We’ve talked about the best tailgating scenes in the NFL. But what about the actual game time atmosphere? The best places to sit down and watch a game? What about the extras, the food, the design, the whole overall setup? We took a look at what teams across the country offered at their home games, and here are our picks for the coolest NFL stadiums for fans.
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas – Dallas Cowboys
People like to hate on the Cowboys, but this stadium is at the top of nearly every “Best NFL Stadium” list out there. Big, majestic, and modern, with 80,000 seats, the so-called “Jerry’s World” (nicknamed after owner Jerry Jones) took $1.3 billion to build. The high-def video screen that hangs from the roof is over 60 yards across, ensuring every fan can see the game clearly. If not, there are 3,000 LCD TVs strategically placed around the stadium for your viewing pleasure.
Be sure to check out the (truly legit) curated art collection in the concourses while you’re there! Jones selected or commissioned lots of the works himself and it’s museum-quality stuff. Oh, and the team runs out of an NBA-style tunnel. At capacity, the stadium holds 105,000 when you consider standing room options. You can snack on gelato, burgers, tacos, and chicken and waffles during the game. There’s also a sports bar where you can eat an expensive ribeye and field-level luxury seats for the fancier among you!
Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia – Falcons
This brand-spankin’ new $1.5 billion stadium and host of the 2019 Super Bowl better be good, right? Five stories tall, with a retractable roof and the world’s biggest 360-degree HD video halo board, it’s pretty impressive. If that’s not enough, they’ve also got the world’s biggest falcon bird sculpture out front. Just settin’ records everywhere you look…
The best part? They’ve really taken into account the fan experience at the Falcons’ new stadium. They’ve engineered the gates so that attendees can get in within five minutes or less, improved the wifi, and included an outdoor plaza known as the “Front Porch” which holds food, live entertainment, and drinks. It’s a nice little spot on the outside each end zone where you can head out to socialize before, during, and after the game. Plus they’ve got a solid craft beer selection and a great 2-hotdogs-and-a-beer combo for $12… which is super cheap for the NFL.
US Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Vikings
Another brand new stadium, they sure managed to pull off a successful Super Bowl last year in this magnificent structure. The all black stone and glass US Bank Stadium has won architectural awards and its outside appearance is nothing if not spectacular, sleek, and modern. With a translucent roof and walls that let in natural light, it’s certainly an improvement over the old fixed-roof Metrodome. The stadium has the largest pivoting glass doors in the world (well, five of them) to serve as its entrance, a truly unique feature.
At the Upper Club Level, you’ll find the “Viking Voyage,” a free fan experience with virtual reality passing and catching games and real-life clinic exercises. It does a great job keeping fans protected from those Bold North winters, while also keeping them warm with craft beers from 14 local breweries and food from local restaurants like Revival’s fried chicken.
Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin – Packers
Thus far, we’ve listed shiny new stadiums with all the bells and whistles, but there’s something great about a worn, historic stadium that’s filled with memories and stories. The Packers’ stadium is the oldest continuously operating stadium in the NFL. They did spend $140 million to renovate this bad boy and make it more modern, but they kept the bowl-shape, field position, and integrity of the place intact.
It’s a bucket list stadium for any football fan, especially when it comes to taking part in those Green Bay tailgates, which are some of the best in the NFL. Be sure to get your fill of beer, cheese curds, and brats as you roam the parking lot. It’s like the Fenway or Wrigley Field of the NFL, with tons of history. No, there’s no roof. So yeah, it’ll be cold, but a game at Lambeau Field is really all about just being here and soaking it in.
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Steelers
Terrible towels flapping, views of the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh skyline, hardcore fans, and two giant Heinz Ketchup bottles atop the scoreboard that pour when their team enters the red zone – what more could you want? Visit the home of the Steelers and you can also hit up their Hall of Fame when you’re not sitting in one of those bright yellow seats.
Built mainly from steel (shocker), this stadium is a spacious open-air setting for gameday. Even though it gets cold, the team never has to worry about a frozen field because they have 30 miles of heating pipe that runs beneath the grass to keep it at a toasty 62 degrees. Fans can choose from local fare like freshly carved roast beef, cheesesteak sandwiches, and award-winning wings from Quaker Steak and Lube.
CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Washington – Seahawks
With crowds so loud they set records, great food options, and a primo downtown Seattle location, CenturyLink Field is one of the best spots for watching an NFL game. It’s not that big – 24th in the NFL in terms of size – but the atmosphere is crazy. We don’t care if it’s the shape of the roof, tricky engineering, or all that aluminum helping out with the acoustics, it’s still an intimidating place to play for any visiting team.
All that noise and fan support has paid off too, because the Seahawks have won over 70% of their home games since this place opened. In terms of food options, expect it to be very Seattle here – salmon, gourmet coffee, and high prices. They’ve also got tacos, Thai food, dumplings, and a rotating cast of local restaurants at the Stadium Street Market. And even if you’re not there to help Seahawks fans register on the Richter scale again (true story), you can still enjoy views of downtown.
Honorable Mention: The University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona – Cardinals
This stadium hosts NFL games, college football games, concerts, and heck, even the Final 4. It gets plenty of sunshine when the retractable roof is open (even though they usually close it and turn on the AC because it’s hot as hell in Arizona). But the coolest thing about this place – and the reason it made our list – is that the field is made of real grass which can be retracted – the first of its kind in North America. Push a button and they can roll it in or out in less than an hour. Neat, right?