NFL – Where They Play

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Aug. 11) – The National Football League pre-season has begun and and we are merely 174 nights away from Super Bowl XLIX (Feb. 1) in Glendale, Ariz. Gridiron fans are likely to spend most of that time praying there will not be a repeat of last year’s championship dud – Seattle annihilating Denver 43-8.

To get you in the mood, this pictorial blog features all 30 NFL stadiums. There is one new facility this season. After 43 years at Candlestick Park, the San Francisco 49ers move south to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The 68,500-seat arena will host Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016. Another facility was demolished over the winter – the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome where Minnesota Vikings spent the past 31 years. A new stadium is being constructed on the same site and will open in 2016. For the next two seasons, the Vikings will turn back the clock and play outdoor at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the University of Minnesota Gophers. Late-season games in the frigid north should remind fans of the halcyon days at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, where the Vikings hosted numerous playoff matches in the 1960’s and 70’s – their hearty fans huddling against the elements. The new stadium in Minneapolis will host Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4, 2018.

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Stadiums in Charlotte, Cleveland and Jacksonville have installed enormous high-definition video-boards for the 2014 season. The $63-million accessories at EverBank Field in Jacksonville are the world’s largest: 60 feet high and 362 feet long… more than 20 yards longer than the football field below. They have been mounted above each end zone.

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Only six NFL stadiums pre-date the 1980’s: Lambeau Field in Green Bay (1957); the O.co Coliseum in Oakland (1966); Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (1967); Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City (1972); Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. (1973) and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans (1975). The original Soldier Field in Chicago opened in 1924 but was completely renovated over the winter of 2002-03. EverBank Field in Jacksonville was built on the site of the old Gator Bowl and opened for the Jaguars inaugural season in 1995. A great majority of NFL facilities have been constructed in the past 20 years.

Given that the NFL season stretches into December and January, weather often becomes a factor – as you will notice in these images.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Georgia Dome – Capacity: 71,250

Opened: Sep. 6, 1992

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SUPER BOWL GAMES:

XXVIII – Jan. 30, 1994 – Dallas 30 Buffalo 13

XXXIV – Jan. 30, 2000 – St. Louis 23 Tennessee 16

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Kurt Warner (13) capped his brilliant 1999 season by leading St. Louis to victory over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome.

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ARIZONA CARDINALS

University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)

Capacity: 63,400

Opened: Aug. 1, 2006

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SUPER BOWL GAME:

XLII – Feb. 3, 2008 – New York Giants 17 New England 14

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The signature moments of Super Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium (Feb. 3, 2008) that ruined a perfect season for the New England Patriots. David Tyree secures an Eli Manning pass on top of his helmet (above) during winning drive, which is capped by Manning’s touchdown pass (below) to Plaxico Burres. New England was 16-0 during the 2007 regular season – first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to go undefeated. But, Miami won the Super Bowl in January 1973.

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A remarkable feature at University of Phoenix Stadium is an apparatus for sliding the natural-grass field outdoor. A panel opens at the south end of the facility and the field is rolled into the elements to be watered and maintained during the week. It is then returned on game day. Empty floor of the stadium (above) and the field for Super Bowl XLII (below).

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BALTIMORE RAVENS

M&T Bank Stadium – Capacity: 71,008

Opened: Sep. 6, 1998

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards (1998-99)

PSINet Stadium (1999-2002)

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Dec. 8, 2013 was a stormy afternoon along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings played on a snow-covered field at M&T Bank Stadium.

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BUFFALO BILLS

Ralph Wilson Stadium (Orchard Park, N.Y.)

Capacity: 73,967

Opened: Aug. 17, 1973

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Rich Stadium (1973-98)

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In the first year of Ralph Wilson Stadium (1973), O.J. Simpson rushed for 2,003 yards, breaking the single-season NFL record held by Jim Brown.

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Buffalo is famous for its brutal winters. Snow has affected many Bills games (above) and it created a magical setting for the first NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic (below) between the Sabres and Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, 2008. Sidney Crosby decided the match in a shoot-out.

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CAROLINA PANTHERS

Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)

Capacity: 73,778

Opened: Sep. 14, 1996

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Ericsson Stadium (1996-2004)

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Charlotte is a USAirways hub, thus the amazing photo (below) of the Carolina Panthers’ Airbus-319 soaring over the downtown area.

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Giant new video-boards (221 x 63 feet) have been installed above each end zone at Bank of America Stadium for the 2014 season.

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CHICAGO BEARS

Soldier Field – Capacity: 61,500

Opened: Oct. 9, 1924

After Renovation: Sep. 26, 2003

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Soldier Field (above and below) as it appears today.

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The original Soldier Field had a 105,000 capacity.

