It’s funny that possibly the worst stadium ever built, especially among those constructed in the last 20-30 years, would be in Toronto.
The Rogers Center (formerly known as the SkyDome) was supposed to be a state-of-the-art facility with a full-fledged hotel and a fitness center attached to it that no other sports franchise could rival. It only took about five years for the Rogers Center to become obsolete.
The same old story tends to repeat itself for quite a few other stadiums — many built at taxpayer expense, lest the owner threaten to move a beloved franchise.
To be fair, our list does include stadiums new and old, but all considered embarrassments to their local fan base. We’ve taken into account location (a nice arena/stadium in a terrible location counts as worst built), amenities, fan experience, ambiance and a host of other attributes (or lack thereof). Team success was not a consideration, for argument’s sake.
Here is our list of 20 worst stadiums/arenas/facilities ever foisted on the sports-loving public (with name and ‘Big 4’ affilation), with old and new facilities, in no particular order.
20. Candlestick Park, San Francisco – NFL and MLB
One would think that a stadium worthy of hosting the Beatles’ final concert in 1966 would be prestigious, but that’s not the case with Candlestick Park. It was windy, colorless and had no views of scenic San Francisco Bay, like the current Levi’s Stadium for football and AT&T Park for baseball. In December of 2011, the 49ers played a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that featured two separate power outages due to a pair of blown transformers, which only added to the overall drab effect of ‘The Stick.’ Ironically enough, the last event to take place in the building was a Paul McCartney concert in August of 2014. The best thing to happen to the 55-year-old monstrosity was demolition in 2015.
19. Edward Jones Dome – NFL
The former home of the NFL’s Rams is now a soon-to-be-decrepit, empty monolith sitting in downtown St. Louis. Of course, team owner Stan Kroenke found a clause in the lease to allow him to move the team back to La-la land, which caused quite a bit of hate to be thrown his way. Yes, he did try and strong arm local politicians into have a new stadium built, but anyone who’d been to the Jones Dome would probably have done the same. It was renovated several times over the years, including the insertion of a new AstroTurf field in 2010 and new LED big screens in 2009, but nothing was done to alleviate the parking and traffic nightmares. The Dome continually received low marks from the media for affordability and atmosphere, not to mention that it was absolute eyesore that didn’t attract any peripheral business (restaurants, pubs, stores) to its general vicinity.
18. Joe Louis Arena, Detroit – NHL
The “Joe” opened its doors in 1979 and in its relatively short history had a ton of great moments. The Red Wings enjoyed a great quarter century run in the playoffs and the team won four Stanley Cups as building tenants. While construction of the building required just a $57 million investment in the late 70s, it didn’t take long for it to start breaking down. There were a few attempts to add luxury boxes to it, but in general it was just too old to keep up with the times. And once the Tigers built Comerica Park and the Lions moved into splashy new Ford Field, the Joe seemed even more antiquated in comparison. This fall, the team moved into the snazzy new Little Caesars Arena with the Pistons, but the jury is out yet on that building, as the basketball team has had trouble filling the seats. Fittingly, the old barn will be demolished as part of the city’s bankruptcy repayment plans.
17. FedEx Field, Washington – NFL
Lately, FedEx Field has become known as much for bad grass as it is for being a cruddy venue. Aerial shots of a recent game against the New York Giants shows a big brown streak down the middle of the field where a green grass streak should be. Some current and former players have said it’s “garbage grass” or actually just dirt spray painted green to make it look lush. There are several other reasons it’s one of the worst stadiums in sports, two being that it lacks pizzazz and luxuries most NFL homes take for granted. Team owner Daniel Snyder has also managed to suck the fun out of the remote stadium environment better than anybody else, what with having certain areas of the stadium parking lot where tailgating is taboo (resulting in fines and ticketing for fans). As well, fans are prohibited from waving signs in the stands, which isn’t a NFL decree, but one by Snyder himself. Blech.
16. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New York – NHL
Spoiler alert, but the New York Islanders have played, or are playing, in two of the worst NHL rinks ever (and they share the new digs with the the Nets). The Islanders have been out of the terribly located Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for a couple of years now after ownership decided they’d had enough of it. For a team with “New York” in its name, suburban Uniondale didn’t conjure up images of the Manhattan skyline. Situated in the middle of nowhere and in need of extensive renovation, old rumors abounded that the Islanders would eventually be moved out of New York completely because the rink was in such bad shape. There were water leaks during rainstorms throughout the building’s history and seating capacity for hockey was the second smallest in all of the NHL. It has undergone renovation to host other events and ironically, the team could be moving back in, considering how terrible the place in Brooklyn is.
15. Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento – NBA
Thank goodness Shaquille O’neal owns a stake in the team, because most of the stuff he’s involved with eventually becomes cool, popular or at least noteworthy in the media for an entertaining reason. The only good thing about the Sleep Train Arena is that it can be the loudest stadium in the NBA during the playoffs and is known as a difficult building for a road team to come into. But, lately, it’s become a reminder that when the team isn’t very good — like the Kings haven’t been for a while — that the arena is as snooze-worthy as its title sponsor. The problem with the Kings’ home is that it wasn’t build downtown and has too much of a retrograde feel for a league that is hardly in the poor house. Ownership has talked at length (ad nauseam) about how Sleep Train could be revitalized, but the only thing we see in its future is a wrecking ball.
14. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay – MLB
Put it this way, “the Trop” has about as much atmosphere as an old World War II machine gun bunker, and we’re being kind. What other building in baseball can lay claim to home run balls (or easy pop outs) hitting a catwalk and dropping crazily onto the field of play, for crying out loud. There are so many things wrong with this baseball stadium — and we use that term loosely — the ink spilled could fill Tampa Bay. Firstly, there’s no barrier between the bullpens and the field of play, meaning that hits down the foul line that roll into those areas are still in play. Secondly, the stadium is too out of town — fully 20 miles — for the majority of Tampa Bay residents to enjoy it. Built in 1990, baseball’s only non-retractable dome — an oddity for a building in the “Sunshine State” — didn’t actually have a big league tenant for eight years after it was finished. We know why, too.
13. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – NFL, MLB
The home of baseball’s Athletics and football’s Raiders, the Oakland Coliseum no longer has a beautiful view of the Oakland Hills, a sight to see for the first 30 years of the stadium’s life. That’s because a 10,000-plus-seat section called Mount Davis was added to the stadium, making it come full circle and taking away the view. The A’s have taken to tarping Mount Davis when they can’t fill the seats, which makes it that much more of an eyesore. Plus, the less than grand facility is located in a seedy-looking, industrial neighborhood since opening its doors in 1966. Its been repeatedly voted the worst stadium in baseball for a long time and for many years, both teams have talked about moving on to new homes — with the Raiders slated to head to Vegas, baby.
12. Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis – NFL, MLB
Thankfully for Minnesota sports fans, this horrid building in downtown Minneapolis was demolished in 2014. During its prime years, the Metrodome hosted the Minnesota Vikings, the Minnesota Twins and even played home to the Minnesota Timberwolves for their inaugural season in the NBA. From the outside, the stadium itself looked like those golf domes that you see on the side of the freeway. For years after it was built, in an industrial area no less, not many bars or restaurants opened nearby — and tailgating was expressly forbidden. On the inside the roof was white with an accidental swastika on the ceiling, which is suitable for camouflaging a baseball, and the spongy, bouncy “SuperTurf” made for some interesting ground balls. To make matters worse, the roof collapsed completely in December 2010, letting in a mountain of snow. Good thing neither team has to play in that oddity anymore.
11. Rogers Center, Toronto – MLB
Built in 1989, it took about three years for this building to become obsolete. It was originally named the Skydome and was the first stadium built to have a fully motorized retractable roof. It also has a 348-room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms with a view of the baseball diamond. The construction of the stadium ended up costing way more money than it was supposed to and Rogers Communications bought it in 2005 for just $25 million. New retractable roofed stadiums can have that roof closed in a few minutes, while the ancient system in Toronto still takes over a half hour, which makes any day with a hint of rain a “closed roof” day. This makes baseball’s fly differently than when it’s open, too. While it is downtown, the stadium itself lacks the charm or character of a real baseball field like Wrigley or Fenway. It’s feels more like sitting in a living room, with a giant TV, with over-expensive food and drinks, to boot.
10. Rexall Place, Edmonton – NHL
Originally opened as the Northlands Coliseum, the only saving grace of this ugly, nondescript arena was the fact that the Edmonton Oilers hockey dynasty was born there. Site of many a Stanley Cup playoff game and Wayne Gretzky’s best years, the arena soon became the third oldest and smallest barn in the NHL, without all the bells and whistles featured in new structures around the loop. The other problem with what was known as Rexall Place (Oilers owner Darryl Katz is CEO of the drug giant) was the location in the east end of the city. It’s little wonder the new rink is downtown, as the east end is just drab and featureless oasis of suburban homes and strip malls, with no place for hockey patrons to water themselves beforehand.
9. Angel Stadium, Anaheim – MLB
While the Dodgers have staid old Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, their AL cousins have a drab facility in the ‘burbs that somehow came third in the AL in attendance in 2017. The folks at Dodger Stadium get some pretty spectacular views if the team is playing horribly, while those in Anaheim get treated to a scenic freeway, complete with gridlock. Then there was the ugly incidents a decade ago when it was revealed that stadium staff left rotting garbage in the stands, leading to over 100 vermin violations from county officials. As well, a Conde Nast Portfolio on the place then said that it had 732 health code violations. Ewww. And then there’s that unruly name it used to have: Angel Stadium Of Anaheim – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. No wonder a lot of people just hate it, especially the big pile of rocks in left field.
8. Target Center, Minneapolis – NBA
Nothing about the Target Center screams “NBA Bucket List” for avid fans around the NBA. Opened at a time when most arena operators knew fans wanted to be comfortable (1990) it still lacks all the amenities that the modern hoops fan might want. As well, the Timberwolves, though improved today with Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on the roster, hasn’t been all that good for a long, long time, last making the post-season in 2004. The food at the Target has also been roundly criticized for being as bland as the brand of basketball played there in too many seasons. What also doesn’t help this formerly deplorable arena is the fact the spectacular Target Field is right across the street. It has been renovated at great cost for the 2017 season, but will it be enough?
