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Ranking the NFL Stadium Experiences

By Paul Swaney -- February 01, 2014 2:43 PM EST

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On the eve of the Super Bowl, we are pleased to present our rankings from 1-32 for the top stadium experiences in the NFL for the past season. We use our official FANFARE rankings from our correspondents when determining our list, and use the ratings of our members as the primary tiebreaker. We've included an excerpt from each of our reviews. We're looking forward to seeing the new home of the 49ers, Levi's Stadium in 2014. Please be sure to share your experiences as well, by rating the stadiums where you have attended a game.

  1. Lucas Oil Stadium - Home of the Indianapolis Colts

    For the third consecutive season, we rank Lucas Oil Stadium as the best overall experience in the NFL. Indianapolis has the best downtown sports scene in the United States. Every venue in Indianapolis is top notch, and a trip to see the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium is no different. In fact, it may be the best sports experience in the world. That may seem like hyperbole, but go to a Colts game and you will agree that it is a top notch venue.

  2. Heinz Field - Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most successful team since the NFL/AFL merger, with six Super Bowl titles. For four of those championships, they shared Three Rivers Stadium with the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball went retro in the mid-1990s, the Pirates followed suit by planning PNC Park, and the Steelers had an option to renovate Three Rivers into a football-only facility. But with their three division rivals all boasting new venues, the Steelers ownership wanted to get in on the act. The city eventually agreed to build two separate venues along with a convention center. Though controversial for its use of public funds, the project has revitalized the North Shore, with the two stadiums standing a few blocks away and making Pittsburgh one of the premier sports destinations in the country.

  3. Lambeau Field - Home of the Green Bay Packers

    Since the Ice Bowl game on New Years Eve 1967, Lambeau has been known as “The Frozen Tundra”, although it has never been frozen during a game since then. The same can’t be said for the fans, who endure temperatures well below freezing to cheer on their team. In this case, “their team” is entirely accurate, as many fans own a piece of the club, something that cannot be said anywhere else in the NFL.

  4. AT&T Stadium - Home of the Dallas Cowboys

    Cowboys Stadium with its fans makes for one of the rowdiest atmospheres in the NFL and can make for a bad day for opposing teams and coaches. The beautiful stadium not only adds to the atmosphere but makes the experience even better. With a vast amount of leg room in the seats and seating that is perfectly placed so that no matter where you sit you have a great view, Cowboys Stadium makes for a great atmosphere.

  5. Bank of America Stadium - Home of the Carolina Panthers

    Though many fans complain that the NFL is becoming less and less of a fan-friendly sport, the Panthers do a great job of remembering the reason they open the gates each Thursday, Sunday or Monday. With reasonable (considering the sport) pricing, a lively in-game atmosphere and a family-friendly environment, Bank of America Stadium is a great place to watch a game. The team's return to prominence will only make the experience that much better.

  6. NRG Stadium - Home of the Houston Texans

    The atmosphere of Reliant Stadium is definitely one of a kind with great fans, a great city and a beautiful stadium which make for a perfect mixture. There are two huge jumbo screens at each side of the stadium to keep fans engaged during the game and to show replays and highlights.

  7. CenturyLink Field - Home of the Seattle Seahawks

    So you think your fans are the absolute loudest? Does the noise meter burst out of the red as if your fans are so loud it can’t be measured? Well cute animations and biased claims aside, the Seattle Seahawk fans are the absolute loudest, not in the NFL, not in the United States, but the loudest in the entire world, and it has been proven.

  8. Mercedes-Benz Superdome - Home of the New Orleans Saints

    The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is located just a few blocks away from the French Quarter. While many other NFL fans brag about their tailgating experience, Saints fans are more accustomed to party-gating on Bourbon Street and the surrounding area both before and after the game. The newly developed "Champions Square" is a unique fan gathering area which includes huge banners of Saints players and logos, a live band, several food and drink vendors, and swarms of Who Dats cramming into the square.

  9. Gillette Stadium - Home of the New England Patriots

    Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, is nestled along Route 1 in the small town of Foxboro, Massachusetts. Unlike the larger city teams like Cleveland, Seattle, Detroit and Carolina, whose stadiums are tucked downtown in major urban areas, Gillette feeds not only to one city or state, but a region that supports and lives for the sport of football. Being one of the most successful NFL franchises in the past decade and a half, the Patriots facility showcases their hierarchy throughout the league.

  10. FirstEnergy Stadium - Home of the Cleveland Browns

    In 1999, Cleveland was granted a new franchise and they made Cleveland Browns Stadium, built on the site of Municipal Stadium, their new home. The Browns continued the legacy of futility, with only one playoff appearance in that time. Fortunately, their new football-only facility is among the best in the league, giving their hard-luck fans a great place to watch the team.

