There is nothing better for a sports fan than to experience a game live at the stadium itself. You will encounter the cheers, the chants, the camaraderie among the fans, the banter with opponents, as well as all the action that is not caught by the camera. Sometimes, there are more actions that would transpire in the stands than on the playing surface.
What better way to have the ultimate fan experience than by having a fan-friendly stadium? This means accessible seats, no blind spots, preferably cushioned chairs, a variety of concessionaire stands nearby, and clean and spacious washrooms. Those awful terraces that were a hallmark of football stadiums across Europe before the 1990s allow the teams to pack it in, but being squeezed in like sardines certainly do not make for an afternoon or evening of comfortable viewing of a game. Having wire fences to separate the different sections of the stadium also proved to be counterproductive. It blocked a viewer’s line of sight and it made fans feel like zoo animals, which surely accounted for the behavior of rioting hooligans that caused several disasters back in the 80s.
But comfort and luxury cost money. These stadiums, however, have decided that money is no object. So here are the top ten most expensive stadiums in the world:
1. MetLife Stadium – $1.6 billion
Everything in New York is magnified several times over because of the incessant media pressure. The MetLife Stadium is no exception, even though it is actually located in New Jersey, with its cost ballooning to $1.6 billion. Not to worry, as both the Giants and the Jets of the National Football League play in the stadium. The 80,000 fans that can be accommodated can certainly shout themselves hoarse, whether to cheer Eli Manning on to another Super Bowl or to jeer the Jets for another dismal season.
2. Yankee Stadium – $1.5 billion
This is a stadium especially built for the Bronx Bombers, whether past or present. While the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are blasting homers for the Yankees, fans can also pay their respects to the statues of legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. They are the most expensive team in baseball, and it is just right that they have the most expensive baseball home.
3. Cowboys Stadium – $1.33 billion
When we think of the Dallas Cowboys, we think of the Jimmy Johnson era when they won multiple Super Bowls while contending with the likes of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. We also think of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. They are America’s team, after all. Now, with $1.33 billion plunked into their new home field, we can also think of Cowboys Stadium. With seating for a hundred thousand people and equipped with the world’s largest high definition television, it sure is worth attending a Cowboy game even if you’re not a fan of Tony Romo.
4. Wembley Stadium – $1.25 billion
Wembley is the home of England’s national team. It was the scene of countless joys, like when they won the 1966 World Cup at the expense of West Germany, or when they celebrated the historic Live Aid concert in 1985, and of numerous heartaches, like when they lost in a penalty shootout in the 1996 European Cup semifinals against Germany. But Wembley needed a new look to make it attune to modern times. Thus, in 2007, a new Wembley was unveiled with a massive 40-storey arch spanning a thousand feet that supports a retractable roof. Rains will no longer cause the cancellation of any event, all thanks to the $1.25 billion stadium.
5. Madison Square Garden – $1.1 billion
The Garden was rocking in June, 1994 when the Rangers and the Knicks got in the finals of the NHL and NBA, with the Rangers hoisting the Stanley Cup while the Knicks succumbed to Houston. Alas, while the Knicks did enter the finals again in 1999, neither team have been able to replicate the huge success of that year. The stadium is not to be blamed, however. It has undergone renovation from time to time to further improve the facility. It is currently undergoing another one with a cost that may put it on top of this list.
6. Citi Field – $922 million
The Mets plays in a stadium costing $922 million, but even in this list, they still play second fiddle to the hated Yankees. Citi Field is luxurious enough, however, with peanuts, crackerjacks and gourmet food available to satisfy the fans during the seventh-inning stretch.
7. Rogers Centre – $914 million
A retractable stadium helps the Toronto Blue Jays deal with weather issues during their games. Back to back World Series titles back in the 90s have made the cost of the stadium worthwhile. Its old name of Skydome sounds better, however.
8. London Olympic Stadium – $775 million
The stadium where Jessica Ennis made her name and where Usain Bolt cemented his status as the fastest man in the world cost an incredible $775 million. The price tag is not really that bad, as it was the showcase stadium of the Olympic Games, but only if they can find some use for it now that the Games are over. Several football and rugby teams submitted bids, but nothing has come out of it yet.
9. Soldier Field – $755 million
Soldier Field is a new stadium inside the old one. The façade of the historic original was retained, but the inside was completely torn off and replaced. New or old, fans simply hope that the Chicago Bears would trample Green Bay every time the Packers pay a visit.
10. Emirates Stadium – $750 million
The home of the Gunners, Emirates Stadium replaced Highbury as Arsenal’s pitch in 2006. It veered away from the British model of simply renovating old stadiums so as not to discard the tradition of the place, just like what the Red Devils did in Old Trafford. Too bad, the impressive modern stadium was not enough for Arsenal to retain the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie in its team.