7. Qualcomm Stadium and Stub Hub Center, San Diego And Los Angeles – NFL
No matter where the Chargers are, or were, the two stadiums they have inhabited both suck in their own ways. Little wonder, then, that the Chargers moved out of San Diego and the old dump known as Qualcomm Stadium. The move of the team was rife with controversy, but who could blame ownership? The design of it was best described as “cookie-cutter”, complete with inane spiral ramps for the (few) faithful to trudge up and down. As well, for those who did bother to show up for a Chargers or Padres game, the seats are located way too far from the action. As for the Chargers temporary digs in Carson, CA, well let’s just say they are quaint. They don’t move into the swanky new Stadium at Hollywood Park for some time, so whatever fans deign to show up in L.A. will have to put up with a minor league venue that holds just 27,000. Not great, for the fans, or the team.
6. BB&T Center, Miami – NHL
Saying this arena is in Miami, where the Florida Panthers are technically from, is a bit of a stretch. The BB&T Center, while not a bad arena, is a huge hike from South Beach and even far from downtown Fort Lauderdale, situated as it is in Sunrise, FLA. For the uninitiated, Sunrise is right on the edge of the Everglades, west of Fort Lauderdale. And it is completely devoid of atmosphere as the team — even when it’s good — can’t draw flies to this suburban rink. So, while it’s not entirely a bad-looking barn or devoid of food and drink options nearby, if no one goes there, it’s hardly a place anyone else would want to be for hockey. In fact, the Panthers are annually among the bottom five drawing teams in the NHL and this season they are drawing an average of just 12,636 (third worst), or 74.2 percent of capacity.
5. Georgia Dome, Atlanta – NFL
The glitzy new Mercedes-Benz Stadium makes the old Georgia Dome (which sat beside it) look like a hobo palace, in retrospect. The Atlanta Falcons get to play in one of the best new stadiums in the world, while the old digs can’t be blown up fast enough (the first demolition nearly a month ago failed to knock it all down). The fact that anyone living in Georgia thought to put a football team in a domed stadium was ludicrous, in the first place. What makes the demolition of a little needed domed stadium complete is the fact that once the Georgia Dome is fully knocked down, it will be a parking lot where Falcons’ fans can tailgate properly. Silver lining.
4. Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa – NHL
Just like the rink in Sunrise, where the Panthers play, the Ottawa Senators actually play in far flung Kanata, a suburb of Canada’s capital. The rink itself isn’t bad, but the traffic (just one highway going in) will drive anyone nuts. It also doesn’t have as good a concourse as many other rinks around the league. But, back to that drive. Why the team would build its rink fully 16 miles from downtown Ottawa is anyone’s guess. It’s a nightmare trek down the Trans-Canada (417) highway to extreme suburbia. Bumper to bumper traffic is the norm, with few options to bypass the mayhem. The “Tire” in the title sponsor says it all.
3. Marlins Park, Miami – MLB
The Marlins, due to previous ownership, are a mess. With the trade of Giancarlo Stanton by a new crew which includes Derek Jeter, well, the jury is out until the youngsters acquired make the team. As far as the stadium that so very few actually head to, well, it’s not a classic. The Marlins, like their NHL brethren Panthers, were the third worst drawing team in baseball in 2017, with just an average 20,395 bothering to show up at Marlins Park, the third lowest mark in the major leagues. Maybe it’s the garish sculpture beyond the outfield fence, or the oh-so-South Beach nightclub located within the not so cozy confines. Whatever it is, this ball park is far from being a premier venue to watch a team that sheds superstar talent like it’s going out of style.
2. BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee – NBA
There’s nothing wrong with the outrageously named BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee that a massive can of Febreze and a little warmth wouldn’t cure. Just like the Target Center in Minnesota (which in its defence has been renovated) the arena in Milwaukee is decrepit and smelly. It was built in 1988 and renovated in 2010, however, the atmosphere of the place is lacking, which is surprising in that the “Greek Freak” plays there on a regular basis. New ownership has been given a mandate to come up with a new arena, or be faced with re-locating to Seattle. Which seems to be a familiar refrain these days. And the Bucks are 28th in average attendance this season, which doesn’t bode well.
1. Barclays Center, Brooklyn – NHL and NBA
We will preface this by saying that this is a decent venue for basketball and a not unattractive building. However, the NHL’s Islanders left the far flung and old confines of the Nassau arena for a rink that has terrible ice, horrid sight lines and the brutal traffic that Brooklyn is known for. It doesn’t take a genius, then, to figure out why the Isles are dead last in average attendance in the National Hockey League. The Barclays is gorgeous to look at outside, but for hockey games there is an unnerving gaping black hole at one end of the ice, devoid of premier seating. In fact, that end of the ice has seating that is just plain bizarre and not typical of any other arena in hockey. And, to compound things, the team took to wearing black alternate Brooklyn jerseys, instead of the classic blue, white and orange. Total fail on this relocation, so far.