10 Must-See Venues for a Diehard Sports Fan
The nice thing about compiling a list like this is that it’s likely to be just as relevant in 20 years as it is now. Good teams of course come and go, but few places can be regarded as true sports Meccas. Once that distinction is earned, it isn’t quick to go. The best part about historic sports venues is that while they are steeped in history and tradition, they also tend to be the most fun places to go catch a game, so it’s not entirely an academic exercise. Fuel the jet, we’re visiting the 10 most iconic sports venues.
10. Wrigley Field
People can fight all day about Wrigley vs. Fenway, but the fact remains that Wrigley is the nicer place to watch a ball game. History and importance aside, the ivy, breezy Chicago summers, and the surrounding apartments all give Wrigley the edge. To baseball fans, a day game at Wrigley is the one constant on all the bucket lists.
9. Cowboys Stadium
Yeah, it’s brand new. Yeah, people hate the Cowboys. But this venue still has two things going for it. The Cowboys, despite many objections, are still America’s team, and the fact remains that the wonder that is Cowboys Stadium won’t be outdone for a very, very long time. That screen is every bit as impressive as it’s made out to be. But you might want to hang tight for a year or two if you want to see, you know, good football.
This one you’re gonna have to really want. It’s across the pond, and it’s tennis. But it’s one of the oldest traditions in all of sports, so throw on some white and kick back with some overpriced strawberries and cream. And please let me know if that platter is really as shiny in person. I have a wager to win.
7. Churchill Downs/Kentucky Derby
Horse racing isn’t much of a sport to behold, but the scene at the Derby is too good to pass up, sports fan or not. Thousands of people dressed for a garden party get together to gamble and drink bourbon. That’s it. That’s the event. The fact that women wear enormous hats is just icing on the cake.
6. The Masters at Augusta
A tradition unlike any other, indeed. That’s not necessarily a good thing, as the folks at Augusta exhibit some less-than-savory practices sometimes, but you’ve gotta like any place that still serves chicken sandwiches for $2.50 and beer for a cool two bucks. Never mind the savings, Augusta is among the most storied courses in the world, probably tied with St. Andrews. While St. Andrews might be the birthplace of golf, it doesn’t have anything on the atmosphere and beauty of this Georgia course. And while this may be more of an event than a venue, unless you’re a member of Augusta (and you’re not), this is the only time you get to see the course.
5. Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Any venue that seats 250,000 people would make this list by default, but the Indy 500 doesn’t just skate by on sheer size. This is an event in the truest sense of the word, including carb day, pole laps, and of course, the main event, rare is the event you can make a whole weekend out of. And here’s a word of advice: get a camper and get in the infield. Life will be a lot easier.
4. Lambeau Field
The yen to the yang of Cowboys Stadium. Lambeau is cold, old, and many sports fans wouldn’t have it any other way. From the Lambeau leap to the nearby families that have been allowing the same people to park at their houses for generations, this is a place that celebrates tradition. It may not have a Jumbotron the size of Rhode Island, but the history and reverence is palpable.
3. Cameron Indoor Stadium
No other college basketball environment comes close, regardless of how you feel about Duke. It’s small, loud, and the fans are passionate, to say the least. Add to the mix the fact that Duke is a perennial powerhouse, and this is a pretty short debate. That the students camp out for weeks to secure season tickets is a testament to how great this venue is.
2. Madison Square Garden
It might not be the nicest stadium in America (Spoiler alert: It’s not.), but one can’t deny the history of the building. Few venues are situated so squarely in the middle of, well everything. Walking up to that venue for a Rangers or Knicks game, it’s hard to forget that you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world. And for New York sports fans, this is Westminster Abbey.
1. Rose Bowl
Before bowl games had words like “Tostitos” in their title, there existed an aura of tradition, and few deliver tradition these days better than the Rose Bowl. It’s in a big city, there’s not a bad seat in the house, and the Pac-10/Big 10 matchup has more history than any other bowl game. Start with the parade (you’ll need to get there that early to park anyway) and enjoy your day.