My Son and I Saw a Game at every NFL Stadium in 2021

It all started as a lark. Would it even be possible to see an NFL game in every stadium in one season? Once we discovered it was possible, it became a question of whether it was realistic. Once we decided we would allow preseason games into the schedule, we began thinking more about whether or not we would do it.

My son enjoyed being home when the pandemic struck. So we decided that homeschooling him for his eighth-grade year would be the best choice. Our daughter, however, craved the peer relationships and recess that school offered her. So, with our centrally located St. Louis home base, my son and I headed on a road trip we will never forget.

I took my new camera with me to the first few stadiums. Still, I quickly saw that although the stadium might say that they allow cameras, what they mean is they allow terrible cameras that can’t take high-quality pictures of their sidelines. So I had planned on being an expert documentarian and slowly turned into taking quick phone pictures while I was walking.

Some data I tried to obtain were food price and ticket cost. I will rank the stadiums the best I can while realizing that different games can create different environments to focus mainly on the stadiums themselves. We love the dome and warm weather stadiums. We don’t want to bring rain ponchos or “layer up” for cold-weather games.

Here are the rankings for those that don’t like to read.

  1. SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles Chargers & Los Angeles Rams)
  2. Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta Falcons)
  3. Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  4. Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas Raiders)
  5. Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots)
  6. U.S. Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings)
  7. AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)
  8. Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers)
  9. Lumen Field (Seattle Seahawks)
  10. Ford Field (Detroit Lions)
  11. Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts)
  12. Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs)
  13. Nissan Stadium (Tennessee Titans)
  14. Levi’s Stadium (San Francisco 49ers)
  15. Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  16. NRG Stadium (Houston Texans)
  17. Caesars Superdome (New Orleans Saints)
  18. M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore Ravens)
  19. Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Dolphins)
  20. State Farm Stadium (Arizona Cardinals)
  21. Bank of America Stadium (Carolina Panthers)
  22. FirstEnergy Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals)
  23. Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia Eagles)
  24. Soldier Field (Chicago Bears)
  25. Empower Field at Mile High (Denver Broncos)
  26. Paul Brown Stadium (Cleveland Browns)
  27. MetLife Stadium (New York Jets & New York Giants)
  28. TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  29. Highmark Stadium (Buffalo Bills)
  30. FedExField (Washington Football Team)

The Stadiums

#1. SoFi Field

Game #10: Week 1 (9/12): Chicago Bears (14) @ Los Angeles Rams (34)

Seats: Sec 515, Row 15, Seat 11 – 12 ($122.03/ea)

The newest stadium in the league is the best stadium in the company. It costs $5.5 Billion and provides an experience that no other stadium can offer. Before I start gushing too hard about it, I will say that the stadium’s location is one of the worst in the league. You are closer to the airport, but not the ocean. You are in a still-developing concrete jungle. We stayed at a motel a mile away for less than parking ($100). Those complaints don’t matter. The stadium is breathtaking. You walk up and feel like you are at a luxury resort. It has a roof but feels wide open. It’s spacious and feels like a place you want to put your feet up. The screen in the middle of the field is unmatched. It is pixel perfection and allows you to watch the game undisturbed while seeing replays instantly from the upper deck. The fans did not seem to support their team too hard, but the mecca itself is something that every football fan should experience.

#2. Mercedes Benz Stadium

Game #23: Week 11 (11/18): New England Patriots (25) @ Atlanta Falcons (0)

Seats: 134GA ($93.57/ea)

This building needs more hype. I felt this would rank near the top because it is my son’s favorite team, and we bought tickets for their actual fans section (Dirty Birds’ Nest), but there is a lot to like here. First and foremost, the food is genuinely cheap. Not football stadium cheap, I’m ok eating rice and beans cheap. A hot dog is $1.50. I’m not saying during random games, three hours before game time, and in one section. All-the-time! There were numerous food choices as well. Their jumbotron tries to do what SoFi does, but unfortunately, you have to look high up to see replays no matter the seat. The exterior and interior are exciting and feel like the league’s best value, especially considering it is only five years old.

