Global arenas every self-respecting sports fanatic needs to visit
Many travellers book their holidays around major sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympics, so why not book a trip simply to experience one of the world’s greatest sporting arenas? Here we pick out ten sporting venues with the richest histories, most exciting atmospheres and grandest architecture on the planet to give sports fans the ultimate ‘bucket list’ of sporting Meccas.
While there are many historic and atmospheric racetracks around the world, perhaps the one venue which sums up the glamour, danger and excitement of motorsports better than any other is Monaco. Hosting races since 1929, the narrow, winding streets of the city and its multi-million pound harbour make for a major highlight on the Formula One race calendar, and indeed the motorsport calendar worldwide.
Old Trafford – Manchester
If anywhere qualifies as a sporting Mecca then the world’s biggest club in the world’s biggest sport should probably make the top ten. Old Trafford has been home to Manchester United since 1910 and was named the “Theatre of Dreams” by the celebrated Red Devil Bobby Charlton. Capacity now is 75,957, making it Europe’s eleventh largest stadium and the second largest in England.
Fenway Park – Boston
Celebrating 100 years since workers broke ground building the stadium in 1911, The Boston Red Sox ballpark Fenway Park is now the oldest sports venue in use by any team in the US. Red Sox fans show their love of the ground and their team by ensuring every game sells out, and every game at the park has sold out since May 13, 2003 – a Major League Baseball record.
The largest stadium in Europe and home to the continent’s most-feared team FC Barcelona since 1957. The 99,354 capacity ground was originally known as Estadi del FC Barcelona, but in 2000 club supporters voted for the somewhat catchier name Camp Nou.
Madison Square Garden – New York
Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York, holds around 20,000 spectators depending on the sport being hosted, and is home to the New York Knicks NBA team and New York Rangers NHL team, among others. Also one of the world’s busiest music venues, this indoor arena brings the passion of the Big Apple under one roof and generates an atmosphere like nowhere else on earth.
Wimbledon – London
The global home of tennis and the greatest Grand Slam in the world, the All England Club in Wimbledon was originally built as a croquet club but added lawn tennis in 1875 and hosted its first tennis championships in 1877. The club’s Centre Court has featured a retractable roof since 2009 to keep the English weather at bay, and holds 15,000 spectators. If you’re not lucky enough to score centre court tickets, then you will still be exposed to the elements on the outside or courts 1 and 2. In which case you may wish to consider leaving London and booking a Costa Del Sol holiday where you can watch and play tennis in the year round sunshine.
Augusta National Golf Club
Home to Golf’s US Masters Tournament since 1934, Augusta National Golf Club is a scenic and stunningly laid-out golf course, with borders of colourful shrubs and flowers lining the fairways and greens. The club’s tradition of awarding a green blazer to each year’s Masters winner has been running since 1949.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
The largest stadium in the sports-mad nation of Australia, Melbourne Cricket Ground is home to the city’s cricket team and also hosts Australian rules football games during the winter. Seating capacity is now just over 100,000, making it the tenth largest sports stadium in the world.
Soldier Field – Chicago
Home to the Chicago Bears NFL team, Soldier Field was completely rebuilt in 2003 – the second time it has been reconstructed since first opening in 1924. Now holding 61,500 spectators, the ground is smaller than most in the NFL, but combines history and clever architecture to maximum effect, bringing the crowd as close as possible to the action.
Eden Park – New Zealand
Set to host various key matches in the Rugby World Cup Finals for 2011, as well as the final itself, Eden Park in Auckland is New Zealand’s sporting Mecca. Hosting rugby union and rugby league during the winter, and cricket during the summer, the stadium features a removable cricket pitch to facilitate the changeover. Capacity of 47,500 for rugby matches and 42,000 for cricket.