Special Feature: The World’s Greatest Sports Stadiums

The World’s Greatest Sports Stadiums

Sports fans are a mad bunch, some spend hundreds of thousands a year following their team all over the world. From football teams on a tour to the Far East, to American franchises flying from coast to coast, sport is booming business across the globe.

As a result we’ve put together a list of some the best sports stadiums in the world, be sure to experience the atmosphere of at least one of these incredible venues on your travels.


Yankee Stadium – The Bronx – New York

Steeped in history and with some of the most passionate fans in Baseball the New York Yankees are icons of the sport and it’s only right they have a stadium to match.

The New Yankee stadium first opened in 2009, replacing its predecessor which had stood tall since 1923. With a capacity of over 52,000 and at a construction cost of $1.6bn the stadium is testament to The New York Yankees standing as giants of the game.

To really make the most of your visit stay in The Crowne Plaza, Times Square Not only is it a short hop to the stadium but you’ll also be perfectly positioned in the heart of New York.


Soccer City – Johannesburg – South Africa

Having undergone a major redevelopment programme for the 2010 Soccer World Cup Soccer City is an easy addition to our list.

Tasked with hosting the both the opening ceremony and the first match of the World Cup the stadium shone in the spotlight of one of the most successful Soccer tournaments of all time.

With a capacity of 95,000 the stadium cost $440 million and today hosts South African league soccer, rugby and music concerts.

A visit to Soccer City is not to be missed, stay at the Holiday Inn Sandton and enjoy enviable views from the 9th floor Skye bar or simply relax in the cigar lounge with one of Cuba’s finest.


Madison Square Garden – New York

Home of Basketball, Ice Hockey, Tennis, and even WWE Wrestling Madison square garden is a multi purpose venue situated in Midtown Manhattan.

A recent renovation costing $1.16 billion has ensured The Garden keeps its crown as one of the worlds most famous and frequently visited venues.

However with a maximum capacity of only 22,000 people seats for events are scarce and frequently reach into the thousands of dollars for the most popular shows, testament to the allure of this incredible venue.

Stay at The Marmara Manhattan and enjoy apartment facilities with the luxuries of a hotel suite.


Sports City – Dubai

Currently under construction Dubai’s sports city is a behemoth, boasting four stadiums the centre piece of which is a 60,000 seater multi purpose venue capable of hosting Soccer, Cricket, Rugby, Athletics and music festivals.

Costing an estimated $4 billion and covering a total of 4,600,000m2 Sports City promises to be at the heart of Dubai’s sporting future.

Once the venue opens I recommend you stay at the Burj Al Arab. The grandest hotel in the world offers the ultimate in luxury including a private beach, chauffer driven Rolls Royce and the very best in gourmet dining.


The Staples Centre – Los Angeles – California

Home to no less than four professional sports teams The Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles is a haven for fans of Hockey and Basketball alike with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as well as WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings all calling the centre home.

With a maximum capacity of 21,000 and at a construction cost of $523 million, The Staples Centre is one of the most popular sports and music venues within the United States.

Stay at the Beverly Wilshire, a decadent Five Star hotel designed to make the most of your Los Angeles Holiday. Enjoy fine dining, a luxury spa or just relax in the comfort of your extravagant room.


Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex – Oman

Situated in the Ghala district of Oman the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex makes the list due to its impressive list of facilities.

Renovated for the 2009 African Cup of Nations the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex has a capacity of 39,000 and is equipped with a Football pitch, Athletics Facilities, an Olympic sized swimming pool, Tennis Courts and Gymnasium.

For your holiday in Oman I recommend staying at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort. This five star resort offers a private beach, infinity pool, luxury spa and lavishly appointed rooms.


Featured images:

  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source


About the Author:

Matt Coe is a sports travel enthusiast and head of marketing for Wanderforth, a tour operator specialising in luxury worldwide holidays.

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Vermaelen to Barcelona: A left-field twist on a typical transfer story

In the modern era of football, newspaper rumours linking an Arsenal player to Barcelona are not exactly alien. Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas have both recently been plucked from the regression of the Emirates while Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri were both linked with making the move to eastern Spain before they headed to Manchester. It’s inevitable, as the season snakes towards the summer and its transfer window, that the rumour mill will churn out another Arsenal to Barcelona story.

This year is no disappointment as the Catalan club, with their air of invincibility wavering and their halo of footballing sacrosanct slipping, have chosen to act on a porous defence and the dying embers of 34 year old captain Carlos Puyol’s career by perusing the market for a couple of centre-backs. One of those is Liverpool’s Daniel Agger and the other, the lucky candidate to be at the centre of the annual Arsenal to Barcelona narrative, is Thomas Vermaelen.

