Professional sports leagues generate billions of dollars in revenue. They pay for the best scouts, trainers and personal money can buy. Yet, it’s somewhat surprising that some of the venues these teams play in are, shall we say, less than ideal. Some are old, some are in bad shape, and many need to be upgraded or replaced. Sports owners aren’t always willing to shell out the $500 million plus investment for a new building. Most seek to share this financial burden with the tax-payers. As a result some less-than-ideal buildings remain in use. Here are ten of the worst sports venues in professional sports still in use.
10. Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay, Florida
The Rays won 90+ games in five of the last six seasons. They’ve played in the World Series, they field a competitive team despite a meager payroll, and they feature one of the brightest and most innovative coaching staffs in baseball. The only thing holding them down seems to be their atrocious stadium situation. The Rays only draw on average of 1.5 to 1.8 million fans a year – where most successful teams draw well over 2 million. Tropicana Field isn’t just outdated. It’s utilitarian, ugly and looks like a giant warehouse on the inside. A shame, considering how successful the team is that calls it home
9. Qualcomm Stadium – Sand Diego, California
The San Diego Chargers play their football games in what can be described as a bloated, concrete parking ramp. Qualcomm was built in 1965 and it certainly shows its age. It’s surprisingly large – even for a football stadium. Large isn’t bad, but the horrible wart-like circular ramps and the glass exterior are just awful. Qualcomm is also horribly outdated, built in a manner last celebrated in the 1980s. The park has few amenities, but hey at least the players get to ply their trade in sunny San Diego.
8. Candlestick Park – San Francisco, California
This park has been old and falling apart for some time. It seems like every game is cold and wet. The escalators are always filled and traversing your way through the concourse is a trying experience. Even worse, the location of the park makes traffic a nightmare. Everything about Candlestick is dated and as such the stadium is scheduled for demolition after the San Fransisco 49ers played their last NFL game there last season. Like many multi-purpose stadiums the seating is awkwardly aligned to fit both a baseball and football configuration. Seats on one side of the park are worse than the other, and there’s a sense the place might just suddenly collapse. Other than that, Candlestick is great. It’ll still be hosting a couple more events before its eventual demolition in 2015.
7. The Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
We’re supposed to call this the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, but it doesn’t feel right to slap the name of a luxury automobile on this horrible place. From a fan experience, the Superdome is a thunderous and exhilarating venue. Plus, recent improvements after the damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina have addressed and upgraded some of the infrastructure. Still, anyone who’s seen the place can attest to what an eye-sore it is. The interior concourses are extremely tight and crowded. Getting to the bathroom is an adventure and the escalators are so poorly located that getting to your seat takes forever. Stairs are extremely steep and there’s not a cup holder to be found inside this concrete monolith.
6. Rogers Center – Toronto, Ontario
The home of the Toronto Blue Jays looks like something you’d find in a science fiction movie. There’s a hotel attached to the outfield, it has a retractable roof, and the food is decent, though very expensive in caparison to other stadium experiences. The field is made of outdated turf, but even that’s not really all that problematic. Unfortunately, closing the roof tends to make the stadium humid and hot – and that humidity often lingers in a fog-like haze near the top. The bland concrete stadium has no personality or life inside or out. It fails to take advantage of a rather ideal location right next to lake Ontario. Like many stadiums of its era, the Rogers Center is low on high-end amenities and class.
5. Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois
There’s no denying the passion and atmosphere inside Soldier Field. The fans are passionate and attending a Bears game is an unforgettable experience. It’s just too bad they have to play in this stadium. While the original architecture was somewhat timeless, a new addition has transformed the stadium into something of a cross between an office building and a Greek coliseum. Mashing the old with the new hasn’t worked all that well. The field is routinely in terrible shape for football games – which is somewhat surprising considering how well other cold weather teams seem to do maintaining theirs. The facilities have been upgraded over the years but the damage done on the addition has transformed a passable, aging stadium into a Frankenstein monster.
4. Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, Missouri
The Edward Jones Dome was constructed in 1995. Camden Yards was already ushering in an era of innovative ballpark ideas, but the concept of the old dome (like Tropicana Field, the Metrodome, and the Astrodome) was still a viable business model. Some would argue St. Louis had no need for a dome stadium in the first place. The Edward Jones Dome was quickly built and just as quickly became outdated. It offers no amenities. Parking is atrocious and many of the local lots are dirt. Sight lines to scoreboards are limited in several areas and the acoustics are extremely loud. The stadium experience isn’t terrible, but considering the age of the place it should be a lot better.
3. BMO Harris Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Bradley Center is the third oldest arena in professional basketball. It hasn’t aged well. A modern exterior face-lift only hides the numerous issues plaguing this arena. Seating is poorly designed and legroom is severely limited. There’s no club seating option, no state-of-the-art lighting or sound systems, extremely poor ventilation, basically no air conditioning and barely any parking around the stadium. Some of the seats in the corners require fans to sit at an angle or watch the entirety of the game with their heads turned. The upper deck is extremely steep and doesn’t offer handrails. The place is aging, and not gracefully. At least there’s plenty of bathrooms.
2. Arthur Ashe Stadium – Flushing, Queens, New York
There’s no way this stadium should make this list. It was built with $250 million and should be the pinnacle of an American tennis venue. Instead, Arthur Ashe Stadium somehow features and excessively high and convoluted seating arrangement, including a ton of seats with limited or obstructed sight-lines. You’d expect such a thing in a stadium designed for another sport, but not one devoted entirely to the sport of tennis! Weather is always a problem here. Wind, fog and rain create endless issues. The area around the stadium features an amusement park-like experience, which is a shame considering the importance of the name attached to this place.
1. Oakland Coliseum – Oakland, California
Several times in the last couple years the plumbing has backed up and pumped raw sewage into the clubhouses at Oakland Coliseum. If that’s not enough to make this ancient stadium top this list then consider these other facts. When configured for baseball, the Coliseum is an extremely large concrete monolith with twice the foul room of most ballparks. When configured for Raiders games there’s way too much lost seating and oddly angled parts. Portions of the stadium are crumbling away. There are no modern amenities at football or baseball games. Everything is outdated. Parking is outrageously expensive and be prepared to walk up a lot of ramps to get to the higher levels. To top it all off, the addition of extra seating in 1996, nicknamed Mount Davis after late Raiders owner Al Davis, obstructs the once beautiful backdrop of the Oakland hills. These seats are obscenely steep and ruin the atmosphere at A’s games as they are rarely even used.