Sports have always attracted huge interest and particularly in the television age, with the possibility to watch practically any event in the world, all from the comfort of our own armchairs. However, there’s no substitute for attending live sporting events in person. If you want to soak up the atmosphere and excitement of the crowd, these are the top five unique stadiums certainly worth seeing, offering a truly unique opportunity to watch sports in amazing surroundings.
Camp Nou – Barcelona, Spain
The iconic and official home of FC Barcelona, who are the runaway favourites to win the La Liga 2017-18 title, the impressive Camp Nou stadium took just over four years to build and was opened in September 1957. Currently boasting an all-seater 99,354 capacity, it is the largest soccer stadium in both Spain and Europe, and is regarded as one of the most impressive sporting venues in the world, steeped in magnificent history and soccer culture.
Despite its fantastic appearance, the stadium is considered somewhat dated. After the FC Barcelona board of directors rejected initial proposals to build a completely new stadium, plans to significantly remodel the famous venue were agreed. Work commenced on the surrounding area in 2017 and the €600 million project is scheduled for completion in early 2021, featuring a rise in capacity to around 105,000 seats, while also boasting a spectacular façade and new roof.
IMAGE SOURCE: @FCBarcelona_es via Twitter
Fenway Park – Boston, USA
Recognised as the oldest professional sporting venue in North America, this unique stadium has been the home of the famous Boston Red Sox baseball team since 1912. During its 2012 centenary year, the stadium was added to the USA’s National Register of Historic Places, as one of the few ‘Golden Age of Ballpark’ venues remaining in the country. The venue holds just under 40,000 spectators and still features the ‘Green Monster’; the popular nickname for the 11.3 metre high left field wall, originally intended to stop outsiders watching games for free.
While the stadium has seen changes and improvements over the years, it was almost earmarked for demolition in 1999, when plans were considered for the construction of a completely new baseball stadium. Nevertheless, after much discussion and local protests, the future of Fenway Park safeguarded in 2005, ensuring that it will remain the MLB home of the Red Sox indefinitely.
IMAGE SOURCE: @RickPisano via Twitter
National Aquatics Center – Beijing, China
Boasting a 17,000 capacity for spectators during the swimming competitions of 2008 Olympic Games, the National Aquatics Centre is the largest ETFE-clad structure in the world, with over 100,000 m² of plastic bubbles adorning the exterior. This led to its colloquial ‘Water Cube’ nickname given by locals, who marvelled as 25 world swimming records were broken within the venue during the Olympics.
Of course, the legacy of such venues is of paramount importance following any Olympics. Between 2009 and 2010, the venue was closed for a massive internal renovation plan, converting half of the complex into a water park, containing various water rides, a wave pool, and spa areas. The sporting legacy has also been preserved, with the ‘Water Cube’ set to host curling events during the 2022 Winter Olympics, as Beijing becomes the first city to host both Summer and Winter Games.
IMAGE SOURCE: @AJPEngineering via Twitter
The Float – Marina Bay, Singapore
What makes this stadium genuinely unique isn’t necessarily the colourful 30,000 grandstand capacity seating of this venue, but the 120 by 83 metre floating platform where most sporting events take place. As the largest floating stage in the world, ‘The Float’ is capable of bearing up to 1,070 tonnes in weight; or the equivalent of 9,000 people, 200 tonnes of stage props and three 30-tonne military vehicles. It’s no wonder Singapore is considered to be one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world.
Hosting a wide variety of sports and events since opening on 20th May 2007, this was the main venue for several competitions at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games, along with the opening and closing ceremonies. The grandstand is also one of the most popular sectors at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, as the race streaks past this impressive part of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which motor racing fans will next enjoy in September 2018.
IMAGE SOURCE: @ZirconTools via Twitter
Estadio Janguito Malucelli – Curitiba, Brazil
Last, but by no means least, we head to a venue where the greenery isn’t only reserved for the playing surface. Often called the ‘Ecoestadio’, the Estadio Janguito Malucelli was built in 2007 and is home to a football club of the same name. In stark contrast to much of the concrete and steel stadium constructions throughout Brazil, especially as the country prepared to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the designers of this stadium went for an entirely different focus.
“Football and ecology have never walked side by side” – states the official club JMalucellu website in poetic Portuguese – with the principal idea being to change that concept, making their home one of the most unique football stadiums in the world. Most notable within the capacity of around 6,000 seats is that they’re quite literally planted in a grassy bank. You’ll see no concrete here either, with all structures made of reclaimed timber, and other eco-friendly materials. Football is second nature to most Brazilians, but this stadium is perfect proof that nature and the sport can coexist in perfect harmony.
IMAGE SOURCE: @ProD_Soccer via Twitter