With the proliferation of fantasy football and televisions with enhanced picture capacity, the in-stadium experience has to compete with the short attention spans of even the most hardcore NFL fans.
Add the cost of tickets, parking and concessions at many stadiums to the stress of game day, and it’s no wonder some fans choose to stay home and relax with access to a tv, laptop and the ability to see more than one game. To say nothing of avoiding the line to the bathroom and the concession stand, so there is little risk of missing any game action under normal circumstances from the comfort of home. Going to a local bar also offers a relatively low-stress environment compared to venturing out to the stadium, even with slightly more competition for liquid refreshment and facility use than a fan would face at home.
But there is still something to be said for the stadium experience on game day, and most fans have a desire to go and see their favorite team at least once in their life. Tailgating outside the stadium before the game with fellow loyal fans is itself a unique experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
The debate over the top stadiums in the NFL is largely driven by personal preference and perhaps location, while national exposure can also drive appeal with all the new stadiums around the league.
With that, here are my “Top 10 NFL Stadiums To See In A Lifetime.” Which of mine make your list? Is there one or more around the league I simply missed? Feel free to comment, contradict or just plain disagree.
Even with the potential of bad weather games late in the season, fans of the New England Patriots gladly come out to watch their team in droves. A chance to see one of the great quarterbacks of this generation in Tom Brady and a perennial playoff contending team adds to the appeal of Gillette Stadium. Just be sure to bundle up from Thanksgiving on.
In an overall sense the "dome experience" can be a bit antiseptic for fans without the potential of weather, but New Orleans Saints' fans aren't afraid to bring the party indoors and make it Mardi Gras each Sunday. The potential of a very high-scoring game with the Saints having one of the league's best offenses along with a lackluster defense only adds to the appeal here.
The on-field product for the home team is not always great, but the overall atmosphere in the desert makes this stadium a worthy winter destination if you reside in a cold weather city. Of course it would be a little more worthwhile if your favorite team has to travel to take on the Arizona Cardinals. That way you can go back home with a potential victory along with memories of the nice weather.
The Houston Texans have become one of the best teams in the league over the past couple seasons, adding to the appeal of seeing a game at a beautiful stadium in a warm weather city. Reliant Stadium was first NFL facility to have a retractable roof, which has become a trend with new stadiums since it opened in 2002. I think this may be one of the more underrated stadiums in the league, perhap much like the team that calls it home.
Met Life Stadium will become the first outdoor stadium in a cold weather city to host a Super Bowl when Super Bowl XLVIII is played there, and it is currently the stadium in the NFL with the most permanent seating capacity (82,566). The two primary tenants, the New York Giants and New York Jets are traditionally two of the more interesting teams in the league on and off the field, so the chants for personnel or coaching changes from the home crowd only adds to the ambience.
The city of Indianapolis, and Lucas Oil Stadium as it's centerpiece, drew rave reviews as host of Super Bowl XLVI. After a dismal 2011 season, "The House That Peyton Built" now is home to a rising young team led by 2012 #1 overall pick Andrew Luck and a beautiful, state-of-the-art stadium only adds to the appeal here. It may only be a matter of time before opposing teams dread having to travel to take on the Colts once again.
The notorious "12th Man" give the Seattle Seahawks one of the league's greatest home-field advantages. Even with CenturyLink Field being an open air stadium, the noise level rivals that of any any dome stadium and makes it hard for opposing teams to function. The weather may not always be ideal in the Pacific Northwest, but the atmosphere of this stadium makes it a must-see.
The altitude in Denver gives the Broncos a unique homefield advantage, and that element also creates a unique atmosphere (pun intended) for a game. From the days of the "Orange Crush" defense through "Tebow Time" to this year's team with Peyton Manning at quarterback, the Broncos typically field a competitive team and have players worth the attention of fans no matter where their rooting interests lie.
This venue has not given the Dallas Cowboys the type of homefield advantage owner Jerry Jones envisioned thus far, but there is plenty to see here even if you are not a Cowboys' fan. The famouse cheerleaders, nice weather (usually), a huge Jumbotron that hovers over the field in case you have a bad seat...what more could a fan want?
The infamous "Frozen Tundra" and fans that can literally own a piece of the team gives the Green Bay Packers a definite homefield advantage. To say nothing of the talent the team puts on the field, which is typically formidable. Even fans of the rival Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears can consider Lambeau a destination NFL stadium.