The 'New Sports Venue' Bucket List
The sports venue bucket list is pretty well-known: Fenway Park, Camp Nou, the Big House, on and on. However, there are new stadiums being built around the world every year. Which of these are of the must-see variety?
First, what does "new" mean? For today's purposes, let's say the venue was opened in 2000 or later, and by opened, that doesn't mean "renovated" or "under construction." The renderings for the new Sacramento Kings and Tottenham facilities look awesome, but alas, they're not open yet.
Second, what does "must-see" mean? The criteria surely varies by individual, but it's safe to say the following might have an impact: fan experience, innovation/technology, aesthetics and the surrounding area.
The new Wembley Stadium is a great facility, but it's also in London, a top international destination. The University of Phoenix Stadium might not be in the most exciting place geographically, but its technology and considerations for fan experience are superb. The best new stadiums merge the best of both worlds, making them perfect for inclusion on a bucket list.
Here are 15 venues sports fans should see, along with scores, 1-10, for stadium and location. In a magical land where money is no object and frequent international travel is totally possible, go to these places. Go to see the world, to experience new things and to be able to say, "I've been there," to your grandchildren one day.
There are many awesome new stadiums all over the world. Here are a few that deserve a mention:
- Target Field: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Aviva Stadium: Dublin, Ireland
- Emirates Stadium: London, England
- PNC Park: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Heinz Field is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh football team. Since Pittsburgh is a boisterous football town, it's only right the new stadium would be top-notch.
Like many new American stadiums, luxury was in mind with this one. Heinz Field boats 68,400 seats, 7,300 club seats, over 38,000 square feet of suite space and a high-tech video board. Its location on the Ohio River provides an aesthetically pleasing waterfront home.
In 2011, Steelers president Art Rooney II told Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "There's no doubt Heinz Field put us in a situation where we felt like we could be competitive with the other teams. It brought us into the next century, so to speak."
Where: Sapporo, Japan
Japan's Sapporo Dome is home to many football and baseball games. Major events have and will take place there, including matches of the 2002 World Cup and 2019 Rugby World Cup. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this venue is it includes a "sliding pitch," according to architecture and design magazine Dezeen. That means it can change between two separate, dedicated surfaces for football and baseball with ease.
Also, baseball is a pretty big deal in Japan. It would be worth a trip just to see a game there.
Where: Arlington, Texas
Home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium, aka "Jerry's World," is the masterpiece of team owner Jerry Jones. At the time it was built, the stadium featured the world's largest retractable roof and HDTV video board. A model of extravagance, it looks big, flashy and new, inside and out.
Per Jeff Mosier of the Dallas Morning News, the project cost an astounding $1.2 billion when all was said and done. In addition to Cowboys games, the stadium has hosted a Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game and several major college football games.
University of Phoenix Stadium
Where: Glendale, Arizona
The home of the Arizona Cardinals provides a showcase of modern technology. Not only does University of Phoenix Stadium boast a retractable roof, it also has a retractable field (much like the "sliding pitch" at the Sapporo Dome in Japan).
The stadium is designed to have an open-air feel even when the roof is closed. This is accomplished through a "fabric roof" and outer panels that allow external light to shine in, according to the venue's official website.
In addition to Cardinals home games, the venue has also hosted a Super Bowl, WrestleMania and two college football national championship games. The stadium has been the recipient of many awards and accolades since its opening, including the Venue Excellence Award from the International Association of Venue Managers and Best New Venue of the 2000s from SI.com.
Where: Brooklyn, New York
Madison Square Garden helped make basketball big time in New York City. Nothing can ever be MSG, but like the famous venue, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is a place where sports and entertainment collide. In addition to providing a home for the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders, the arena is a heralded concert venue.
The Barclays Center has also been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Congress for its sustainable practices. The external appearance is also unique and memorable, to say the least. Not only is the building famously rust-colored, but it's also getting a green lawn atop its roof.
The Float at Marina Bay
Where: Marina Bay, Singapore
The Float at Marina Bay is a floating football pitch, making it easily one of the most innovative venues on this list. According to StadiumGuide.com, the Float was built to be a stand-in venue while Singapore National Stadium was rebuilt. (It, by the way, also looks awesome.)
The floating portion itself can hold up to 9,000 people, and the adjoining stadium accommodates 30,000. The Float has hosted football matches, but is now primarily used as an event venue for concerts and ceremonies. It also hosted the Youth Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2010.
Where: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Home of the football club Palmeiras, Allianz Parque is part of a group of stadiums worldwide that share the name Allianz. Like many new stadiums, this one was built to be a multipurpose facility, regularly hosting concerts and corporate events in addition to football matches.
Allianz Parque is aesthetically pleasing and easily accessible, according to StadiumGuide.com. In addition, a worldwide public vote facilitated by StadiumDB.com named Allianz Parque Stadium of the Year in 2014.
