Although NFL coaches would like you to believe that they can play the game in any venue, or even in the parking lot or on the moon, the stadiums are as much a part of the game as the players themselves.
The stadiums bring their own unique characteristics to the sport. After all, it isn’t called “home-field advantage” for nothing.
In this ranking of NFL stadiums, such factors as fan participation are taken into consideration as well as architectural design and climate.
Football venues have come a long way since they had to share with baseball diamonds. Here is how far NFL stadiums have come.
30. FedEx Field
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
It's just a stadium. And how you know it's at the bottom of the list is Dan Snyder wants a new one. Never mind it was built in 1997. It's too old.
29. Nissan Stadium
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com-Imagn Content Services, LLC
The coolest part of the Tennessee Titans' home stadium was when it was called Adelphia Coliseum from 1999-2002. Even after the Nashville-based telecommunications company went into bankruptcy, it was called the Coliseum until 2006 when the naming rights were sold. Now as Nissan Stadium, it's just another outdoor venue.
28. Paul Brown Stadium
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Like everywhere in Ohio, the skies get gray and gloomy around November. The venue is a generic stadium with some city skylines in the background, and a drab artificial surface.
27. MetLife Stadium
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets, the stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is just a taller version of what was previously there. It's just a millennial update to a cookie cutter stadium from the '70s.
26. TIAA Bank Field
Bob Self/Florida Times-Union-Imagn Content Services, LLC
The home of the Jaguars is a little more cramped, which was still a design of the stadiums from the 1990s. Jacksonville fans do have a swimming pool and the weather in December and January isn't wretched like it is up north. Florida man can enjoy a late-season NFL game.
25. M&T Bank Stadium
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The stadium is your generic outdoor venue, but the weather in latter months can be tough. The fans are spirited, which tends to happen when an organization gives them something to cheer for. The Ravens originally had grass from 1998-2002, and then went to artificial turf from 2003-15. The Ravens have been back on a natural surface since 2016, which does add more character to the stadium.
24. Bank of America Stadium
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Another typical outdoor venue, the Carolina Panthers play in a moderate climate in Charlotte, North Carolina. The venue is also the home of the ACC Championship Game and the Belk Bowl. So, they must be doing something right.
23. Gillette Stadium
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
The concept of stadiums with open end zones was a thing from the early 2000s, and it is a feature at Foxborough. The problem is it doesn't open up to a beautiful skyline or a majestic view. The weather is also awful at the end of the season and into the playoffs.
22. FirstEnergy Stadium
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns have a decent stadium on the shores of Lake Erie, which provides for some swirling winds from time to time. The long-suffering fans make it an entertaining place.
21. Empower Field at Mile High
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Opened in 2001, the venue replaces an historic stadium in Mile High Stadium. Empower Field does contain some of the old traditions, such as the rocking bleachers and fans yelling "in-com-plete" after every unsuccessful opponent pass. The altitude does make it an awful place to see late-season games though.
20. Ford Field
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Imagine if you put a football stadium inside of an old warehouse, and that's Ford Field. The brick pillars and affects throughout the stadium are a nice touch. The fact the Lions are playing in an indoor venue, just as they did with the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975-2001, is part of the tradition of Detroit football.
19. Hard Rock Stadium
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Originally Joe Robbie Stadium when it was first opened in 1987, it took until 2016 for the Miami Dolphins to finally construct a canopy to keep fans cool amid the sweltering South Florida temperatures. However, the players are still exposed to the elements. The Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball moved out in 2012, which turned the venue from a dual-sport playing surface with a baseball diamond through October to a straight gridiron.
18. SoFi Stadium
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It's basically AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, crossed with Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Throw in the fact fans weren't allowed in for Rams and Chargers games, and the new venue in Inglewood just has no personality at the moment.
17. Highmark Stadium
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The ex-Rich Stadium seats a little over 71,000, and Bills Mafia makes it a fabulous venue, even if it is in a suburb and a typical open-air stadium. The playing surface has always been artificial, although the current A-Turf Titan 50 is far more forgiving than the AstroTurf from 1973-2002.
16. NRG Stadium
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
When the Texans have their home stadium opened up, it's beautiful, but most of the time they keep the roof closed, which makes it no different than any of the other domed stadiums on the list.
