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Iconic architecture: Sports arenas

The great English writer George Orwell once suggested that sport was “…war minus the shooting” and he may have been close to the mark. The great sports arenas of the world are surrogate battlefields where teams and their fans vie to outdo each other and bring home the spoils of war.

It’s instructive to look back at one of the true icons of Ancient History, the Coliseum in Rome. This vast amphitheater, which hosted savage gladiatorial contests and the re-enactment of famous battles, is effectively the mother of the giant stadiums that grace so many cities throughout the world. Its oval shape defines the way sporting arenas have been planned and built down the ages and serves as a monument to the architects who designed and constructed it.

Here are some examples of incredible arenas that stimulate both the eye and the soul.


Sport reaches out across generations, and whether the venue is a home basketball court or the most iconic arena it plays an enormous part in many people’s lives, whether they play sport themselves or prefer to watch.

Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous venues in the world and a New York City landmark. It is home of the New York Knicks basketball team but also acts as home to the New York Rangers ice hockey team as well as hosting concerts by some of the world’s biggest stars.

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With the USA ranking 13th on the FIFA world ranking list, soccer is a sport that needs superb arenas to host matches worldwide. Wembley Stadium in London, England, is one of the greatest venues anywhere, the home of football. The design allows nearly all spectators to be seated in a single bowl instead of separate stands, and the most striking part of the stadium is the arch above the north stand. At 133 meters tall it can be seen across the city.



The four Grand Slam events each year in Australia, America, France and England all provide the ultimate in sporting excellence in stunning surroundings. France’s Roland Garros Stadium in Paris and the US Open venue at Flushing Meadow allow spectators to get right up close to action while still hosting many thousands of fans.


Perhaps the best know tennis venue is Wimbledon in London, England, with the Centre Court and its cleverly designed closing roof hosting some of the greatest matches ever seen.



A trip to Pasadena, California is not complete without a visit to the Rose Bowl. Host to the best of college football, several times as the arena for the Super Bowl, a venue for the summer Olympics on two occasions and for the FIFA World Cup finals, this architectural marvel has drawn millions to sporting and other events since 1922.



Lord’s cricket ground in London may be the home of cricket but one of the greatest cricket arenas is Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, also home to Australian football. Built in 1853 it still has the architectural power to overwhelm the visitor no matter what sport or other entertainment is on offer.



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