26. NRG Stadium

(Texans vs Colts TNF)

Stadium: 3/5
NRG Stadium is a monstrosity, completely dwarfing its neighbor, the Astrodome. It’s a solid indoor football stadium with huge video boards in both end zones, large concourses, and just enough Texas chic to remind you where you are. They blast the AC in here, so I recommend dressing warmer or you’ll be cold. I liked how they lit up the field, but kept the stands dark. It gave the illusion of an outdoor stadium.

Fan Experience: 2/5
Must’ve hit Texan fans on an off day because they were incredibly rude and killin’ my vibe. I moved around the stadium a bunch in hopes of finding a fan to redeem them, but didn’t until after the game outside the stadium. At least I know they exist! The game atmosphere was pretty negative as fans voiced their displeasure over everything. Hater fans aren’t fun to be around especially when the team isn’t that bad. I was impressed by the diversity of the fan base and thought it was cool that they could all come together, even if it was to boo their team.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
NRG Stadium is located southwest of Houston and you can easily ride the light rail down to the stadium to avoid the insane daily traffic.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
Great tailgate scene that’s almost on Kansas City’s level BBQ wise. Grills were all the rage here and the bigger the better. The Bull-evard next to the stadium as a popular place for fans to congregate along the stadium and engage in typical fan fest activities.

Cost: 3/5
Despite have a decent team, the prices at this stadium aren’t bad.

Local Flair: 1/5
Houston is one of the worst major cities in the United States. It’s humid, filthy, and the traffic is horrendous.

 

27. Lucas Oil Stadium

(Colts vs Jets MNF)

Stadium: 2/5
If you like blatant advertisements and long, narrow, winding ramps, you’ll love Lucas Oil Stadium. Every concourse is covered in whatever company sponsors its logo and getting up to the upper level will take you through a maze of never ending walkways.

Fan Experience: 3/5
This stadium gets very loud because it’s indoors and the ceiling amplifies the cheers which creates an electric environment. Even though the crowd was into the game, I wasn’t feeling this venue’s overall environment- it didn’t have an authentic football feel to it. If you’re a male that goes to games to watch cheerleaders, splurge a little and sit down low by them as they were the most risqué dancing squad in the league.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
Lucas Oil is located downtown and is very accessible. There are lots all around it to park in or you can find street parking.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 2/5
The tailgating is spread out in lots around the city and there were streets blocked off for tailgate parties that seemed more popular than lots and the bars in the area where full of fans. The fan fest along the stadium was also pretty crowded with food, music, and interactive games.

Cost: 5/5
Thanks to all the advertisements smeared across the concourse walls; this stadium is very affordable- so maybe it’s all worth it. Ticket and concession prices are very low.

Local Flair: 4/5
Indianapolis is another solid Midwestern city that’s not overwhelmingly large, but still offers everything you’ll find in a big city- but won’t cost you nearly as much!

 

28. Georgia Dome

(Falcons vs Redskins Sunday 1:00)

Stadium: 2/5
There’s a reason they’re building a new stadium directly next door to the Dome- it’s past its prime. No natural light makes the place look aged and a little dirty. The lower level is blocked off to non-ticket holders, so rift raft is confined to the upper level. The upper concourse is narrow with limited concessions, but the real crime is the restrooms. Six stalls in a women’s restroom?! That makes for very long halftime lines.

Fan Experience: 3/5
Falcons fans were in full party mode for the game thanks to the team’s undefeated start. They were late arrivers, but once in their seats, loud and into the game which ended up going into overtime. The Falcons did a great job working in relevant video clips and music to keep the crowd hyped during timeouts. It wouldn’t be a true visit to the Georgia Dome without a picture with the “famed” 50 yard line, you know the place where the Dirty Birds kick for t’ree? Make sure you squeeze that in.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
The Dome is located downtown and is a short walk from the MARTA station. You can also opt to drive and park in the large fields across from the stadium to tailgate.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 3/5
Falcons Landing was hopping before the game! The drum line performed, a giant dance party started, and then a dance off between fan bases ensued. Away from the stage were games for fans to play, face paint, and photo ops. On the opposite side of the stadium were fields where fans were parking and setting up traditional tailgates. The lots looked full and there were grills going and music blaring.

Cost: 3/5
It’s not bad to get in if you sit in the upper bowl, but lower level seats will cost you.

Local Flair: 4/5
One of the best southern cities to visit as Atlanta has a distinct flair and delicious comfort food. It’s also the home to Coca-Cola (tour is awesome!), the College Football HOF, and CNN which are in walking distance to the Georgia Dome.

 

29. o.Co Coliseum

(Raiders vs Bengals 1:25)

Stadium: 1/5
It’s no secret that this stadium is old and out of date. The Raiders have a grunge vibe going on, so honestly it sorta suites them and adds to the intimidation level. There’s an eternal flame for former owner Al Davis in the upper concourse which adds a certain touch of class to the place.

Fan Experience: 3/5
Oakland fans are infamous for being a rough crowd and I imagined it would be like going to a haunted house, I’d get a good scare and maybe see something  “crazy.” Well the Bengals came in and stomped the Raiders, so the fans got taken out of the game early. Thanks to that there was zero crowd energy and you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. No amount of upbeat music could get fans back into this game, though those faithful few still left in the stands did cheer when the team finally scored in the fourth quarter. At least the people watching was solid- Raiders fans are very creative in their dress.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc):  3/5
Driving to this stadium is a bit of a cluster with all the parking lots and most being prepaid (there is one cash lot and you better look it up before you arrive). Your best bet is take the Bart to the game or stay in one of the surround hotels and walk.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
Tailgating with Raiders fans is delightful. They own so much team swag and pimp the hell out of their rides, tents, and general tailgate area. All the lots were full, music was blasting, and alcohol was flowing. I saw a giant dude drinking straight out of Hennessy bottle and wondered if he was sharing (doubt it). As for first impressions, this was a good one to Raiders Nation- they were going hard and quite daunting as a collective group.

