Kevin Burge is a sports writer and fan from North Carolina who’s particularly fond of the Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Panthers, and UNC Hoops. North Carolina is home to some of the best stadiums in the country and below Kevin Burge gives a rundown on what makes them so great.
One might think it’s overstating to say this: for sheer quality, diversity, and engagement, there’s nowhere better than North Carolina to watch sports. But in the past few years, no other state has hosted a college bowl game, Super Bowl, NFL conference championship, golf major, NASCAR headliner, NCAA tournament, NHL drawcard game, and UFC fight card.
If you can watch that caliber of major sport within your hometown — why wouldn’t you? Especially with the quality and selection of top tier sports venues offered.
Best for: NFL games
Kevin Burge of North Carolina says that this behemoth of football spectating greatness delivers just under 75,000 seats across a 33-acre lot in uptown Charlotte. Home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the MLS Charlotte FC, Bank of America Stadium is a classic with a story.
Flanking each entrance you’ve got bronze panther statues (a bit on the nose, sure) that weigh in at a ton each. The statues are the largest ever commissioned in the US.
Not here for an art history lesson? Okay—the Bank of America Stadium is loud, clean, central, open-air, and one of the greatest spots in the US to take in an NFL game.
Best for: Racing
Kevin Burge notes that stock car racing is in North Carolina’s blood. It’s at least part of the North Carolinian identity being the official state sport. If you go back far enough, North Carolina drivers have always had the pedal to the metal since moonshining NC ancestors were evading the police.
So it makes sense that North Carolina excels at NASCAR. Charlotte Motor Speedway has played home to NASCAR since 1949 and was the first track to add night racing. After night racing it pioneered luxury trackside condos and suites.
Kevin Burge says the breathtaking Motor Speedway complex at Concord has played host to the Coca Cola 600, Bank of America 400 and All-star race consistently over the years, and the gem in this racing complex’s crown is the dazzling array of racing memorabilia in its hall of fame.
Best for: College basketball
Kevin Burge of North Carolina notes that Cameron Indoor Stadium is small, and it is mighty. Ranked one of the top 10 college sporting venues of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, Cameron seats 9,314 and offers its students the best seats in the house.
Nowhere else in the country can students, players, and presidential powers—George Bush pulled strings to get courtside here—get within breathing distance of each other for an entire game. A part of Duke since 1940, Cameron Indoor Stadium has also been the venue of choice for the Grateful Dead and Rod Stewart.
It’s loud, it’s hot, it’s packed, and it delivers an epic gameday experience that you’ll never forget. That’s if you manage to get in in the first place says Kevin Burge.
Best for: College football
Carter-Finley Stadium has the dubious honor of being designed by a member of its staff back in the 60’s. Charles Kahn was not only a professor at North Carolina State—he was also a graduate.
Consistently catering to sellout crowds, Kevin Burge explains that Carter-Finley doesn’t need fancy views or a high-priced neighborhood (it looks out on parking lots, mostly). It’s got wolf statues—a nod to it being home to the legendary NC State Wolfpack football team—and a 57,000-seat capacity.
All 57,000 of those seats are put to good use outside of football season, too. The NC State stadium has welcomed the likes of Pink Floyd, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, U2, Lenny Kravitz, and Beyonce.
Best for: Golf
Arguably one of the toughest courses in the world, this was a favorite course of hall of famer Sam Snead. It’s hosted the Ryder Cup, a PGA Championship, the US Open (a few times) and in one particularly memorable move, it hosted the US Men’s and Women’s Open in 2014 with a one-week turnaround time.
Kevin Burge says the course is known for its small but brutal greens, lack of water hazards, and handful of wooded areas—making it notoriously tricky for even the most iconic golfers.
It might be strange to some NC locals that the Spectrum Center didn’t make this list. It’s an elegant arena that came with a staggering $260 million price tag. It’s got luxury suites, a craft beer garden, and top tier culinary action. It has impressive sight lines from almost every seat in the stadium. Most of all, it’s home to our beloved Hornets.
Sadly, it’s only hosted a handful of NBA playoff games since its grand opening in 2005, and it’s so far lacked the engagement its predecessor (ye olde Charlotte Coliseum) enjoyed for 300+ home games.