20) The Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California
Much your grandfather who fought in World War II, The Rose Bowl is all about what once was. The fact that we keep sticking modern Super Bowls in this ancient edifice means once every few years is not reminder enough of how antiquated this stadium is. If it were adequate for NFL games, perhaps Los Angeles wouldn’t be in its second decade without a franchise. Oh, did I mention that its ancient “Bowl” design means that some of the seat as much as 60 yards away from the field?
19) Great American Ball Park – Cincinnati, Ohio
Its one thing when a venue simply outlives its prime, like the Rose Bowl. It’s completely different when a new ballpark that fails to excite on any level. Nearly every feature that’s supposed to make Great American Ballpark shine simply falls flat. The riverboat smoke stacks in center field are a perfect example; while they emit smoke and fireworks when the Reds hit a home run, they are at the same monstrously cheap and silly. Granted the smokestacks play into the riverboat theme given the ballpark’s location on the Ohio River, but putting them inside the stadium just means the smoke obscures the view from the upper deck seats.
18) Rogers Center – Toronto, Ontario
This is what happens when you let engineers try to solve every problem in the world. In this case the designers of Rogers Center tried to solve the problems of playing an outdoor sport like baseball in a city with a barely hospitable climate along with trying to solve the problem that if cities were sandwiches, Toronto is about as exciting as Velveeta on Wonder Bread with heavy mayonnaise. This is why Rogers Center is at the same time a marvel of modern engineering and over-engineered monstrosity. Sports venues do not need malls and hotels attached. In fact, some of the hotel room face out over the ball park, which led to the incident where a couple was caught en flagrante delicto in one of those windows in full view of crowd full of Blue Jays’ fans. This also marked the one time in the past three centuries Toronto was interesting.
17) Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Heinz Field is proof that it is possible to screw up outdoor football. Not only Heinz Field resemble a high-school stadium that has been mainlining horse testosterone, the fact that they allow every dipshit high-school team in western Pennsylvania to play on it means by November the turf is in worse condition than Marv Albert’s hairpiece.
16) Dolphin Stadium – Miami, Florida
If this were just a football stadium, Dolphin Stadium wouldn’t really be all that bad. However, in the modern homage to the 1970’s “all-purpose” stadium that was terrible for all sports, Dolphin Stadium is an atrocity for baseball. Granted, it is easier to fit football’s uniform rectangle into nearly any stadium, doing so with the ever-widening baseball diamond means ruining sight lines and distorting the dimensions of the field and foul territory. Much like a Metrodome without a roof, the stadium is such a bad fit for baseball that fans simply don’t show up to support the team in spite of the fact they’ve won two World Series titles in recent memory.
15) McAfee Coliseum – Oakland, California
McAfee suffers from the same problem as a Dolphin Stadium; it is simply another outdated, multi-purpose stadium. The best use for this monstrosity would be to use that gargantuan edifice looming over center field as a mausoleum for Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis who forces Alameda County into building it.
14) Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
This may easily be the worst non-dome stadium ever to host two sports. Originally built for the 1932 Olympics, the need for the track oval meant an NFL field would have an asphalt moat around it, leaving some of the seat 75 yards away from the field. Even worse was the short-lived era when the Coliseum hosted Major League Baseball. That configuration meant the left-field foul pole was a mere 250 feet from home plate; to make up for the excessively close proximity, the left field fence was 40-foot high chain-link atrocity known as the “Chinese Screen.” It meant the normal majestic 400-foot line drives off the bats of sluggers which are prone to leave the yard simply bounced off the screen for harmless singles, while lazy fly balls that would have been easy outs caught 60 feet in front of the fence in any other ball park dropped behind the screen for home runs. Even today, it is nestled in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in a city notorious for dangerous neighborhoods.
13) Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
This is really the last of the terrible “cookie cutters” built during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It gets underrated on a list of truly awful sports venues as it has been home to largely unremarkable teams; so its putrid nature has escaped notice. Just looking at it one is struck by the complete lack of original thought in it design, with the sole exception of the spiral ramps which hang like giant, coiled concrete dog turds from a giant concrete dog anus.
