11. Heinz Field

(Steelers vs Ravens TNF)

Stadium: 4/5
Fantastic stadium right on the water and down the road from PNC Park. It doesn’t have as great of a view of downtown Pittsburgh like its neighbor, but the river will do. The Steel City is represented in the architecture and it has a distinct feel to it despite the cooperate name. The Heinz ketchup bottle on the scoreboard is amusing though. Make sure you check out the lower concourse to see their six giant Lombardi trophies- it screams we are the best (and it’s hard to argue they aren’t).

Fan Experience: 4/5
Everyone has a Terrible Towel and they wave it for ev-ery-thing. Fans are into the game and keep up the energy with little help from organization. There isn’t very much in game production or cheerleaders to fill in during the TV timeouts, but they don’t need it. It’s strictly football at this stadium and sure it’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s what the sport is to the core.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 5/5
The stadium is located across the river from downtown and easily accessed by foot, public transit, or car. There’s free parking along neighborhood streets if you’re willing to walk.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
Lots around the stadium where full and music was blasting Steelers themed songs into the area.

Cost: 2/5
Steelers know fans are going to dish out money to see them and park in their lots.

Local Flair: 4/5
Pittsburgh is a cool city and has a distinct culture which should be embraced. It’s more chill than Philly and you better get fries on your sandwiches (or in your salad) to really do it justice.

 

12. Bank of America Stadium

(Panthers vs Colts MNF)

Stadium: 3/5
Panther statues stand guard around the stadium gates are certainly a great way to incorporate the mascot/set a vibe. The stadium shows its age a bit in the concourses and has zero standing room which is my only real gripe with Bank of America. The Stadium, at least.

Fan Experience: 3/5
It’s fun to visit a stadium when a franchise is starting to have real success. The excitement is contagious because it has that new feeling- untainted by high expectations and spoiled fans. You can tell the the team, the organization, and the fans are all enjoying this run. Cam and company- keep dabbing, dancing, and doing you- it’s working. Keep Pounding is a ridiculous motto though.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
Located right off the highway in uptown Charlotte. It’s easy to get to by car, light rail, and walking from hotels in the city.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 2/5
There wasn’t much tailgating going on thanks to really crappy weather. A few bars were packed tight with fans around the stadium, but it wasn’t very impressive.

Cost: 4/5
Very affordable stadium… though might not be a cheap ticket now that the team is doing well.

Local Flair: 3/5
Charlotte is the best of both worlds- southern charm and hospitality, plus the people have all their teeth. I kid, but it’s small town charm, with the culture and attractions of a larger city.

 

13. Raymond James Stadium

(Bucs vs Falcons Sunday 1:00)

Stadium: 3/5
The layout is great and easy to navigate with spacious concourses and open end zones for fans to hang around and watch the game. The pirate ship plays up the Bucs theme and once the team updates the video boards and sound system (offseason project this year), this place will be fantastic.

Fan Experience: 3/5
It was hot and humid so most people in the club level were inside taking advantage of the air conditioning which eliminated most of the middle sections along the side lines and quieted the stadium. Every so often the song “A Pirates Life for Me” would come on and the Bucs street teams would launch t-shirts and beads into the crowd and banners would wave. It was a good atmosphere and will only get better once they fix the scoreboards and add a new sound system.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 2/5
Driving is a must to this stadium and there are tons of parking lots surrounding the stadium. The real pain is the traffic following the game. Be prepared to sit in it for awhile.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 3/5
There was more tailgating than expected but it wasn’t too wild. There was a ship that looked like a parade float, but I never actually saw it parade anywhere.

Cost: 4/5
Stadium is middle of the road in concession stand prices and since the team isn’t great, tickets are easy to come by.

Local Flair: 2/5
If you like strip clubs and/or old people then this city is your Mecca. I recommend hoping in a car and driving to St. Petersburg or Clearwater Beach to enjoy the ocean and white sand beaches.

 

14. SunLife Stadium

(Dolphins vs Cowboys Sunday 1:00)

Stadium: 3/5
SunLife is one of the smallest venues, which I prefer for pro football, and the upper level is very close to the field action. The stadium was noticeably under construction as they’re adding a canopy which will be awesome as it monsoons miserably thanks to the humid climate.

Fan Experience: 4/5
Pleasantly surprised by Miami fans- they actually show up to games and are a pretty fun fan base to hang out with. The organization definitely relies a bit on their glory days, especially when we’re singing the touchdown song, because no we are definitely not talking Super Bowl anytime soon- sorry guys. Even when the monsoon struck during the first quarter, people stayed in their seats and where into the game. Luckily the monsoon didn’t last long and it was a sunny beach scene from there on out. The music selection was superb- someone should sell that mixtape.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 3/5

The stadium isn’t directly in Miami, it’s in a quieter suburb just north. Buses are a hassle and you can’t take the light rail like Marlins Stadium. Driving is your best option and there are lots as well as free parking in neighborhoods if you’re willing to walk a bit.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
All the lots around the stadium where packed with fans tailgating and most of the cars and tents were pimped out in festive Dolphins swag. Every concourse around the stadium is lined with fan activities, live music, and statues of team legends. There’s a lot to see and it’s upbeat.

Cost: 2/5
Even thought the team isn’t doing well, the franchise has a loyal fan base and the history to keep their prices higher.

Local Flair: 3/5
Will never understand the allure of the loud, bright, over the top club scene that is Miami. If you like that “see and be seen” environment South Beach is your place, but if you’re like me and hate all that, this won’t be your favorite city and you’ll just have to take it for what it is. I did get a kick out of how much GTA Vice City nailed their game board though.

 

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15. FirstEnergy Stadium

(Browns vs Ravens MNF)

Stadium: 4/5
The stadium is nestled between the city and the lake- giving you the best of both views. Renovations have vastly improved how the concourses look as well as added seats to formally open areas. Added seats vastly cut down on the cold wind that would rage in from the lake. It’s a shame a stadium this beautiful is being wasted.

Fan Experience: 3/5
A fan base way too loyal for its own good and they self hate quite a bit. The Dog Pound isn’t what it used to be and there’s nothing intimidating about the environment. When the team is actually winning, it does spark some electricity, but it doesn’t sustain because well the product on the field doesn’t either.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 5/5
FirstEnergy is right on the lake in downtown and accessible my RTA, bus, car, and walking. There’s plenty of free street parking in the city as well.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
Sure you’ve heard of the Muni Lots and the motto around there is “they never lose a tailgate.” Similar to their lake neighbors up in Buffalo, fans are trying to numb the pain (and the cold) with the help of alcohol.

Cost: 5/5
The major upside to a horrible team, is CHEAP tickets. Monday Night Football for $10 on StubHub!… thanks Browns.

Local Flair: 4/5
Cleveland gets crapped on by national media, but this is an awesome city. Visit the Rock and Roll HOF, the Flats, Tremont, Little Italy and tell me you had a bad time (or bad food).

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