Over the last 25 years, the National Football League has become far and away the most popular professional sports league in the United States. Although we have said this a time or two, it bears repeating. The NFL is now a multibillion dollar entity. Teams are bringing in higher revenues than ever before, player salaries continue to grow, and the league’s television contracts are astronomical.
Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that NFL stadiums as a whole are becoming architectural masterpieces. With the 2016 NFL season rapidly approaching, here is a look at the nine best NFL stadiums in the league.
1. Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Location: Denver, Colorado
Before going on, it’s worth pointing out that the home of the Denver Broncos may actually have a new name in the near future. Their longtime sponsor, Sports Authority, filed for bankruptcy and missed their sponsorship payment. Thus, they had to turn over future naming rights to the Broncos. Regardless of this ongoing situation, Sports Authority Field at Mile High is one of the best NFL stadiums for fans to catch a game.
One thing you can always count on at Sports Authority Field: a sellout crowd. The Broncos have sold out every home game they have played at the stadium since its construction was completed in 2001. (The team also has a home sellout streak dating back to 1970.)
All said, what Denver’s 76,125–seat stadium lacks in flashiness and technology (their current structure will never allow them to host a Super Bowl), it more than makes up for in location (it’s nestled between the Rocky Mountains and downtown Denver at an elevation of 5,280 feet), fan experience, and team tradition.
2. US Bank Stadium
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
U.S. Bank Stadium is the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. The $1.061 billion stadium officially opened on July 22, 2016, and is truly one of the most beautiful venues on the planet. Like its predecessor, the Metrodome, US Bank Stadium is a fixed-roof structure, but what’s noticeably different is the presence of a translucent roof and walls that allow natural light to enter the stadium.
One of the more unique aspects of the stadium are the five pivoting glass doors — the largest in the world — that serve as the main entrance. The NFL has already awarded Minneapolis the right to host Super Bowl LII in 2018.
3. Arrowhead Stadium
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
When it comes to game day atmosphere, not many venues can compete with Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. Their tailgating scene is second to none, and there may not be a friendlier group of fans in the league. When the game starts, the fans at Arrowhead make up arguably the loudest crowd in the NFL. On a side note, how awesome is this owner’s suite that the Hunt family (who own the Chiefs) built inside of Arrowhead?
4. AT&T Stadium
Location: Arlington, Texas
AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, is one of the most amazing venues in the world. “Jerry’s World” cost $1.3 billion to construct. For anyone who ever attends any event at the 80,000-seat stadium, it’s easy to see why it carried such an enormous price tag.
First and foremost, there is the high-definition video screen hanging from the roof that spans just under 60 yards. For fans sitting in the nosebleed seats, it almost makes more sense to just watch the game on the big screen. There are an additional 3,000 Sony LCD screens located throughout the stadium, and unique artwork specific to AT&T Stadium can be found throughout the venue.
Simply put, this is a stadium that all diehard NFL fans should make the trek to visit. (Capacity is 105,000 when standing room only space is factored in.)
5. MetLife Stadium
Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey
MetLife Stadium, which is home to both the New York Jets and the New York Giants, cost $1.6 billion to construct, making it the most expensive stadium ever built in the world. The venue can be adjusted to go from being ready to accommodate a Jets home game to a Giants home game in a matter of hours, and while we believe it would have been wise to add a retractable roof to this 82,000-seat stadium, this is still an excellent venue to take in an NFL game.
6. University of Phoenix Stadium
Location: Glendale, Arizona
The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is home to the Arizona Cardinals and college football’s Fiesta Bowl. The stadium may not be in the ideal location — it’s a lengthy drive away from Phoenix and Scottsdale — but it truly is a modern architectural masterpiece.
The stadium’s natural grass turf has the ability to be rolled in and out of the stadium to allow the venue to accommodate other sports and to give the grass ample sunlight for maintenance purposes. The seats in the stadium are spacious and comfortable, and the retractable roof allows spectators and athletes to escape the brutal Arizona heat. Bottom line: The University of Phoenix Stadium is built for football fans.
7. Lambeau Field
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
There is no arguing that Lambeau Field is the most storied stadium in the National Football League. The home of the Green Bay Packers recently underwent a $140.5 million renovation project to make Lambeau more modern and functional, and thankfully nothing was done to alter the integrity of this NFL landmark. Whether you are a Packers fan or not, it’s worth making the trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin to see a game at Lambeau Field.
8. Heinz Field
Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play at Heinz Field is a one-of-a-kind experience. Terrible towels take over the entire stadium; fans can view the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh. You can go to the team’s Hall of Fame; cheer with diehard Steelers fans; and, of course, check out the giant Heinz ketchup bottles that sit atop the stadium’s scoreboard. We highly recommend attending a game at Heinz Field. However, we suggest doing so early in the season to avoid bitter cold temperatures.
9. CenturyLink Field
Location: Seattle, Washington
CenturyLink Field in Seattle has become notorious for having extremely loud and raucous crowds. The home of the Seattle Seahawks is located in the heart of downtown Seattle, and with the way the stadium is constructed to amplify noise, the Seahawks’ “12th Man” has set numerous world records for having the highest decibel readings during home games. When it comes down to it, there may not be a better stadium to see a game in today’s NFL.