12) U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago, Illinois
Welcome to what should have been named “Bland and Crappy Field.” Somehow, it is fitting that a shit hole of a city like Chicago would be the first to screw up building a new ball park. Shit-cago managed not only to miss the trend started by Baltimore’s Camden Yards of the beautifully constructed “retro-classic” stadium. How did they accomplish this? Despite the ball park’s proximity to the impressive Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan (which happen to be the only two interesting things about this urban wasteland) rather U.S. Cellular features a view of a truly Chicagoan landscape, a series of old and decaying housing projects.
11) Candlestick Park – San Francisco, California
Leave it to a flaky, shaky city like San Francisco to find a way to make a terrible dual-use stadium worse by using it for the one thing for which it really wasn’t built. Welcome to Candlestick Park, which was most notably the home of the San Francisco Giants until they wised up and left. Now, thanks to a semi-permanent grandstand that was literally thrown in to this structure, it is now the home for the lowly 49ers. This is another stadium which thanks to its bizarre design lacks any view of its beautiful surroundings. It is also features the complete opposite of what Midwesterners think California weather is; namely San Francisco is cold, windy, rainy, and generally miserable about 540 days a year. The crowning touch is the rotting, nearly 50-year old seats which have faded from Giants’ orange to something resembling a traffic cone left out in the sun.
10) Ohio Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State fans affectionately call this “The Horseshoe.” I think it should be called “Generic Giant Stadium.” The only good thing you can say about Ohio Stadium is that its boring, nondescript nature is a perfect match for the styrofoam-and-yawn level of excitement of its surrounding city. Seriously, I spent 20 years in Columbus one night, where the epitome of high culture going down to White Castle, loading up on Sliders then depositing gallons of onion-and-cheap-beer-scented urine in the wastebaskets. Not to mention there is something fitting about housing the worst fans in the Big Ten in what looks from above like the big, red anus of the Big Ten.
9) Izod Center – East Rutherford, New Jersey
Another perfect marriage of a shitty building for a shitty team in a shit hole of a place. It’s like the Izod Center, the New Jersey Nets, and northeastern New Jersey were made for each other. From the outside, it looks like a Wal-Mart with less character. From the inside, it looks like over-grown high-school gymnasium with stadium seating. Plus, to enhance the enjoyment of the fan, it features only one concourse, narrow and cramped common areas, and an astonishingly small number of bathrooms.
8 ) Ryan Field – Evanston, Illinois
Everybody always tells me what a good school Northwestern is. If that is true, why can’t they find somebody to design a football stadium that doesn’t resemble a glorified high-school stadium that was built during the 1920’s?
7) Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, Missouri
There should be a law that says football stadiums may only be built on sites that allow for tail-gating. Such venues constructed in the concrete jungles of downtown areas force tail-gate friendly parking lots to become tail-gate prohibiting parking garages. Football without tail-gating is like pizza without cheese washed down with warm, flat beer. The Edward Jones Dome shares this problem with the only venue that saves it from being the worst in the NFL. In fact, the only thing that saves the Edward Jones Dome from being the worst is that there was at least an attempt to not make this dome look like the earth was growing a giant concrete-and-teflon pimple. They failed, but at least they tried.
6) Wrigley Field – Chicago, Illinois
As long as I live, I will never understand why anybody thinks this dilapidated, crumbling monument to failure is anything other than an urban reclamation project waiting to happen. The one thing I do get is there are three distinct types of people who love Wrigley Field.
- Delusional Cubs’ fans who believe Wrigley Field is “hallowed” ground like Yankee Stadium.
- Non-Baseball fans who think Harry Caray is still alive and attending Cubs’ games is somehow “cool.”
- People who have a completely misplaced sense of history.
There is some overlap between these three groups, but the one that is gaining in number is the third. This is why we have a whole new generation that will get to see what Wrigley lacks as a ball park it only magnified when it hosts football. That’s right Chicago, just when you thought your days of seeing shitty football at Wrigley were over is precisely when some genius decided it would be fun to have a Northwestern-Illinois game there this November. When the Bears called Wrigley home, it was common to stuff one of the baseball dugout with mattresses as it cut off a corner of an end zone.
