Boiled Sports Best Sports Venues (# 5-1)

We've addressed it before, but our Best Sports Venues has a few issues that are inherent that we can't overcome. First off, we haven't visited every park, arena and stadium in America. I think all of us have venues that we'd still love to visit. I'd like to see a football game at the University of Oregon as well as in the SEC, for instance. But, we scored the venues in multiple categories and tried to place venues at the top that were the best places to watch a contest.

Baseball parks dominate our top-5...My theory on why baseball parks are the best places to watch a sporting event is simple- The game is simply not as exciting and you'd better have a great place to enjoy it or no one will come. There's a Triple-A park here in Indy that's a lot like many of the parks across America. It's a family-first atmosphere, the views of the field are great from anywhere, it's clean, they have great concessions and broad concourses and the seats are comfy. A baseball game is a conversation event where you go to watch with someone you like being around. That's not necessarily the case for football or basketball because all of that pesky action gets in the way of your conversation.

So, do I agree with every choice in our top-20? No. But, I think the venues are all there for a reason. One or multiple members of the BS staff really liked watching a sports contest there...The top-5 are truly great places to watch a game.

This arena was first built in 1967 and has a capacity of 14,123. Its first contest hosted the Lou Alcindor-led UCLA Bruins versus the home team and the last contest for this venue isn't going to be for a long time. Why? Because it will be drastically updated in about 2 years. This renovation will cost nearly $100 million once it's completed and will actually down size the capacity by about 800 seats. While it's not the greatest-looking facility from the outside, inside it is a great place to take in a college basketball game. The sightlines are excellent and the tunnels are wide for entry and exit. The concessions are a bit dated and the concourses also reflect the era in which the facility was built, but these pitfalls didn't keep it out of our top-5. Mackey Arena is also designed in a manner that the sound is directed at the court and opposing players have often said they can't hear their team mate next to them when the place is rocking.

Another basketball arena is next up on our list. This venue has had four different buildings, but the current version was opened in 1968 and had a pricetag of $123 million. It's been the home of AHL, NHL, WNBA and most notably the New York Knicks. It's been called the greatest arena in the world...and according to the Boiled Sports staff, it's our highest-rated basketball arena as well. Madison Square Garden has a capacity just below 20,000 for basketball, over 18,000 for hockey, 20,000 for concerts and its adjoining theater can hold 5,600 spectators. As a WNBA facility, it will hold right around 5,000 burly ladies (due to heavy partitioning). MSG gets high marks for its tremendous location, great sightlines and gut feeling. Even as a guy who has no attachment to NYC and its sports teams, I still felt like it was a special place...and I don't even like the NBA.

The next venue is probably the most interesting sports venue in our countdown. It's boasts of a train that runs on a wall in left field (that pays homage to the fact that it sits on the old Houston Union Station), a hill in center field, a retractable roof, and one of the oddest-shaped outfields in MLB. It was opened in 2000 and has a capacity of nearly 41,000. The layout of this ballpark is cozy in the fact that the fans are close to the action. It was originally called Enron...which I don't know why the name was changed. Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros replaced one of the eight wonders of the manmade world and still improved upon that engineering marvel. One more noteworthy feature of the field is the fact that it has a natural grass surface in spite of its retractable roof. The architecture is excellent, in my opinion, in the simple fact that they managed to make the building look attractive even though they roof is one of the largest superstructures I've ever seen in person.

The next venue was opened in 1994 and has a capacity of over 43,000. This park, as referenced earlier in our countdown, helped revitalize a portion of its host city's downtown. We're not the only ones who find this park to be a great place to watch a game. Sports Illustrated called it the best park in the majors in 2008. No matter which name you call it, Jacobs Field, The Jake or Progressive Field, it's a great place to watch a game...even if the Indians are playing. Jacobs Field has a nice view of the city over the scoreboard in left field and doesn't have a red brick facade that so many of the new MLB parks seem to have right now. Instead, they built it with an aesthetically-pleasing external structure that looks like well-thought out scaffolding combined with yellow brick and stone. Its hosted an All-Star game as well as a couple World Series games. Comfort, atmosphere and amenities nearly earned this venue the number one spot on our list.

Number One

If you're like me, and you've only seen this park from the outside, or if you're like J and Tim and have watched a game there, you know this park is noteworthy. It's location is great as it sits on the bay of its host city. Its architecture is retro, but not cliche and it can be easily reached by patrons via foot, car, train and even boat. It scored highly in every category except the fact that Tim and J had only visited it once. From sightlines, to location, to comfort to gut feeling, it earned its composite score of 43 out of 50. Like many of the newer venues on our list, it replaced a dog of a stadium (Candlestick) and San Francisco did it right when they built Pac Bell Park (now called AT&T). Everything was thought out, even the advertisement for Coke outside of left field is cool. It took three years for the park to be completed and unlike most parks built in the 2000s, was built without any public funds. There are statues all around the ballpark paying homage to Giant greats...the most noteworthy part of the park, its backyard is named after Willie McCovey (McCovey Cove). The park has hosted bowl games, XFL games (both with a screwy one sideline arrangement), an All-Star game, World Series games and even record-setting homerun games. The guy who set the home run record also has hit the most shots into McCovey's Cove...15 in all. The Giants won't be leaving this 41,000 seat venue for New York anytime soon; they signed a 66 year lease for their homefield when it was completed.

(This is the final installment of the Boiled Sports Best Sports Venue Series...But check back in for the Boiled Sports Readers Sports Venue Poll in the very near future.)

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