#3. Heinz Field

Game #5: Preseason Week 2 (8/21): Detroit Lions (20) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (26)

Seats: Sec 227, Row C, Seat 7 – 8 ($25.68/ea)

Heinz Field is placed ideally along the famous Three Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh. Watching thousands of fans line the streets and be excited about a preseason football game got us intrigued. The stadium is well designed and feels brand new even though it is now over twenty years old. The ketchup bottle pouring the Red Zone is a fun quirk as well. We were able to park relatively close for free and walk down the river before and after the game. There are boats of people “sailgating,” and the pumped-up fans make for a memorable experience.

#4. Allegiant Stadium

Game #11: Week 1 (9/13): Baltimore Ravens (27) @ Las Vegas Raiders (33)

Seats: Sec 440, Row 15, Seat 16 – 17 ($215.68/ea)

The newest dome stadium did not let us down. We made it the first-ever regular-season home game with fans for the Las Vegas Raiders. I was worried about quickly walking from Luxor to the stadium, but the city closed down a portion of the highway to let fans walk from the strip to the game. Vegas was also the first stadium to require proof of vaccination. Once entering the building, The “Death Star” does feel a little dark. However, since the team is black, they can work that to their advantage. There are some beautiful views of the strip as you walk around the concourses. The fans filled the seats, and although it was a party experience, they did not depart their seats to get more drinks frequently like SoFi Field.

#5. Gillette Stadium

Game #1: Preseason Week 1 (8/12): Washington Football Team (13) @ New England Patriots (22)

Seats: Sec 325, Row 16, Seat 9 – 10 ($25.68/ea)

Gillette was the first stadium we saw on the trip. Our excitement level was high, and the stadium did not disappoint. We loved the mini-town feel with bars and restaurants walking distance to the stadium. The stadium has a wide-open feel, with the ability to watch the game from open spaces in the end zones. They had an enormous pro shop and a team hall of fame. Unfortunately, the prices were high, and there were no souvenir cups for our preseason matchup. However, we were excited to hear that the stadium will be receiving some significant renovations to make it a contender for the best open-air stadium in the NFL.

#6. US Bank Stadium

Game #14: Week 3 (9/26): Seattle Seahawks (17) @ Minnesota Vikings (30)

Seats: Sec 344, Row B, Seat 16 – 17 ($139.90/ea)

My expectations were low going to Minnesota to see a football game. I assumed it would be cold and sad. I was way off. I loved the Viking ship outside the stadium and the fake snow released inside. The dome lets a fantastic amount of light in and lets you see the downtown area. We stayed downtown and were able to walk to the game, and I found a delightful running trail as well. The building is only five years old, and if the Vikings had a long history of success, I could easily see it being pushed up into the top five based on the power of their Skol chant alone.

#7. AT&T Stadium

Game #22: Week 10 (11/14): Atlanta Falcons (3) @ Dallas Cowboys (43)

Seats: Sec 438, Row 4, Seat 1 – 2 ($137.31/ea)

There is a lot of hype around Jerry World. The stadium is now over 15 years old, and after visiting SoFi, the jumbotron in the middle of the dome looks tiny. However, it did help lead the way for domes higher on the list. There is a lot to enjoy about AT&T Stadium. The field is open and allows a lot of light in even with the roof closed. Unfortunately, the fans were not as excited about the game as expected. I know Texas loves their team, but we didn’t feel the passion like other historic teams.

#8. Lambeau Field

Game #13: Week 2 (9/20): Detroit Lions (17) @ Green Bay Packers (35)

Seats: Sec 115, Row 51, Seat 3 – 4 ($97.43/ea)

Lambeau is one of the most challenging fields for me to rank. As a Bears fan, it isn’t easy to cheer for the Packers, but there is a lot to like about the complex. The beautifully renovated stadium has a beautiful addition, Titletown. It was fun to walk through a neighborhood full of tailgating to get the game and see so many passionate fans. However, once you walk to your seats, you feel like you are at a college football game from the seventies. I assume fans see these as ambiance. I’m a Cubs fan and understand the appeal of an old-time feel. I draw the line at bench seats, however. I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to sit on a cold bench in the rain to watch a football game.

