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Take a tour of the top college and pro football stadiums

Posted Nov 4, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Football stadiums have evolved from pastures to palaces. Many stadiums that house NFL teams are state-of-the-art facilities, and the stadiums at the college level have varying degrees of charm.

Bucs fans know firsthand how a stadium can be a factor, as the crowd at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field made deafening noise during the Bucs’ painful 27-24 overtime loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. College fans know that places like Death Valley (at LSU or Clemson, take your pick), the Big House at Michigan, Ohio State’s Horseshoe, Florida’s Swamp and Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee are intimidating venues.

The pomp, glamour and tradition of football stadiums are captured nicely in a coffee table-sized book that contains more than 300 color photos and some vintage black-and-white shots. “Football Stadiums: A Guide to Professional and Top College Stadiums” (Firefly Books; hardback, $35, 320 pages), is a must-have guide to some of the best football sites in the country.

The text is written by Lew Freedman, who has published nearly 60 books, including the recently released “Clouds Over the Goalpost,” a richly detailed look at the 1963 professional football season.  Freedman’s book credentials also include “Thunder in the Tundra,” an intriguing look at the Barrow Whalers, the only football team located north of the Arctic Circle.

His portfolio is eclectic, with “Timber! The Story of the Lumberjack World Championships,” “Fishing for a Laugh: Reel Humor from Alaska” and “Bad Friday: The Great & Terrible 1964 Alaska Earthquake”. He also has written about the Iditarod and Mount McKinley.

But Freedman is also no stranger to football or the NFL. In addition to “Clouds Over the Goalpost,” he has written about the Bears (“Chicago Bears Stadium Tales”) and the Steelers (Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete Illustrated History”).

In “Football Stadiums,” Freedman helps tell the story of 130 major football stadiums, including every NFL venue, 77 of the largest college stadiums, and 35 other famous and/or demolished sites. It’s a light, easy-to-read narrative.

Many of the best college stadiums are included, like Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.; and Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. Readers will see photographs of the breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains from Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.; an even more gorgeous view from LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah (home to BYU’s football team.); and the tradition-laden Los Angeles Coliseum.

One stadium I was surprised to see omitted was Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. There was always something magical about playing “between the hedges.”

The vintage photos of the old Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Kezar Stadium in San Francisco and the Orange Bowl in Miami are nice, and so are the classic shots of Shibe Park, the original Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds.

It’s an enjoyable read, with fun facts and excellent photography.

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