15. Levi's Stadium
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Candlestick Park had more character than the new digs. When the San Francisco 49ers shared it with the San Francisco Giants, there were the remnants of the baseball diamond year-round. When the Giants left, closed off bleachers left behind shadows of what once was. Levi's Stadium does have open portions and a big screen that differentiates it from other open-air venues on the list.
14. Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
The Superdome will always have a sentimental place in the heart of NFL fans, whether it is because of the seven Super Bowls the venue has hosted or its diehard fans. Objectively, it's the Astrodome: an enclosed stadium with artificial turf. Yay. However, the Superdome has had fantastic ownership with the New Orleans Saints and partnerships with the Sugar Bowl that have always kept the stadium relevant.
13. Lincoln Financial Field
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Anything other than Veteran Stadium was an upgrade. By not being a cookie cutter stadium with painted concrete and its own courtroom and jail, the Linc is already an upgrade for the Philadelphia Eagles. It does provide for more scenes of the Philly skyline and games there seem less like gladiatorial events.
12. Soldier Field
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears have an historic venue on the shores of Lake Michigan with some views of the Windy City. Originally opened in 1924, Soldier Field was completely renovated during the 2002 season, which displaced the Bears to play at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Nevertheless, the stadium still has the feel of being where the NFL was forged.
11. Heinz Field
(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
The Pittsburgh Steelers upgraded their former digs of Three Rivers Stadium by opening up sections of the grandstand and keeping the stadium right on the banks of the Ohio River near the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River. The fans also give the stadium tremendous character, which sometimes gets lost in transition when a franchise builds a new venue.
10. Lucas Oil Stadium
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The home of the NFL combine and the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium has a huge window that allows for a look out the window at downtown Indianapolis. The retractable roof also allows for the Colts to take advantage of the beautiful Indiana autumn weather.
9. Allegiant Field
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Raiders' new digs is certainly impressive, but there is no way to know exactly how the place feels until the fans are allowed in. Nevertheless, it appears to be a temple to the Commitment to Excellence the way Al Davis would have wanted.
8. Mercedes-Benz Stadium
(Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)
It is fascinating how there is a replay video ring in the center of the stadium, but looking down at the stadium from the top, it looks like a closed camera aperture. Natural light can get into the stadium, which provides for a unique feel to day games that contests at the old Georgia Dome just didn't have.
7. Arrowhead Stadium
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
It's an outdoor venue, it's grass, it's a simple video board, but the fans make Arrowhead Stadium come alive — whether it's being raucous and proud during the game, or tailgating at a world class level in the parking lot beforehand. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Chiefs fans roared to a level of 142.2 dbA on Sept. 29, 2014, when Kansas City rocked the New England Patriots 41-14 on Monday Night Football. No wonder Bill Belichick was on to Cincinnati.
6. Raymond James Stadium
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
They have a pirate ship that fires its cannons when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers score a touchdown. There is no cooler scoring celebration than that. Throw in the fact it's in Florida and it's a decent venue to catch a game.
5. AT&T Stadium
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Kind of like how Raymond James Stadium has its pirate ship, AT&T Stadium has its 80-yard double-sided video board that hangs over the field. The venue is a temple to the glamor of pro football, and only someone with Jerry Jones' flair for show biz could have conceived it.
4. Lumen Field
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
No other home stadium is louder and no other fans have as much impact on the game as the 12th Man. Throw in that the venue is open-ended and right on the Puget Sound, and the Seattle Seahawks also have an advantage against opposing kickers.
3. Lambeau Field
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
One of the sacred grounds in all of pro football, the home stadium of the Green Bay Packers is on every football fan's bucket list to visit for at least one regular season game. The modern version has a nice blend of bench seating and luxury suites, bridging the generation gap of what football used to be and where the sport is now.
2. State Farm Stadium
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals, who for their first 18 seasons in the desert had to play at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, finally got their own place, complete with a retractable roof and grass grown in the Arizona sun.
1. U.S. Bank Stadium
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Vikings managed to get a venue that mimics having a retractable roof without actually opening it up and exposing the fans and players to the inhospitable Minneapolis weather. The stadium also provides iconic scenes of downtown. The exterior is a bit asymmetrical, but it is nevertheless one of the more visually appealing venues in all of sports.