There are few things sports fans care about more than their favorite teams. As soon as they step foot in the hallowed stadium of their hometown heroes, sports fans whip each other into a passionate frenzy that could strike fear into the hearts of even the strongest athletes. Not having the home field advantage is one thing, but having to play at one of these eight sports venues almost guarantees a big fat ‘L’ on your team’s record.
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
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The Clippers, Lakers, and Kings all call the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles home. Teams playing at home here have space for a little more than 19,000 fans for any given game, making Staples Center one of the larger indoor basketball/hockey venues in the US. LA teams also have a tendency to do well on their home turf; The Kings outscored their opponents 79-47 last year alone, not to mention a healthy at-home record that led them to the Stanley Cup a few years back.
CenturyLink (Qwest) Field, Seattle, Washington
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Seattle Seahawks fans are some of the rowdiest in the world of professional football. They’re so passionate that the team officially retired the #12 jersey in honor of “the 12th man,” an affectionate nickname given to the dedicated fans who make so much noise during games that they actually keep track of false starts caused by their ruckus.
The 49ers can vouch for the difficulty of playing on the road in Seattle; Seahawks fans briefly held a world record during a game against them in September 2013, reaching a shattering 136.6 decibels in loudness (a jet engine is 140). Even more frightening, Seahawks fans got so rambunctious in 2011 that they actually caused a minor earthquake.
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
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International soccer fans have built up a reputation as some of the wildest — and often violent — audiences in the sports world. The fans of the Mexican national football (soccer) team and América Liga MX know all too well that their home turf of Estadio Azteca has a notorious reputation for being an inhospitable field for away teams. More than 100,000 screaming fans and at least 7,000 feet of elevation would put a strain on even the most seasoned athletes. A writer with the New Yorker commented on some of the extreme conditions in the stadium, such as barbed wire and thousands of security guards.
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
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With seating room for only about 37,000, Fenway Park is one of the smaller MLB stadiums out there. But a combination of fans, engineering tricks, and weather make the home of the Boston Red Sox one of the more intimidating places to play. Red Sox fans tend to be very rebellious and knowledgable, drawing equal measures of pride from their team’s legendary history and their city’s love of revolt (see: Boston Tea Party).
The stadium is also notorious for its “Green Monster,” a 37-foot wall — the tallest in the major leagues — just 310 feet away from home plate in the left field that makes home runs difficult to make. You can find tickets to Sox games and more at Scorebig.com.
Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tennessee
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Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the largest and most dangerous racing venues in the world. The half-mile track is one of the smallest in the world and has frighteningly steep banking with turns as steep as 36 degrees. Fans have compared the experience of seeing high-octane racing vehicles zip around the track to “flying fighter jets in a gymnasium.” Plus, a 160,000 audience watching every move you make adds even more stress to drivers and pit crews alike. Things are so dangerous at “Thunder Valley” that the stadium consistently accumulates more yellow flag caution laps (those normally associated with accidents) each NASCAR season than any other venue.
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
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It’s not clear whether it’s the Miami Heat’s world-class athletes or the boisterous fans who follow them, but American Airlines Arena is a difficult place for any away team to play. Ever since Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh came together to form one of the deadliest basketball trifectas in the history of the sport, teams have had a hard time besting them at home. For example, the Heat lost only four regular season games at home (out of 41) during their 2012-13 season. Combine that with two consecutive championships and possibly a third on the way, and you’ve got yourself a home field that’s truly a nightmare for away teams.
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC
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The driving force of intimidation behind Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium is the group of rowdy students who collectively call themselves the “Cameron Crazies.” About 10,000 of them pack into the stadium for basketball games and rival many professional teams’ fan bases. But what makes this fan base so rough for the away team is its ability to craft downright diabolical mind games. For example, a player on the opposing team was caught a few weeks ago for stealing pizzas, so the Cameron Crazies showered him with empty pizza boxes before the game.
Rungnado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea
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The Rungrado May Day Stadium in North Korea’s capital is a massive structure that houses a whopping 150,000. You can bet with 99.99 percent certainty not a single face in that audience will be rooting for you. It’s not easy being an on-the-road soccer team travelling to play the DPRK’s men’s and women’s national teams as the “great leader” watches you. Make one wrong move and you’ll end up burned alive in the same stadium.
If you’re lucky enough to be a fan that calls one of these venues home, you truly understand the power of the home field advantage.