The Times had an interesting list of the top ten stadiums in the world last week, as judged by Tony Evans. Here’s his top ten, with a photo of each — what do you think of the list? It seems impossible for one man to have visited enough world stadia to have even made this judgment, and there doesn’t appear to be any particular criteria being used — no special focus on architecture, atmosphere, location or history, just a jumbled up mix of each randomly justifying each selection. Notably, nine of the ten stadiums are in Europe, and only one has been built since the 1970s (though most have obviously been renovated or almost entirely rebuilt since their original openings).
1. Signal Iduna Park (formerly Westfalenstadion), Borussia Dortmund, Germany
“Two huge end terraces (and they are terraces, with the use of safe standing) that fling noise down at the playing area with deafening intensity.” Good to see it recognised by Evans that safe terracing is the way to go in terms of ensuring our corporate arenas can still have atmosphere, and no surprise a Bundesliga stadium tops the list.
Photo credit: H.Haupt on Flickr
2. San Siro, Internazionale and AC Milan, Italy
“Lit up, it looks like a spaceship set down in suburban Milan. It could take on the Death Star and win, it’s that impressive.” Difficult to argue with this choice, though the stadium is in need of further renovation according to many visitors.
3. Anfield, Liverpool, England
“Come those spring nights, the Kop gets a surge of energy and sound pounds down onto the pitch, crushing the weak-willed (Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juventus), recreating Shankly’s “Bastion of Invincibility.”” It doesn’t get much more obvious than Anfield for a British newspaper’s list of top stadia — or more cliched descriptively.
4. BJK İnönü Stadium, Beşiktaş, Turkey
“If they get bored, the fans behind one end can look across the Bosphorus to Asia. But their boys don’t get bored, to judge from the row they kick up. Brilliant atmosphere and a setting that’s unbeatable.” Once the home to Galatasaray S.K. and Fenerbahçe S.K as well as Beşiktaş, it’s Pele’s favourite stadium. But it’s about to change substantially, with work set to begin after this season on a new stadium at the same location.
Photo credit: Kartal Bafiler on Flickr
5. Allianz Arena
“If you have to build a new stadium, this is the way to do it. The architects who created the home of Bayern and 1860 Munich managed to equal the comfort level of the Emirates but also built in some atmosphere.” The only stadium built since the 1970s in the list, we featured the Allianz Arena here just recently — and I still wonder a little about the coldness of the design inside, despite the warmth of the colour-changing facade.
Photo credit: MrTopf on Flickr
6. Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
“The Nou Camp’s evil twin. Real Madrid’s palatial home does everything better than its Catalan counterpart except, perhaps, big-game atmosphere. But it’s a close-run thing. Effortlessly stylish, the place has the easy charm of a brilliantly successful tycoon whose career has been underpinned by a ruthless streak. Franco would feel right at home.” A pretty clumsy way to end a compliment there.
Photo credit: Jeroen! on Flickr
7. La Bombonera, Boca Juniors, Argentina
“There can be no such thing as health and safety inspectors in Argentina: if there were, Boca Juniors’ ground would be closed in a heartbeat. Three sides of the stadium are traditional sloping seating areas but the fourth, a vertical stand, makes the Bombonera a design classic.” The Chocolate Box is the obvious choice as the sole non-European selection — an obvious deficiency in this list.
Photo credit: #Hernan# on Flickr
8. Stadionul Dinamo, Dinamo Bucharest, Romania
“A running track is normally enough to destroy a stadium’s credibility. However, Dynamo Bucharest’s ground is a masterpiece of Cold War chic. You are greeted by Stalinist statues before arriving at a sunken bowl. A wide staircase behind the goal takes you pitchside — you can imagine a baby’s pram rattling down the stairs — and the closest thing to executive boxes are the balconies of neighbouring tower blocks.” A curious choice in an attempt to give a nod to Eastern Europe perhaps, it’s hard to see what could give it a nod above the Nou Camp besides “Cold War chic” — I’m sure somewhere, Nicolae Ceauşescu is chuffed.
Photo credit: Molkover on Flickr
9. Nou Camp, Barcelona, Spain
“Depending on the match, this place could easily end up on the list of worst stadiums. When it’s dull, it’s deathly. But on nights when Barça fans are hurling pigs’ heads at Luis Figo, it’s electric. The Cathedral of Catalan identity — even if the locals queue up to sell their tickets to tourists. . .It’s a shame the Champions League has made visits to places like this commonplace.” It’s hard to imagine Camp Nou appearing on the list of the worst anything, but the jaded Mr. Evans has apparently been there too many times — such a pity for him!
Photo credit: Missha on Flickr
10, Craven Cottage, Fulham, England
“In the era of identikit bowls, the ramshackle little ground on the banks of the Thames is like a throwback to a different age. It’s a genteel place, but it feels right.” And the final choice takes us back to the nineteenth century, which is not a bad way to end such a list.
Photo credit: nicksarebi on Flickr
What are your thoughts on the list? What stadiums has Evans missed that simply had to be on this list?