The NFL stadiums of today are vastly different than those of the past. Historically, they were built simply for purpose; they are now being built for pleasure and comfort. With amenities such as administrative offices and training facilities, NFL stadiums are complete destinations for a team. While built primarily for football, today’s stadiums also accommodate a wide range of activities, from other sporting events, music concerts, and even government conventions.
With their massive construction costs, stadiums are generally funded by the public, and must undergo an approval process. In the case of Ford Field, approval was especially needed, since the stadium features more sunlight than any other NFL stadium, and thus constituted a playing distraction. The only exception to the approval process was Metlife Stadium, the most expensive NFL stadium ever built, which was constructed primarily on private funding.
NFL stadiums are a testament not only to America’s love affair with football, but also to technical and architectural progress. For example, AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, has been built with a massive LED screen. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia includes Wi-Fi for visitors to the stadium. Paul Brown Stadium, in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been recognized as an architectural masterpiece, making in onto “America’s Favorite Architecture”. A few stadiums, such as Soldier Field and Lucas Oil Stadium, are tributes to former players and America’s vets.
Sponsorships of pro athletes are lucrative and stadium naming rights are no exception. Many of the stadiums on this list are named after a corporate sponsor, which secures the necessary funding required for maintenance and/or renovation. As new stadiums are being constructed, ticketing and concession prices have also increased. Many NFL stadiums, such as AT&T Stadium, have some of the highest prices for parking and programs in all of sports.
Ultimately, NFL stadiums have become more than just a place to watch sports. They have become centers where adults and children can go to be entertained.
10. University of Phoenix Stadium – Construction Cost: $527 million
Located in Glendale, Arizona, University of Phoenix Stadium is the home of the Arizona Cardinals. Construction began April 12, 2003, and lasted three years. The stadium has hosted various events including Super Bowl XLII and the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, which it hosts every four years. With a seating capacity of 63,400, the stadium was built for a cost of $527 million. Stadium facilities include 14,000 on-site parking spaces and a movable field. For tailgating activities, there is an eight-acre area called the Great Lawn.
9. Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Construction Cost: $528 million
Sports Authority Field at Mile High hosts Denver Broncos home games, and was built for $528 million. Although used primarily for football games, it also hosts Denver’s Lacrosse team, the Denver Outlaws. As part of a six-year upgrade program, the stadium was completed along with Coors Field and Pepsi Center. Transportation to the stadium includes a light rail station. Major events hosted there have included the 2008 Democratic National Convention and several music concerts, including the Eagles.
8. Ford Field – Construction Cost: $558 million
Ford Field opened its doors on August 24, 2002 and has a seating capacity of 65,000. Although it is primarily used for football, it also hosts other sporting events including wrestling and basketball. At a cost of $558 million, the stadium features the Hudson Warehouse design, and allows more natural sunlight to reach the field than any NFL stadium. Due to the NFL’s rule preventing a certain amount of sunlight in order to minimize playing distraction, the Detroit Lions had to request permission in order to build the stadium. Ford Field’s attendance record was set in April 1, 2007 when it hosed the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Wrestlemania 23.
7. CenturyLink Field – Construction Cost: $558 million
Previously known as Qwest Field, CenturyLink is the home of the Seattle Seahawks. Owned by the Washington State Public Stadium Authority, it is named after the June, 2011 purchase of Qwest by CenturyLink. The stadium’s complex includes the WaMu Theater and a public plaza. The stadium cost $558 million and was built after voters approved funding on June 17, 1997. CenturyLink is known for being notoriously loud during Seahawks games and holds the Guinness World Record for “Loudest Crowd Road at an Outdoor Stadium”, which was 136.6 decibels. Besides football, CenturyLink was also designed for soccer, and hosts Seattle Sounders home games.
6. Paul Brown Stadium – Construction Cost: $617 million
Nicknamed “The Jungle,” in reference to the Bengal Tiger’s natural habitat, Paul Brown Stadium is the home stadium of the Cincinnati Bengals. Opened on August 19, 2000, the stadium sits on approximately 22 acres of land and has a seating capacity of 65,535. At $617 million, the stadium features administrative offices and various training and practice facilities, including three smaller practice fields nearby. Paul Brown Stadium is the only NFL stadium to make it onto “America’s Favorite Architecture”, a list by Harris Interactive. The stadium was also the first in the NFL to win an AIA architecture design award.
5. Lincoln Financial Field – Construction Cost: $650 million
Home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field has a seating capacity of 68,532. Located in South Philadelphia, the stadium is also known as “The Linc.” Construction began on May 7, 2001, and the stadium opened on August 3, 2003. The field features various LED displays, and even includes Wi-fi, which was added in time for the 2013 home opener. With a cost of $650 million, the stadium has hosted various sporting events including its first soccer match, played by Manchester United and FC Barcelona on August 3, 2003. With numerous parking lots, tailgating is allowed in all of them. In 2013, Lincoln Financial Field became the most environmental friendly NFL stadium. “Green” and efficient additions include 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines, which produce 30% of the stadium’s electricity.
4. Lucas Oil Stadium – Construction Cost: $735 million
Lucas Oil Stadium is home to the Indianapolis Colts. At a cost of $735 million, it opened its doors in 2008. Lucas Oil purchased naming rights in 2006 for $121 million over 20 years. It is a multipurpose stadium and hosted Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. The stadium is nicknamed, “The House That Manning Built” in honor of former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The four gates leading into the stadium are each named after a sponsor: Lucas Oil, Sprint, HHGregg and Huntington Bank. Seating capacity for football games is 62,421, but can be expanded to 70,000 for major events, which include the Circle City Classic, Monster Jam, and the Bands of America Grand National Championships.
3. Soldier Field – Construction Cost: $802 million
The oldest stadium in the NFL, Soldier Field opened in 1924. Home of the Chicago Bears, the stadium’s name is a tribute to American soldiers who have perished in wars. Construction originally cost $13 million, and began in 1919. It has recently been renovated in 2003 for $802 million. Soldier Field is the third smallest stadium in the NFL, with a seating capacity of 61,500. Fans may travel from the suburbs of Chicago to the stadium by bus, train, and theMetra Electric Line. Major events hosted at Soldier Field include 1994 FIFA World Cup matches, NFL games, and the 2013 Office Max Hockey City Classic. The stadium was originally listed as a National Historic Landmark but was delisted on September 23, 2004 after its extensive renovations.
2. AT&T Stadium – Construction Cost: $1.3 billion
The fourth largest stadium in the NFL, AT&T Stadium is the home of the Dallas Cowboys. A replacement for Texas Stadium, it was completed on May 27, 2009. The name is the result of a 25-year naming rights deal with AT&T worth $500 million. Formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, AT&T Stadium also has some of the highest prices in the NFL. If you want to attend a game, it’ll cost you $75 to park in the team-owned lots, and $10 to buy a program. Seating capacity is 80,000 and the stadium cost $1.3 billion to build. Travel to the stadium is by car or private shuttle only, as it is inaccessible by public transportation.
1. Metlife Stadium – Construction Cost: $1.6 billion
Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets, is located at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. On May 25, 2010, the stadium opened its doors as New Meadowlands Stadium. Owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the stadium’s construction was privately funded. It is operated through the Metlife Stadium Company, a joint venture between both the Giants and the Jets. At a cost of $1.6 billion, it is the most expensive NFL stadium ever built. Major events it hosted include the 2013 WWE event, WrestleMania 29 as well as Super Bowl XLVIII.