This offseason, Shutdown Corner's Frank Schwab and Eric Edholm will look into what is overrated and underrated in all aspects of the NFL. We fully expect your angry emails and comments that are sure to follow.
OVERRATED AND UNDERRATED: NFL stadiums
Eric Edholm: Soldier Field
Don't get me wrong, the history of the place, the old facade and the lakefront location are all outstanding. The fans are loud, and they stay until the end. But this Frankenstein building never has truly worked in my brain — dropping a spaceship into a concrete bowl — and for a newish stadium, it has some old problems such as poor sight lines, too few restrooms and a heck of a long walk from however you choose to get there. And that's an issue: getting there in a timely fashion. It's a glimpse of the good old days, but not enough of one. It's fine, but hardly the mecca some make it out to be.
Frank Schwab: Candlestick Park
Can it still technically be counted as an NFL stadium? Well for this exercise it will be. Lost in all the tearful goodbyes to the 49ers stadium (I just wish someone had asked Chris Berman his opinion on it all) was the fact that the stadium itself was awful. It was the typical old baseball/football venue that really didn't serve either one well. It was built on a landfill. The stadium was called a fire trap when it was built. It was too old to have any creature comforts of modern NFL viewing, but wasn't old enough to have the romantic charm of some of the great classic sports venues. I get it, a ton of history happened there, and that's awesome. But it should take 49ers fans about 30 seconds to forget that old place once they see what a regular modern NFL stadium looks like this season in Santa Clara, as Levi's Stadium debuts.
EE: Lucas Oil Stadium
What a great building. The RCA Dome was a dump, but the Colts went first class with their replacement digs. The whole place is beautiful, inside and out with its brick-and-limestone facade and aesthetically pleasing wall of windows, and there really isn't a bad seat in the house. The place echoes noise and has a great fieldhouse-like quality that gives it a homey feel without feeling like the ceiling is 18 feet over your head and closing in. If I was a young stadium architect, this would be my gold standard for retractable-roof football venues. Its location also is top notch, tucked in nicely between hotels, restaurants, downtown Indy proper and residential area. Perfect.
FS: Raymond James Stadium
Football stadiums aren't quite like baseball stadiums, in that there's not much uniqueness to them. The stadium in Baltimore looks like the stadium in Philadelphia which looks like the stadium in Denver which looks like the stadium in Tennessee. Raymond James, home of the Buccaneers, is one of the few that sticks out. The end zone areas are very open, a nice touch considering the goal of most stadiums is to pack in as many seats as possible. And of course there's the pirate ship in one of the end zones, one of the cooler features of any NFL stadium. It is very nice and modern, a great place to watch a football game, but most NFL stadiums are nice and modern. This one actually is different from the rest, and in a good way.
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