Ah crisp, cool weather has arrived in New York, the sun is setting earlier, leaves are already starting to fall off some of the trees on my street, and I even wore a sweatshirt outside today in the park. That can only mean one thing…football season is here!
The NFL is back and kicked off last night with the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers squeaking out an overtime victory against the Tennessee Titans. Honestly one of the main reasons I love football is that its the perfect excuse to get away with drinking a few beers and eating some unhealthy food at 1pm on a Sunday.
What’s more, it is also a great reason to travel. Yes I usually always find a way to incorporate everything I enjoy into travel. While I prefer to wander the globe in search of amazing food, historic sites, unique hotels, and the occasional concert, one other thing I love to do is visit an away game and tailgate with the “enemy.” It is definitely a worthwhile road-trip experience that everyone needs to try at least time in their life. With that, here are my top five favorite football stadiums (in no particular order):
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Lambeau Field is home to the legendary Green Bay Packers. Each year thousands of “cheese heads” fill this historic stadium, which was the first built exclusively for an NFL franchise. It is also the longest continuously-occupied stadium in the NFL, giving it more memorable moments than any other stadium in the United States. Witnessing a game at Lambeau has often times been dubbed by Packers fans as somewhat of a “religious experience.” It is without a doubt in my mind the second best reason to visit Green Bay, Wisconsin. The first? That would be the abundance of cheese.
Located along Lake Michigan in one of my favorite cities is the Chicago Bears’ home Soldier Field. Named after American soldiers that have died in wars, this stadium recently underwent a second rebuild in 2003, making it one of the newer stadiums in the NFL. At a seating capacity of 61,500, it also makes Soldier Field the smallest stadium in the NFL. Either way this city is football crazy and they prove it on a weekly basis when they arrive hours before game time and pregame in the extremely chilly Chicago weather.
As much as it pains me to admit this as a New York sports fan…I really like Gillette Stadium. Home to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, this fairly new stadium, which is starting it’s 8th NFL season, has already hosted many memorable pigskin moments. Some of those include 2003 and 2007 AFC Championship victories and the coldest game in franchise history, with temperatures dropping to a frosty 4 degrees (-10 with wind chill).
The Steel City truly is home to some of the most die hard and rabid fans in all of football. Pittsburgh is home to wild tailgate parties, vocal fans in the stands, and an incredibly superb stadium. Built on the site of the old Three Rivers Stadium, the eight year old Heinz Field has a picturesque view of downtown Pittsburgh in the backdrop and the Great Hall is one of the best concourses in the NFL. When in Pittsburgh, be sure to check out Peppi’s for their enormous sandwiches, awesome cheese steaks, and of course the widely popular and delicious Roethlis-burger.
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Did you really think a lifelong “Noo Yawka” would leave out the stadium that is home to the recent Super Bowl winning New York Giants (and occasionally that other team which will remain nameless). I mean many of my football memories have occurred in the swamp lands of New Jersey. As bias as this may seem coming from a local, I have to admit that the New York/New Jersey crowd knows how to put on one hell of a tailgate in the parking lot.
Football weather in these parts are usually not pretty (think cold with a mixture of brrr), so there are plenty of grills fired up and adult beverages to go around. Giants Stadium holds 78, 741, making it the third largest NFL stadium (behind FedEx Field and Cowboys Stadium). It is set to be demolished in 2010 to make room for the new Meadowlands Stadium.