There’s no place like home: how sports venues play a role in the game
By Alex Bullock
Sports are unique because they have a long and well-documented history. There are only a few ways to score a basket or a touchdown or a goal, but there are infinite ways to win a game. No two games are exactly alike. They all tell a different story.
These games are all played on the same fields of play, but the environments in which they are played vary as much as the games being played there. The basic dimensions of the court or the field are the same, but the similarities end there.
Seating capacity, fan behavior, weather conditions and so much more contribute to the atmosphere created at each specific venue. For me, history and the passion of the fans are the most influential factors in what makes a sporting venue great.
Cameron Indoor Stadium is home to the Duke University Blue Devils basketball team as well as their passionate fan base affectionately known as the Cameron Crazies.
The building may be relatively old and have a limited seating capacity compared to the venues for other national powers, but the continued success of the team under coach Mike Krzyzewski and the proximity of the fans to the court makes Cameron Indoor one of, if not the most intimidating places to play in college basketball.
In fact, the Blue Devils have not lost to a non-conference opponent at home since losing to the St. John’s University Red Storm in 2000.
The Green Bay Packers of the National Football League play in the smallest metropolitan area in the United States that hosts a major sports franchise.
Their fans, however, are some of the fiercest in all of sports. In fact, the team is a non-profit organization owned by the community. Their stadium, Lambeau Field, has hosted important games since 1957.
The combination of the Packers’ devoted fans and the often inclement weather of Green Bay has made Lambeau Field one of the toughest places to play, as well as one of the NFL’s signature venues.
Two of Major League Baseball’s most storied venues are also home to two of its most popular franchises: Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, and Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.
These two teams each experienced decades-long championship droughts, yet the fans still sold out the stadiums and supported their teams, no matter how depressed their failures made them feel.
The ivy walls of Wrigley and the Green Monster that looms over left field at Fenway are staples of the experience of watching a ballgame there.
Thousands of games have been played at these places and each of those games has had their own narrative, but these stadiums have provided a consistent backdrop since the 1910s.
These venues are home to teams with rich history and dedicated fans.
The character of a venue is more than just the physical architecture and the amenities they offer to the fans. It takes a certain spirit to make a venue special.
With the opening of Fowler Park, the USD baseball team has an opportunity to give their own building some character of its own by having a successful inaugural season and hosting an NCAA Regional or, even better, a Super Regional.
The stadium has impressive architecture, but its up to the success of the team and the support of the fans to make the stadium into a truly great place to play.