Ah, it’s that time of the year again.
This weekend will see the NFL Playoffs kick off with the Wild Card round, and while unfortunately, we won’t get to experience the traditionally packed playoff stadiums we are used to, we thought it would be cool to revisit the history of these legendary venues. While nothing tops having a full house for an intense game, there is a certain magic to an empty stadium. Being in one makes you feel like you are in a sports museum, and history can literally be felt as you walk around. Hopefully this year we can see some kind of return to normality, but for the time being, here is a ranking of all 30 NFL stadiums.
Date Opened: September 14th, 1994
Home Team: Washington Football Team
Just about everyone in sports universally agrees that FedEx Field is the worst in the NFL. Now it’s not a terrible stadium per se; it’s just that the venue is underwhelming for a professional football team. Many believe that FedEx Field is bland with no originality, and visitors have complained about their vision being obstructed (even with good seats).
On top of that, the stadium is located in a relatively bad part of the Washington DC metro area, and it can be nearly impossible to find. The lease expires in 2027, so fans will have no choice but to deal with this venue for the next six years.
Date Opened: August 17th, 1973
Home Team: Buffalo Bills
There is nothing ‘wrong’ with the Bills Stadium, it could just use a little updating at some point. The overall aesthetic still feels like you are watching a game from the 1970s, and there hasn’t really been anything done to make it appear more modern. However, Buffalo is a smaller city, and typically with smaller sports communities, the fans don’t really like huge changes. So maybe the Bills Stadium is fine just the way it is.
Date Opened: August 18th, 1995
Home Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Maybe we should have put this before the Bills Stadium. As of July 2020, TIAA Bank Field is recognized as the second-worst stadium in the NFL (with FedEx Field being number one). This high ranking (or low, depending on how you look at it) is primarily due to the lack of upgrades and the poor performance of the Jaguars in recent seasons. Winning does seem to be the solution for everything, so maybe a change in performance could improve the stadium’s overall outlook. Either way, TIAA Bank Field requires some renovations.
Date Opened: August 16th, 1987
Home Team: Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock could use more updating from an optics standpoint, especially after a 2018 incident where rain pretty much seeped through the top of the venue before a Duke and University of Miami matchup. There have been other smaller complaints about the stadium throughout the years, but Hard Rock remains one of the go-to places to host events (and perhaps the Miami location has something to do with that). We’ll have to see if Miami ever plans on revamping.
Date Opened: September 14th, 1996
Home Team: Carolina Panthers
The Bank of America Stadium is the very definition of the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ as they have pretty much remained the same with no major updates over the past two decades. By far, the biggest complaint with the BOA venue has been that it still feels like the 1990s. Here is my personal opinion—I don’t see anything wrong with the stadium. Sure the design looks like it could also be meant for Duke’s football team, but blue is synonymous with North Carolina. Period.
Date Opened: September 20th, 1988
Home Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This stadium has been ranked higher than others in the past, and honestly, I do not see why. Appearance-wise, this venue seems more suitable for college teams as opposed to a professional NFL one. There are some pros though, visitors have complimented the stadium’s cleanliness and organization, and the only major complaint has been the lack of shade in the venue (though that comes with the territory of outdoor sporting events). While not the best NFL stadium, it’s definitely not the worst either.
Date Opened: August 19th, 2000
Home Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Unfortunately, Paul Brown Stadium was also ranked as being one of the worst stadiums in the NFL, according to a poll conducted by The Athletic this past July. The reasoning was pretty similar to Jacksonville, with voters complaining about the lack of renovations. In all honesty, we have to agree. Nothing about this venue feels modern, and it literally looks like the year 2000. Hopefully, one of these days, we can see some updates made to PBS.
Date Opened: April 10th, 2010
Home Team: New York Jets/New York Giants
This could honestly go either way. To non-Jets and Giants fans, the Metlife stadium can appear perfect. However, for Jets and Giants fans, there is a long list of complaints regarding the stadium. Metlife is only a decade old, so it’s definitely not outdated, but Jets and Giants fans primarily complain about the location. The venue is actually located in New Jersey, not New York, so that can be an inconvenience for many. Jets and Giants fans have also had some pretty bad memories in the stadium, so that could also potentially be a reason for the hostility. The tide seems to be slowly changing for the Jets and Giants, so hopefully, future seasons can bring more enjoyment at Metlife.