#9. Lumen Field

Game #20: Week 7 (10/25): New Orleans Saints (13) @ Seattle Seahawks (10)

Seats: Sec 303, Row DD, Seat 15 – 16 ($0/ea)

I received two tickets from my friend, a season ticket holder who intelligently has tickets underneath the partial roof covering the upper deck. The stadium was loud, and the fans were very into the game. I would not say that it is the loudest stadium in the league, but it could have been the cold rain and mediocre play. They had vegetarian food options and a $12 deal rivaled by Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

#10. Ford Field

Game #29: Week 15 (12/19): Arizona Cardinals (12) @ Detroit Lions (30)

Seats: Sec 331C, Row 1, Seat 14 – 17 ($94.98/ea)

The following two stadiums are very similar. They were built in the early 2000s and provide an excellent way to watch a football game. Ford Field takes the slight edge because I enjoyed the miniature city feel they created. The newest fields let more light in, but they don’t feel like the Superdome either. Detroit also offers an excellent cheap food and drink option a few hours before the game begins, but it is nothing mind-blowing, and the portion sizes are small for soda and beer.

#11. Lucas Oil Stadium

Game #12: Week 2 (9/19): Los Angeles Rams (27) @ Indianapolis Colts (24)

Seats: Sec 640, Row 7, Seat 3 – 6 ($75.14/ea)

We watched Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James get their Hall of Fame rings at halftime, which was quite the spectacle. We could also find free parking a mile away in the downtown area and quickly get in and out of the stadium. The fans were excited for the game against the NFC champion Rams, and it was a great place to watch a game.

#12. Arrowhead Stadium

Game #16: Week 5 (10/10): Buffalo Bills (38) @ Kansas City Chiefs (20)

Seats: Sec 122, Row 34, Seat 9 – 10 ($182.98/ea)

Arrowhead would be significantly higher if tailgating meant anything to you. When we arrived at the parking lot, we realized that half the stadium was probably tailgating before the game. All the lots were full of people having a good time even in the rain. The stadium has substantial renovations, and the fans stood the entire game (to my daughter’s dismay). It got deafening, and the fans stayed around even after a lengthy lightning delay. However, the stadium still felt dated, and the screens were small.

#13. Nissan Stadium

Game #18: Week 6 (10/18): Buffalo Bills (31) @ Tennessee Titans (34)

Seats: Sec 320, Row V, Seat 11 – 12 ($158.52/ea)

Nashville has a lovely stadium that is actually in the city. We loved walking over the bridge and sights on the way to the stadium. There is a nice view of the city skyline, and they tried their best to spruce up their food venues. Unfortunately, I don’t think the city loves the team as much as fantasy owners of Derek Henry did last year. The game we went to was nearly half Buffalo Bills fans. The stadium inside does not offer much interest and is starting to show some age.

#14. Levi’s Stadium

Game #19: Week 7 (10/24): Indianapolis Colts (30) @ San Francisco 49ers (18)

Seats: Sec C114, Row 33, Seat 3 – 4 ($96.68/ea)

Thanks to a terrible rainfall and a slow start to the season, we could buy club-level seats for under $100. Unfortunately, there is not much to enjoy for a stadium that is less than ten years old. There are food options, but costly ones. We didn’t have to deal with the sun issues that many visitors complained about, but protection from the sky played an essential role as we struggled to find any seats covering us from the rain altogether. We were able to walk to the stadium from a nearby hotel easily, and there is a train line that runs directly to it.

#15. Raymond James Stadium

Game #25: Week 11 (11/22): New York Giants (10) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30)

Seats: Sec 332, Row L, Seat 13 – 14 ($167.16/ea)

Tampa Bay tried its best to celebrate their championship team. There were great light displays, and we enjoyed the pirate ship. This field probably fell lower than Nissan Stadium because of the quality of games we experienced and not being located in a downtown area. However, it is the definition of the middle of the road. Not too new, but in a warm location, and ownership cares about its team.

#16. NRG Superdome

Game #28: Week 13 (12/5): Indianapolis Colts (30) @ Houston Texans (0)

Seats: Sec 106, Row G, Seat 14 – 15 ($0/ea)

There is a lot to like about NRG. It has a retractable roof (which is never open because it helps crowd noise). It has some excellent barbeque food options (for those that aren’t vegetarian). It is twenty years old but still feels relatively fresh. However, the jumbotrons are relatively small and high above eye level. It also offers one of the worst teams in the leagues.

