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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Stadiums in the World: 20-11

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FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10  9 • 8 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 2 • 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here 

14. Stade Velodrome

Stadium facts

  • Location Marseille, France
  • Opened 1937
  • Tenants Olympique de Marseille
  • Capacity 67,394
  • Record attendance 65,148

In an age of uniform, box-shaped modern stadiums, the swooping curves of the Stade Velodrome stand out for all the right reasons. Initially constructed in the 1930s, it remains France’s biggest club football ground, and home to arguably its most successful team, Olympique de Marseille.

The Velodrome was renovated extensively for the 1998 World Cup, but required a further facelift to meet modern standards ahead of Euro 2016. That meant a 95% reconstruction of the western Jean Bouin stand, while the upper tier of the Ganay stand on the opposite side was also refitted. Both were necessary to accommodate the most striking change to the building come the end of restoration works in 2014: the fitting of an ellipsoidal roof.
 

Rather than masking the structure of the ground, as a roof can sometimes do, the smooth shape of the cover only further emphasises the uniqueness of the Stade Velodrome’s design. It also helps amp up the other distinguishing feature of this stadium: the noise of its passionate, renowned fans. – LR 
 

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13. Amsterdam Arena

Stadium facts

  • Located Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Opened 1996
  • Tenants Ajax, Netherlands 
  • Capacity 53,502
  • Record attendance 53,502

To put it simply, Ajax’s De Meer stadium was frankly insufficient. The 1930s ground was never particularly big, and with safety concerns its capacity had dwindled to below 20,000. The club had always played their big games at the city’s Olympic Stadium, but clearly needed a more suitable solution.

Costing more than £100m and inaugurated by Queen Beatrix, the Amsterdam Arena certainly fits the bill: retractable roof, amazing visibility (even from lower-tier seats near the corner flag), security cameras everywhere, easy access via public transport, proximity to a tailored shopping mall built in front of the stadium, restaurants with typical and delicious kroketten, and a Skybar named Johan.

A UEFA top-rated stadium, the Arena has hosted the 1998 Champions League Final, 2013 Europa League Final, five Euro 2000 games and the majority of the Netherlands’ recent home games. During construction, Louis van Gaal’s side reached two successive Champions League finals – but that squad was broken up by the Bosman ruling and sales which helped pay the debts, although the fascinating 70-minute tour (€16) will never say so.

History is important at Ajax. The new club museum here quickly became one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam. And since legendary manager Rinus Michels died in 2005, there has been a popular desire to name the stadium after him; the board has refused, but fans keep showing up with banners that read Rinus Michels Stadion. – MM 

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here