While Major League Baseball is considered the national pastime in the United States, NFL football has surpassed baseball in overall popularity over the last decade. It has become a Sunday tradition for sports fans who either watch on television or attend games, which consists of hours of tailgating followed by heart-pounding action. For the best experience, visit one of these stadiums:
Lambeau Field is the home of the Green Bay Packers. The oldest stadium in the league has the best atmosphere for football including a stadium filled with passionate fans, often wearing cheesehead hats, who endure frigid temperatures to watch their beloved Packers. Together with an unmatched game environment, Lambeau’s Frozen Tundra has been home to three Super Bowl championship teams starting with the first two titles under coach Vince Lombardi and ending with the Super Bowl XXXI title largely won on the arm of popular quarterback Brett Favre.
Lambeau Field © Karen54301
Opened in 2009, the new Cowboys Stadium is a state-of-the-art facility with the largest high definition video screen in the world. That along with an impressive franchise history including appearances in a record 8 Super Bowls makes a trip to Arlington, Texas a must for any football fan. Dubbed America’s Team after a run of success in the 1970’s, the Cowboys won 3 titles in the 1990’s lead by Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. In addition to NFL football, Cowboys Stadium hosted a record 108,713 fans for the 2010 NBA basketball All-Star Game.
Heinz Field is the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dubbed Steeler Nation, fans of this record 6-time Super Bowl championship team fill the stadium with black and gold. This passionate group of fans is also known for following and supporting the team on road games. As with the Cowboys, the Steelers built their massive fan base during their 1970’s championship run lead by quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running-back Franco Harris, and coach Chuck Noll’s “Steel Curtain” defense. The Steelers have also won Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008 with recently troubled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading the way.
Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs)
Visitors to Arrowhead Stadium will experience The Sea of Red, which is the nickname given to the loudest fans in the NFL. Though the Seattle Seahawks fans (The 12th Man) at Qwest Field would disagree since that is likely the loudest stadium in the NFL. Despite years of a home field advantage because of the high decibel level in the building, the Kansas City Chiefs have struggled over the last few years and haven’t reached a Super Bowl since the 1960’s under quarterback Len Dawson. That being said, it’s worth a trip to experience the hours of tailgating before the game along with a rarely matched fan atmosphere. Be sure to wear red and bring a pair of earplugs.
Tailgating in Cleveland © Nolosabias
Lucas Oil Field is the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the aesthetically pleasing design of the stadium, the main draw is an excellent fan atmosphere along with a consistently dominant team led by record-breaking quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts have finished first in the AFC South for 7 straight seasons. This has led to a Super Bowl win in 2006 and a loss in 2009 to quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Though Indianapolis may be a bit off the beaten track for travelers, it also has one of the best basketball venues (read the list) called Conseco Fieldhouse.
2010 welcomes the unveiling of the new Meadowlands Stadium, which is the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. With 82,500 seats, it’s second only to the Redskins FedEx Field in overall capacity. Big Blue has been more successful over the years in terms of Super Bowls wins including wins in 1986 and 1990 led by Coach Bill Parcells and a tough G-Men defense with Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. The Giants led by Eli Manning also upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII ruining their chance at an undefeated season. The Jets, on the other hand, won the most important Super Bowl in NFL history in 1968. The upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III led by Broadway Joe Namath solidified the AFL-NFL merger. A benefit of selecting a Jets game over a Giants game would be a chance to hear the loud chants of J-E-T-S led by Fireman Ed. The new stadium ensure that Giants games will be filled with a sea of blue while Jets games will be transformed to a haven for green.
Read about the best MLB ballparks and the best NBA arenas.
Gennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.