November 14, 2007

No Place Like Home: The 10 Toughest Venues in the World.

posted by justgary to general at 12:01 PM - 19 comments

Ranking by rhetoric is fine and all, and certainly paves the way for lots of discussion and debate about this sort of thing, but it occurs to me that it'd be really neat to see this sort of ranking done entirely with actual stats. You could use numbers like capacity, average decibal levels, crime & assault statistics, and of course, visiting teams' won-loss records.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:13 PM on November 14, 2007

I had no clue that LSU's stadium was nicknamed "Death Valley." I thought that was bestowed only on Clemson's football stadium. Ya learn something new every day.

posted by NoMich at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2007

I agree, Doc. I read the article felling that aside from a quip about each stadium, nothing quite tangible was being mentioned. As a homer, McCarthey Athletic Center where the Gonzaga Bulldogs play is a tough place for visiting basketball teams to come up with wins, although that may be because the home team is quite dominant. And Qwest Field where the Seahawks play is one of the louder open-air stadiums around. But I don't necessarily think that these two belong on any list. Just saying that the booing is bad at Yankee Stadium doesn't make it one of the worst places for visitors, does it? I was under the impression that there might be a number of left handed hitters who like to play there, as well as many others who like it just for the history. That could be interpreted as meaning that it was a good place for visitors. What am I trying to say? I have no idea. Maybe, facts, man. We need facts.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:43 PM on November 14, 2007

Although I have no knowledge of the non-American stadiums, I would also like some proof. Some college hoops stadiums like Duke or North Carolina come to mind, not to mention Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas. Also, Arrowhead is always mentioned as one of the toughest AFC stadiums to visit. (Well, not this year.)

posted by hawkguy at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2007

"Football is life in Argentina—especially for Boca Juniors fans. The diehard supporters have earned the nickname “La Doce”—the 12th Man." Texas A&M is getting their lawsuit ready as we speak.

posted by ksb122 at 01:21 PM on November 14, 2007

Hopefully the Boca Juniors have a rich owner so that they might settle out of court like the Seahawks did. Hey, maybe Drew Carey can go to Argentina and raise their flag. And then stay there.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:33 PM on November 14, 2007

How do visiting coaches deal with the constant crowd noise? To be honest, they don’t. Hmm, I guess practicing with the speakers on full blast doesn't count?

posted by jmd82 at 01:55 PM on November 14, 2007

Old Three Rivers Stadium was the best when the steelers were home. They had all steel steps in the first two levels and once the feet got going you could not hear the person next to you. Teams always complained and said we pumped in crowd noise like they say the colts do now. Teams feared playing there. New Heinz Field is weak in comparison.

posted by Debo270 at 02:04 PM on November 14, 2007

Some college hoops stadiums like Duke or North Carolina come to mind... Duke yeah, but Carolina can't be up there anymore since they play in the Dean Dome. Besides, I've never heard anybody accuse those wine 'n cheesers of ever getting loud. HA! I was at the last ever State basketball game held at Reynolds (bottom two photos) and that place was pretty amazing. Temperature wise, it was hotter than hell and those seats came right to the inbounds line. There was hardly any room for a player to stand to toss the ball back into play. And loud! My gracious it was loud in there. But alas, they now play in the gigantic RBC Centre on the outskirts of town. It can still get loud in there, but not nearly as loud as that old tin can that's on State's campus.

posted by NoMich at 02:09 PM on November 14, 2007

Excuse me, I meant to say, "I was at the last ever mens' State basketball game held at Reynolds." The womens' basketball team still plays their games there.

posted by NoMich at 02:15 PM on November 14, 2007

Cole Field House at Maryland was wild back in the day, though it pains me to say Cameron Indoor Stadium is probably more intimidating (plus Coach K has the thermostat set to 95 degrees). Supposedly the new Terps venue, Comcast Center, was designed to be intimidating, with steeply pitched seating behind the baskets and a student section that rings the floor. Haven't been there, though I doubt it's seriously intimidating like any of these football stadia. Speaking of football (gridiron) and "back in the day," RFK stadium was absolutely bonkers for Redskins home games. A dual use stadium (actually, a three-sport stadium: for a long time RFK was one of the finest places in the world to watch and play football (soccer) and certainly the best in the States), the lower deck stands were built to retract for baseball, and when the crowd would jump, the whole side of the stadium seemed to throb. When the Skins scored, the whole stadium moving and thrumming from so many fans going Hog Wild would tickle the soles of your feet. But in order to be considered, it seems the fans have to be intimidating, too. While having criminally violent assholes for fans is obviously not a prerequisite, it seems to have helped some of those venues make the list.

