It’s the place of heartbreaks, tears, laughter and feelings of elation. It’s where one goes to escape reality for a moment. You leave smelling like buttered popcorn, and sweat (you never leave it smelling better than when you first arrived). It’s the place where you make more friends and enemies than where you initial arrived. It’s the place where you have to endure the hottest sun and the coldest winter breeze. Yes, it’s the place where all sports lovers enjoy spending their life – sports stadiums.
So much goes into the design to make the above experiences as memorable as possible for fans. Some architects are inspired by real life events or epiphanies when designing stadiums. It often delivers the most random and eye opening pieces of architecture across all spheres of design. Many architects have hit the right spot when it comes to designing the home for a sports team. A place where the atmosphere and look and feel captures what the teams culture is and what the city loves. On the other hand, there are many stadiums which leaves fans, players and tourists scratching their heads because of how strange it looks.
Sometimes inspired by mythical creatures or pieces of art, some of the most famous stadiums in the world looks very strange. The pitfall or success happens between translating what is on paper into reality. We take a look at some of the strangest looking sports stadiums in the world, which leaves us in awe but also bemused.
25 Cocodrilos Sports Park - Caracas, Venezuela
Sitting in the Cocodrilos Sports Park must feel like in you’re a world of your own. The stadium is situated in between mountains, giving it a grandiose look and feel. It creates the perception of playing soccer in the year 300 AD, but with a modern twist. Furthermore, the walls of the stadium are plated with concrete to complete the look. You’ll probably be watching the view than the soccer matches the entire time. It’s not the biggest stadium, holding only 3,500 people, but certainly worth the experience.
24 Estadio Akron - Zapopan, Mexico
The architects behind Estadio Akron Jean-Marie Massaud and Daniel Pouzet, decided that it may be a good idea to mimic the style to that of a volcano. The exterior of the stadium gives the feeling of the outside of a volcano, while on the interior, the red seats gives the impression of boiling hot lava. The slopes on the outside of the stadium captures water which is used for watering the pitch. The top of the stadium is a white circle, which can be found at the top of an erupting volcano.
23 Sapporo Dome - Sapporo, Japan
The outside of the Sapporo Dome in Japan looks like a spaceship that landed to take over the world. However, there is reason to the madness behind the architectural design of this stadium. The maintenance of the Sapporo Dome was becoming impossible because of the amount of snow it was receiving. Hence, the architects decided to create a ‘moving field’. This in short allows the field to slide in and out, to access the sunlight and fresh air and for the roof to cover the stadium when it snows. Pretty unique and innovative.
22 National Stadium - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Is it a question mark shaped stadium? Or a snake? The designers claim it is a dragon-shaped stadium. Irrespective of what it mimics, the arena is glaringly unique, with the reptilian like texture of the solar panels covering the stadium providing a fitting look and feel. The stadium has about 8,500 solar panels which enables the everything to run of green energy. The stadium, which is the largest in Taiwan, has a capacity of 55,000 people and is mainly used to host soccer matches.
21 Soccer City, Johannesburg, South Africa
Everything about the Soccer City Stadium in South Africa is unique. It’s location, Soweto is one of the historical townships in South Africa. The design of the 94,000-seat stadium exacerbates its significance as well. From the outside, it looks like a bird’s nest. The brown, yellow and white colors gives it a natural look and blends in with vibe of South Africa. At first glance, it seems as if there are holes in the stadium. However, it was purposefully designed to allow light to shine through at night.
20 Ericsson Globe - Stockholm, Sweden
The Ericsson Globe is part of the biggest scale model of Milky Way. The Globe serves as the sun, while the other planets are scattered across Sweden. The shape of the stadium almost seems circular, which is much different to the standard oval shape. The stadium is equipped with 144 skylights and the panels are made of aluminium. The Ericcsson Globe also holds the title of the most spherical building in the world. The stadium is mainly used to host hockey games.
