Top 20 World’s Most Impressive Stadiums
Nowhere is the synergy between engineering, art and entertainment more apparent than in some of our most grandiose constructions – our stadiums. Because we want to bring you the best of everything, we’ve put together a list of the ultimate twenty arenas in the world of them, bringing together the most prestigious, the biggest and most beautiful. Starting with:
20. Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Arena (or ArenA, as it is officially styled) was built to accommodate the famous Ajax Amsterdam side, which had grown too big for their previous home. Opened in 1996 with an elaborate ceremony, it was the first stadium in Europe with a retractable roof and still remains one of the most elegant on the continent.
19. Azadi Stadium, Teheran
Built for the 1974 Asian Games hosted by the Iranian capital Teheran, Azadi Stadium is part of the impressive Azadi Sport Complex. It is home to two local sides and the Iranian national team. Its grandiose appearance and noisy fans combine to great effect, leading to Azadi being named the most intimidating arena in Asia.
18. Rose Bowl, Pasadena (CA)
Opened in 1922, the Rose Bowl is one of the older stadiums in America, and a legend in its own right. It is the site of the Rose Bowl game, the oldest of the so-called ‘bowl games’ (from which the massive event that is the Super Bowl takes its name). Located in Pasadena, California, this iconic venue hosted the 1994 World Cup final and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
17. Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Japan were co-hosts for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and they really put their ingenuity into designing some amazing stadiums, one of the most remarkable being the Sapporo Dome. Apart from its really unusual, UFO-like shape, it’s also notable for having a retractable playing surface, meaning it can be used for both soccer and baseball, basically at the push of a button.
16. Old Trafford, Manchester
The oldest venue on our list, but still an amazing structure after over a century, Old Trafford is the home of one of the most successful teams in English and European history, Manchester United. With a nickname as awesome as ‘The Theater of Dreams’, you know it has to be something special.
15. Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
Named as a tribute to Mexico’s Aztec heritage, this larger than life arena is the only in the world that can boast having hosted two World Cup finals which saw legends Pele and Maradona lift the coveted trophy. It can also boast the badass nickname ‘Coloso de Santa Ursula’, meaning ‘Colossus of Saint Ursula’, which is the part of New Mexico it resides in.
14. Soccer City, Johannesburg
Opened in 1989, the First National Bank Stadium is the largest arena in Africa and was the most important venue during the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa. As FIFA does not allow stadiums to be referred to by sponsored names during its tournaments, it has come to be known by the admittedly catchier Soccer City.
13. University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale (AZ)
Opened in 2006 as the Cardinals Stadium, it’s currently named after the University of Phoenix, which acquired the naming rights shortly after. It is the home of the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, and was the first American stadium to feature a fully retractable playing surface. Its multipurpose nature means it can host a wide range of different events, from football games, to concerts, soccer games, college graduations and even racing events.
12. San Siro, Milan
This legendary stadium is home to two teams which maintain one of the fiercest rivalries in the sporting history: Internazionale and AC Milan. It is every bit as grandiose as the two sides who call it home. It went through a number of renovations over the years, as well a name change (it’s officially called “Giuseppe Meazza”, after a legendary Italian player who donned the colors of both sides), with its most distinctive feature being the four protruding towers which, along with 7 other hidden towers, hold up the stadium’s red roof.
11. Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Built for the 1950 World Cup (which Brazil hosted, and lost in a final against Uruguay), Maracanã is one of soccer’s most iconic venues. It used to be largest stadium in the world by capacity, and has an attendance record of an astonishing 200,000 people, at the aforementioned World Cup final. It still is the largest in South America and it will be one of the main venues during this summer’s World Cup, once again hosted by Brazil.