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Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins played a regular-season game at Soldier Field on Mar. 1, 2014 (above and below) as part of the NHL Stadium Series. Fittingly, it snowed. The Hawks prevailed 5-1.

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Chicago Bears and New England Patriots in the snow at Soldier Field.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Paul Brown Stadium – Capacity: 65,535

Opened: Aug. 19, 2000 

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Paul Brown Stadium – named in memory of the Cincinnati Bengals founder – sits on the bank of the Ohio River (above) across from Covington, Kentucky. It is separated by four blocks from the Great American Ballpark (below), home of the Cincinnati Reds.

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Paul Brown Stadium at sunset from Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

FirstEnergy Stadium – Capacity: 73,200

Opened: Sep. 12, 1999

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Cleveland Browns Stadium (1999-2013)

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FirstEnergy Stadium was built on the site of the former Cleveland Municipal Stadium (below) – home of the original Browns.

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Cleveland winter weather: Tennessee Titans at Browns.

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As part of a $120 million stadium renovation, the Browns have installed giant LED video-boards above each end zone for the 2014 season. The old video-board is above; artist’s conception of the new look below.

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DALLAS COWBOYS

AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Tex.)

Capacity: 80,000

Opened: May 27, 2009

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Cowboys Stadium (2009-13)

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AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Tex., sits adjacent to Globe Life Park (upper-right in photo) – home of the baseball Texas Rangers.

SUPER BOWL GAME:

XLV – Feb. 6, 2011 – Green Bay 31 Pittsburgh 25

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Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV at AT&T Stadium in February 2011.

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The enormous video-boards at AT&T Stadium are 160 feet wide and 70 feet tall. They span the area between the 20-yard lines. Each display contains more than 10.5 million Light Emitting Diodes’ (LED’s) and 30 million light-bulbs. The structures cost $40 million – more than required (in 1973) to build Texas Stadium, former home of the Cowboys.

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DENVER BRONCOS

Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Capacity: 76,125

Opened: Sep. 10, 2001

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Invesco Field at Mile High (2001-11)

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Sports Authority Field was build kitty-corner to old Mile High Stadium (below) – former home of the Broncos – which was later demolished.

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Peyton Manning in Denver winter.

DETROIT LIONS

Ford Field – Capacity: 65,000

Opened: Aug. 24, 2002

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SUPER BOWL GAME:

XL – Feb. 5, 2006 – Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10

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Pittsburgh beat Seattle at Ford Field for its fifth Super Bowl title.

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Ford Field (top in photo) is directly across the street in downtown Detroit from Comerica Park, home of the baseball Tigers.

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Houston Texans vs. Detroit Lions at Ford Field – Nov. 22, 2012.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Lambeau Field – Capacity: 72,928

Opened: Sep. 29, 1957

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Numerous renovations and additions to the NFL’s oldest and most venerable stadium has Lambeau Field looking a lot different (above) than it did in 1965 (below).

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The not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (above and below).

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Tundra frozen.

HOUSTON TEXANS

NRG Stadium – Capacity: 71,500

Opened: Aug. 24, 2002

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Reliant Stadium (2002-14)

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NRG Stadium sits next to the Astrodome in Houston.

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Houston has long been associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Lyndon B. Johnson (Manned Spacecraft) Center is 22 miles southeast of the city; beginning in 1961, it served as Mission Control for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. In this stunning photo, the space shuttle rides piggyback on a Boeing-747 over-top NRG Stadium and the Astrodome.

SUPER BOWL GAME:

XXXVIII – Feb. 1, 2004 – New England 32 Carolina 29

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Tom Brady and the New England Patriots celebrated a Super Bowl victory at Reliant Stadium after the 2003 season – defeating Carolina.

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Lucas Oil Stadium – Capacity: 63,000

Opened: Aug. 16, 2008

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SUPER BOWL GAME:

XLVI – Feb. 5, 2012 – New York Giants 17 New England 14

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Lucas Oil Stadium was site of the biggest regulation comeback/collapse in NFL playoff history early this year (Jan. 4). Andrew Luck (above) and the Indianapolis Colts rebounded from a 38-10 third-quarter deficit to defeat Kansas City 45-44. Buffalo crawled out of a 32-point hole against Houston in January 1993 but the victory required overtime.

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

EverBank Field – Capacity: 67,164

Opened: Aug. 18, 1995

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Alltel Stadium (1997-2006)

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SUPER BOWL GAME:

XXXIX – Feb. 6, 2005 – New England 24 Philadelphia 21

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New England won its third Super Bowl in four years, edging Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles at Alltel Stadium.

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One of the 362 x 60-foot monolithic video-boards (above) being installed at EverBank Field for the 2014 season. Finished version below.

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Arrowhead Stadium – Capacity: 76,451

Opened: Aug. 12, 1972

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Arrowhead Stadium (top in photo) is part of the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex, which also includes Kaufman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Arrowhead opened in 1972; Kaufman in ’73.