19 The Float - Marina Bay, Singapore
Any stadium that literally ‘floats’ would make it on this list. The stadium, quite literally called “The Float “is in Marina Bay, Singapore and is a must-see for any sport fanatic. The Float seems as if it is detached from the land, and creates the illusion that you are drifting away whilst sitting in the stadium. It’s a 30,000 seater, and is one of the most popular stadiums in Singapore, playing host to the closing ceremony of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
18 Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
The Spring Center has a look and feel of glitz and glamor, both on the inside and out. It’s one of the only stadiums that is mainly designed from glass. Approximately 140 000 feet of encased glass to be precise! It’s the masterpiece of several giant sport architecture firms in Kansas City, who collaborated in building the stadium in the hopes of reviving a sporting culture in Missouri. Despite their best efforts, no big-name NHL or NBA team has yet taken up the offer, but with the marvelous architecture, it’s only a matter of time.
17 Rock Stadium - Al Ain, Abu Dhabi
It's almost impossible to imagine being in this stadium and feeling comfortable, considering it's in the middle of the Al Ain desert. The Rock Stadium's initial concept was meant to be a stand-alone soccer stadium with a seating capacity of 40,000. That all changed when the architects visited the Jebel Hafeet and decided that based on the setting and the angles that the desert provided, they'd be better served going for an amphitheater like setting. This is definitely the most unique design on this list.
16 Panathenaic Stadium - Athens, Greece
As the saying goes, when in Greece, build stadiums that looks like a modern-day Colosseum. This is exactly what the architects aptly built the Panathenaic stadium, giving it an oval shape with the colors imitating the original stadium of 330BC. It’s the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble! The 80,000 seater was used during the 2004 Athens Olympics and is also the finishing place for many marathons. It’s a stadium that has managed to keep its historic significance with a touch of modernity.
15 Hasteinsvollur - Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
Playing at the Hasteinsvollur stadium in Iceland must feel like you're kicking around a soccer ball in Game of Thrones during the medieval times. The surroundings of the stadium are breath-taking, with the mountains feeling like they keep rising as you look at them. Don’t be fooled however. That’s no ordinary mountain, but it’s an active volcano. The unique feeling of watching a soccer game behind an active volcano combines the feelings of excitement and nervousness, knowing the unpredictability of the volcano.
14 Victoria Stadium - Gibraltar
The Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar makes this list for two reasons. Somehow, it appears to be the most British stadium in the world, despite being based in Gibraltar. Seating, the white lines on the field and the road it’s located on, ‘Winston Churchill Avenue’ makes you feel as if you’re in Britain for a moment. On the other hand, Gibraltar is most famous for its rock. The unique center piece of Gibraltar can be seen and marveled at from the stadium.
13 Mmabatho Stadium - Mahikeng, South Africa
A stadium in South Africa with a hint of Russia, the Mmabatho stadium looks strange on first look, but is actually a masterpiece. The stadium has several tiers, which confuses fans when they walk in. Seats are located at various heights despite being on the same level. Seating about 59,000 people, the unique design was created so that fans can have the optimum view from wherever they are seated. It is the home of Mafikeng FC, also known as the Killer Bees. It may be a coincidence that from the top it does look like swarming bees moving towards a target.
12 Igralište Batarija - Trogir, Croatia
The Igralište Batarija is one of a kind – it’s lodged between two UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s one of the strangest and beautiful stadiums in the world. The sites besides the stadium have historical significance. They are 15th century fortresses, namely St.Maro and Kamerlengo Castle. Puns galore and cliches are a plenty with the local fans, with typical phrases such as ‘we are going to war ‘or ‘time to battle’ being used during games. The stadium is the home of Croatian side HNK Trogir.
11 Eco-Stadium - Curitiba, Brazil
Everyone is going green, right? With this stadium, even soccer has turned to the “G” word. This was built in 2007 and the whole construction was completed without using concrete. It holds only around 6,000 people, and recycled wood was used to constructs the stands as well. Seats were ‘planted’ in the hills. Electricity was given to the stadium through solar plants. As fans can see by looking at this picture, nature wasn't messed with all that much here.
10 Stadion Gospin dolac - Imotski, Croatia
Who can say they have played a soccer drop behind a death defying 500-meter drop into an icy cold lake? Well, certainly those who have played at the Stadion Gospin dolac can. It’s one of the weirdest scenarios for a footballer to play and for a fan to view. The stadium is in a ditch in the earth, giving it a surreal look as if you’re playing soccer at the depth of the earth, with still a further drop giving a spectacular view of a lake.