10. Guangdong Olympic Stadium, Guangzhou
The Chinese are well known for being able to build awesome things. In recent years they have put their vast resources to use in building impressive sports venues, with Guangdong Olympic Stadium being one of the most spectacular. Inspired by Guangzhou’s nickname Flower City, the stadium’s seating bowl was designed to look like the petals of a flower, while the flowing stadium roof resembles a ribbon being broken by a victorious runner.
9. Gillette Stadium, Foxborough (MA)
Opened in 2002 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium is home to both the NFL’s New England Patriot’s football franchise and MLS` New England Revolution soccer team. Its distinctive features are its lighthouse replica, intended to capture New England’s maritime heritage, and a bridge modeled on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge. Incredibly, the venue has sold out every time the Patriots have ever played there (a streak dating back to 1994, when the team played at Foxboro Stadium), giving the team the most impressive home record in the NFL.
8. AT&T Stadium, Arlington (TX)
The AT&T Stadium (originally Cowboys Stadium), in Arlington, Texas, is without a doubt one of the most impressive in the NFL. Its final cost was almost double the initial estimate, and in order to complete it the citizens of Arlington actually voted to increase their taxes, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also having to chip in to cover the rest.
AT&T Stadium has the largest column-free interior in the world, and used to have the world’s largest High Definition Video Display, because everything is bigger in Texas.
7. Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Named after Real Madrid’s legendary former player, manager and president, the Santiago Bernabeu is another truly impressive venue, one of the most prestigious in the world. Originally opened in 1947, it was renovated twice (in 1982 and 2001), and there are already plans to make further improvements to the venue in the near future, trying to keep up with the club’s great ambition to always be the best.
6. MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford (NJ)
Shared by the New York Giants and the New York Jets, it is the only stadium in the NFL to host two rival teams. But with a price tag of $1.6 billion (making it the most expensive stadium ever), one can understand why they wanted to split the bill. It features an outer skin of aluminum louvers and interior lighting that allows the arena to change color depending on which of the teams is playing at home (inspired by a venue in Europe, but we’ll get to that a little later).
5. Camp Nou, Barcelona
The Camp Nou (which translated from Catalan to New Field) is home to one of the best soccer teams in the world today, and arguably one of the greatest ever, FC Barcelona. It is only appropriate, then, that it has the greatest capacity of any stadium in Europe, with almost 100,000 people able to watch the famous tiki-taka live every other week.
4. Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (IN)
Opened in August 2008, Lucas Oil Stadium is the home of the Indianapolis Colts. With its state-of-the-art retractable roof and huge operable north window, it really gives the spectator a feeling of openness, as well as a great view of the Indianapolis skyline. Constructed of red brick and Indiana Limestone, it harmonizes nicely with the older buildings around it, while also giving the stadium itself an air of imposing elegance.
3. Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Known as the Bird’s Nest, it was designed and built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Its distinctive design, inspired by Chinese ceramics, was originally intended to hide the structure of the retractable roof, but when this idea was scrapped, the builders decided to keep the design anyway. The results is this jaw-droppingly beautiful stadium, definitely one of the Chinese capital’s most beautiful structures.
2. Allianz Arena, Munich
A stadium which is home to two rivals is not usual, but not completely unheard of either. And who wouldn’t want to share the architectural jewel which is the Allianz Arena? In order to accommodate the two Munich teams that use the ground (Bayern and TSV 1860), the Allianz Arena has a façade of inflated ETFE plastic panels that can actually change color according two which of the sides is currently playing. The colored and illuminated stadium is simply a splendor to watch, almost as good as the play of one of its tenants, Bayern, who have recently become arguably the best team in Europe.
1. Wembley, London
When the 80-year-old original Wembley was demolished, it was probably the most iconic stadium in the world. The great Pele had called it “the cathedral of football”. However the new Wembley built over the same spot is just as impressive. At £757 million (about $1.5 billion today), it is the second most expensive stadium ever built, and it was certainly worth every penny. With its great arch stretching high above the new stadium, Wembley is every bit as grandiose and majestic as its legendary predecessor.