America's 100 most important sports venues   

Updated: September 22, 2008, 12:26 AM ET

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No. 1 | Nos. 6 through 10 | Nos. 11 through 100

2. Camden Yards

Camden Yards

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Location: Baltimore. Opened: 1992. Capacity: 48,876.

Because it started the entire retro-stadium craze and the tsunami of taxpayer-funded facilities that dramatically changed revenues and altered the sports landscape. Because according to a estimate, taxpayers now pay an estimated $2 billion annually to fund stadiums and enrich owners and players alike. Because it's a big reason your ticket now costs so much. Because it spelled the death of cookie-cutter architecture and a return to the style of Ebbets Field. Because it's a ballpark, not a stadium. Because it did all that and kept the luxury suites understated. Because of the brick warehouse, Boog's barbecue pit and the way Cal made us feel when he went to work for the 2,632nd day in a row. Because 16 years later (has it really been that long?) it still remains the model for what a ballpark should look like.

3. Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Location: New York City. Opened: 1968 (replacing previous incarnations). Capacity: 19,763.

Because pretty much everyone who is anyone has played a date here, from the Great One (Wayne Gretzky) to the Greatest (Muhammad Ali) to the Greatest Show on Earth (Ringling Bros.). Because this is where Elvis left the building and Willis Reed limped into legend. Because this is where Michael Jordan sank baskets, Carl Lewis ran, Martina Navratilova served, Mark Messier and Peggy Fleming skated, leagues drafted and John Lennon sang. Because for an athlete, playing the Garden is like playing Carnegie Hall.

4. The Astrodome


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Location: Houston. Opened: 1965. Capacity: 62,000.

Because the world's first domed stadium, still available for the occasional high school football game or tractor pull, had a profound impact on modern sports -- for both good and ill, though mostly ill. Because while outmoded now, many of the "requisite" features of modern stadiums -- luxury suites, private clubs, restaurants and gigantic scoreboards with full animation -- pretty much got their start here (there once was an Asian restaurant with kimono-clad waitresses). Because it led to a (fortunately only temporary) boom in domed and circular, multipurpose stadiums that shut out the elements from baseball and football. Because it popularized the use of, and gave name to, AstroTurf. Because on top of all the engineering, it gave us Houston's upset over UCLA and Lew Alcindor, the Mets' 16-inning pennant-clinching victory in 1986, a Nolan Ryan no-hitter and the contest that most epitomized what the Dome was all about: the Bobby Riggs-versus-Billie Jean King tennis match.

5. Augusta National Golf Club

Amen Corner

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Location: Augusta, Ga. Opened: 1933. Capacity: Not applicable.

Because it's the home of the most prestigious tournament in golf. Because of Amen Corner and the Sarazen Bridge. Because of Arnie and Jack and Tiger and all the historic moments there. Because that green jacket is never out of fashion. Because of spring and azaleas. And because the place is so exclusive that the easiest way to become a member might be to actually win the Masters.

No. 1 | Nos. 6 through 10 | Nos. 11 through 100


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