesy at times and the tarps are certainly an eyesore, but this building has some stuff going for it — especially, after the renovations. The home winning percentage is much better than expected for a team of this caliber and the new additions will add plenty of character. But for the time being, this is a building befitting a team that had the second pick in the draft in April.
Opened: 1996 Capacity: 73,778 Record: 67-69 (Playoffs: 2-1)
The first building built on the backs of PSLs, Carolina’s home venue was considered by many as one of the most advanced in the league at the time of its construction. Which is why, 20 years later, the facility is in desperate need of upgrades because none have taken place since it opened in 1996. There are only four NFL stadiums that are older that have not received renovations.
Opened: 1999 Capacity: 69,143 Record: 69-43 (Playoffs: 2-2)
As someone who stares at LP Field from the couch in his living room, it is a nice building with some cool lines and architecture. The building is in great shape and located on the Cumberland River in the heart of downtown Nashville. However, the atmosphere is one of the worst in the league as the fans are one of the most fair weather groups in the NFL. There is no problem getting tickets as an opposing fan.
Opened: 1999 Capacity: 73,200 Record: 41-71 (Playoffs: 0-0)
Located on the shore of Lake Erie is a bizarre confluence of passion, amenities, brutal weather and losing football. The building isn’t the nicest in the league but it’s much newer and more advanced than most. The location is solid but also creates difficult environment for fans and teams alike. The fans are committed despite having very little to be committed too for many years.
Opened: 1998 Capacity: 65,890 Record: 69-51 (Playoffs: 2-2)
The giant pirate ship may be an attractive aspect to some but it looms as a large eyesore for others. The building is new enough and swanky enough to host Super Bowls and bid on NCAA championship games while also having one of the best playing surfaces in the league. But the atmosphere can be lacking and the character of the building overall is fairly plain and ordinary. The New Sombrero’s only signature feature is one that many fans disapprove of.
Opened: 1997 Capacity: 85,000 Record: 64-63-1 (Playoffs: 1-1)
A fairly non-descript building, FedEx Field is the largest stadium in the NFL. It is fairly straight forward and lacks true character, ranking 28th in the league on a Sports Illustrated “NFL Fan Value Experience.” Many fans long for old RFK Stadium and that is why there are already rumblings that a new stadium may be in the works. This for a building not even 20 years old.
Opened: 1973 Capacity: 73,079 Record: 175-132 (Playoffs: 9-1)
The home winning percentage, particularly in the playoffs, is one of the best in the league over time and the crowd is as raucous and dedicated as any in the NFL. The area is nice as well, but the building itself needs to be upgraded across the board. This is why there will either be a massive $200 million renovation over the next two years or a major discussion about the possibility of a new waterfront facility.
Opened: 1992 Capacity: 71,228 Record: 101-67 (Playoffs: 3-2)
When going well, the Falcons’ home stadium is as loud and rocking as any in the nation. It’s nice enough to host the Super Bowl multiple times but not up-to-date enough to keep owner Arthur Blank from trying to build a new building. The Dome is massive and has a signature look from the outside but there is a reason a massive state-of-the-art facility is in the works for Atlanta.
Opened: 2002 Capacity: 65,000 Record: 34-54 (Playoffs: 0-0)
It’s a beautiful, relatively new building that was extremely unique when it opened in 2002. The site incorporated an old warehouse that impacted where luxury suites and lounges were placed on both sidelines. Is it too big for a team that struggles to win consistently? Maybe so, but it’s an excellent building for a fan base that supports its team well despite the poor winning percentage.
Opened: 2003 Capacity: 68,532 Record: 45-35 (Playoffs: 4-2)
“The Linc” is a solid building with solid amenities and modern styling. And the fans are as intense as anywhere in the nation — sometimes, too intense. But earlier this spring, the Eagles announced their home stadium would receive a major upgrade with $125 million worth of HD boards, seating expansion, new WiFi, upper deck bridges and improved facilities. Next year, Philadelphia’s home stadium will be higher on the list.
