Featuring Italy's most English ground, a couple of Premier League entrants and a chainsaw-wielding loon
40. Providence Park
- Located Portland, USA
- Opened 1923
- Tenants Portland Timbers
- Capacity 21,144
- Record attendance 21,144
Like wood? You’ll love Providence Park. The new eastern stand, built during a significant 2010 refurb of a sports field dating back to 1893, has a gorgeous floating wooden roof; the roof of the classic North End, meanwhile, is supported by beams made from reclaimed ship timbers.
The North End is the stadium’s focal point. It is there that the Timbers Army congregate and produce some of the most intricate and beautiful Tifos you will see in North America. In front of them, behind the goal, mascot Timber Joey – not a cuddly kids’ character, but a chainsaw-wielding lumberjack – saws off a slice of log to present to each goalscorer.
It’s hard to get in – almost every game is a sellout, with a 12,000-long waitlist for season tickets – but it’s worth persevering. Proving the passion this country has for the game, there's almost a cathedral-like feel to Providence Park. When the rain is pelting down (as it often does in the region) and the fans are singing, nothing else matters – and part of that is due to this wonderfully historic building that the Timbers call home. – KH
39. St James' Park
- Located Newcastle, England
- Opened 1892
- Tenants Newcastle United
- Capacity 52,405
- Record attendance 68,386
In world of identikit out-of-town sports bowls, St James’ Park’s charm as a proper city-centre stadium endures. Perched at the top of a hill overlooking the one-club, football-mad Toon like a castle, its somewhat lopsided, skewed appearance is a product of circumstances: unable to expand in certain directions, it has modernised in a uniquely asymmetrical manner.
Like Anfield, St James’ Park predates its famous tenants: football has been played here since 1880, whereas United were formed in 1892. Originally built on grazing land, close to the area where public executions were carried out – hence the Gallowgate End’s macabre moniker – it is a testament to overcoming planning permission nightmares.
Anyone with vertigo is advised against a seat high in the Leazes End, but otherwise, matchday here is a joy: the proximity to the station; the pint in The Strawberry or Shearer’s beforehand, and an old-school volume level that the imposing stands trap effectively – and defies a difficult era in which this proud place briefly and moronically became the Sports Direct Arena. – NM
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