It's also likely to enjoy more sustained success as a venue. In May, the Associated Press (via the New York Times) reported that compared to many stadiums built for the 2014 World Cup, Allianz Parque (not built for that purpose) has been more profitable.
Where: East Sussex, England
American Express Community Stadium, aka the Amex, aka Falmer Stadium, is the home of English football club Brighton & Hove Albion FC. According to BBC Sport, the stadium cost a pretty penny at £93 million (roughly over $140 million) and has seen exceptional attendance numbers since its opening.
In 2012, the Argus reported the Amex had been named the best new stadium in the world at a stadium business awards show in Italy. The external appearance is beautiful, particularly the roof. In 2011, the venue was also honored at the Structural Steel Design Awards.
Per Stadia Magazine, Brighton's chief executive, Martin Perry, said, "The design of the stadium is all about the roof so to receive one of the country's top awards for roof design is a huge accolade and I congratulate the designers—KSS and SKM—on their innovative design."
Where: St. Louis, Missouri
Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, is described as "retro-style" on the official website. According to Daniel Hanna of the Good Point, the stadium was built as a homage to the industrial past of St. Louis itself.
Hanna wrote, "While some fans may wonder why a more modern design was not implemented, it is actually Busch Stadium's connection with the architectural and cultural history of St. Louis that makes it so successful."
The ballpark is located downtown, making it convenient for out-of-towners while also allowing for a gorgeous outfield view of the skyline. North of the park, fans can find Ballpark Village, a dedicated area boasting restaurants, shops and a museum to bolster the baseball experience in the city.
Yas Marina Circuit
Where: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The facility is built on a man-made island along the Persian Gulf. According to BBC Sport, no expense was spared on this lavish venue—concrete was imported from the United Kingdom, and sophisticated lighting allows for day and nighttime race action.
Per BBC, F1 megastar Lewis Hamilton said, "The race in Abu Dhabi is always a fun weekend and one which I really enjoy. The circuit and the whole Yas Marina complex are so impressive and racing from the sunshine into the twilight is quite special."
Where: San Francisco, California
AT&T Park (formerly known as Pac Bell Park), home of the San Francisco Giants, was named the Sports Facility of the Year in 2008 by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily. Its website states AT&T Park is a "classic urban ballpark with an old-time feel."
Since its opening in 2000, the home fans have turned out in droves, consistently selling out the park, and the Giants have won three World Series.
Peter Gammons wrote for ESPN.com:
It's hard to say what's best about Pac Bell Park, except that it is San Francisco. The view from the worst seats in the house still gives you a view of the Bay Bridge and the marina. As great as Camden Yards, Turner Field, The Jake and Coors Field are, this is the best fan's ballpark because it was conceived, built and paid for by Giants owner Peter Magowan, a legitimate baseball fan.
Where: Turin, Italy
Juventus Stadium, home of Juventus Football Club, is one of only three club-owned facilities in Serie A, according to Chloe Beresford of the Guardian. The facility boasts environmentally friendly features, and the fan experience was also paramount in the design. Seats are situated close to the pitch for optimal viewing.
Per Beresford, Adam Digby, author of Juventus: A History in Black and White, said:
After years of sharing the Olimpico with Torino or playing in the soulless Delle Alpi, the Juventus Stadium feels like home. It's given a sense of belonging and because it's small and full – therefore making tickets scarce – attending a game feels much more important than before when they were playing in front of a half-empty ground.
Beijing National Stadium
Where: Beijing, China
Beijing National Stadium, aka the Bird's Nest, is an enduring image of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. According to Arup, a San Francisco-based design firm that helped bring the venue to life, the stadium was built with spectator proximity and line of sight in mind. In addition, the stadium's shape represents "heaven," while the nearby cube-shaped aquatic center represents the Chinese symbol for "Earth."
Though events have been somewhat sparse since the conclusion of the '08 Games, the 2015 IAAF World Championships were held there. Beijing was also awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, and the stadium should have a role to play.
Where: Bronx, New York
Old Yankee Stadium was surely on many bucket lists. Unfortunately, it was demolished in 2010, one year after the new park opened across the street. In its place stands a public park with a perfect view of the new building.
The new version kept many of the features of the original—the frieze, the outer appearance of the early-20th century original, Monument Park and many historical photos and artifacts. According to the New York Yankees' website, the new stadium features a wider concourse and basically more of everything—restrooms, dining choices, elevators and 1,400 video monitors.
Where: London, England
Like Yankee Stadium, the current Wembley Stadium in London is a 2.0 version. The gorgeous arch over the structure makes it one of the most regal and recognizable venues in the world.
Per the official stadium website, Wembley plays host to England's national football team, the FA Cup Final, Football League Cup Final, Rugby Football League Challenge Cup Final and more.
Wembley Stadium uses advanced technology in its playing surface, ensuring durability and quality for all sports played there. The stadium features a retractable roof, and the famous arch stretches 315 meters, making it the world's longest single-span roof structure.