“Halt!” I hear you all call. You can just about make out “Vermaelen!?” from the confused gasp that echoes around the room, a reaction that conveys the dismay that Barcelona would be targeting the Belgian centre-half as they look to desperately cling on to their crown as Europe’s all-conquering behemoth. The footballing equivalent of Ferrari using the clutch from an old Ford Escort as it attempts to wrestle back the Formula 1 Championship.

Those with a vivid memory will urge a refusal to be so hard on the centre-half who immediately adapted into the English game by being named in the PFA team of the year in his debut season with Arsenal. Fans embraced him, affectionately calling him “the Verminator”, a nod to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cult-hero robot of the mid-90s such was his unforgiving in the tackle and his unwilling intent to win back the ball from his opponent like he’d been programmed to do so.

Now the errors flow, the focus waivers and the positional sense seems to be non-existent as he gets caught between the importance on maintaining defensive discipline and the need to go forward.

Injuries curtailed his next season where he made just 5 appearances and despite a flirtation with injury last season, he still managed a solid campaign in which he showed signs that his partnership at the back with Laurent Koscielny could blossom into a prominent one. Then, after being named captain in the summer following Van Persie’s departure, Vermaelen underwent a stunning loss of form to the extent that Barca’s interest is now met with the utmost bewilderment and disbelief.

The armband must be serving as the 27 year old’s saving grace as he continues to survive in a defence that has kept just 2 clean sheets since Christmas as they continue to stumble in the race for the all-important top four positions. The game against Spurs last Sunday was his 38th of the season but Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been acknowledged by Wenger as the club’s first choice centre-back pairing.

Therefore, the Belgian has been shifted out to left-back, where he was so devastatingly schooled by Mario Mandzukic and Phillip Lahm in the recent tie with Bayern Munich. That was the latest on a charge sheet of a torrid season that has ravaged Vermaelen’s confidence; an awful display at Old Trafford against Manchester United, an alleged rollicking by Wenger for his role in the 0-2 home defeat to Swansea and, despite netting the last minute equaliser against Bradford in the Capital One Cup, his decisive missed penalty in the shootout. Bradford will also conjure memories of him being given the runaround by James Hanson.

Being asked to move from centre-back to left-back as Wenger searched for an answer to Kieron Gibbs’s injury could not have helped, nor could the lack of an embedded back four. Carl Jenkinson, Bacary Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Andre Santos, Nacho Monreal and Koscielny have all appeared this season as Wenger continues to juggle his options in search of a winning formula. This has been in contrast to the trio of Sagna, William Gallas and Gael Clichy which Vermaelen found himself playing alongside in his promising first year in England.

Whatever the explanation for the sharp decline of form that has rendered the Belgian a shadow of the uncompromising force Wenger bought to the Premier League in 2009, it is a difficult conundrum. Perhaps it is the lack of set position or set team-mates, perhaps it is the added responsibility of the captaincy, perhaps it is the problematic Achilles injury that has dogged him since 2010. Perhaps it is an amalgam of all of those influences tying in with the total evaporation of confidence in troubled times at the Emirates?

Over in Spain, any mention of Vermaelen’s torrid form hasn’t seemed to register on the radar of the Nou Camp’s hierarchy who, if the rumours are to believed, have identified the Belgian as a ball-playing defender talented enough to solve their growing crisis. Maybe Arsenal wouldn’t be too dissatisfied to lose the defender but if Barcelona can rediscover the qualities that made him such a revelation in his inaugural year, then they will have made a very astute purchase.

Vermaelen to join the Barca skipper this coming summer?

As it is, it remains a twist on a very modern transfer story. Barcelona want an Arsenal player, but in this case it could be one that Wenger would be happy to see taken off his hands.

If he can rediscover the ability he has previously proved he possesses however, it could be another Islington-Iberian transfer that makes perfect sense.


Written by Adam Gray

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Premier League Betting Preview: This Weekend’s Top 5 Bets

This weekend’s Premier League fixture list has been almost halved as a result of running concurrently with the FA Cup quarter-finals, but there are still truffles to be found in the mud that is a difficult top-flight coupon comprising of relegation six-pointers, mid-table battles and… Liverpool vs. Tottenham where the North Londoners look great value to take something tangible away from Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

The red-hot Spurs are unbeaten in twelve league games since a last-gasp defeat to Everton in December, but they look set for happier memories from this particular trip to Merseyside.  Liverpool aren’t in bad nick either it must be said, buoyed by top-scorer Luis ‘Marmite’ Suarez’s weighty goal contributions, and Phillipe Coutinho looks a player too.

However the Reds have yet to beat any of the teams above them on the current table in nine attempts this season and it will make for curious viewing to see what provisions are made to prevent man of the moment Gareth Bale from continuing his ceaseless run of destruction.

Back to today, and with Wigan on cup duty Reading and Aston Villa fans will know that one of their teams will be out of the relegation zone come 5pm today.  This writer is opting for Villa, who were good value for a point against Man City on Monday night and would have got one if it wasn’t for a pesky schoolkid’s error from Ciaran Clark.  Moment of madness notwithstanding, Clark and co acquitted themselves well on Monday, they just lacked the requisite teeth to make imprints on the best defence in the land.