9 Guangdong Stadium - Guangzhou, China
Architects of the Guangdon stadium in China went over the top to make sure it’s one of the most symbolic stadiums in Asia. The stadium mimics a ribbon at the end of a marathon. It’s supposed to symbolize the moment an athlete breaks through the ribbon at the end of a marathon, according to Jon Niemuth (the designer). The effect is probably best viewed from a helicopter than being in the actual stadium. However, the meaning behind it is all inspiring for the athletes who need that extra push.
8 Allalin Glacier - Pennine Alps, Switzerland
The highest soccer field in the world will always make the list for being one of the strangest looking. A stadium that is so remote and cold at the stadium, it provides one of the most unique fan and player experiences. It stands at a whopping 11,482 feet, and hosted a famous qualifier game between Italy and Switzerland. It’s highly unlikely that the Azzurri will want to return there, as it has been reported to be well below freezing and some of the roads give a scary view of how high it is.
7 Beijing National Aquatics Center - Beijing, China
The design may be more overshadowed by the fact that it hosted the most historic event in Olympics history – Michael Phelps claiming eight Olympic gold medals back at the Beijing games in 2008. However, some fans may have noticed how peculiar the “Water Cube” looked. It's supposed to imitate a group of bubbles coming together, and the entire stadium is circular in nature. It is similar in shape to the adjacent Beijing Olympic Stadium, and the two together symbolize ‘yin and yang’.
6 Olympic Stadium - Montreal, Canada
Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert and constructed for the 1976 Olympic games, is a modern-day masterpiece in terms of stadium look and feel. One note of importance, was the attention paid to natural colors, so that it does not feel as if a modern-day stadium was just dumped into the city center. It’s called the ‘Big O’ because of its round nature and literally looks like the letter O when viewed from a bird’s eye view. It’s one of the only stadiums that has an observation tower, where brave fans can take a walk for scenic views.
5 Queenstown Event Center - Queenstown, New Zealand
A cricket stadium that is more famous for its view than for the games played on it, Queenstown Event Center is one worth visiting. It is embedded in a mountain range called the “Remarkable” and is one of the true natural wonders of the world (although not official). Because of the altitude, cricket balls are often flying and was the place of Cory Anderson’s initial ODI record of hitting the previously fastest century in just 36 balls. Cricket may not be loved by everyone, but this stadium may change many nay-sayers.
4 Estadi Comunal - Andorra La Vella, Andorra
A stadium so close to the mountain, that often when a soccer ball is kicked high into the sky, it can get lost among the white snow and greenery of the trees. The Estadi Comunal D'Andorra La Vella in Andorra provides a surreal experience that makes it feel as if you’re playing soccer in the wild. The two mountains converge on the side of a touchline, so coaches are always yelling at players, but probably is calmed down by the beauty of the mountain range.
3 La Bombonera - Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Bombonera is known as the “chocolate box” , and that alone tells how you weird this stadium looks. It’s the home of the famous Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s been designed specifically to elevate the sound produced in the stadium by fans. In fact, the fans have the nickname of La Doce (the 12th man) because of how much noise they make. The stadium consists of three stands with the fourth side being vertical stands – giving the illusion that they are about to fall onto the soccer pitch!
2 David S. Ingalls Rink - New Haven, Connecticut
Any stadium called nicknamed the “Whale” will look weird. Eero Saarinen the architect of the stadium for Yale University thought it might be a good idea to make it look like the largest sea animal. The stadium, which cost an estimated $1.5 million to build has a timber roof, steel cables supporting the roof and a cable net to assist with the strong winds found in Connecticut. The stadium always provides opposition fans and players with ample banter to throw at Yale students.
1 Svangaskard Stadium - Toftir, Faroe Islands
The national soccer stadium of the Faroe Islands is surrounded by water on all three sides. It so often happens that the ball goes into the water quite regularly. There is a man who is employed to collect balls that go into the water. It’s a small-town village kind of stadium with the Toftir population at about 850 people. It has hosted many national teams during the qualifiers for the Euros. Footballers are often left freezing but also dazed by the beauty of a small-town soccer stadium.