Opened: 1960 Capacity: 69,732 Record: 200-122-2 (Playoffs: 18-7)
It’s one of the most historic and tradition-rich buildings in NFL history. It has hosted some of the biggest moments in NFL history and has a passionate and dedicated fan base. However, the 53-year-old building is in dire need of an upgrade so the 49ers and the city of San Francisco have agreed to relocate to brand new Levi’s Stadium in 2014. The new building — aka, “The Field of Jeans” — will cost $1.2 billion and will be the most state-of-the-art facility in the league.
Opened: 2000 Capacity: 65,535 Record: 52-51 (Playoffs: 0-2)
“The Jungle” has one of the best names in the NFL, getting its moniker from legendary Ohioan and Bengals founder Paul Brown. After some issues with the playing surface, the Bengals upgraded to field turf and PBS became one of the more underrated and pleasant venues to watch a game (for Bengals fans, at least). The $455 million building is located next to the Reds stadium on The Ohio River and is one of just two (Lambeau Field) with underground piping that heats the playing surface.
Opened: 1998 Capacity: 71,008 Record: 87-33 (Playoffs: 3-2)
Located immediately adjacent to Camden Yards, “The Bank” has been home to two Super Bowl champions since Baltimore welcomed the former Browns to town in the late 90s. The crowd is intense, passionate and very loud, giving the Ravens one of the best home-field winning percentages in the league. It isn’t the fanciest, most technologically advanced or expensive — it has a modest $200 million price tag — but the five-level building has been consistently sending opposing teams home with disappointment for nearly two decades.
Opened: 2001 Capacity: 76,125 Record: 59-37 (Playoffs: 2-2)
Replacing famed Mile High Stadium in 2001, the originally named Invesco Field sits on the edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Sun Valley area of Denver. Broncos fans are among the best in the league and have proven it by selling out every game this building has ever hosted. It has excellent amenities and cost roughly $400 million to build. The open air and inclement weather one mile above sea level always make this place a brutal location for opposing teams.
Opened: 1975 Capacity: 73,208 Record: 141-148 (Playoffs: 5-3)
It has had some rough patches — namely Hurricane Katrina and decades of horrible teams — but it has been transformed into one of the most revered and difficult to play in venues in the league. The home crowd is wild and intense as few cities have a connection with their team like New Orleans does with the Saints. Following Katrina, the building underwent extensive refurbishing and subsequent renovations a few years later at a total cost in excess of $500 million. It has hosted decades of Sugar Bowls and numerous Super Bowls but will always be the home of Who Dat nation.
Opened: 2010 Capacity: 82,566 Record: 15-9 (NFC 1-0), 14-10 (AFC 0-0)
Across from The Old Meadowlands, the “New Meadowlands” is the only building to house two NFL franchises. The $1.6 billion price tag makes it the most expensive construction project in NFL history. The 82,566 capacity makes it the biggest stadium in the league in terms of permanent seating (FedEx is bigger but not permanent). The bizarre aluminum exterior is covered in lights that can change color based on what is taking place inside. An interesting fact, the first row of seats is just 46 feet from the sidelines at the 50-yard line, making them the closest to the action anywhere in the NFL. It will host this year’s Super Bowl — the first outdoor Super Bowl in a Northern city in history.
Opened: 2002 Capacity: 71,054 Record: 45-43 (Playoffs: 2-0)
An underrated facility, Reliant Stadium has two different playing surfaces — both natural and artificial. The massive $352 million building was the first NFL stadium with a retractable roof and hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. It will host the Super Bowl again in 2017. The construction and design of the building, both the interior and exterior, is open and transparent, giving it a unique combination of intimacy and expanse. The crowd is loud and passionate and, frankly, how many NFL stadiums are undefeated in the playoffs?
