There is nothing like a trip to the ballpark. Probably even today, the smell of sizzling hotdogs the sound of crowd cheers evoke memories of a simpler time when the stadium experience was a life-changing event. Okay, while that may be a little too philosophical, there is still just something magical about going to your favorite teams arena and rooting them on with thousands of like-minded fans.
In today’s age, the stadium experience is one of glitz and glamour. Professional franchises spend millions upon millions (sometimes billions) of dollars to optimize the fan experience. The ambiance of the match is complemented by the unique architecture of these marvelous stadiums. Each new stadium built is more eye-popping than the last, and every architect is trying to make their mark on the world with a structural signature towering above the bleachers.
Yet, with every new, hi-tech stadium that breaks ground, there is an older arena breaking down. These structures are now crumbling into oblivion, and obscurity, among the surrounding concrete parking lots. Sure, many of these antique relics get demolished, never to be seen again, while others just sit, serving as a permanent eyesore to the locals.
Today, we’ll hit both ends of the spectrum of the sporting experience, but from a bird’s eye view. There will be the modern pantheons of the sporting world: aesthetically pleasing and incredibly built. But there will also be the ancient venues: bland, out-of-date, and overall trash heaps. Let’s get to da choppa and peer down on 15 stadiums that have stunning aerial views (and 15 that look like dumps).
30 Stunning: AT&T Stadium - Arlington, TX
AT&T Stadium, aka "Jerry World," boasts a sleek, modern design which Cowboys fans yearn to return to every fall like an NFL Mecca. Located in Arlington, TX, smack dab in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, this $1.15-billion stadium was finally completed in 2009 after just under three years of construction.
Not only does "Jerry World" have an aesthetic, retractable roof, but it also holds the world’s largest high-definition video display.
With a seating capacity of 80,000 (105,000 if you count standing room only), there’s always plenty of NFL fans in attendance at the stadium every Sunday.
29 Dump: SDCCU Stadium - San Diego, CA
Formerly the home of the Chargers, SDCCU Stadium (widely known as Qualcomm Stadium) is one of the most basic, bland venues in the country. Despite the raucous vibe in the bleachers and pristine sunshine in the sky, this football field, built in 1967, looks like you are in - well - 1967! The concrete facade has not been upgraded since the 90s and it honestly looks like a glorified high school stadium from up in the air. In fact, it’s such a dump that the Chargers jumped ship, hopped on the I-5, and relocated to LA in 2017. Now, it’s just an ancient relic, crumbling in the SoCal sun.
28 Stunning: PetCo Park - San Diego, CA
Across town from the archaic SDCCU Stadium is the eye-popping PetCo park. Home of the Padres, this gem of a baseball field is tucked between the calm San Diego bay and bustling metropolis of downtown San Diego. According to the San Diego Sports Commision, PetCo Park boasts the “sandy color of San Diego cliffs and beaches, the blue of the ocean, and the white sails of boats,” allowing it to blend into the SoCal landscape.
Originally known as a “pitcher’s park,” recent outfield wall renovations have given hitters the advantage. Unfortunately, it’s usually the opposing team smacking it over the fence as the Padres have only made the playoffs twice since the park’s opening in 2004.
27 Dump: Candlestick Park - San Francisco, CA
Welcome to the now-abandoned Candlestick Park. Sticking out like a dull, sore thumb among the intrepid landscape of the Bay Area, “The Stick” was formerly home to both the Giants and 49ers, but both franchises have moved on to bigger (and better) stadiums.
Due to the location, the wind used to whip through the awkwardly shaped arena, making it difficult for athletes to be at the top of their game.
Over the years, heating issues, lighting issues, and overall poor management led to this park’s demise, but, as you’ll later see, it’s not the dumpiest of dumps in Northern California.
26 Stunning: Wembley Stadium - London, UK
Unlike many ancient stadiums, which developers have let crumble into oblivion, the historic, 95-year-old Wembley Stadium has been beautifully upgraded over the years. Okay, by upgraded we mean torn down and rebuilt in 2007, but you get the point. Home to England’s national soccer team (or football for our friends across the Atlantic), the stadium has hosted a multitude of events throughout it’s history, including rugby matches, NFL games, gold medal Olympic competitions, the occasional concert, and so much more.
With several prominent architecture firms pitching in on the design, Wembley is now recognized as one of the most awe-inspiring stadiums in the world, and the notable arch even holds the record as the world’s longest unsupported roof structure.
