The Craziest Sports Venues Around
The people at HKS Architects in Dallas
have just unveiled their absolutely insane new stadium for the Cowboys. Cowboys Stadium seats 80,000
people but has had 105,121 people in it with expanded seating which is a few
people but it's true beauty lies in the design and flourish of the
stadium. This is basically
the pinnacle of the American football stadium construction and it lets it be
known. The design manages
to be absolutely beautiful with literally tonnes of glass and state of the art
design while still retaining its insanely high testosterone levels inside. Either end of the stadium is
adorned with a massive glass door that admits views in and out of the stadium
and allows for a whole lot of natural light to get in.
Beyond all the steel and glass lies Cowboys Stadium's famed television. It's not a jumbotron 5000 or anything, it's basically the exact same LCD TV hanging above your fireplace at home, but like forty times bigger. The two center hung LCD's are now the biggest in the world at 160 by 72 feet and are actually capable of outputting full 1080p high definition. Technically, it has 2,432 pixels wide and 1,088 high ranking it up there into 1080p territory. Because each pixel is made up of four LED's Mitsubishi's patented "Dynamic Pixel" Technology allows it to borrow the corner LED's from the four neighboring pixel clusters allowing for a much cleaner and crisper image. Obviously, somebody who has access to the video inputs of these massive TV's is a gamer because there is some hilarious video of them playing Halo on the monster screen.
Allianz Arena is a personal favorite of
mine because I have actually stood in its presence. Earlier this year when I was in
Munich, it was suggested that I go check it out at night because it would make
for good pictures. I have
to say that standing in front of the Allianz Arena is an absolutely incredible
experience. Being inside
it with 70,000 other screaming FC Bayern MÃ¼nchen fans is one thing but this
stadium is special because of what it looks like outside. Its shell is made up of 2,874
air panels that are filled with dry air giving it that puffy look.
The panels appear to be white from a distance but are actually transparent and covered with white dots. This enables the each panel to be changed to either red, white or blue to support whichever team happens to be playing at home that night. When the stadium is all lit up it is a sight to behold and is really quite beautiful. I have to hand it to Herzog & de Meuron for their flagship building.
The Vancouver Canucks' Dressing Room
The Vancouver Canucks play in a sold
out GM place for every single game.
The stadium was built in
1995 and seats just 18,810 people so there's really no state of
the art numbers or facts to accompany it, but they have just finished building
the most incredible locker room for the players.
There are two giant fogged glass doors bearing the team's logo
that slide open like on the Enterprise. You wonder if mere mortals are
allowed to enter. Once
you step in, you see that the room is an oval so that nobody has any corners to
hide in and the coaches can stand right in the middle and eye down players
without a problem. The
Jerseys are hung above dark wood benches where the players get dressed for the
The whiteboard has been replaced with a giant video screen the coaches can draw plays on. There are state of the art exercise facilities, a ridiculous medical room, and even bathrooms that look like a spa's. Each player can shower after a game and shave at one of the many sinks in the bathroom. After, they can take a breather in one of the lounges with white leather couches and watch the game highlights on the giant televisions, or check their email on any number of computers provided for them. The boys would quite literally never have to leave the dressing room if they didn't want to, and who would with digs like this? Bet you never thought you'd see a hockey team's dressing room in a list with the Allianz Arena.
London's new Wembley Stadium was, at
the time it was built, the most expensive sports arena in the world. When it had been completed and
finally opened in 2007, the bill was an absolutely staggering 800 million
pounds, which works out to roughly 1.57 billion American dollars. The stadium is home to many high
profile soccer and rugby games, as well as some of the biggest concerts in the
world. Some of the live earth concerts took place here on July
7th of 2007 that were viewed by over 8 million people
around the world. The
stadium was designed by architects Foster + Partners and its signature feature
is a massive circular section lattice arch. It spans an incredible 315m, is
mounted at 22Â° off of straight to support the entire weight of the north roof
and 60% of the weight of the retracting roof.
What really blows my mind more than anything else about this stadium is how the hell it cost as much as it does. When you're inside, it looks just like any other stadium. There are still plenty of trusses supporting the roof that hinder your view of the overhead jumbotron and the field still looks pretty far away when you're up on the top shelf, I just don't understand why this stadium is so special. Granted, it looks kind of like the suspension bridge of stadiums but for 1.5 billion dollars, I would be pretty upset if this is what I got.
Turin updated the incredible Palazzo a vela for their kick at the winter Olympics in 2006 and turned it into the Torino Palavela. Originally built in 1961, engineers and architects were faced with the challenge of renovating the structure to meet today's Olympic standards and seat thousands of people. What the team of architects, led by Gae Aulenti, effectively ended up doing was building a building within a building. I know, that's a lot of buildings.
They created a giant sail structure in the middle of three concrete arches set at 60 degrees to cover the building completely and give it a completely new look. The Palazzo is now capable of seating 10,000 people and is really quite versatile in that it can necessitate many different types of events and that it can even still be expanded if needed in the future. What is really incredible about this venue is the fact that it was completely updated to be one of the worlds more striking arenas from an old, and rather boring arena if I don't say so myself.