#17. Caesars Superdome

Game #27: Week 13 (12/2): Dallas Cowboys (27) @ New Orleans Saints (17)

Seats: Sec 612, Row 23, Seat 12 – 13 ($67.00/ea)

Until you walk into the stadium, you may not realize that it’s 50 years old. The celebration happening outside and the incredible lighting on the dome get you intrigued. The fans dress as if they were in Vegas or a nightclub. It is an event. The crowd helps you forget that your seats are too small. We were surprised at the terrible selection at the Pro Shop, and although there were some fancy drink options, there was not much food to get excited over. Also, the city surrounding it is falling apart—streets with giant holes and abandoned buildings galore.

#18. M&T Bank Stadium

Game #2: Preseason Week 1 (8/14): New Orleans Saints (14) @ Baltimore Ravens (17)

Seats: Sec 553, Row 25, Seat 19 – 20 ($25.39/ea)

M&T Bank Stadium is in downtown Maryland. We parked by the University of Maryland campus and walked by Camden Yards. The team sets up a “RavensWalk” where you can visit different vendors and listen to music on your way to the stadium. There are lovely statues of Ray Lewis and Johnny Unitas. We enjoyed their pin selection and seeing regional food and beer. Then you realize that you’re in a stadium built in the late 90s without much going on. The jumbotrons in the endzone are not that large. It feels closed in and has no unique features.

#19. Hard Rock Stadium

Game #26: Week 12 (11/28): Carolina Panthers (10) @ Miami Dolphins (33)

Seats: Sec 304, Row 20, Seat 5 – 6 ($26.42/ea)

I thoroughly enjoyed our game at the Hard Rock. The partial roof they added makes for a pleasant Sunday of watching football. Unfortunately, we were in the shade in warm weather in later November. So the fans never came, and the food prices, drink, and merchandise was obscene for a team that hasn’t won a championship in 50 years. The LCD screens are small, and much of the venue shows its age, but I would still recommend catching a game here as we could get the cheapest tickets of any regular-season game, which helped cover other costs.

#20. State Farm Stadium

Game #21: Week 8 (10/28): Green Bay Packers (24) @ Arizona Cardinals (21)

Seats: Sec 422, Row 21, Seat 11 – 12 ($189/ea)

It’s a dome in a warm stadium and has reasonably priced food; how can it be so low? It’s hard to pinpoint why we didn’t love State Farm Stadium. I’m sure part of it surrounds the fact that I made my son walk over five miles to get back to our hotel, but there’s more to it. The inside of the stadium is very much like MetLife, bland. There are few open areas, and the screens are not easy to see. We sat in the upper deck, and I found myself using the zoom on my phone as a camera much more than any other upper decks we experienced. Packers fans dominated the stadium. Even before their season ran out of gas, Cardinals fans didn’t seem to have much passion for Kyler. The stadium is much like the rest of Arizona; it’s in the middle of nowhere. Although they built up some outlets and restaurants nearby where we went to a Dave and Busters, it just felt hollow.

#21. Bank of America Stadium

Game #17: Week 5 (10/17): Minnesota Vikings (34) @ Carolina Panthers (28)

Seats: Sec 528, Row 8, Seat 18 – 19 ($42.69/ea)

We have now entered the generic football game experience section of the list, with a significant drop-off between the top twenty stadiums and those following.

Bank of America is a simple stadium, with some lovely Panthers statues out front. However, it was in the downtown area of Charlotte, and we were able to get in and out of the game quickly. The concourses did show some renovations from its construction in 1996 and had a nice soft drink refreshment station like Las Vegas.

#22. FirstEnergy Stadium

Game #6: Preseason Week 2 (8/22): New York Giants (13) @ Cleveland Browns (17)

Seats: Sec 532, Row 18, Seat 1 – 2 ($19.19/ea)

My experience of getting food at FirstEnergy is nightmare fuel. It was a scorching day in Cleveland, and the concession stands were packed. Besides waiting for food for half an hour, I literally couldn’t move at times as the hallways were so filled with Browns fans. However, the fans’ passion and a great view of the city keep it out of the basement.

#23. Lincoln Financial Field

Game #3: Preseason Week 2 (8/19): New England Patriots (35) @ Philadelphia Eagles (0)

Seats: Sec 213, Row 11, Seat 7 – 8 ($28.10/ea)

Philadelphia has an entire sports complex in the city. The baseball and hockey/basketball stadiums are all in the same area and share parking lots. It is a unique experience and would allow for a fantastic multisport trip. The stadium itself provided some excellent food options and a view of the city. I’m sure a preseason shutout by the Patriots helped sour the fan experience, but we did not connect with the field.