posted by Hugh Janus at 03:23 PM on November 14, 2007

The boys on the US men's soccer team don't seem to like playing in Mexico City too much, what with the altitude, choking air pollution, and hostile-as-hell fans. Can't imagine they're much nicer to anyone else.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:37 PM on November 14, 2007

The old Boston Garden was always a tough place for visitors, but only when the Bruins had a decent team. The seats were close to the ice, and the noise seemed to reverberate from the top down. One could tell what was happening on the ice, even from the conceession stands, just by the crowd noise.

posted by Howard_T at 03:51 PM on November 14, 2007

He refers to Celtic as 'boys in green stripes'. What an idiot.

posted by i_cola at 04:36 PM on November 14, 2007

That's just like trying to compare teams or players from different eras. It's impossible and purely a waste of time, yes?

posted by LeftyPower at 04:36 PM on November 14, 2007

Refreshingly international. I've been to #1 to see Boca Jr. play arch-rival River Plate, and it was beyond words. Especially since I was rooting for River with my La Plata buddies. Insanely atmospheric, but felt perfectly safe -- that was in 1994 though.

posted by rumple at 04:53 PM on November 14, 2007

A pretty limited range of sports and venues. And badly written. Most of you have summed up the problems with doing these sorts of comparisons anyway. But I'd add: Goroka Showground in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Great Britain played a Rugby League Test there a few years ago (they lost). The crowd dressed in the whole 'highland warrior' style (kumul feathers, penis gourds, bones in noses, that sort of thing), and the Royal PNG Constabulary had to come in and disperse the tribal fighting during the half time break. The second half was played in a fog of tear gas that often blinded the Great Britain players. Now that's intimidating!

posted by owlhouse at 04:58 PM on November 14, 2007

On the one hand, if you're going to do a Sporting List Article, it's nice not to limit it to North American sports. On the other hand, it helps if it's well-written. I don't find fault with the top rankings: Boca and Galatasaray are teams you'd rather not play at their place. It's impossible and purely a waste of time, yes? Well, I suppose there are quantifiable elements: home/away records, records against teams that, on paper, you'd expect to win, etc. One thing you can tease from this piece: moving stadiums can lose the elements (tangible and intangible) that make it an intimidating away trip. The Dell may have helped Southampton stay in the top league longer than their form deserved; Arsenal didn't necessarily need the advantages of Highbury (tight, tight ground, narrow touchlines) but they made use of it. Lastly: LSU have an actual tiger on campus? 'kin'ell.

posted by etagloh at 11:27 PM on November 14, 2007

Lastly: LSU have an actual tiger on campus? 'kin'ell. I got a kick out of this write-up on the LSU football experience by a Florida fan after the LSU-Florida game earlier this year. Some excerpts:

The tiger is real. You know that there’s a live tiger on campus at LSU. And that they parade it around before games. And that you’re going to see it. But seeing it registers the lunacy of the whole event at a level that only the visual can really deliver: it’s a live goddamn tiger in its own bizarre cage/car, staring out at all the fresh meat it could possibly ever want from behind mesh and generally looking very, very unimpressed with the whole affair. The crowd loses all sense when it arrives, bringing LSU pregame out of the realm of mere “pep” and into a conflation of sport and primitive totem worship. [. . . ] Tiger Stadium is proxy Mardi Gras. Something cuts Tiger Stadium loose from the fetters of reality. Perhaps it’s the brown liquor buzz peaking with the setting of the sun, or the lurid dark purple the sky turns just as the sun is sliding beneath the horizon, or the combined and complete attention of 92,000 people all focused on one communal point of attention. We’ve read about the intangibles of playing in a place like Tiger Stadium before–the vague “something” described alternately as “special,” “different,” or “MY GOD I’M NOT GETTING OUT OF HERE ALIVE”–and scoffed.

posted by holden at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2007

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.