The University of Phoenix Stadium
The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona
is the first professional sports facility to have a retractable roofâ€¦ and a
retractable grass field. That can't be right. Seriously, this stadium has a
field it can roll in and out on a very specially designed tray so that real
grass can be played on and the field can be quickly converted to necessitate
any number of other playing surfaces. Let's get into some details about this
unbelievable slide out field.
The tray the field resides in weighs 12 million pounds, is 234
feet wide and 400 feet long and it takes about 45 minutes to roll it in or out
of the stadium. It
reminds me of the trucks that NASA uses to transport its engines. Not only does
this make it incredibly convenient for multiple sporting events, but it also
nearly eliminates humidity problems caused by keeping grass alive inside and is
supposed to decrease the costs of maintaining the field indoors by $50 million.
The stadium is a giant collaboration between the famous Peter Eisenman and
It cost a mere $355 million to build, takes up 160 acres and seats 63,000 people. Everything about the stadium was built with the unusually arid climate in mind. It has a state of the art metal skin that allows for more desirable temperatures and natural light to enter inside due to open-air gaps in between the panels. The sliding fabric roof provides an open air feel even when it is closed and makes a truly unique experience for all 63,000 people in the stadium.
Dubai is becoming an oasis in the
middle of a huge desert.
Still, the last thing you would expect to see there is a ski hill.
Leave it to the East's richest princes to attempt the impossible. This is an incredible example of a ridiculous sporting venue. The resort is absolutely insane
taking up 32,290 square feet of winter wonderland.
It has five downhill ski runs with various difficulties, a
cross-country trail, and a quarter pipe for snowboarders. Of course, all this skiing
requires chair lifts so they have those too. It
is right next to the mall of the emirates so you can do your shopping, then hit
the slopes feeling like an absolute spoiled brat. It also has the world's largest
indoor snow park at 9,842 square feet that features tobogganing hills, a
bobsled track with two side by side tracks, a snowball fight gallery and even a
little cavern to get lost in and pretend you're in the mountains of Afghanistan
struggling to survive. The good news is, you're not, you're in the emirates and
they want you to spend lots of money here because it cost them $275 million to
grow this snow land.
The temperature outside in Dubai ranges from 60 to 135 degrees but they manage to keep the ski hill at a constant 28 degrees. The whole building is designed as a giant fridge and uses many of the same technologies. The walls are insulated with many layers and have 23 blast coolers that are constantly adjusting the temperature. There is a two-foot base of packed snow underneath a crisp and beautiful layer of powder replenished nightly. They blast out chemical-free water through an incredible chilling machine and it's absolutely vomited out of snow cannons; the water crystallizes and forms snow before it ever touches the frozen ground. Leave it to Dubai to take ridiculous sports venues to the next level.
Beijing Water Cube
China really overdid it with their
Olympic buildings last year.
Obviously, we'll get to the bird's nest in a bit, but first we
absolutely have to talk about their stunning so called "Water Cube" or National Aquatics Center, which is a much more boring name so I won't be referring to it
as that again. The Water Cube is an absolutely striking building constructed of
lightweight Teflon that provides an incredible green house like effect inside
the building. This allows
for incredibly efficient operation of the building. They didn't stop there though;
the building also uses solar energy to heat the pools, which even reuse the
backwashed pool water using a double-filtered technique, water that would
normally be thrown out. Rain water is even collected and stored to fill the
The bubble like shell that houses the pools was developed at Dublin's Trinity University due to extensive studies on the structural properties of soap bubbles. It is said to be able to withstand any degree of seismic activity and is at the cutting edge of modern architecture. This is really an incredible accomplishment of efficiency and engineering and they have spared absolutely nothing to create this incredible building.
The Birds Nest Stadium
Perhaps even more iconic of the Beijing
Olympics is the Herzog & de Meuron masterpiece, the Beijing National Stadium,
or Bird's Nest as it was called. It took only four and a half years to build
and cost just $423 million, peanuts when you look at Wembley. The design of the
arena was actually bidded upon which I found quite weird; a little democracy in
a communist country.
Anyways, the people picked the nest design and it became a symbol
of not only the Olympics but China as well.
There are actually two different structures that go into the creation of this stadium. There is the red bowl that houses the playing area and seating, and the intricate and beautiful exoskeleton that supports it all. The Bird's Nest goes in the list not because it is the biggest or the most beautiful, but because it has managed to create an image, a feeling or a state of mind, for all of China, even if that's really just brainwashing people into nationalism.
The Azadi Stadium
Tehran, Iran has one of my personal
favorite stadiums in the world.
One that might not get as much coverage as you would normally get
for a marvel of this caliber due to our, how do I put this lightly, tension
with their so called President.
The Azadi was built in 1971 by the then Shah Mohammad Reza Shah
Pahlavi and succeeded miraculously at creating not only a place for Iranians to
play soccer, but an attitude.
It's iconic design is timeless and brought the Iranian people
together by creating a very imposing feeling.
It's been said that the Azadi is not just a stadium it's an attitude. In fact, famous Iranian soccer player Javad Nekounam famously warned the South Korean player Park Ji-sung that he had never felt anything like playing in the Azadi. He claimed the 100,000 screaming men has to be felt to be believed. I can't imagine playing in the stadium let alone being a member of the crowd. In addition to the incredible atmosphere the stadium is capable of producing, it is also a marvel of architecture and absolutely stunning. It is a timeless design and one that provided an identity to Tehran's people shortly before their revolution.