5) Arthur Ashe Stadium – Flushing Meadows, New York
Like the Rose Bowl, the fact that it isn’t used that often means it escapes attention. But it is less like a bowl and more like a giant styrofoam cup. The newest venue on this list, Arthur Ashe stadium was built in 1997 with the expressly needless purpose of being the largest tennis stadium in the world. The problem is that building a large stadium around a small sports field means an exceptional amount of compaction combined with the need to be more vertical than horizontal.This means the top row of the stadium is 10 stories above the court, which makes the action almost impossible to watch.
Oh, and about that “needless” thing…. the fact that this 21,000 seat stadium rarely sells out somewhat defines the term, don’t you think?
4) Tropicana Field – St. Petersburg, Florida
This is one of the two dated and awful domes left from the 70’s and 80’s, and there’s a reason why they are both in the top five of this list. The only non-retractable dome left in baseball, Tropicana Field requires special ground rules for the catwalks that hang over the playing field. It also features a white roof which routinely causes fielders to lose the ball in flight. If that weren’t enough, this awful place also features a sound system that regularly emits deafening feedback shrieks.
3) Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Bradley Center is one of the oldest venues in the NBA, and it shows. It shouldn’t shock anybody, since Milwaukee is just Chicago if it were inhabited and run by exclusively 19th-century central European immigrants. That also why nobody would ever expect a hockey state to spend money on a basketball arena. The inside looks like a grocery warehouse; utilitarian in that obnoxious “Don Pablo” style.
You better like climbing stairs if you go to this arena as well. Most will require some, but this one has the unique feature of having the court at street level, which means that immediately after entering, you have to hike up to your seats. Most arenas sink the floor below the concourse level, but not here. If you have upper-deck seats, you may need a Sherpa to get you there.
2) Fenway Park – Boston, Massachusetts
See the above entry for Wrigley Field. Take the numbered list in that entry and replace the word “Cubs” with “Red Sox” and the words “Harry Caray” with “Ted Williams” and you get the picture. People love to describe Fenway Park as having “old-world charm,” which translated means, “rusted, rotting dump that opened before the Titanic sank.” Even after 98 years on the bottom of the Atlantic, the Titanic is in better shape than Fenway. If you are over 5’3″ and 125 pounds, you will find the seats at Fenway to be more reminiscent of a Spanish Inquisition torture device. Not only are they too small for a large jockey, the ones along the baselines are canted toward the outfield, which means craning one’s neck for nine innings if you might want to see things like the pitch. And if that weren’t enough, there are far too many seat in Fenway that are behind a support beam or some other obstacle you didn’t pay $200 to view. Add to that the exceptionally narrow gates, concourses, and aisles, and it becomes clear this is the worst non-dome stadium in all of sport.
1) Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Have you ever seen a movie so badly written, so badly acted, so badly produced that you can’t help but find it hilarious? In the terrible stadium race,this is the perfect description of the Metrodome. It really is the combination of so many awful features found on this list.First of all, there is the design constraints inherent to the multi-purpose design. Like Candlestick Park, The HumptyDome features full sections of retractable seating that is now semi-permanent since the baseball team left. Owing to the football-focused design of the Dome, it shared with Fenway Park the silly facing of the seats toward the outfield rather than home plate which meant there was no way for baseball fans to survive nine innings without getting crippling neck cramps.
Then there’s the crushing impression one gets of the Metrodome upon entering it for the first time; that it was built as cheaply as possible. Every surface except the low-grade men’s room piss-troughs are either untreated concrete or cheap plastic. The Metrodome is the ONLY stadium I have ever seen that uses the same cheap plastic from which the seats are constructed to make the stairway railings. Then there is the gratuitous use of rubber curtains for everything from outfield fences to Hall-of_Fame monuments. Even the roof looks like an army surplus parachute except for the giant Swastika in the middle.