No Place Like Home: The 10 Toughest Venues in the World

Tim YuSenior Analyst IOctober 28, 2007

How many times have you seen a rookie get rattled under big-time pressure away from the comforts of home?

Far too often, right?

In fairness, you'd be shaking too if you had 70,000 hostile fans breathing down your neck.

Don't forget—they call it home-field advantage for a reason.

In every sport, environment matters. For proof, one need look no further than the 10 most inhospitable venues in the world...

10) Yankee Stadium (New York, New York)

* Baseball
* Home of the New York Yankees

"The House That Ruth Built" is one of the most iconic stadiums in all of sports. While opposing teams get their share of brutality, the Yankees themselves aren't exactly immune to the boos.

In New York, anything short of a championship can be cause for a shakeup. Just ask the recently departed Joe Torre.

9) Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

* American Football
* Home to the Green Bay Packers

While Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City comes close, no NFL venue can top the history and atmosphere at Lambeau.

The Packers' tradition makes them intimidating enough. Add in rabid cheeseheads and horrific weather conditions, and opposing teams face a recipe for disaster on the Frozen Tundra.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f8/Rangers.svg/800px-Rangers.svg.png8) Ibrox Stadium (Glasgow, Scotland)

* European Football
* Home to Glasgow Rangers

If you missed it, last Thursday’s UEFA Champions League match between Glasgow Rangers and Barcelona was absolutely electric.

Rangers fans were out in full force, and willed their team to a much-deserved draw against the Spanish giants.

The crowd gets even more raucous when Rangers and Celtic hook up in the Old Firm Derby—arguably Britain’s fiercest rivalry. The Ibrox faithful always give the boys in green stripes problems when they come for a visit.

7) Maksimir Stadium (Zagreb, Croatia)

* European Football
* Home to Dinamo Zagreb, Croatian National Football Team

It doesn't take long to recognize the hostility of the environment at Maksimir.

Dinamo Zagreb and the Croatian National Football team have a huge advantage over their opponents at home. England's Steve McClaren isn't the first manager to learn that the hard way in Croatia’s capital.

Things only get worse when Zagreb plays host to Croatia’s top derby, between Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split. Violence and hooliganism are always issues whenever these two bitter enemies meet.

6) Centenario Stadium (Montevideo, Uruguay)

* European Football
* Home to Penarol, Nacional and the Uruguay National Football Team

When teams come to the Centenario Stadium, they know they’re in for a battle. Even Brazil and Argentina have had trouble coming away with results.

The ground is also the site of the Montevideo derby between Nacional and Penarol. Like the Boca Juniors-River Plate derby in Argentina, the game brings the entire nation of Uruguay to a halt—and splits the country in half.

5) Estadio do Maracana (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

* European Football
* Home to Fluminese and Flamengo

Many football experts and historians consider the Estadio de Maracana to be a football cathedral. Given the stadium’s rich history, who could argue with them?

As one would imagine, the sight of 210,000 angry Brazilians isn’t exactly a welcoming one for visitors.

The Marcana was home to one of the greatest upsets in sports history—Uruguay's win over Brazil in the 1950 World Cup, in a match known as the “Maracancao”. Today, the stadium is the site of the annual derby between Flamengo and Fluminese, two of Rio de Janeiro’s most prominent teams.

As with so many football rivalries, violence and hooliganism are the rule rather than exception.

4) Eden Gardens (Bengal, Kolkata, India)

* Cricket
* Home to the Bengal Cricket Team, Indian National Cricket Team

Eden Gardens is the oldest and most storied cricket ground in India.

Established in 1864, the stadium has a seating capacity of 120,000. Combine that with cricket's popularity in India, and it's easy to imagine how heated matches can be.

Cricket experts will be quick to remind you that Eden Gardens was also the site of one of the largest riots the sporting world has ever seen.

In 1999, an India-Pakistan match saw 65,000 fans storm the pitch. A few thousand injuries later, the contest finally resumed—in front of exactly zero fans.


Icon3) Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

* American Football
* Home to the LSU Tigers

With a capacity of 92,400 fans, the on-campus home of Louisiana State University's football team is one of the toughest places to play in the world.

Sound levels have risen to as high as 120 decibels in a stadium often referred to as “Death Valley.”

How do visiting coaches deal with the constant crowd noise?

To be honest, they don’t.

Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant may have said it best:

"Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world for a visiting team. It's like being inside a drum."

The Tigers would agree. They're 347-138-18 (.708) all-time in Baton Rouge.

2) Ali Sami Yen Stadium (Istanbul, Turkey)

* European Football
* Home to Galatasaray

Ever watch Danny Dyer’s documentary Real Football Factories: International?

If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and head over to your local Blockbuster.

Dyer studies football hooliganism around the world. In the Turkish episode, he visits the Galatasaray firm or gang known as "UltrAslan."

In listening to the fans' stories, it's quickly apparent how crazy they are.

The Ali Sami Yen Stadium is often called “Hell” due to the intimidating atmosphere. The stabbing of four Leeds fans before the 2000 UEFA Cup semifinals speaks volumes.

On the brighter side, Galatasaray fans always create an electric atmosphere. It’s not surprising that many of Europe’s top clubs came away with nothing to show for their efforts when they travel to Istanbul.

1) La Bombonera (Estadio Alberto J. Armando) (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

* European Football
* Home of Boca Juniors

No. 1 is a no-brainer.

Football is life in Argentina—especially for Boca Juniors fans. The diehard supporters have earned the nickname “La Doce”—the 12th Man.

In the heart of the La Boca area of Buenos Aires, La Bombonera is right next door to the home of bitter rival River Plate. If you haven’t watched a derby game between these two sides, you simply haven’t lived as a sports fan.

It was No. 1 on the list "50 Sporting Things You Must Do Before You Die" by the Observer for a reason.

And that’s just WATCHING. Imagine playing in front of a stadium full of football-mad fans.

Some would even make the case that Boca-River Plate is the biggest derby in all of sports. The explosion of energy and noise are simply unmatched by any other stadium in the world.

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