With new digs opening up in Los Angeles (the Rams debuted state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium in Sunday night’s win over Dallas) and Las Vegas (the Raiders will christen Allegiant Stadium in primetime Monday against New Orleans), ESPN figured now would be as good a time as any to rank the NFL’s 28 home fields, minus the aforementioned venues in both Inglewood and Vegas.
ESPN based its ranks on seven main criteria with atmosphere and features weighted highest (20 percent each) with traditions (15), tailgating (15), location (10), cost (10) and history (10) also factored in. Iconic Lambeau Field, the preferred Sunday gathering place of countless Green Bay Cheeseheads, predictably earned top honors with another fan favorite, CenturyLink Field in Seattle (home to deafening crowds known as the “12th Man”), claiming runner-up status. Rounding out the top five were KC’s Arrowhead Stadium, Heinz Field (of “Terrible Towel” fame) and four-year-old U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The NFC East found itself well-represented in ESPN’s ranks with AT&T Stadium in Arlington and Lincoln Financial Field in Philly (better known as “The Link”) each cracking the top 10.
Others who didn’t fare as well included MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, dual home of the New York Jets and Giants (21st), and the Patriots’ home turf, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro (23rd). Specifically, ESPN docked Gillette for its sky-high prices (likely the result of New England’s ongoing dynasty) and the painfully slow commute out of the stadium’s jam-packed parking lot. As a Native New Englander who made the pilgrimage to Foxboro as recently as last year for what would prove to be Tom Brady’s final win as a Patriot (here is the game I’m referring to), I concur that leaving Gillette is an utter nightmare and barely worth the trip itself. Still, at least Gillette earned higher marks than TIAA Field in Jacksonville (27th in ESPN’s rankings) which, aside from a pool for Jags fans to sip drinks and congregate in, doesn’t have a lot going for it.
Bringing up the rear was bottom-ranked FedEx Field, an 82,000-seat monstrosity placed inexplicably in Landover, Maryland, a half-hour hike (based on my past experiences wading through Beltway traffic, that’s probably a conservative estimate) from our nation’s capital. Besides being ugly as sin and nowhere near the city it represents, ESPN described field views as “poor” while panning the stadium’s bland aesthetics, excessive parking prices ($50 a pop) and embarrassing lack of history. “From its inception under late owner Jack Kent Cooke it was bad,” wrote John Keim in a scathing review of FedEx Field. “It’s in an inconvenient spot and has a sterile atmosphere. Traffic, when the stadium is full, is a headache.”
If you haven’t checked any of these venues out, you’ll probably just have to take ESPN’s word for it, at least until next year when stadiums will (hopefully) be able to host fans at full capacity again.