25 Dump: The Den - London, UK
Yes, I know what you are thinking: “How the heck is this a professional sporting arena?” Well, this ragtag stadium is none other than “The Den,” home to second-tier English club, Millwall FC. Located in what looks like an overly-industrialized district of South East London, the stadiums facade matches the working class vibe of the area. Even their fans are aware of how ugly their club’s home field is, as they are notorious for their crowd chant, “No one likes us, we don’t care.” Well, at least they are honest!
24 Stunning: Beijing National Stadium - Beijing, China
Beijing National Stadium stands prominently out front of the busy Chinese capital. Known colloquially as “The Bird’s Nest,” this uniquely constructed arena took a slough of architects, artists, and workers over four-and-a-half years, and $428-million dollars, to build.
Originally showcased in the 2008 Summer Olympics, this arena will be utilized on the world stage again in 2022, as Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
With 91,000 seats, its own rainwater collection system, and optimized airflow structure, “The Bird’s Nest” is truly a modern marvel from this bird’s eye view.
23 Dump: Estádio Do Maracanã - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Rio De Janeiro’s historic Estádio Do Maracanã has experienced each end of the historical significance spectrum since it was constructed in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup. Legendary Brazilian football players, like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Pele, have graced the pitch, and the stadium even played host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Yet, the aura of victory within the arena has been tainted by tragedy. In 1992, the bleachers collapsed, causing three casualties, and injuring an additional 50. Now, the stadium, once filled with triumph, stands as 68-year-old relic.
22 Stunning: Ohio Stadium - Columbus, OH
Compared to professional sports, there is some ominous community-like feeling about college football stadiums, and Ohio Stadium, or “The Horseshoe,” is one of the quintessential arenas in the USA. The nearly-century-old stadium has gone through it’s fair share of upgrades over the years, yet the Roman-like architecture, complete with terra cotta ceilings, has remained unchanged. Not only is it an engineering marvel, but the Horseshoe-shape itself significantly affects the game as wind and rain tend to enter the field of play unimpeded, and always seem to be an excuse for the losing side. Either way, the Columbus attraction remains a site to see.
21 Dump: Hard Rock Stadium - Miami Gardens, FL
The aqua seating. The gawky spiral walkways. Heck, I can just feel the humidity of South Florida looking at this picture! Of course, this is Hard Rock Stadium, which sits in the coastal plains of Miami Gardens and plays host to the ever-disappointing Dolphins franchise, and has been the home of the Hurricanes, since the demolition of the iconic Orange Bowl.
You would think that this ancient facility may have broke ground in the mid-20th century, but on the contrary, it didn’t open until 1987.
Clearly, visitors to the area should just stick to South Beach, and forget about this dump of a stadium altogether.
20 Stunning: Stade Louis II - Monaco
Blending into the rocky, coastal Mediterranean landscape, Monaco’s Stade Louis II is one of the most beautiful soccer stadiums in Europe. The arena was named after the Prince of Monaco, Louis II, and is truly a sporting palace fit for a king. Despite a 2004 explosion that damaged the stadium and some surrounding buildings, the facility stands strong today. Home to AS Monaco FC, a club that compete in Ligue 1 (the top tier of French football), superstars such as Colombia’s Falcao compete in the shadows of the cliffs of the French Riviera. It is truly a stadium that lives up to the luxury of the region.
19 Dump: Selhurst Park - London, UK
South of London, you’ll find this heap of a stadium known as Selhurst Park, home to Crystal Palace FC, who play in the Premier League. Despite the team’s name, this arena looks more like an industrial factory than a “crystal palace.” Originally built in 1924 by architect Archibald Leitch, Selhurst Park looks like it hasn’t been updated since pre-WWII. Still, nearly 25,000 fans emerge every August to cheer on their hometown Eagles, hoping that they avoid relegation into the second tier. For their sake, let’s hope they stay in the top tier so management can raise enough money to add some much needed renovations to this dump of a stadium.
18 Stunning: Olympiastadion - Berlin, Germany
Although Olympiastadion has a complicated history, it still remains as one of the modern marvels in Europe.
The 74,475-seat stadium was originally constructed for the controversial 1936 Summer Olympics.
Nowadays, after standing the test of time (with the help of a few renovations), the arena is home to Germany's national team and even hosted six matches in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Even though some of its history is controversial, there aren't many stadiums standing after that many years, and it has the old-time look, while still looking modern.
