You might think that once you’ve seen one stadium, you’ve seen them all. But every stadium has its own history and highlights special places that make fans swoon.
Here is a selection of Midwest stadiums that offer behind-the-scenes group tours.
Kansas City, Missouri
The Kansas City Chiefs played their first game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 12, 1972, against the St. Louis Cardinals (before they became the Arizona Cardinals). The stadium made headlines when it was built because of its amazing sightlines and because it was not built as a multipurpose stadium as many built in the 1970s were. It originally could hold 79,491 fans.
The stadium was built right next door to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, and the two stadiums share one of the biggest parking lots in professional sports. Arrowhead Stadium underwent a $375 million renovation, modernization and expansion project in 2006 that increased the footprint of the stadium to 1.25 million square feet and added numerous event spaces.
The new additions reduced the number of seats in the stadium to 76,416. A Founders Plaza was added on the north side of the building to honor the former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Hunt. Visitors to the stadium can take a 90-minute tour that includes the press box, the club level, the locker room, the field and the Chiefs’ Hall of Honor, a 26,000-square-foot museum that pays homage to Hunt and the American Football League he founded. It houses many artifacts from the eight AFL teams and includes a players Hall of Fame. Private guided tours are available anytime.
Memorial Stadium, home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, is an intimidating sight for visiting teams. On game day, the stands turn into a sea of red, with fans decked out in Nebraska colors. Memorial Stadium was first built in 1923 with stands on the east and west sides of the playing field. At that time, the stadium, on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, could hold only 31,080 people. It was named Memorial Stadium to honor those Nebraskans who fought and died for their country during wartime.
Over the years, the stadium has seen its share of additions, including a field house, additional stands, luxury suites and club seats. The Osborne Athletic Complex was built in the mid-2000s. Today, the stadium houses 92,000 screaming fans at a time, making Memorial Stadium the third-largest city in Nebraska on game days.
The stadium gives tours throughout the year. Groups start in the lobby of the north entrance of the Osborne Athletic Complex, where they can see the team’s national and bowl game trophies. They then watch a video of a tunnel walk out onto the field before they get to make the same trek themselves. Tours are about an hour long and include a look at the Hawks Championship Center, the Huskers’ indoor practice facility that features a 120-yard field.
The most recent incarnation of Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, opened in 2006. It is the third stadium in St. Louis to carry the name. The current stadium overlaps the site of the former Busch Memorial Stadium and includes a major ballpark district called Ballpark Village, with restaurants, sports bars and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. The site will also have a reproduction of the former stadium’s baseball diamond, built on the exact spot where the previous stadium’s diamond was situated.
“The infield of the previous stadium is a construction zone now, but it will be rebuilt and put back in so fans will have a chance to run the bases again of the previous ballpark where so many of their heroes played,” said Brian Finch, manager of stadium tours and museum operations for Busch Stadium. “It will be a unique place for Cardinals fans to congregate.”
Stadium tours are offered year-round. Public tours include a ticket to the Hall of Fame Museum. Private tours can include both the stadium and the museum as well. Visitors get to tour the radio broadcast booth, see the team’s World Series trophies in the Champions Club and step inside the Cardinals dugout. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series championships, the last one in 2011. There have been two World Series wins in Busch Stadium since it opened in 2006. Busch Stadium likes to keep its group tours to 40 people or less. Larger tour groups must be broken into smaller groups to maximize everyone’s enjoyment.
Ohio Stadium is approaching its 100th anniversary. Built in 1921, the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is one of the few stadiums in the country that is on the National Register of Historic Places. When it was first built, it could handle a crowd of 66,210 people. The largest crowd it ever had was 110,000 people at the Michigan game in 2016. Typically, the stadium seats about 102,000 people.
The Buckeyes have the largest alumni association of any public university, making Ohio State football games a big draw. Groups are welcome to take a 90-minute walking tour of the stadium, including the Huntington Club level and one of the largest collegiate press boxes in the country. They will also tour the Steinbrenner Band Center, the Yassenoff Recruit Center and the field.
“The field is the big draw,” said Cassie Bernard, assistant director of event management for the stadium. “Everyone wants to be in the middle of Block O [the student section of the stadium] taking selfies there and doing snow angels there.”
The suites are on the highest level of the stadium where visitors get a bird’s-eye view of the field and campus. The recruit room is a highlight of the tour, decorated with Ohio State-specific decor, including big helmet couches and chairs. The walls are decorated with photos of Heisman trophy winners and OSU players who have gone on to play in the NFL.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium is the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team. The state-of-the-art stadium was built in 2005 at a cost of $720 million. It replaced the RCA Dome, which was one of the smallest stadiums in professional football. The first game played at Lucas Oil Stadium was in 2008 against the Chicago Bears. The stadium has a retractable roof and movable glass windows on the north side, giving fans an unobstructed view of the Indianapolis skyline. The roof can open and close in under 11 minutes. The stadium seats 63,000 people but can seat 70,000 people during larger events.
The stadium has two of the largest high-definition videoboards in the NFL, with three screens each that are 97 feet wide by 53 feet high. It also has 139 luxury suites. The field’s surface is Fieldturf, and it sits 25 feet below street level, allowing the stadium to blend in better with its surrounding neighborhood. The stadium is connected to the Indiana Convention Center by a climate-controlled walkway.
Both public and private guided tours of the stadium are available. The tours last about 90 minutes and include visits to the playing field, the press box, a locker room and other areas, depending on time and availability.