Over the last 50-plus years, the Super Bowl stadiums have evolved tremendously
When the first Super Bowl was played, the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs faced off in front of a less-than-capacity crowd in the frills-free Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Today, the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the world and the events surrounding it get bigger and more extravagant.
Not only has the Super Bowl evolved, but stadiums have as well. Take Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, which is hosting Super Bowl LV, for instance. It has a massive pirate ship replica in the north end zone, something that was unthinkable 55 years ago.
A great Super Bowl venue not only depends on the stadium and its amenities but also the city where it is played. Here is every Super Bowl venue ranked.
25. Rice Stadium
Super Bowls: 1 (VIII)
Rice Stadium was the first Super Bowl site that was not home to an NFL team. Since then, it has reduced its capacity from 70,000-plus to 47,000 in recognition of the engagement of the Rice Owls’ fan base.
24. Tulane Stadium
Location: New Orleans
Super Bowls: 3 (IV, VI, IX)
The first home of the Sugar Bowl also hosted three of the first nine Super Bowls. In fact, Super Bowl IX was the last NFL game ever played in the stadium. It also hosted the coldest Super Bowl ever when the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins faced off in 39-degree weather in Super Bowl VI.
23. Pontiac Silverdome
Location: Pontiac, Mich.
Super Bowls: 1 (XVI)
The Detroit Lions' home stadium from 1975-2001 got its name because its Teflon-coated fiberglass roof had a silver look. The Silverdome holds the distinction of hosting the first Super Bowl in freezing conditions and not without issue. Traffic on Super Bowl XVI gameday was delayed because of terrible weather. When the San Francisco 49ers' team bus was caught in the mess, head coach Bill Walsh turned to his players and said, "I've got the radio on and we're leading 7-0. The trainer's calling the plays."
22. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Location: Los Angeles
Super Bowls: 2 (I, VII)
The Coliseum has been the home to USC, three NFL franchises, the Olympics, and the first Super Bowl. With USC recently spending over $300 million to renovate the stadium, it may host another one someday.
21. Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Super Bowls: 1 (XXVI)
The second venue to host a Super Bowl in cold weather was located in downtown Minneapolis so traffic issues were not the problem that they were with the Silverdome.
20. Stanford Stadium
Location: Stanford, Calif.
Super Bowls: 1 (XIX)
The San Francisco 49ers' practice facility was located in Redwood City at the time of Super Bowl XIX, which was just five miles from Stanford Stadium. So, when they beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16, you could say they are the only team to win a Super Bowl at "home."
19. Alltel Stadium
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Super Bowls: 1 (XXXIX)
Now known as TIAA Bank Field, this stadium is best known for college football, as it includes structures from the old Gator Bowl stadium and hosts the annual Florida/Georgia game. For Super Bowl XXXIX, it spent $47 million in renovations to create a larger Jumbotron, put escalators in the north and south end zone, and open a unique sports bar called the "Bud Zone."
18. Tampa Stadium
Location: Tampa, Fla.
Super Bowls: 2 (XVIII, XXV)
Made almost entirely of concrete and with no overhang, Tampa Stadium offered great views and Florida heat.
17. U.S. Bank Stadium
Super Bowls: 1 (LII)
Ever seen that episode of Silicon Valley where birds keep crashing into the reflective glass of a venture capitalist's home? U.S Bank Stadium has that same problem. Its aesthetically-pleasing reflective exterior glass kills more than 100 birds every year according to a study published in 2019.
16. Lucas Oil Stadium
Super Bowls: 1 (XLVI)
With numerous hotels and restaurants connected to the stadium and years of hosting the entire league at the NFL Scouting Combine, one would have thought that the Super Bowl would have been a pretty easy fit for Lucas Oil Stadium. Yet its lack of enough hotels caused room costs to skyrocket to as high as $4,000 a night, forcing many fans to stay three hours away in Chicago.
15. MetLife Stadium
Location: East Rutherford, N.J.
Super Bowls: 1 (XLVIII)
The first Super Bowl to be hosted in the New York City Metropolitan area garnered an unprecedented amount of excitement over the game's location. And the temperature for the game was in the mid-40s and manageable. The only downside was that a huge snowstorm fell on the city that night and disrupted travel the next day.