17 Dump: Ellis Park Stadium - Johannesburg, South Africa
Located in the biggest city in South Africa, the 90-year-old Ellis Park Stadium is widely recognized as one of the premiere rugby stadiums in the world. The only problem? It looks like a rundown shanty compared to some of today’s modern stadiums. On top of that, it is the location of one of the deadliest stadium events in recent history. In 2001, in a stampede during a local soccer match took place as the 60,000-person stadium was packed with a reported 120,000 fans. The large mob pushed forward, trampling anything, and anyone, in its path. Truly a devastating disaster in such a devastating landscape.
16 Stunning: The Float @ Marina Bay - Singapore
Okay, so maybe it’s not your typical packed stadium, but there is no doubt that Singapore’s Marina Bay Floating Platform has one of the most stunning views in all of sports. Recognized as the world’s largest floating stage, “The Float @ Marina Bay” measures 120 meters long by 83 meters wide, which is just big enough to house a soccer pitch. Although it’s currently being re-purposed to become a square, the 30,000 seat stadium, which opened in 2007, did host the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics among a slough of other entertainment events.
15 Dump: Cow Palace - San Francisco, CA
It's hard to believe this arena ever served as a home to a professional sports team, but the NHL's San Jose Sharks called the Cow Palace home when they first came into the NHL in the early 90s. The arena also hosted wrestling events back when territories ruled the business.
The arena has also hosted indoor football and now serves as the home of the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL.
Renovations have been made inside, but there's no saving the ugly view from the outside.
14 Stunning: Rungrado 1st of May Stadium - Pyongyang, North Korea
Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking? :Why would you put a stadium from an isolationist outcast nation on this list?" Well, I’m no politician, and the Rungrado 1st of May stadium in Pyongyang is truly unreal. The whole thing fits 150,000 people, making it the largest stadium in the world. It took only two-and-a-half years to construct, and the eight-story seating can reach up to 200 feet high! So if you ever get the courage to step into the DPRK, make sure to pack your binoculars to get a glimpse of this venue.
13 Dump: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK Stadium) - Washington, DC
In the land of historical buildings, historical politicians, and historical sports teams, stands one ancient relic of the sporting world: RFK Stadium. Located just a couple miles from the U.S. Capital building on the banks of the Anacostia rivers lies this 50,000+ seat monstrosity which used to host DC’s sports teams, but now serves as an eyesore to anyone that ventures to the U.S. capital. Plus, with all the corruption in politics in general, it seems fitting that RFK is now crumbling into the ground as franchises move on to bigger and better venues.
12 Stunning: Stadion Gospin Dolac - Imotski, Croatia
Sure, you may never have heard of Stadion Gospin Dolac in the Mediterranean nation of Croatia, but it’s truly one of the most stunning soccer pitches in the world. The construction, which finished in 1989, was particularly difficult due to the rocky landscape of the country’s Dalmatia region, but workers were able to find enough flatland to place a pitch which blends in effortlessly to the surrounding environment.
The stadium only holds a total of 4,000 spectators (approximately 2,700 seats) and is the home turf for the local soccer club, NK Imotski.
Perhaps with Croatia's stellar performance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we may see more stunning stadiums popping up in the future.
11 Dump: Old Trafford - Stretford, UK
Legends, clad in Machester United red, have graced the walls of Old Trafford: Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton, and Ryan Giggs. But outside the stadium, there’s nothing but a concrete dump leftover from the industrial age. Warehouses, murky canals, and shipping yards dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. The pitch even used to be nicknamed “The Swamp” for its lack of drainage and sogginess. Whatever you think of the hometown team’s success over the last few decades, the aerial view of the stadium isn't the least bit appealing.
10 Stunning: Beaver Stadium - University Park, PA
Located smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania, Beaver Stadium is one of college football's premiere arenas. With an unofficial seating capacity of 107,572 (record attendance of 110,823), Beaver Stadium is listed as the third largest stadium in the world. The massive structure is only intensified by the Penn State fans dedication to their squad as they coordinate to “white out” the stands for prime-time games, creating an amazing atmosphere from below, and above, the stadium.
Unfortunately, the school’s football program was tarnished by their recent scandal, but as the years wear on, the country has rekindled the spirit of the Nittany Lion, and made Beaver Stadium one of the memorable venues in college football.
9 Dump: The Alamodome - San Antonio, TX
Looking more like an industrialized warehouse, or evil factory, than a state-of-the-art sports arena, San Antonio’s Alamodome is one the uglier venues in the world.
Originally opened in 1993 after a nearly-$200-million construction, this dome was erected in hopes that the NFL would come calling for an expansion city, but sadly, the phone never rang.
