Eye on the ball: 11 of the USA’s top sporting venues

Get ready for game day with our pick of America's best places to experience sport.

You don’t have to be an avid sports fan to appreciate attending fixtures at one of the top venues in the USA. In fact, American sporting events are a key way to experience the country’s culture. 

You’ll not go hungry on game day either: foot-long hotdogs, topped nachos and regional specialities feature among the dishes served at stands in the concourses. And live music and cheerleading help make games fun, even if you don’t fully understand the intricacies of the sport. 

Here’s a look at 11 of the best places to see a sports game in America: 

Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

With a capacity of up to 65,000, the Allegiant Stadium is home to the Las Vegas Raiders and University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels National Football League (NFL) teams. 

The stadium is mighty impressive: football games play out on a grass surface that rolls in and out of the arena on a sliding tray weighing the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower.

Stadium tours are a way of going behind the scenes and accessing locker rooms, VIP lounges and broadcasting studios. This state-of-the-art venue stands within walking distance of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and hosts concerts too.

The year 2024 is a big one for the stadium too: Super Bowl LVIII, the NFL championship game, will be contested at the Allegiant Stadium. 

Allegiant Stadium, Nevada. (Image: Kit Leong/Shutterstock)Kit Leong/Shutterstock

Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 

Alabama Crimson Tide, the University of Alabama’s football team, plays home fixtures at the cavernous Bryant-Denny Stadium, opened in 1929. It has a capacity of more than 100,000, so almost the entire population of Tuscaloosa could fit comfortably inside the on-campus stadium. 

Game days transform the city’s vibe into one of party-like excitement and anticipation. Marching bands, spectacular cheerleading routines and twinkling LED lighting are all part of the experience and home fans fire on the team by crying ‘roll tide’ as loudly as they can. 

A $107 million (£897m) redevelopment in 2020 ensures the stadium is fit-for-purpose as it approaches its centenary later in the decade. 

READ MORE: America's best attractions for sports fans

Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama. (Image: Brayden George/Unsplash/CC0)Brayden George/Unsplash/CC0

Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky 

This racecourse in Louisville was established in 1875 by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr – the grandson of William Clark, one of the explorers that gave their names to the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1806. 

Churchill Downs is the venue of the Kentucky Derby, America’s longest continual annual sporting event. That prestigious race is nicknamed ‘The Run for the Roses’ because of the blanket of 554 red roses that is traditionally draped over the winning horse. Typically held on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby draws around 165,000 spectators and is a major event in America’s sporting and social calendars. 

The history of the famous race is told in the on-site Kentucky Derby Museum, whose Derby Café and Bourbon Bar is a laid-back place to sample locally distilled drinks. 

Churchill Downs, Kentucky. (Image: Thomas Kelley/Shutterstock)Thomas Kelley/Shutterstock

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana 

More than 250,000 fans can attend races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making it the USA’s highest capacity venue. 

The Indianapolis 500 was first held in 1911 and counts among the world’s most anticipated motor races. Drivers must complete 200 laps of the circuit’s 2.5-mile (4km) oval racetrack, while contesting the race on the Sunday before Memorial Day – the last Monday in May. 

Feeling the need for speed? Take to the track in an NTT IndyCar Series car that’s capable of accelerating to 180 miles per hour (290km/h) by booking an Indy Racing Experiece. Two-hour tours in golf carts are a more sedate way of exploring the track and its facilities, whose story is told in the on-site museum

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana. (Image: Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock)Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California 

This stadium opened in 1923 as a memorial to veterans of Los Angeles who served in the First World War. It has since hosted an array of sporting events, including the first Super Bowl. Track and field events took place here during the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games and the Summer Games will return for the third time in 2028.  

The Coliseum was also the location where John F. Kennedy delivered his speech, 'The New Frontier', in the summer of 1960, accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for president. Martin Luther King Jr., Billy King and the Dalai Lama also count among the prestigious speakers who have addressed crowds in the stadium. 