  11. Lincoln Financial Field - Home of the Philadelphia Eagles

    Lincoln Financial Field is a wonderful sports venue for everyone from diehard Eagles fans to casual onlookers. There is truly a home-field advantage to be had here, and even with some minor hiccups along the way, the full Lincoln Financial Field experience for any visitor is as memorable as the team's one of a kind fight song.

  12. Soldier Field - Home of the Chicago Bears

    Opened in 2003, a controversial renovation placed a futuristic steel-and-glass saucer between Soldier Field’s iconic colonnades. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin called the renovation “a monumental eyesore” and “the monstrosity on the midway”, and the National Park Service stripped its landmark status, declaring that Soldier Field “no longer retains its historical integrity.”

    Over time, positive evaluations did emerge; Peter Richmond, writing for ESPN’s Grantland website, compared the new Soldier Field favorably to faux-retro stadiums in New York, praising it as “…a complete success, an integral art of the second-city's first-city architectural status.”

    While that debate won’t be settled here – or anywhere – the new interior of Soldier Field offers a terrific gameday experience, led by intimate views of the action from anywhere in the stadium and the company of a diehard fan base. Bears tickets are hard to come by, but a trip to Soldier Field is worth the effort for any football fan.

  13. Paul Brown Stadium - Home of the Cincinnati Bengals

    It's amazing what a competitive team can do for your game experience. While the open design of PBS doesn't necessarily help retain noise, the local fans do their best to create a home-field advantage. A game at Paul Brown offers you great sightlines from every spot in the stadium. The lower bowl is incredibly close to the field while the upper decks are built on a steep incline to give those seats a good viewing angle to all on-field action.

  14. M&T Bank Stadium - Home of the Baltimore Ravens

    M&T Bank Stadium (capacity 71,008) opened in 1998, and was the direct result of Art Modell and the original Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore following the 1995 season. While the team name, colors, and history have remained in Cleveland, the organization has done an incredible job of creating their own niche and history. Since their move to Baltimore, the Ravens have won four AFC North Divisional titles (2003, '06, '11, '12) and two Super Bowl championships (2000 & 2012), making them one of the most successful teams in the last 20 seasons. The devoted Ravens fans have reciprocated the love affair with their team by selling out every home game since its inception in 1996.

  15. LP Field - Home of the Tennessee Titans

    LP Field is located just east of downtown Nashville, which is one of the best spots in the entire country. The main street in Nashville is Broadway which features numerous establishments for eating and drinking. At almost any time of the day, many of these spots feature live music and many spots cater to all ages.

  16. Georgia Dome - Home of the Atlanta Falcons

    The Georgia Dome has been home to the Atlanta Falcons since 1992. But once the 2017 season begins, the Georgia Dome will be no more as a new stadium will open just south of the dome’s current location.

    Over the last 20-plus years, the Georgia Dome has not seen a lot of big games because the Falcons have not achieved consistent success. However, in recent seasons, the Falcons have been in the playoffs four times and as hosted three playoff games including the 2012 NFC Championship Game.

    While Atlanta fans are criticized for not supporting their sports teams, more fans have come to support the Falcons over the last few years because of their recent success. And while they have still have a lot of work to do in becoming the best fans in the NFL, there is nothing quite like seeing the Georgia Dome filled with over 70,000 fans cheering the Falcons to victory.

  17. Sports Authority Field at Mile High - Home of the Denver Broncos

    People enjoy jumping up and down on the metal floors, creating that Rocky Mountain Thunder and making the new stadium vibrate violently. Fans also dance, start chants and scream until their voice is gone. Overall, it's a party atmosphere, a fun environment for people to yell and dress as loudly as they want, things that aren't acceptable in everyday life.

  18. Sun Life Stadium - Home of the Miami Dolphins

    Going to a Dolphins game is a treat. Beautiful weather in the dead of winter is reason enough to take in a Dolphins game. With the Dolphins being the primary tenant at Sun Life Stadium, the vast majority of the decor is focused on the Dolphins. With the Marlins off to their new ballpark, there is very little remnant of the Major League Baseball team left at the stadium.

  19. Arrowhead Stadium - Home of the Kansas City Chiefs

    Considered by many to offer the NFL's biggest home-field advantage, Arrowhead Stadium opened in 1972 as one half of Kansas City's Truman Sports Complex. Sitting just north of the Royals' Kauffman Stadium, Arrowhead underwent a massive and much needed face-lift in 2009. Added were additional suites and press-boxes, a Hall of Fame, numerous digital improvements, and widened concourses.

    As one of the few remaining "bowl" style NFL venues, Arrowhead is a throw-back football home housing one of the best atmospheres in the league. In a sports venue world increasingly reliant on comfort, aesthetics, and overall ostentation, this is the perfect blend of rugged past and updated present, just the way the Chiefs and their army of fans like it.

  20. Mall of America Field - Home of the Minnesota Vikings

    The first thing you'll notice about Mall of America Field is that it's loud. I mean, really loud. Even when the stadium isn't completely full, it's buzzing. From the introductions all the way through to the end of the game, a game at Mall of America Field is an experience like no other. When the Vikings score, you know it. When the Vikings do something the fans don't like, you know it. The Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium starting in 2014 while their new stadium is constructed.

