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This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-3-12 11:00|
The Olympics is still an entire spring season away, so instead we're going to hijack the IAAF World Indoor Championships (that's athletics for any sports dodos out there) as our peg for this list.
They start today, so what better way to kick off three days of sprained hamstrings and frustrating false starts than with a rundown of 10 fantastic sports stadiums?
Clearly there are many more great sports venues than these 10, so before any fans of Soccer City or others get their vuvuzelas in a twist, you can have your moment in the comments box below.
1. Yankee Stadium, New York, United States
Concentrated Americana. Just add beer.
The new Yankee Stadium is the third most expensive stadium ever built (US$1.5 billion), after Wembley Stadium in London and the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
It's been open for only two years, and is home to the most famous team in American sport, but also a legion of vociferous, outspoken, frequently funny fans who are just as happy to cheer a streaker as they are to jeer a poor play.
In its first season it hosted a World Series clinching game as the Yanks beat the Philadelphia Phillies four games to two.
Typical fan: Large guy with beer gut clutching giant hotdog in one hand and cup of beer in the other, screaming insults at the Red Sox ... even when the Sox aren't in town.
Yankee Stadium, E.161st Street and River Avenue, Bronx, N.Y., United States; +1 718 293 4300; newyork.yankees.mlb.com
2. Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
very third man's most hated away game.
The biggest cricket venue in the world, the biggest stadium of any kind in Australia and also the oldest of the stadiums on our list.
Built in 1853, with the first game of cricket played on September 30, 1854, up to 130,000 people could once be crammed in -- however, renovations and safety regulations have since restricted capacity to the current 100,000.
The MCG, or The G as locals call it, is the symbolic heart of sport in the country.
For cricket fans there's no better place to be, cold drink in hand, watching Australia and England battle out an Ashes Test when the atmosphere would give a chainsaw a hard time, especially in the infamous Bay 13, one of the most disorderly spectator areas in sport.
In a One-Day International in the late 1990s, behavior in Bay 13 was so bad that Shane Warne had to enter the ground from his dressing rooms and tell the crowd to settle down at the request of opposing England captain Alec Stewart.
Typical fan: Large man with cans of Fosters in his hat, shouting obscenities at both sides' players.
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Avenue, Melbourne, Australia; +61 3 9657 8888; www.mcg.org.au
3. Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
The action is usually as colorful as the fans.
Feel free to make your case Real Madrid fans. Sure, we can grant Santiago Bernabeu elite status among world stadiums, but Camp Nou edges it by a hair.
Overall, the complex is more impressively grandiose and the fans rowdier. And it's home to the world's best soccer team. No other soccer stadium in Europe can compete with the capacity crowds of Camp Nou.
At 100,000 strong, the homeside can rely on an incessant atmosphere that intimidates like no other, a quality current players Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi appreciate.
At times it can get extremely heated, both on and off the pitch.
In August 2011, during a Spanish Supercopa match against arch rivals Real Madrid, there was an on-pitch brawl between not only the players, but Real manager José Mourinho and Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova.
Typical fan: Sweaty Catalan waving scarf excitedly and chanting nonstop.
Camp Nou, Avinguda Aristides Maillol, Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 496 36 08; www.fcbarcelona.com
4. Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea
Squint, and you may be able to spot a smile somewhere in there.
The monumental Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, makes our list because it has the largest seating capacity of any sports stadium in the world and the largest capacity of any non-motorsport venue in the world.
Plus it's in North Korea, which makes it an adventure just to get there.
Built in 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, and seating a staggering 150,000 people, it now mostly hosts football matches and athletic events.
Resembling a magnolia blossom, or, some say, a parachute, it has 16 arches arranged in a ring. In 1995, an incredible 190,000 people crammed in for a professional wrestling event. One to tick off if you're a real sports stadium fanatic.
However, don't come expecting to see North Koreans breaking out of their oppressively intact shells -- there's absolutely no atmosphere whatsoever in this stadium, even when packed full of people.
Typical fan: Any one of more than 24 million North Koreans happy to get a taste of real life.
The only contact information North Korea makes available is Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea.
5. Wimbledon, London, England
The retractable roof ensures there will be no repeat of the 1996 "Cliff Richard episode."
It may be the center of the tennis world for only two weeks of the year (or slightly longer depending on the British weather) but there's no tennis venue like Wimbledon.
Center Court becomes a circus of oohs and aahs. Strawberries drip with cream. Henman Hill burns with suspense. Sir Cliff Richard sings in the rain.
And of course Andy Murray, or whoever the favored British "star" is this year, loses in the semi-finals yet again.
Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and now Rafael Nadal have shone here. The All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon has it all.
Typical fan: English rose with posh accent, glass of Pimm's and bedroom completely wallpapered with photos of Andy Murray, or a topless Rafael Nadal.
Wimbledon, Church Road, Wimbledon, London, England; +44 20 8944 1066; www.wimbledon.com