Reading, though, have conceded over twice as many goals as Man City and are starting to ship points - and goals at an alarming rate at just the wrong time.  Eight goals let in and no points from their last three league matches and in addition Jason Roberts ruled out for the rest of the season and the attack badly missing the physical threat of the suspended Pavel Pogrebnyak.  Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann have punished better defences and can inflict more pain today at the Madejeski.

As someone who revels in the accolade of having successfully being able to predict precisely none of QPR’s fixtures correctly this season, I can say with no degree of confidence whatsoever that the Hoops are worth backing to follow up their impressive victory against Southampton last weekend by winning to nil at Loftus Road for the first time this season.

Sunderland’s switch to 4-4-2 since the purchase of Danny Graham has not done the Mackems any discernible favours, and the resurgent (for now) Hoops can leave Martin O’Neill’s boys looking over their shoulders come tonight.  Two things, meanwhile, look set in stone to occur at Carrow Road this afternoon when Southampton rock up to play Norwich.

First, the away team will score.  Second, the marvellous Rickie Lambert will notch against the faltering Canaries.



1) Tottenham +0.5 (Asian Handicap) 11/10 188BET
2) Aston Villa to beat Reading 21/10 CORAL
3) QPR to beat Sunderland to nil 3/1 CORAL
4) Norwich vs Southampton Away team to score first 6/5 BETFRED
5) Norwich vs Southampton Rickie Lambert to score anytime 2/1 STAN JAMES


Written by Emelie Okeke

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Swansea: Laudrup renewal another step in the right direction for rising Swans

A new 2 and-a-half year contract for Michael Laudrup shows another step in the right direction for Swansea City, and can be taken as another sign to indicate that the Jacks’ meteoric rise has by no means stopped. One major trophy amongst other great achievements shows that Laudrup is the right man to bring success to the Liberty Stadium for several seasons.

When Brendan Rodgers decided he wanted to call time on his 2 year spell at Swansea, not many were optimistic about the club’s ability to continue their improvement. Rodgers brought to South Wales promotion to the Premier League, a solid 11th place finish in their debut season in England’s top flight and an enviable style of football which gained plaudits throughout the footballing world.

However, Rodgers’ replacement was a man who knew as well as anyone how to play a passing game and win trophies. That man was Michael Laudrup.

The Denmark midfield legend, arriving from Mallorca, went about his dealings in the transfer market very shrewdly. He secured the signatures of Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan De Guzman, all of whom have been initiated into the Jacks’ team with ease. Although these have all turned out to be major coups, Laudrup most notable capture was that of Miguel Pérez Cuesta. That’s Michu, to me and you.

Filling the hole left by the outstanding Gylfi Sigurðsson was one of the most difficult tasks facing Laudrup and in purchasing Michu Swansea got the bargain of the season, for a mere £2.2 million. With 15 premier league goals already, the Spaniard – who has been deployed more often as a number nine – has already arisen as a contender for Premier League player of the year.

Great positioning combined with his knack for scoring goals earned Michu recognition from Vicente del Bosque, manager of world champions Spain. This epitomizes what has so far been a wonderful season for Michu, Swansea and Michael Laudrup. Michu unexpectedly signed a brand new four year contract in January, and has now been followed in putting pen to paper by his manager.

Obviously another key factor in Huw Jenkins decision to give Laudrup a new contract was the Jacks’ recent capital one cup success, as they triumphed over League Two Bradford 5-0 at Wembley. A scintillating display which portrayed what the Swans do best demonstrated that Laudrup is a great tactician in games of all nature.

A first ever major trophy win for Swansea was something to be celebrated, and the praise must go to the man at the helm. A move back to Spain as the future manager of his former club Real Madrid has recently been touted, but his signing of a new contract shows that he is confident of bringing even more success to the South Wales.

His side currently lies 8th in the table, and although Europa League football is already guaranteed at the Liberty Stadium, a push for the top 4 may seem out of reach but can’t be ruled out.

Jenkins, the chairman, acknowledges that Laudrup’s foreseeable future might not be managing his team, but he is familiar with having to replace his staff.

“Whatever happens to Michael Laudrup, whether it’s two years’ time or five years’ time when he leaves our club, it’s going to be a big position to fill and we need to be ready for that”, were the words of a very proud chairman.

So, with a new contract penned, a major trophy victory and a world class player signed, it’s hard to imagine Michael Laudrup could have made a better start to his managerial career in England. The Dane has won playing trophies across Europe and earned over 100 caps for his country, but he described the league cup success as the ‘most important of his career’.

His passion for the club is evident, and if & when he does decide to leave, he will be remembered fondly. The club’s first trophy can be the catalyst to even greater things, and with Laudrup as the boss, who knows? The opportunities are endless.


Written by Richard Burn

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