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Most of Arrowhead Stadium is below ground-level. From the parking lot (above), only the upper-deck is visible.

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MIAMI DOLPHINS

Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)

Capacity: 75,540

Opened: Aug. 16, 1987

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

Joe Robbie Stadium (1987-96)

Pro Player Stadium (1996-2005)

Dolphins Stadium (2005-09)

Land Shark Stadium (2009-10)

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SUPER BOWL GAMES:

XXIII – Jan. 22, 1989 – San Francisco 20 Cincinnati 16

XXIX – Jan. 29, 1995 – San Francisco 49 San Diego 26

XXXIII – Jan. 31, 1999 – Denver 34 Atlanta 19

XLI – Feb. 4, 2007 – Indianapolis 29 Chicago 17

XLIV – Feb. 7, 2010 – New Orleans 31 Indianapolis 17

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Sun Life Stadium has the dual distinction of most names (five) and second-most Super Bowls (five) of any current NFL facility.

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Yes, it rains during the football season in Miami. Photos above and below are from Dolphins-Tampa Bay exhibition game of Aug. 14, 2010.

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS

TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Capacity: 50,805

Opened: Sep. 12, 2009

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For the first time in 33 years, the Minnesota Vikings will play outdoor home games this season – at TCF Bank Stadium (above) on the University of Minnesota campus. Vikings played one game there (Dec. 20, 2010)… a Monday-night encounter with Chicago that was moved after the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of snow. And, yes, it snowed for the outdoor match (below). Vikings haven’t played a full season outdoor since 1981, their final year at old Metropolitan Stadium.

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As you can see by looking at the Vikings 2014 schedule (above), there is lots of potential for wintry Minnesota weather this season. The team plays four home games between Nov. 30 and Dec. 28. The halcyon frigid days at Met Stadium featured Hall-of-Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, requesting quiet (below) during a game against Green Bay.

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The Vikings will play the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium while their new billion-dollar playpen (above and below) is being built in Minneapolis on site of the former Metrodome.

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New Vikings Stadium will host Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4, 2018.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)

Capacity: 68,756

Opened: Sep. 9, 2002

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: CMGI Field (2002)

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Gillette Stadium is built in a mostly wooded area of Foxboro – 36 miles southwest of downtown Boston. The former home of the New England Patriots stood kitty-corner to the current facility.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Mercedes-Benz Superdome – Capacity: 69,703

Opened: Aug. 3, 1975

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Louisiana Superdome (1975-2011)

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Damaged nearly beyond repair by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana Superdome was brought back to life and taken over by Mercedes-Benz in 2011. It has hosted a record seven Super Bowls.

SUPER BOWL GAMES:

XII – Jan. 15, 1978 – Dallas 27 Denver 10

XV – Jan. 25, 1981 – Oakland 27 Philadelphia 10

XX – Jan. 26, 1986 – Chicago 46, New England 10

XXIV – Jan. 28, 1990 – San Francisco 55 Denver 10

XXXI – Jan. 26, 1997 – Green Bay 35, New England 21

XXXVI – Feb. 3, 2002 – New England 20, St. Louis 17

XLVII – Feb. 3, 2013 – Baltimore 34 San Francisco 31

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Baltimore defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII – the game briefly delayed by a power outage (below) on one side of the Superdome.

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The Pack was back in Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season – Desmond Howard (81) and the Green Bay Packers defeating New England at the Superdome for their first NFL title since Super Bowl II in January 1968. Howard was named MVP of the match.

NEW YORK JETS

NEW YORK GIANTS

MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Capacity: 82,566

Opened: Apr. 10, 2009

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: New Meadowlands Stadium (2009-10)

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MetLife Stadium was built next to the former Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, across the Hudson River from New York.

SUPER BOWL GAME:

XLVIII – Feb. 2, 2014 – Seattle 43 Denver 8

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The first Super Bowl held in the New York area was a rout from the get-go, as Seattle hammered Denver for its first championship.

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OAKLAND RAIDERS

O.CO Coliseum – Capacity: 63,026

Opened: Sep. 18, 1966

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (1966-98 / 2008-11)

Network Associates Coliseum (1998-2004)

McAfee Coliseum (2004-08)

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The O.Co Coliseum in Oakland as it appears today (above) and as it appeared (below) prior to the massive east-side renovation that lured the Raiders back from Los Angeles in 1995.

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The top of Oracle Arena – home of the NBA Golden State Warriors – is visible beyond the west side of O.Co Coliseum.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Lincoln Financial Field – Capacity: 67,594

Opened: Aug. 3, 2003

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The “Linc” – as it is known – is part of the sports complex in south Philadelphia that includes Wells-Fargo Center (home of the Flyers and 76ers) and Citizen’s Bank Park (home of the Phillies).

