The 1970s brought the cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadium to the National Football League, as the old saying goes if you’ve seen one then you’ve seen them all. Thankfully, those days are long gone.
In today’s NFL, new stadiums often define the city and the local fan base, as the goal is for these structures to become their own mini-communities that gets better with age. They offer an abundance of parking and less congested concourses that allows the fans to get to their seats on time before the opening kickoff.
Here are the top five NFL stadiums to visit before you die:
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is affectionately known as “Jerry’s World,” which refers to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He has built the largest venue in the NFL, as AT&T Stadium holds more than 100,000 fans each Sunday. No question, everything offered inside the stadium is over the top, whether it’s the enormous center-hung video board to the elaborate choreographed dancing routines by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. This new building design has heavily influenced what’s offered in other professional sports facilities since its opening. Too often, first-time visitors forget that an actual football game is being played because of all of the theatrics taking place.
The roof on top of CenturyLink Field is used more frequently in European soccer venues than American football stadiums. This subtle change offers the loudest stadium environment for a visiting team to play in, as “The Link” has become an ideal homefield advantage for the Seattle Seahawks. The franchise feeds off the “12th Man” philosophy, as they offer merchandise at the team store and fans have responded by wearing the #12 jersey all throughout the stadium. Limited parking is available, which makes pregame tailgating almost an impossible task. However, the local bars (Seattle Alehouse is the most popular choice) surrounding CenturyLink Field are often three-deep with patrons prior to the kickoff. Also, the Seahawks offer a free fan village called Touchdown City, which is located on the north side of CenturyLink Field.
There’s no more sacred ground in professional football than Lambeau Field, as it’s neatly tucked away inside a quiet Green Bay neighborhood. The outside of Lambeau Field doesn’t do justice for the majestic atmosphere found inside the turnstiles. Hardcore Green Bay Packer fans feel the best food option is a bratwurst from Kroll’s, which is directly across the street from the entrance of Lambeau Field.
Arrowhead Stadium recently underwent a $375 million facelift that will help to preserve the building for hopefully eternity. It’s one of the most uniquely shaped stadiums in the NFL, as Arrowhead Stadium features some of the best sightlines in all of football. The Kansas City Chief fans are loud and stand for all four quarters regardless of the score. The tailgate scene outside in the parking lot is hands down the best in the league, as the revelers arrive early and leave late. This enables them to showcase their own grilling technique in a city famous for its barbecue. The high-energy environment found inside Arrowhead Stadium is great for the home team and the fans, but less than ideal for the visiting team.
Gillette Stadium is one of the most spacious sports venues in the United States, as the standing room section is larger than what other NFL stadiums offer to their patrons. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft privately built this venue 13 years ago, and recently added a 20,000 square-foot business center on the site to add further revenue, as it can host a number of corporate events. In an ode to the team’s name, Gillette Stadium offers a nautical motif. The best attraction is the giant lighthouse, which is an ideal photo opportunity when it’s lit during late afternoon or evening contests. There’s a number of food options offered outside of Gillette Stadium, as bars and restaurants are located in the surrounding area. Premium season ticketholders can enjoy pregame party inside an exclusive stadium club on the southeast side of Gillette Stadium prior to each home game.