Now, the 64,000-seat arena is home to the UTSA football team, and hosts a variety of sporting events and conventions. Still, those fake smoke stacks scream manufacturing, not entertainment.
8 Stunning: CenturyLink Field - Seattle, WA
Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is nothing short of spectacular. Inside the stadium, the deafening roars of the "12th Man" echo throughout the bay, while outside, the picturesque skyline of the Emerald City sits upon the horizon. Unlike many other NFL venues, Seahawks owner Paul Allen was integral in the design process, and always wanted to create the ultimate fan experience. Now, the real question for Seattle supporters is that even with the obvious home field advantage of this modern stadium, can Russell Wilson lead the Seahawks to the promise land in 2018 without the coveted "Legion of Boom"?
7 Dump: FedEx Field - Landover, MD
At 82,000 seating capacity, FedExField is one of the largest stadiums among NFL franchises, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is also one of the trashiest. From a bird’s eye view, the gawky, bright red seats illuminate the surrounding pavement of Landover, Maryland. On top of that, players are constantly complaining about the poor field conditions, and some fans blame the bad conditions for the fact that RGIII, former Redskins QB, tore up his knee at the end of his rookie season. Either way, owner Dan Snyder should shell out a little more dough to “clean up” this venue.
6 Stunning: The Velodrome - Marseilles, France
Another beautiful stadium tucked in the coastal region of the French Riviera, Stade Velodrome has played host to a variety of sporting events over the years, from soccer to rugby.
Originally constructed in 1935 by the architectural firm Pollack Ploquin, this true piece of art embodies the grace and culture of the French people.
Currently, with a capacity 67,000+, the Stade Velodrome entertains fans of Olympique De Mersaille FC as they vie against the rigorous competition in France's top-tier of soccer, Ligue 1.
5 Dump: Arthur Ashe Stadium - Queens, NY
Sure, Arthur Ashe Stadium, home to the U.S. Open, may seem alluring at first glance, but it’s truly trash heap. The 20,000+ stadium looks like a rendering from the Sims, not an actually arena. Plus, inside the arena, tennis fans pay good money to watch a match that they can barely see from the stands. The sheer amount of seating alone has bred a new, only-in-America discourtesy among spectators, as they are allowed to roam around the stadium during play. So, say what you will about the stadium's computer-simulation-like aerial view, but there’s nothing but chaos inside it.
4 Stunning: Allianz Arena - Munich, Germany
Situated in the historic area of Bavaria, Allianz Arena is a site to behold. Finally opened in 2005, this 75,000-seat stadium touts an inflated plastic panel display, which can be programmed to display different LED lighting patterns (the first of its kind).
From this rainbow display, to the colors of the national flag, the illuminated panels have been a trailblazer for other arenas like MetLife Stadium.
Currently, FC Bayern of the Bundesliga calls Allianz home. Although the surrounding landscape isn’t very picturesque, the venue itself is awe-inspiring enough to make our list.
3 Dump: Central Stadium - Yekaterinburg, Russia
Nestled in Russia’s fourth largest city, Yekaterinburg’s Central Stadium is an eyesore. The gawky Siberian venue came into the spotlight during Russia’s preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as these terrifying bleachers were constructed to hold an extra 12,000 fans, since FIFA requires each stadium to hold at least 35,000 fans. Just imagine sitting at the apex of those bleachers, eye-level with the roof, and only supported with what looks like a temporary construction scaffold. I get vertigo just thinking about it!
2 Stunning: Estadio BBVA Bancomer - Monterrey, Mexico
By far, the most scenic stadium in the world (at least in my opinion) is Monterrey’s Estadio BBVA Bancomer.
Situated at the base of Cerro de Silla, this sleek, modern marvel plays host to C.F. Monterrey.
Although beautiful, during the construction of the aptly-nicknamed “El Gigante de Acero” (“The Steel Giant”), architects faced controversy from conservationists as many thought it would affect the local wildlife. Yet, as you can see, the stadium itself plays well into landscape, while emitting a lustrous glow of its own.
1 Dump: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum - Oakland, CA
Ladies and gentleman, the dumpiest of all the dumpy stadiums in the world is none other than the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Originally opened in 1966, this stadium has aged like two-pack-a-day, never-wore-sunscreen, 400-lb man. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but prior to the greedy Raiders owner money grab known as Mt. Davis (the increase of 10,000+ seats in center field), the stadium wasn’t that bad.
But nowadays, the place is pure garbage. Actually, it’s worse than garbage. It’s sewage... literally! In 2013, sewage flooded the lower levels of the stadium, turning this venue into a septic tank.