Enter by buying tickets for LA Giltinis rugby or University of Southern California Trojans football games. Alternatively, join a 75-minute tour of the stadium on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California. (Image: CHRISTIAN DE ARAUJO/Shutterstock)CHRISTIAN DE ARAUJO/Shutterstock

Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York 

Madison Square Garden opened in New York City’s Midtown back in 1879. Trademarked as ‘the world’s most famous arena’, this multi-use venue’s venerable history includes staging ‘the fight of the century’ in 1971 between heavyweight boxers Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. 

The Garden is the New York Rangers’ home ice for National Hockey League (NHL) games and also the home court of the New York Knicks for their National Basketball Association (NBA) fixtures. A-list performers including Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen have entertained here too.

An extensive renovation was completed in 2013 and 60-minute All Access Tours are a way for you to see behind the scenes.  

Madison Square Garden, New York. (Image: Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock)Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

This stadium in Ann Arbor opened in 1927, and the home of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team has a capacity of 107,601, making it the biggest in the USA. For that reason, it's nicknamed ‘The Big House’.  

No venue in the country has hosted more fans for a game of football: a record attendance of 115,109 watched the Wolverines beat Notre Dame on 7 September 2013. 

READ MORE: The best music venue in your state

Securing tickets for a game means an opportunity to experience the boisterous atmosphere and participate in the cries of ‘Go Blue!’ that cheer on the Wolverines. Tailgating parties near the stadium and the music of the marching band help make visits to the Michigan Stadium memorable experiences.   

Michigan Stadium, Michigan. (Image: Alex Mertz/Unsplash/CC0)Alex Mertz/Unsplash/CC0

NRG Astrodome, Houston, Texas

Standing in Houston’s NRG Park, NRG Astrodome was formerly home to the Houston Astros, the baseball team that won the 2022 World Series. The enclosed and air-conditioned Astrodome was regarded as an architectural masterpiece when it opened in 1965 too. Due to its innovative design, the 18-storey landmark was nicknamed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.  

The venue lends its name to Astroturf, the synthetic turf that was rebranded following its well-publicised use in the Astrodome. 

You can view the interior of the multi-use venue during NRG Stadium tours. The home of the NFL’s Houston Texans has a retractable roof and hosts concerts and shows throughout the year too. 

NRG Astrodome, Texas. (Image: Kirby Lee/Alamy)Kirby Lee/Alamy

Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois 

A key landmark in a city with a celebrated architectural heritage, this 61,500-capacity stadium stands as a memorial to American soldiers who have perished in war. 

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was designed back in 1919 and hosted its first sporting event in 1924. A year later it was renamed Soldier Field. Since 1971 the Chicago Bears have played their home NFL fixtures in this stadium, while The Chicago Fire FC contest their Major League Soccer (MLS) games here.

Tours are a way of stepping into areas of the stadium normally reserved for athletes. 

Soldiers Field, Chicago. (Image: John Lupu/Shutterstock)John Lupu/Shutterstock

TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts 

New England’s largest sporting and entertainment arena opened in 1995 as the successor to the Boston Garden. Three restaurants and 47 concession stands ensure that fans attending fixtures and concerts are well satisfied. 

As many as 17,850 ice hockey fans can enter the 10-storey venue to watch Boston Bruins’ NHL games. And up to 19,156 basketball fans can also pack into ‘The Garden’ to cheer on the Boston Celtics, who are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NBA. Championship banners hanging above the parquet floor are key elements of that heritage. 

Tours of the Sports Museum, inside the TD Garden, are a way of learning more about the region’s sporting passions, characters and successes. 

TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts. (Image: Cal Sport Media/Alamy)Cal Sport Media/Alamy

Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York 

Based in the Bronx, this stadium is home to the New York Yankees, who are the most successful franchise in Major League Baseball history. Whatever the weather, stadium tours are a way of learning about the club’s heritage. 

Joining in with the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ between innings is part of a game-day experience. And after Yankee wins, Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ plays over the public address system.   

Not a baseball fan but like the idea of attending a game? Yankee Stadium is also home to the Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC, whose season runs from February into October. If you are feeling romantic and are looking for a special place to propose or marry, both are possible on the home plate too.

Yankee Stadium, New York City. (Image: Chanan Greenblatt/Unsplash/CC0)Chanan Greenblatt/Unsplash/CC0

READ MORE: Incredible experiences you can only have in the USA

Lead image: Mike Liu/Shutterstock


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