AFC East: Rating the stadiums

September, 17, 2009
9/17/09
11:48
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


To coincide with NFC East blogger Matt Mosley's feature about the regular-season opener at sparkling Cowboys Stadium, we're taking a look at the wow factor of each division's stadiums.

Buffalo Bills (Ralph Wilson Stadium, capacity 73,079)

The structure in suburban Orchard Park is average. There's no curb appeal. Once inside, it's functional. The scoreboards are OK. The amenities are decent.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, replacing Foxboro Stadium.

What makes the Ralph Wilson Stadium experience is the people. The parking lots are jammed with semipro tailgaters who wake up on Sunday hell-bent on having a good time whether the Bills win or not. The atmosphere after kickoff can be electric.

Wow factor: 3 wows (out of 5)

Miami Dolphins (Land Shark Stadium, capacity 75,540)

The Dolphins have sunk $250 million into renovating Land Shark Stadium over the past three years, but it still looks outdated, especially compared to the sparkling venues competing for Super Bowls. Land Shark is dull. There's not much life on game days. It's located in the middle of nowhere.

Land Shark has one of the NFL's least-popular playing surfaces. The Florida Marlins also are a tenant. The dirt infield leaves a lot to be desired, both competitively and aesthetically.

Wow factor: 1 wow

New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium, capacity 68,756)

Robert Kraft built the privately financed stadium for $325 million, and it's a beauty. Gillette Stadium has been sold out since it opened. From the moment fans walk through the turnstiles, they have a great view of the field. There are standing-room areas throughout.

The stadium anchors a 1.3 million-square-foot retail and entertainment district that includes the same types of stores you'd see at your local mall and restaurants for any palate. There's a hospital and a cinema.

I would give Gillette Stadium the maximum 5 wows if Jerry Jones hadn't upped the ante with his $1.2 billion Texas spectacle.

Wow factor: 4.5 wows

New York Jets (Giants Stadium, capacity 80,254)

There's a great reason the Jets and Giants are getting a new home next door in East Rutherford, N.J. Giants Stadium is a dinosaur. Like other ballparks built in the 1970s, it was constructed for function, not for the creature comforts that generate so much added revenue these days and help fans walk away with a certain feel.

Giants Stadium is a concrete oval with little else going for it. I'm giving it one more wow than Land Shark Stadium because tailgating is much more festive at the Meadowlands, and the crowd seems to get into the game more than in laid-back South Florida.

Wow factor: 2 wows

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