#24. Soldier Field

Game #30: Week 15 (12/20): Minnesota Vikings (17) @ Chicago Bears (9)

Seats: Sec 314, Row 4, Seat 11 – 14 ($122.54/ea)

Fear of the cold and a desire to end the trip on a high note allowed us to purchase club-level seats for our hometown Chicago Bears. My Dad and I are lifetime-long Bears fans. I have probably been to a dozen games, so I am very familiar with the stadium. Unlike Lambeau, I never liked the renovations as they destroyed the field’s history. Parking is a nightmare. The fans were highly knowledgeable and interested in the game, even late in a failed season. There is not much unique about the field. Hopefully, management spares no money whenever Arlington Heights opens.

#25. Empower Field at Mile High

Game #15: Week 4 (10/3): Baltimore Ravens (23) @ Denver Broncos (7)

Seats: Sec 537, Row 20, Seat 15 – 16 ($54.75/ea)

Mile High is my second home. We spent over ten years in Colorado and have seen a few games. The mountains are beautiful, the fans are great, the stadium is trash. It does not feel like it is only 20 years old. It feels like it is from the 70s, not shortly after John Elway led them to multiple championships. It was also a struggle to get to the airport from the field without paying $100 for an Uber.

#26. Paul Brown Stadium

Game #9: Preseason Week 3 (8/29): Miami Dolphins (29) @ Cincinnati Bengals (26)

Seats: Sec 112, Row 25, Seat 9 – 10 ($25.91/ea)

The interior concourses of this field bring it down. It is dark and feels archaic. However, the location is excellent, and I enjoyed walking around the city and the water. The fans didn’t seem to deserve having their team be AFC champions. Maybe it was because Jamar Chase was still in prime preseason ball-dropping form.

#27. MetLife Stadium

Game #7: Preseason Week 3 (8/27): Philadelphia Eagles (31) @ New York Jets (31)

Seats: Sec 101, Row 5, Seat 3 – 4 ($25.68/ea)

How do you make a stadium that no one likes? Only ten years old, it feels like it is from the eighties. There is some beautiful lighting at the top of the stadium, but the rest makes you want to fall asleep. When sitting down at your seats, you realize you are about to experience mediocracy. Sure, you’re not going to get rained on, but maybe the rain would help hide your tears. It is a field designed to host music events, not football games.

#28. TIAA Bank Stadium

Game #24: Week 11 (11/21): San Francisco 49ers (30) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (10)

Seats: Sec 214, Row R, Seat 11 – 12 ($59.85/ea)

The Jaguars fans know how bad their team and stadium are. They told us that their food and drink were expensive and unimaginative, but at least they had a mascot that would bungee jump off their light towers (which was fantastic). I don’t know who would want to be in a pool at a football stadium during a pandemic, but Jacksonville found them. Unfortunately, the stadium was built for the Gator Bowl and not NFL.

#29. Highmark Stadium

Game #8: Preseason Week 3 (8/28): Green Bay Packers (0) @ Buffalo Bills (19)

Seats: Sec 244, Row 7, Seat 7 – 8 ($26.08/ea)

Bills fans care more about their team than their owner does about their field. Sitting on metal benches in the summer heat of New York provided the worst experience for my son. They were nice enough to lower the cost of water to $2, but they did not add fancier screens or better food. I can’t think of a team more deserving of a new stadium to reward their community. Highmark is 50 years old and holds the honor of being able to say, “At least we’re not FedExField.”

#30. FedExField

Game #4: Preseason Week 2 (8/20): Cincinnati Bengals (13) @ Washington Football Team (17)

Seats: Sec 120, Row 17, Seat 8 – 9 ($24.47/ea)

This field is a whole different level of sadness. Overall, the other stadiums are excellent fields that most fans would be excited to see their teams play in, even if they’re not the newest or the best. Unfortunately, FedEx Field is breaking down. We saw rust throughout, and the season showed issues with water lines breaking and fences falling over. All other venues receive a passing grade, but I honestly would not recommend visiting FedEx Field. It is a concrete jungle that represents what is wrong with the NFL.

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