These outstanding venues should be on any sports fan’s bucket list
Considering the United States hasn’t yet reached its 250th birthday, it’s difficult for our fledgling country to match the historic attractions that reside across the globe.
Comparatively speaking, Europe’s landscape is dotted with churches that date back more than 900 years, Machu Picchu in Peru was built around 1500 A.D. and the Egyptian pyramids may have been constructed as early as 3200 B.C.
That said, the U.S. is home to a variety of athletic cathedrals that some sports-loving travelers swear rival the world’s greatest structures. Certainly, the Great Wall of China is impressive, but have you seen a towering home run clear the Green Monster in Boston? And sure, the Taj Mahal in India is breathtaking, but have you experienced a sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains during a Rose Bowl game?
Here are 10 must-visit American ballparks, stadiums and arenas that sports fans of all ages should experience at least once.
Major League Baseball
Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)
Fenway Park, which opened in 1912, is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues and one of the most legendary venues in sports. Often called “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” Fenway has hosted Red Sox fans for generations. While it features a variety of quirks, Fenway’s signature element is the Green Monster, the left field wall that stands more than 37 feet high. Fans can take a tour that leads them through the hallowed grounds of the park and stops at several notable attractions at the stadium, including the fabled Monster.
Petco Park (San Diego, California)
Known as “America’s #1 Ballpark,” Petco Park is located in downtown San Diego, and is the home ballpark of the San Diego Padres. Opened in 2004, Petco Park combines some of the best sightlines in baseball with stunning views of the San Diego bay and skyline. Its architecture, including the famous Western Metal Supply Co. building which is built into the ballpark, is dazzling and also features a grassy hill in the outfield for families to gather. Whether you are looking to go behind-the-scenes on a guided tour, enjoy a unique concert venue or special event, Petco Park provides a one-of-a-kind experience. For more information, visit www.padres.com/visitpetcopark.
Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)
Opened in 1914, Wrigley Field, along with Fenway Park, is considered the jewel of Major League Baseball. Featuring historic ivy-covered walls, a hand-operated centerfield scoreboard and green grass as far as the eye can see, Wrigley is a baseball institution. Visitors can experience Wrigley’s charms on a 90-minute tour that takes you to the famous bleachers, makes a stop at the outfield ivy and even takes you into the dugout and the visiting clubhouse.
National Basketball Association
Chase Center (San Francisco, California)
A state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena in San Francisco, Chase Center is home to the 2021-22 NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Opened in 2019, the $1.4 billion arena has a seating capacity of 18,064 and also sports a 35,000-square-foot public plaza/recreation area, making it an excellent place to socialize. Chase Center’s clean, modern design and impressive technology make it one of the finest venues in the NBA.
Little Caesars Arena (Detroit, Michigan)
This multipurpose arena in midtown Detroit debuted in 2017 and hosts both the Detroit Pistons of the NBA and the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. The $862.9 million, 20,332-seat (for basketball) arena anchors The District Detroit, a 50-block, mixed-use development connecting downtown and midtown. The building’s design connects the arena with restaurants and stores, making it one of the more fan-friendly arenas in both the NBA and NHL.
Madison Square Garden (New York, New York)
Nicknamed “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden resides in midtown Manhattan in New York City and features one of the most electric atmospheres in sports. Home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, the Garden has hosted rock stars, sports legends and cultural icons. Visitors can take a 60-minute guided tour that teaches about the Garden’s nearly 150-year history, can access exclusive backstage areas of the arena and can get an up-close view of the iconic concave ceiling from the Chase Bridge.
National Football League
Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
The Mecca of the NFL, Lambeau Field has been the home field of the Green Bay Packers since 1957. Over its 65-plus years of existence, 81,441-seat Lambeau Field has been the site of a multitude of historic moments, including the first NFL Championship game in 1961 and the Ice Bowl in 1967. Lambeau Field offers a variety of tours, ranging from two hours to one hour, with each giving exclusive access to this legendary stadium.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia)
This stadium, which opened in 2017, features an eye-popping exterior, including a retractable roof containing eight movable panels that resemble a camera shutter. The first stadium in the world to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the 71,000-seat venue is home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United. The stadium’s halo scoreboard is the first of its kind in professional sports, measuring 58 feet tall and 63,000 square feet of 360-degree HD video screen, which gives fans in every seat a view of the action.
SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles, California)
An incredible sports and entertainment destination in Southern California, 70,240-seat SoFi Stadium is the most expensive stadium in NFL history ($5.5 billion). At 3.1 million square feet, this striking venue that opened in 2020 is the largest and first indoor-outdoor stadium in the NFL and is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. SoFi has already hosted a slew of major events, including Super Bowl LVI, the 2023 NCAA football national championship game and concerts by BTS and the Rolling Stones. Tours feature a behind-the-scenes experience of SoFi Stadium’s most exclusive spaces including premium suites, team locker rooms and a walk through the players’ tunnel.
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California)
Home of the UCLA Bruins and the annual Rose Bowl Game, this fabled stadium possesses one of the finest views in all of sports, as the San Gabriel Mountains form a picturesque backdrop when the sun sets. Opened in 1922, the Rose Bowl possesses a mystique that few, if any, in college football can match as it has hosted a multitude of legendary games over the years. Guests can enjoy a tour of the stadium where they will visit the original 1922 locker room, get an up-close look at the iconic field and delight in the chance to walk through this historic landmark.
By Jason Paha
Main photo: Yankee Stadium. Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball