The National Football League kicks off another season on Thursday night, secure in its place as the most popular sport in America.
Television ratings are always through the roof, advertisers trip over themselves trying to form market partnerships with the league, and merchandise and uniform sales have never been higher.
But the actual experience of watching an NFL game live in-stadium is second to none, so here are our totally biased picks.
(In no particular order)
LAMBEAU FIELD, GREEN BAY PACKERS
Photo via Flickr/Mike Morbeck
If we were to rank these facilities, Lambeau would be at the top simply because of its history and surroundings. Green Bay is by far the smallest market in the NFL but the franchise dates back to the start of the NFL and is steeped in tradition. The ol' girl has had some makeovers, but it's still the same stadium where the team has always played. The fans - who literally have stock in the team - might be the most loyal in the league.
FIRSTENERGY STADIUM, CLEVELAND BROWNS
Photo via Flickr/FirstEnergy Corp.
We have a definite soft spot in our hearts for the woebegone franchise known as the Browns (although LeBron James helped the city out this past June by winning Cleveland's first major sports title in 50 years). But the location makes this facility - downtown, near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and numerous bars and restaurants, and right on the lake.
RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Photo via Flickr/Sean Hobson
It has a pirate ship. No, really, it has a pirate ship just beyond one of the end zones. And not outside the stadium, either; IN the stadium. That alone puts it high on our list. Arggghhh!
AT&T STADIUM, DALLAS COWBOYS
Photo via Flickr/Scott Ellis
As much as we wanted to leave it off the list - because, well, Cowboys - it really is a jewel. It's already hosted one Super Bowl, and the scoreboard is state-of-the-art.
LOS ANGELES COLISEUM, LOS ANGELES RAMS
Photo via Flickr
Go ahead. Give us the eye roll, the shoulder shrug and the collective "Huh??" But ever since the St. Louis Rams decided to go back to L.A., we have looked forward to pro football being back at the Coliseum where University of Southern California football has been the primary tenant for more than a decade. This great old stadium has hosted two Olympics as well as two Super Bowls. The traffic is awful - literally, it's like they plunked this thing down in a residential neighborhood - and the surroundings can be iffy at times if you stray too far from the building. But it's a great place to watch a game.
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