14. Orange Bowl
Super Bowls: 5 (II, III, V, X, XIII)
The Orange Bowl holds the distinction of being the only stadium to host a Super Bowl two years in a row.
13. Ford Field
Super Bowls: 1 (XL)
While the Silverdome was 30 miles outside of its home city, Ford Field is in downtown Detroit and has all the amenities of modern stadiums. The venue's design allows for natural light and a view of the Detroit skyline.
12. QualComm Stadium
Location: San Diego
Super Bowls: 3 (XXII, XXXII, XXXVII)
Originally known as Jack Murphy Stadium and now SDCCU Stadium, this venue is likely to be demolished because San Diego State plans on building a new stadium at its location.
11. Georgia Dome
Super Bowls: 2 (XXVIII, XXXIV)
The Georgia Dome was a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in downtown Atlanta. The fact that it was considered obsolete and demolished 25 years later is a testament to how fast stadiums are evolving.
10. NRG Stadium
Super Bowls: 2 (XXXVIII, LI)
Originally known as Reliant Stadium, NRG Stadium was the first in the NFL to have a retractable roof. It also sits next to the Astrodome in NRG Park.
9. AT&T Stadium
Location: Arlington, Texas
Super Bowls: 1 (XLV)
"Jerry World" revolutionized the design of modern sports stadiums and if you are sitting at level 200 or higher, it's hard to take your eyes off the Jumbotron and focus on the field. However, no amount of money can mitigate Texas' unpredictable weather and the week of Super Bowl XLV was disrupted by ice storms that plagued much of the state.
8. Sun Devil Stadium
Location: Tempe, Ariz.
Super Bowls: 1 (XXX)
Sun Devil Stadium was scheduled to host Super Bowl XXVII, but the NFL moved the game to the Rose Bowl after Arizona opted not to honor Martin Luther King Day. Arizona voters approved the holiday in 1992 and the Super Bowl XXX was the first one played in the Grand Canyon State.
7. Levi's Stadium
Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
Super Bowls: 1 (L)
Bay area fans are frustrated with Levi's Stadium’s location 40 miles outside of San Francisco and corporate feel, but no one can criticize its views and amenities.
6. Rose Bowl
Location: Pasadena, Calif.
Super Bowls: 5 (XI, XIV, XVII, XXI, XXVII)
The NFL will not allow Super Bowls to be played in metropolitan areas without an NFL team, so the Rose Bowl has not hosted a game for 27 years. But that may change with the return of the Rams and Chargers.
5. State Farm Stadium
Location: Glendale, Ariz.
Super Bowls: 2 (XLII, XLIX)
When it opened in 2006 as University of Phoenix Stadium, one of the more unique features was a field tray that could move the playing field in and out of the stadium depending on the event. The NFL must still be impressed because State Farm Stadium will host Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
4. Raymond James Stadium
Location: Tampa, Fla.
Super Bowls: 3 (XXXV, XLIII, LV)
With its pirate ship, large Jumbotrons, and "Buccaneer Cove" concession area, "Ray Jay" offers a unique gameday experience and will host Super Bowl LV in February.
3. Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Super Bowls: 1 (LIII)
With a price tag of $1.6 billion, the cost to the taxpayer is often cited in discussions about this venue. Hopefully, the taxpayer is not thinking too much about it when he is enjoying a $5 beer and the pinwheel retractable roof.
2. Hard Rock Stadium
Location: Miami Gardens, Fla.
Super Bowls: 5 (XXIII, XXIX, XXXIII, XLI, XLIV, LIV)
Super Bowl LIV was the sixth Super Bowl this stadium hosted under five different names, Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Dolphin, Sun Life, and Hard Rock.
1. Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Location: New Orleans
Super Bowls: 7 (XII, XV, XX, XXIV, XXXI, XXXVI, XLVII)
The oldest stadium on this list still hosting Super Bowls remains a go-to site because it continues to upgrade, and the fun of New Orleans is available upon exiting the stadium.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott)