These outstanding venues should be on any sports fan’s bucket list
As tourism numbers surge and travelers are again booking trips in droves, one segment of the travel industry that continues to pick up steam is sports tourism.
For years, sports tourism has been big business and even with ticket prices reaching record highs, that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. In 2022, the global sports tourism market was estimated at $587.87 billion and is expected to reach a growth rate of 17.5% by 2030.
With so many seeking exceptional sports experiences on their journeys, Leisure Group Travel is here to help with our list of nine must-visit ballparks, stadiums and arenas across the world that fans of all ages should experience.
NCAA Football’s Most Famous Stadium
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California)
Home of the UCLA Bruins and the annual Rose Bowl Game, this fabled stadium possesses one of the finest views in all of sports, as the San Gabriel Mountains form a picturesque backdrop when the sun sets. Opened in 1922, the Rose Bowl possesses a mystique that few, if any, in college football can match as it has hosted a multitude of legendary games over the years. Guests can enjoy a tour of the stadium where they will visit the original 1922 locker room, get an up-close look at the iconic field and delight in the chance to walk through this historic landmark.
Famous FIFA Soccer Stadiums
Aztec Stadium (Mexico City, Mexico)
One of the most famous stadiums in the world, Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, which debuted in 1966, is the official home of football clubs Club América and Cruz Azul, and the Mexican national team. The stadium sits at an altitude of 7,200 feet above sea level and with a capacity of 87,523, is the eighth largest soccer venue on the planet. Aztec Stadium’s claim to fame is it’s the only place where both Pelé (1970) and Diego Maradona (1986) won the FIFA World Cup championship. Both players are widely considered among the greatest soccer players of all time.
San Siro (Milan, Italy)
Officially named Stadio Guiseppe Meazza (but everyone calls it San Siro because it resides in Milan’s San Siro district), this iconic stadium opened in 1926 and houses Italian giants A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. It has a seating capacity of 80,018, making it one of the largest stadiums in Europe, and the largest in Italy. San Siro is renowned for featuring two teams that have won multiple Champions League titles, the only stadium that can make that claim. It also features brutalist architecture that makes the stadium one of the most eye-catching stadiums in any sport.
Fan Favorite MLB Stadiums
Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)
Fenway Park, which opened in 1912, is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues and one of the most legendary venues in sports. Often called “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” Fenway has hosted Red Sox fans for generations. While it features a variety of quirks, Fenway’s signature element is the Green Monster, the left field wall that stands more than 37 feet high. Fans can take a tour that leads them through the hallowed grounds of the park and stops at several notable attractions at the stadium, including the fabled Monster.
Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)
Opened in 1914, Wrigley Field, along with Fenway Park, is considered the jewel of Major League Baseball. Featuring historic ivy-covered walls, a hand-operated centerfield scoreboard and green grass as far as the eye can see, Wrigley is a baseball institution. Visitors can experience Wrigley’s charms on a 90-minute tour that takes you to the famous bleachers, makes a stop at the outfield ivy and even takes you into the dugout and the visiting clubhouse.
NFL Stadiums to Visit
Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
The Mecca of the NFL, Lambeau Field has been the home field of the Green Bay Packers since 1957. Over its 65-plus years of existence, 81,441-seat Lambeau Field has been the site of a multitude of historic moments, including the first NFL Championship game in 1961 and the Ice Bowl in 1967. Lambeau Field offers a variety of tours, ranging from two hours to one hour, with each giving exclusive access to this legendary stadium.
SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles, California)
An incredible sports and entertainment destination in Southern California, 70,240-seat SoFi Stadium is the most expensive stadium in NFL history ($5.5 billion). At 3.1 million square feet, this striking venue that opened in 2020 is the largest and first indoor-outdoor stadium in the NFL and is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. SoFi has already hosted a slew of major events, including Super Bowl LVI, the 2023 NCAA football national championship game and concerts by BTS and the Rolling Stones. Tours feature a behind-the-scenes experience of SoFi Stadium’s most exclusive spaces including premium suites, team locker rooms and a walk through the players’ tunnel.
Top NBA Stadiums
Chase Center (San Francisco, California)
A state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena in San Francisco, Chase Center is home to the 2021-22 NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Opened in 2019, the $1.4 billion arena has a seating capacity of 18,064 and also sports a 35,000-square-foot public plaza/recreation area, making it an excellent place to socialize. Chase Center’s clean, modern design and impressive technology make it one of the finest venues in the NBA.
Madison Square Garden (New York, New York)
Nicknamed “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden resides in midtown Manhattan in New York City and features one of the most electric atmospheres in sports. Home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, the Garden has hosted rock stars, sports legends and cultural icons. Visitors can take a 60-minute guided tour that teaches about the Garden’s nearly 150-year history, can access exclusive backstage areas of the arena and can get an up-close view of the iconic concave ceiling from the Chase Bridge.
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By Jason Paha