By Shawn Muller–
In 72 A.D., the Roman Emperor, Vespasian, ordered work to begin on an arena that would remain as one of the most iconic sporting arenas mankind has ever known: The Colosseum.
Though construction would not be complete until 80 A.D., under the reign of Emperor Titus, the Colosseum, in Rome, Italy, set the golden standard for all sporting venues to follow. With a capacity of 50,000, the Colosseum was Yankee Stadium 1,800 years before Yankee Stadium was built in 1923.
Just like the Colosseum in Rome, certain American sports stadiums should be treated as shrines. It is important that we honor the athletes from days gone by, paying tribute to those athletes who walked the hallowed halls of our own great stadiums, and made such venues as historic and treasured as they are today. Sport is an important part of our country’s great history, and we need to treat certain arenas accordingly.
There are so many wonderful stadiums throughout the world, but I want to focus on the United States.
Our country has so many great stadiums to choose from, it is nearly impossible to narrow the list down to just five. But I am going to give it a try. As time goes by, and technology continues to advance, I am sure there will be many more stadiums in the future that could be considered for the list, but I am not worried about those places right now. I want to focus on the arenas we already have.
It was a hard thing for me to do, but after much internal debate, here are the five American stadiums that I feel, should be considered “Colosseumesque”. In other words…do not touch!
1. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indianapolis, IN)
I wavered back and forth, between Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona. Daytona is the birthplace of NASCAR, which is the most popular spectator sport in the United States, but Indianapolis is the birthplace of organized racing period. Built in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first speedway to incorporate in the world, and with a capacity of over 400,000 (including the infield), it is also the biggest sporting venue in the world. It is hard to argue with the Godfather of American racing.
2. Fenway Park (Boston, MA)
Tiger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and Comiskey Park. These shrines of the “American Pastime” have all fallen victim to the hunger of fans wanting a more modernized stadium. Built in 1912, Fenway park is the oldest remaining professional baseball stadium, still in use, in the United States. Regardless of how you feel about the Red Sox, or the game of baseball in general, Fenway Park is the most important stadium still standing in our country. Sooner or later, Boston will need to move into a modern facility, but Fenway is as much of a museum as the Smithsonian. It needs to be protected to give future generations a glimpse into the past, when times were simple, and baseball was truly the king of American sport.
3. Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
Now, before White Sox fans want to chime in on this one, and rip my head off, like it or not, Wrigley Field is as iconic as it gets in American sport…Period. Built in 1914, “The Friendly Confines” is the second oldest Major League Baseball stadium left standing, and is the oldest remaining in the National League. When people think of baseball stadiums, the three that always come first, are Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field. We have already lost old Yankee Stadium, we can’t afford to lose the other two.
4. Lambeau Field (Green Bay, WI)
The most popular sport in the United States needs to have a member on the list…and I am sure Bears fans won’t like this one bit, but Lambeau gets the nod. I understand that the site where Soldier Field lies has been around longer than Lambeau Field, but the Bears didn’t start playing their until 1971. Add in the recent renovations to Soldier Field, and I just can’t justify putting it on the list. Opening in 1957, it’s the “oldest” stadium in the NFL. Few teams have as much history and tradition as the Packers do, and when you throw in the fact that they have the most NFL Championships of all-time (11), you have to go with our neighbors to the North. Man I hated saying that!!
5. Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, IN)
It may not be the oldest, and it may not be the biggest, but Notre Dame Stadium is the most famous college football stadium in the country. While I am not a “Domer” myself (actually, I despise Notre Dame, so go figure), this was actually an easy pick for me. You can’t say college football without mentioning Notre Dame. From the 11 National Championships and 7 Heisman Trophy winners, to Knute Rockne, and the “The Four Horsemen,” Notre Dame Stadium was a no-brainer. While Notre Dame may be struggling in recent years, no one can argue with their past glory. Like them or loathe them, Notre Dame Stadium deserves to be on this list.
There are other stadiums around the country that could be on this list as well, and I am sure I could make an argument in their favor as to why they should replace any facility I have on my current list, but the five I listed above, you just can’t argue with.
These are the “American” Colosseums.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.