Date Opened: August 27th, 1999
Home Team: Tennessee Titans
Nissan Stadium is the perfect ‘game day’ venue. There are many bars surrounding the venue for starters, which is great for pregame and post-game entertainment, and the architectural design is pretty neat. Both fans and visitors have given the stadium a thumbs up on the overall experience, so clearly, Tennessee is doing something right.
Date Opened: September 12th, 1999
Home Team: Cleveland Browns
For the first time in a long time, the Cleveland Browns are a playoff-bound team, which stinks because FirstEnergy would have been rocking if not for the pandemic. Like the Jets, FirstEnergy’s complaints have been largely centered around the team’s struggles and not the venue itself. If you are familiar with Ohio Sports, FirstEnergy is a typical Ohio stadium, so it’s a matter of opinion as to whether you like it or not. Hopefully, Cleveland can continue their success into the next season, and fans can fully experience the joy of FirstEnergy.
Date Opened: September 6th, 1996
Home Team: Baltimore Ravens
While not the best on this list, M&T Stadium does a good job providing its fans with memorable experiences. Pretty much every seat in this venue is a good one, and food prices have come down over the last couple of years, meaning visitors do not have to pay an arm and a leg for a nice meal. Plus, every venue is a representation of its city, and M&T captures that Baltimore magic nicely.
Date Opened: August 24th, 2002
Home Team: Detroit Lions
Located right next to Comerica Park, the game day vibes are on ten for visitors looking for a nice game day outing. The shops are nice, the food is pretty good (despite being pricey), and the service is great too. Detroit has also done a solid job of making sure the venue looks as updated as possible, and overall, Ford Field does a good job of portraying the city of Detroit.
Date Opened: October 9th, 1924
Home Team: Chicago Bears
Out of all the stadiums listed so far, Soldier Field has had the most drastic work done to it. Updates first began on the stadium in 1978, but the major renovation took place in 2002. Obviously, buildings age, and by the time the early 2000s rolled around, Soldier Field was in desperate need of some work. The new-and-improved venue opened up in 2003, and since then, visitors have had virtually no complaints, giving the experience five-star ratings.
Date Opened: July 17th, 2014
Home Team: San Francisco 49ers
Representing the San Francisco 49ers, Levi Stadium is one of those classic football fields with a distinct California vibe. The scenery makes the venue incredibly attractive, and the view is amazing regardless of where you are seated. The food is also great while not being super expensive, and guests are treated to awesome service making the experience worthwhile.
Date Opened: August 11th, 2001
Home Team: Denver Broncos
Not only do visitors get a good football game, but they also get treated to a view of the mountains too. The altitude of Empower Field is pretty high (there is a reason why it’s named Mile High), and I imagine it could make fans feel like they are actually in the mountains (especially if they are on an upper level). Whether the Broncos win or not, visitors get the ultimate experience.
Date Opened: May 11th, 2002
Home Team: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have arguably been the best NFL team over the past twenty years, but that doesn’t mean that their stadium gets similar rankings. The overall design and structure of the venue are pretty basic, but as I said earlier—winning makes everything better. Nobody cares about the design of a stadium when you have Tom Brady leading you to multiple Lombardi trophies, but with New England entering a new era, it might be time for some updates.
Date Opened: August 3rd, 2003
Home Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field is a decent stadium with fan-friendly vibes. Over the years, Eagles fans have gotten to witness quite a few legendary moments, and the view of the city gives the venue that extra finesse. Most Philly fans seem happy with it, and Philadelphia keeps up-to-date on the renovations, so the stadium always looks current.
Date Opened: August 3rd, 1975
Home Team: New Orleans Saints
The Superdome has been through some major renovations as well, spending nearly $200 million in repairs in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is one of the most vibrant places in the world, so I would imagine their stadium is an entertaining place to be as well. There are loads of restaurants and bars so that fans can explore the city both before and after games. The Superdome is also adding new field-level suites to the stadium for the 2021 season so that fans will be treated to a slightly new look in the fall.
Date Opened: August 24th, 2002
Home Team: Houston Texans
NRG hosted Superbowl 51 and largely received positive reviews. While the stadium isn’t actually located in Houston, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Texan fans as they have packed out the venue on plenty of occasions. Unlike other stadiums, the parking at NRG is decent, and the southern hospitality is in full effect. Houston fans are happy with it, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Date Opened: August 1st, 2006
Home Team: Arizona Cardinals
The State Farm Stadium is kind of similar to the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The designs are otherworldly, and the roof, in particular, is the standout feature of this venue. Cardinals fans fill State Farm regularly, and to top it all off—the food is delicious.