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The Eagles and Detroit Lions played in a blinding snowstorm (above and below) last Dec. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field. The storm also affected NFL games in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington.

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Heinz Field – Capacity: 65,050

Opened: Aug. 18, 2001

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Heinz Field (above) was constructed (below) next to the old Three Rivers Stadium, which was later demolished on the Pittsburgh riverfront.

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The Dec. 8 snowstorm last season also affected playing conditions between the Steelers and Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field.

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Heinz Field was site of the fourth NHL Winter Classic (Jan. 1, 2011) and it featured the two biggest draws in the game (below): Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Crosby suffered a severe concussion during the game.

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ST. LOUIS RAMS

Edward Jones Dome – Capacity: 66,000

Opened: Nov. 12, 1995

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Trans World Dome (1995-2001)

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Quarterback Kurt Warner and the amazing St. Louis Rams of 1999.

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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Qualcomm Stadium – Capacity: 71,294

Opened: Aug. 20, 1967

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

San Diego Stadium (1967-80)

San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium (1980-97)

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Qualcomm Stadium as it appears today (above) and as it looked (below) in the mid-1970’s. The south end zone has been filled in with stands.

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SUPER BOWL GAMES:

XXII- Jan. 31, 1988 – Washington 42 Denver 10

XXXII – Jan. 25, 1998 – Denver 31 Green Bay 24

XXXVII – Jan. 26, 2003 – Tampa Bay 48 Oakland 21

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Qualcomm Stadium was the site of Tampa Bay’s lone Super Bowl triumph – a pounding of Oakland after the 2002 season.

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Super Bowl XXXII after the 1997 season at Qualcomm Stadium featured a battle of Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks – John Elway of Denver (right) prevailing over Brett Favre of Green Bay for Elway’s long-sought first NFL championship.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)

Capacity: 68,500

Opened: July 17, 2014

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The NFL’s newest stadium has risen in Santa Clara, Calif. – 45 miles southeast of San Francisco and 4.5 miles northwest of San Jose. It is home to the San Francisco 49ers. The first game – an exhibition affair televised on the NFL Network – will be played this Sunday (Aug. 17) at 4 p.m. EDT against the Denver Broncos. The 49ers regular-season home opener is in Week 2 against Chicago Bears – the NBC Sunday night telecast (8:30 p.m. EDT). On Thanksgiving night (Nov. 27), NBC will show the 49ers and defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks.

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The construction of Levi’s Stadium (above and below) began when ground was broken in Santa Clara on Apr. 19, 2012.

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San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will play outdoor at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 21, 2015 as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

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The 49ers played at Candlestick Park from 1971 to 2013.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

CenturyLink Field – Capacity: 67,000

Opened: July 28, 2002

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

Seahawks Stadium (2002-04)

Qwest Field (2004-11)

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The defending Super Bowl champion plays in a sports complex (below) that includes Safeco Field – home of the Seattle Mariners.

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CenturyLink Field has quite the unique design.

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It doesn’t often snow in Seattle, but it did for the Seahawks-New York Jets game of Dec. 21, 2008.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Raymond James Stadium – Capacity: 65,857

Opened: Sep. 20, 1998

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SUPER BOWL GAMES:

XXXV – Jan. 28, 2001 – Baltimore 34 New York Giants 7

XLIII – Feb. 1, 2009 – Pittsburgh 27 Arizona 23

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Raymond James Stadium was the site of the Pittsburgh Steelers record sixth (and most recent) Super Bowl victory – over Arizona – decided on a tip-toe catch by Santonio Holmes (above) with 35 seconds left.

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Raymond James Stadium was built next to the former home of the Buccaneers – Tampa Stadium (above) – which was later demolished.

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TENNESSEE TITANS

L P Field (Nashville, Tenn.)

Capacity: 69,143

Opened: Aug. 27, 1999

FORMERLY KNOWN AS:

Adelphia Coliseum (1999-2002)

The Coliseum (2002-06)

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L P Field was initially known as Adelphia Coliseum but it dropped the name after Adelphia Telecommunications filed for bankruptcy in 2002. The stadium is across the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville.

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WASHINGTON REDSKINS

FedEx Field (Landover, MD)

Capacity: 91,704

Opened: Sep. 14, 1997

FORMERLY KNOWN AS: Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (1997-99)

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FedEx Field is located in Landover, Maryland – off the Capital Beltway 8.5 miles northeast of Washington DC. The old USAirways Arena – former home of the NHL Washington Capitals – once stood two blocks from the football stadium. FedEx Field’s capacity of 91,704 is largest in the NFL.

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Washington was not spared the Dec. 8, 2013 noreaster – the Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs playing on a snow-covered field.

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