The emergence of online streaming services in contemporary times has opened up a plethora of sporting codes to choose from for the armchair fan.
Not so long ago, a sport’s fanbase was limited to those in the immediate locality – who could either travel to the games themselves, or watch them on domestic television. Nowadays, though, you don’t have to live down under to follow Aussie Rules or be an Indian to follow cricket’s flagship short-form franchise, the IPL.
The leading sporting competition in terms of its global marketability, though, is arguably the NFL. American football has been successfully exported to all four corners of the globe, and the competition’s grand finale, the Superbowl, is a calendar highlight in several continents outside of North America.
The NFL has pioneered a number of initiatives that we now take for granted in global sports. You can go back as far as 1962 for the invention of Fantasy Football, for example, while the sport also exported a regular season game to Mexico City in 2005, in which the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers. Nowadays, NFL games are regularly played at Wembley Stadium, and there has even been mooted interest in a franchise moving permanently to the British capital.
The NFL generates more revenue than any other sporting league in the world, and nearly doubles the annual intake of the English Premier League. It is little surprise, then, that the competition is now home to some of the world’s most grandiose and expensive stadia. In fact, at the time of writing, four of the world’s five most expensive stadia house teams in the NFL, with Wembley Stadium the other.
Read on to find out the five most expensive stadia in the NFL.
5. AT&T Stadium – Dallas Cowboys – Opened 2009, $1.48bn
Originally projected to cost $650m, the Arlington-located stadium’s costs racked up so significantly after breaking ground in 2005 that city residents agreed to increase taxes to help fund its completion.
The City of Arlington eventually provided as much as $325m in bonds for funding, while the NFL provided an additional loan of $150m to support owner Jerry Jones with the development costs.
Shortly after opening in September 2009, the stadium was home to the record attendance for a regular season NFL game, with 105,121 packing into the arena to witness the Cowboys’ nail-biting defeat to the New York Giants. Fun fact, former US president George W. Bush delivered the opening coin toss.
The Cowboys regularly achieve the highest average attendances in the NFL.
4. Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta Falcons – Opened 2017, $1.5bn
Not to be confused with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, or the Mercedes-Benz Arenas in Berlin, Stuttgart and Shanghai, this super-stadium in the Georgia state capital, Atlanta, is shared between the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and the MLS’ Atlanta United, replacing the much-loved Georgia Dome, which was demolished.
The stadium was funded and is owned by the state government of Georgia, and plays host to a number of high-profile events in the South-eastern USA, including the annual Peach Bowl and the SEC Championship game. In 2019, it hosted the Super Bowl.
3. MetLife Stadium – New York Jets/New York Giants – Opened 2010, $1.7bn
Just inside the New Jersey border in East Rutherford lies the MetLife Stadium – the third most expensive ever built. The arena is shared by two NFL franchises for their home games – the New York Jets and the New York Giants, who financed the construction of the 82,500 capacity stadium between them.
The arena made history when it hosted the 2014 Super Bowl, which was won by the Seattle Seahawks, by becoming the first non-domed stadium in a ‘cold-weather’ city to host the NFL’s flagship fixture, owing to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell waiving the requirement to celebrate the stadium’s development.
The event proved to be so popular that the local public transit authorities had to develop a transportation plan for the week, with fear that the number of visitors could overwhelm an already busy transit network. It was referred to as the “Mass Transit Super Bowl.”
2. Allegiant Stadium – Las Vegas Raiders – Opened 2020, $1.9bn
Declared substantively completed in the summer of 2020, the “Death Star”, as it is colloquially known, is yet to host a sporting occasion in which fans are allowed to attend, thanks to COVID-19 regulations.
The 65,000 capacity arena, which can be expanded to 72,000, was built in Clark County to provide a home for Nevada’s new NFL franchise team, the Raiders, who moved from Oakland in 2020.
1. SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles Rams/Los Angeles Chargers – Opened 2020, $5.5bn
The most expensive stadium ever built, the SoFi opened in September 2020, and the Inglewood, California arena is yet to experience a capacity crowd, or anything like it, due to coronavirus.
That said, it is already slated to host a number of world-leading events in the coming years, including the 2022 Super Bowl and the College Football Playoff National Championship, the 2028 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, as well as being a mooted venue for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
It will also become the new home of the NFL’s media campus, housing operations for hundreds of NFL.com staff.