Opened: 2006 Capacity: 63,400 Record: 33-23 (Playoffs: 3-0)
Few stadiums have the technological advancements of the home of the Cardinals. The entire playing field can slide through an opening outside of the building in order to expose the natural surface to direct sunlight. The unique metallic exterior and massive retractable roof make this one of the most well respected and unique stadiums among engineers worldwide. The $455 million building has hosted a Super Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl among other big events since opening.
Opened: 2002 Capacity: 68,756 Record: 73-15 (Playoffs: 10-3)
Located roughly 30 minutes from downtown Boston, Gillette Stadium boasts one of the best home-field winning percentages in all of football. Mostly this is due to names like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but the fairly new amenities and boisterous home crowd are a big part of the Patriots’ home success. The unique styling adds to the building’s character, as the “front door” features the signature lighthouse and bridge combination on one end of the stadium.
Opened: 2001 Capacity: 65,050 Record: 70-25-1 (Playoffs: 7-3)
Few stadiums connect, embody and represent the attitude of a franchise and city like Heinz Field. The view of the Ohio River, the yellow and black seating and local naming rights deliver a homely (to the home team, at least) atmosphere that Steeler Nation adores. The fans are some of the best in all of sports and they are what make this stadium one of the toughest places to play in the league. It’s not surprising that the Steelers have been able to win three out of every four games played here.
Opened: 2008 Capacity: 62,421 Record: 28-12 (Playoffs: 2-1)
Known affectionately as “The Oil Drum” or “The House that Peyton Built,” the Colts’ home stadium is second to none when it comes to amenities and engineering. The massive angular brick and limestone façade, retractable roof and window wall are gorgeous and inviting. Super Bowls, Big Ten Championship Games and more have called Lucas Oil home.
Photo By: Bill Smith
Opened: 1924 Capacity: 61,500 Record: 193-131-1 (Playoffs: 7-7)
The oldest stadium in the NFL is rich in history, tradition, prestige and pageantry. And the old school columns still offer a significant feel of yesteryear. The extensive renovations in 2003 have been met with mixed reviews as the upgrades made the experience inside the building more comfortable and accommodating. However, the outside “UFO” look has turned some old-school fans off and keeps the building from being considered in the top 2-3.
Opened: 1972 Capacity: 76,416 Record: 180-136-1 (Playoffs: 2-4)
Smooth contours, a passionate atmosphere and the sweet aromas of Kansas City BBQ make homes games at Arrowhead a sight to behold. Recent $375 million renovations in 2010 have upgraded the look and feel of the fifth largest building in the NFL, making it one of the best places to watch a game in the NFL. In October, the building set a Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor crowd at 137.5 decibels (later broken by No. 2 on this list).
Photo By: James D. Smith
Opened: 2009 Capacity: 80,000 Record: 17-15 (Playoffs: 1-0)
Everything is bigger in Texas and when it wants to be, the Cowboys’ home venue is the largest stadium in the NFL — it will grow to over 100,000 for special events. The jumbotron runs nearly the length of the field and is a one-of-a-kind spectacle. The interior design is also one-of-a-kind with field level box suites and tons of standing room. Sliding doors open on either end and over the roof to allow for better air flow. If size and expanse is the measuring stick, few stadiums in all of sports can match the enormity of the $1.15 billion building.
Photo By: Corky Trewin
Opened: 2002 Capacity: 67,000 Record: 59-29 (Playoffs: 5-1)
Right now, there is no better home-field advantage in the NFL than “The Link.” The crowd is deafening and the shape and style is uniquely Pacific Northwest. Toss in Seattle weather and you have a building that boasts one of the best home winning percentages in the league. The crowds are passionate and incredibly intense, making it nearly impossible for visitors to leave Seattle with a victory.
Opened: 1957 Capacity: 80,750 Record: 194-108-4 (Playoffs: 14-4)
There is no more hallowed ground in the NFL than the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. The single-tiered football cathedral is massive and homely all at the same time. Located in a quaint Midwestern neighborhood, Lambeau rises from the horizon like the pigskin palace that it is. With the spacious new end zone additions (pictured here), it became the third largest stadium in the NFL and made one of the louder buildings in the league even louder.