  21. Ralph Wilson Stadium - Home of the Buffalo Bills

    The home of the NFL Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson Stadium, nee Rich Stadium, is now one of the deans of football venues and one of the oldest stadiums in existence. It opened its doors in 1973 with the franchise moving from old and decrepit War Memorial Stadium in the inner city. When this place opened its doors, local fans were pinching themselves with delight – a clean and sparkling new stadium, with a real dot matrix scoreboard, lots of parking in a seemingly safe neighborhood in the upscale suburb of Orchard Park.

    Since those days just about every other NFL team has opened or refurbished their stadiums, but while “The Ralph” may not have all the bells, whistles, and revenue generators of its peer venues, it still remains an extremely functional and resilient football stadium even after 40 years of use.

  22. University of Phoenix Stadium - Home of the Arizona Cardinals

    University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened its doors in August 2006, is home to the NFL’s Cardinals, as well as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and many other events throughout the year. It is easily the most state-of-the-art sports facility in Arizona, and arguably one of the best in the NFL and the country. The total cost for building the stadium ended up being $455 million.

  23. Raymond James Stadium - Home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Tampa Bay has had a long, diverse pro football past, from the winless inaugural season and 0-23 start under John McKay to the Super Bowl-winning team under John Gruden. Currently, the team is struggling to find an identity in the marketplace, but that won't prevent you from having a fantastic time at a Buccaneers game.

  24. EverBank Field - Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars

    The lackluster attendance detracts from the magic of game day, to be sure. There's bustle outside the stadium and around the concourses, but not the kind of heavy human traffic that screams "This is NFL football, the place to be!" at venues like the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium or even FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins' financially-exploited, pessimistic fans.

  25. Edward Jones Dome - Home of the St. Louis Rams

    Among NFL stadiums, the Edward Jones Dome remains one of five fixed indoor stadiums (Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Minnesota are the others with the latter two being replaced in the next few years). Still, with the team playing at the Edward Jones Dome, there have been some improvements to make the experience enjoyable if not as good as it should be in a modern facility. It is clear ownership is trying to strike a balance before a more permanent solution can be found.

  26. Ford Field - Home of the Detroit Lions

    The great downtown location, and current assortment of offensive and defensive stars, has many fans in Detroit hoping that the day will come soon that the Lions may make their first ever Super Bowl appearance, as they are one of only four teams to never appear in the title game in the Super Bowl era (Texans, Jaguars and Browns are the others).

  27. MetLife Stadium - Home of the New York Giants

    The stadium is now decked out in the colors of whichever team is hosting that day, from the exterior lighting to the ring of honor. It might be worth visiting twice to see those differences, but if you can only see one team here, make it the Giants. The fact that you can see four Lombardi trophies and be entertained by the older, wiser, less obnoxious fans makes it the better destination for the average Stadium Journeyer.

  28. O.co Coliseum - Home of the Oakland Raiders

    Even though The Coliseum isn't aging well, a Raiders game is still quite the party. It starts in the parking lot, hours before kickoff. The Raider Nation gets there early to fire up their grills and toss back a few cold beverages. This moves into The Coliseum, where the party really starts.

  29. MetLife Stadium - Home of the New York Jets

    MetLife Stadium bills itself as the "nation's preeminent destination for sports and entertainment." Certainly it is the largest in professional sports, but its location and difficult access for those that don't have season tickets challenge that claim. The stadium gets a lot of grief for too much corporate signage, but to be fair, it was not built with public funds, so this is not a valid complaint. I'd rather look at a few extra Bud Light signs than have my tax dollars used to enrich billionaires. It is certainly worth visiting once, but if you had a choice, the Giants might present the more interesting overall experience.

  30. Candlestick Park - Home of the San Francisco 49ers

    Candlestick Park was a serviceable home for the 49ers, but the team will move into Levi's Stadium in 2014.

  31. Qualcomm Stadium - Home of the San Diego Chargers

    With phenomenal venues in San Diego such as PETCO Park, Viejas Arena, Tony Gwynn Stadium, Fowler Park and the Jenny Craig Pavilion, fans are very likely to be disappointed with Qualcomm. Understanding that it is easier said than done, most would love to see the city of San Diego come up with a solution to keep this team in San Diego.



  32. FedExField - Home of the Washington Redskins

    As a fan, the stadium concourse and seating bowl are, well, kind of blah. Comparing it to Heinz Field, where there are unique displays and parts of the stadium that make it a more sensory experience, there is a distinct lack of something special at FedEx. The stadium has large high definition displays in each end zone, which are definite upgrades over what they had previously, but that is the most distinguishing feature of the stadium. The fans overall are great, but this stadium lacks the personality the Redskins' previous home had.

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