Date Opened: August 16th, 2008
Home Team: Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil seems to be the designated location for the NFL combine, so clearly, the stadium is very appealing. Visually Lucas Oil is a stunning sight (especially at night), and the atmosphere is contagious. The venue has very few complaints from Colts fans who leave with a great experience regardless of whether their team wins or loses.
Date Opened: July 30th, 2020
Home Team: Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders move to Las Vegas also meant the need for a new stadium. Allegiant is one of the ‘babies’ on this list, and we actually haven’t gotten the full experience of it yet due to Covid regulations. Because of that, some may think the Allegiant deserves a lower ranking, but the stadium is truly a state-of-the-art facility. You can’t get any more brand new than a stadium that opened its doors in 2020.
Date Opened: August 26th, 2017
Home Team: Atlanta Falcons
I currently reside in Atlanta, and I vividly remember the hype surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Stadium announcement. People were visiting the area and taking pictures even while the venue was being built. Mercedes-Benz is stunning, and the outskirts of Atlanta make it even better. The only real negative is that the stadium is also in the same area as the Georgia World Congress Center. Atlanta can already be chaotic, but when there is a game and an event at the Congress Center, things can get pretty crazy. It’s a similar situation with parking as well. Other than that, the Benz is a great place to go whether you live in ATL or are just visiting.
Date Opened: August 18th, 2001
Home Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field is just as iconic as the Steelers themselves. In fact, the stadium is so legendary that it made an appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, earning the Steelers some cool points (but that’s a different story for a different day). Pittsburgh fans have gotten to watch many incredible games in this venue, and this is yet another stadium that has a clear grasp on the personality of their city.
Date Opened: August 12th, 1972
Home Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City fans have had a lot to be happy about lately, and last year they got to watch their Chiefs march to a Super Bowl title. In addition to winning, Arrowhead Stadium is also known for its elite tailgating and game day activities. We hear that the food and drinks are pretty awesome as well.
Date Opened: July 22nd, 2016
Home Team: Minnesota Vikings
It really doesn’t get any more futuristic than the U.S. Bank Stadium. Even on television, the venue looks like a football game taking place in the middle of a spaceship. Cool factor aside, the U.S. Bank Stadium is regarded as one of the best places to play by all the teams that head up there and, of course, by the Vikings themselves.
Date Opened: May 27th, 2009
Home Team: Dallas Cowboys
Whether you love or hate the Cowboys, you have to admit that their stadium is beautiful. In my opinion, the venue looks like a theater. So even if you don’t have great seats, you can still see the game just fine. The design is very extravagant and suits a team that at certain points have been considered ‘America’s team.’
Date Opened: September 8th, 2020
Home Team: Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers
SoFi Stadium is even younger than the Allegiant Stadium. I know it may seem unfair to put such a new stadium so high on the list, but I’m not sure if there is anything matching this stadium’s design and structure. Located near the old legendary Lakers’ venue, ‘The Forum,’ and while the SoFi hasn’t lived up to those iconic Lakers teams yet, fans still get to enjoy an ‘inter-galactic’ football game.
Date Opened: July 28th, 2002
Home Team: Seattle Seahawks
Up until November 2020, Lumen Field was known as CenturyLink Field, and upon the company’s rebranding as Lumen, the stadium name was changed.
In terms of scenery, I think the Seahawks are ranked number one out of all the teams in the NFL. The stadium itself has this feeling like you are actually on a plane traveling through Seattle. Not to mention, the Lumen Field venue has a lot of history and remains one of the toughest places to play. In fact, many do consider Lumen Field to be the number one ranked NFL stadium, and I can’t argue with that because it really is a piece of art that deserves a spot in any sports museum.
Date Opened: September 29th, 1957
Home Team: Green Bay Packers
After all that raving about Lumen Field, you may be wondering why I didn’t make it number one. Well, that’s because you can’t beat history.
There isn’t a more legendary NFL stadium than Lambeau Field, and there is a reason why it has held the number one ranking for so long. Lambeau is one of those places that you go to check off your bucket list. Even non-football fans have made it a point to check it out when visiting Wisconsin. For those reasons, as well as the Packers continued success, we had to put Lambeau Field as our number one.
Well, there you have it! Obviously, these types of lists are subjective, and naturally, everybody is going to think that their team has the best arena. Whether you agree with these rankings or not, we hope you enjoy the games this weekend.