Top 10 Iconic Sporting Locations

A great game is always worth travelling for – but some host venues are always going to mean more than others. Here we list our top sporting venues, which can give us tingles down our spines simply by stepping through the gates.

Wembley Stadium – London, UK

Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium – Image © Howard Layne

It’s missing the twin towers, but the illuminated arch has become the highlight of west London’s skyline, and the atmosphere inside the stadium has stayed just as electric. The original Wembley became synonymous with football all over the world thanks to hosting now legendary finals such as the 1966 World Cup, Euro 96 and the Champions League. Since reopening in 2007 a 105,000-strong Wembley crowd have been treated to many more thrilling matches, and we’re hoping this year’s UEFA Champions League Final on the 25th May 2013 holds more of the same.

F1 Monaco Grand Prix – Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix
Image © Dmitrijs Mihejevs

The entire Grand Prix circuit is a poster campaign for the ridiculously wealthy lifestyle. Fast cars, dreamy destinations, beautiful women. And men. And this weekend’s setting; Monaco is the glitziest of them all. Gleaming yachts bob in the harbour. It’s presided over by one of the wealthiest royal families in the world. F1 drivers old and new from Couthard (who owns a Monaco hotel) to Button and Hamilton live here.

And there’s the course itself – widely acknowledged to be one of the most demanding on the circuit, because of its narrowness, changes in elevation and tight corners. Drivers also have to cope with a tunnel and harbour – although to date only two drivers have managed to crash into the latter.

Wimbledon Tennis – London, UK

Wimbledon Tennis
Image © Paula Funnell

Strawberries and cream. Tall glasses of Pimm’s. Robinson’s fruit squash. Henman Hill (or Murray Mound as it’s known these days) Tennis simply wouldn’t be the same without its famed south London home. And British summer simply wouldn’t be right without the swelling hope, that this year, just maybe, a British player is going to bring the trophy home. (Please?)

Tennis legends Borg, McEnroe, Billy Jean King, Federer and the Williams sisters have all lifted the prestigious trophy of the world’s oldest tennis tournament. Almost as dedicated are the tennis fans who camp overnight to be in with a chance of a ticket to centre court.

French Roads (for the Tour de France!)

Tour de France
Image © Radu Razvan

Although the Tour de France and its famed yellow jersey are a travelling race, regularly venturing into neighbouring countries like Germany, England and Italy, the most iconic stages are almost always in its French homeland, and of course the race has ended with laps through Paris’s Champs-Élysées every year since 1975.

2013’s tour is the 100th – and in celebration of that milestone the tour is beginning on Corsica, the very first time it’s visited the island. The remainder will be staying entirely within the French mainland and re-visiting some of the most memorable locations of the past century including two climbs of the gruelling Alpe-d’Huez.

Lord’s Cricket Ground – London, UK

Lord's Cricket
Image © mailliw

The dream of any cricket fan is to watch their team romp to an innings victory whilst nursing a pint on a sunny day at Lord’s. Sadly the English experience is to be 54 – 8 down before play is called off due to rain. Ahem. But don’t let that scare you off the ground though.

Lord’s became known as the ‘Home of Cricket’ due to the fact that the grounds were also home to most of the administration of the International Cricket Council (ICC). They moved on in 2005, but Lord’s retains that prestige, plus the St John’s Wood’s grounds have a long history of their own, originally established in 1787, although the grounds have changed a bit, and moved several times, since then.

The latest reincarnation was built in 1814 and watching a test match there you can’t help but notice several distinctive features; the Victorian-era Grade II*-listed pavilion building, the space-age Media Centre bubble rising out of the stands opposite and Old Father Time, a much loved weather vane.

Yankee Stadium – New York, USA

Yankee Stadium
Image © Mike Liu

As iconic venues go, you can hardly get more recognisable than the Yankee Stadium, which is especially impressive when you think that the sport of baseball hasn’t really caught on in many places outside of the USA.
The Bronx ballpark was opened in 2009, built to replace the previous stadium, and there are plenty of nods to the 1923 stadium in the design. From the imitation of the trademark frieze along the upper stands, to the cut outs made to allow spectators to see passing subway trains. With a capacity of 50,291 it’s still one of the most exciting places to experience a game.

Millennium Stadium – Cardiff, UK

Millennium Stadium
Image © Deymos

As one of the newest venues on our list it’s safe to say that Wales’ national stadium has been quick to establish a name for itself. Opening in 1999 to host the Rugby World Cup, it boasts a fully retractable roof, and is still the largest-capacity venue in the world with that feature.

Another feature of interest: the stadium’s bars can pour 12 pints in less than 20 seconds – useful with that size crowd.

Ascot Racecourse – Berkshire, UK

Royal Ascot
Image © James Marwood

Hats at the ready ladies – no fixture at Royal Ascot would be complete without at least a few feathers bedecking your barnet. It’s strictly compulsory, and there are guidelines governing the minimum size of the headpiece if you’re one of the privileged few invited to watch from the Royal Enclosure.

The highlight of the racing year, Royal Ascot, dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. The royals have maintained an impressive attendance record for the event. They start proceedings each race day with a Royal procession. It might help that the course is just down the road from Windsor castle.

Augusta National Golf Club – Georgia, USA

Augusta National
Image © photogolfer

The Augusta National Golf Club has been subject to much criticism through the years with strict policies denying membership to blacks until 1990, and women until 2012. This has done nothing to dampen its reputation as one of the most beautiful and iconic courses in the world – well it would hardly be a prestigious place if mere mortals like you, me and our scruffy shoes were allowed on the green.

The course itself is a masterpiece developed by esteemed designers and even some former famous members – General Eisenhower himself suggested the location of Ike’s pond.

Madison Square Garden – New York, USA

Madison Square Garden
Image © Erika Cross

You’ve a choice of sports if you attend New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden venue. The arena is famed for hosting basketball, ice hockey and boxing – though it’s also regularly used for concerts and ice shows too. This is the fourth incarnation of the Madison Square Garden venue, opened in 1968, making it one of the oldest active sporting venues in New York.

It’s earned its almost mythical status in part as the venue of ‘The Fight of the Century’ – the epic 15-round boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.