Cost: 3/5
It was the home opener, so ticket prices were up and it’s expensive to park in the lots around the stadium. Concessions were surprisingly average.

Local Flair: 2/5
While the area around the stadium isn’t great, there are some nice places to explore in Oakland or you can always stay in San Francisco, Alameda, Berkley, or San Jose.

 

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30. Qualcomm Stadium

(Chargers vs Steelers MNF)

Stadium: 1/5
What the heck is this San Diego? This is a horrible venue with tight maze of concourses and like no amenities. The upper bowl is strangely nicer than the lower bowl and not a bad view of the field. The scoreboards are not HD and very, very small. It’s terrible that this stadium exists in the same city as Petco Park. Obviously it’s why the team wants to leave.

Fan Experience: 3/5
The Chargers try hard to polish this turd of a stadium with upbeat music, fireworks, and their gorgeous cheerleaders. It started getting creepy after they continuously commented on the girls’ looks… aren’t they there to dance and rally the team? The Chargers also have one of the best scoring songs in football and the disco definitely suites the stadium. It was the Steelers fans and a tight game that really helped ramp up the stadium atmosphere though. Terrible Towels for days.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
The light rail will get you to the stadium in about 20 minutes from downtown San Diego and it gets a little crowded. They check to make sure you have tickets as you arrive and leave the stadium, so make sure you buy the pass.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 3/5
There was a decent amount of tailgating going on around the stadium and it seemed like the police were nervous about the fan bases getting along as I saw a ton of cruisers making their way up and down the aisles. A fan fest area was set up to the west of the stadium and there was a steady flow of fans into the area.

Cost: 2/5
Despite the stadium being one of the worst, it’s also one of the most expensive. Ticket prices are high and concessions aren’t cheap either.

Local Flair: 4/5
San Diego is a relaxing city with easy access to beaches and parks along the coast. Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter are also fun places to hang out. Fish tacos at Lolita’s next to Petco are a must.

 

31. Edward Jones Dome

(Rams vs Browns Sunday noon)

Stadium: 1/5
Buzz your stadium- woof. The lack of natural lighting makes the place appear dingy and dark. There’s nothing distinct or noteworthy, it’s just an outdated indoor sports venue. And now it’s gone.

Fan Experience: 2/5
Most of the upper bowl was empty and the fans that were at the game didn’t get into the game until the second half thanks to Todd Gurley. The Rams had the worst in game video production and game flow of all the teams, but maybe like the fans they’re apathetic. It’s hard to be too cruel because the stadium workers are very friendly and St. Louis is a great sports town, they just need a new football venue.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 4/5
The Dome is directly downtown right off the light rail. There’s really no reason to drive to this stadium unless you want to tailgate and you can in surrounding lots.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 2/5
There were a few lots around the stadium, but they weren’t full and people weren’t too wild. Most people seemed to use public transit and ended up milling around in the fan zone across from the stadium. It was one of the better fans zones across the league and the band performing was awesome!

Cost: 4/5
Tickets and concessions are inexpensive because it would be a crime to gauge people to sit in this venue.

Local Flair: 4/5
The Gateway to the West and there is plenty to do and see when you visit this city. If you attend a noon game you can walk over to the Arch (10 minute walk) or grab BBQ at Pappy’s.

 

32. FedEx Field

(Redskins vs Cowboys MNF)

Stadium: 2/5
The stadium looks really cool from the outside and I was under the impression it was newer, but a quick Google search showed it was built in the 90s and that was obvious once inside. Exposed pipe work and cramped concourses are a 90s stadium’s calling card. The upper bowl is high up and the field seems further away- nosebleeds indeed. FedEx is too large of a venue and they’ve tried to tarp off some of the upper bowl seating to cut back on empty seating- smart move.

Fan Experience: 1/5
Rudest stadium employees out of all the stadiums, but after interacting with some of the fans and seeing people act up, it’s a little justifiable. I didn’t think the Redskins franchise was exploiting Native American culture, but I did feel at times like they were using the military for brownie points or something. It probably wasn’t their intention, but it didn’t sit well. There wasn’t much in terms of in game entertainment even though this was another team with a band and cheerleaders, who I’ll deem the best looking squad. It was a disappointing experience from a storied franchise.

Logistics (getting to stadium locally, proximity to stuff, etc): 3/5
This stadium is not in DC, but out in Maryland and you can take the Metro, but you’ll have to walk a mile uphill from the station. Driving seems to be the preferred mode of transportation to this venue and I recommend arriving as early as possible as it was very congested. Can only imagine the traffic leaving.

Tailgating/pre gaming: 4/5
All the lots around the stadiums were full and it looked like the tailgates were in full swing when we arrived a couple hours before the game. There were fan zones along the outside of the stadium on either end with bars and bands performing, but most people stayed in the parking lots.

Cost: 2/5
Standing room only tickets are affordable, but seats here are pricey. The cost of parking is absolutely insane.

Local Flair: 5/5
DC is our nation’s Capital, so of course it’s frickin’ sweet. Museums have free admission and there are plenty of government buildings to visit. You can make your visit into an adult field trip.