Here we are, less than a week from the AEW historic event at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. The unique venue got me thinking about what other unique venues that AEW (or any other company) could run in the future. The list was fairly long but, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 selections. I kept it to North America and tried to pick venues that were aesthetically pleasing, not just the largest venues. I’d rather have a raucous crowd of 35,000 than a muted crowd of 90,000. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Enough blather, here are my top 10 venues AEW should use in future events.
10. Pier 40 Fields
This large field sits on the roof of a parking garage at West Side Highway and Houston street in Manhatthan, New York City. Open to permit holders, Pier 40 Fields is simply, just a green space. Lots of work would have to go into building a temporary space for wrestling but, you cant beat the view.
9. The Sun Bowl
Looking at the picture above, there’s a reason why this open air football stadium is called the Sun Bowl. There’s little, if an respite from the sun and in West Texas that can be unbearable. The metal bleacher seats wouldn’t help matters as well. Assuming the event is at night, the stadium is nestled between 2 large hills on the University of Texas – El Paso Campus. at 51,000 seats, this is by far the largest stadium on this list.
8. Arthur Ashe Stadium (Open Roof)
If AEW was just at Arthur Ashe Stadium, how does the stadium make the list again? That’s because there’s room for improvement to make the experience at Ashe better than it was the first time. Expand merch and food options, schedule meet and greets earlier in the day, convince the MTA to run more trains into Manhattan after the event ends. AEW did it right the first time, now there’s a chance to open the roof and do it better.
7. BBVA Stadium
The first soccer specific stadium on the list is BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas. Home to Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo; BBVA Stadium’s intimate atmosphere gives the impression of a large scale event without the need for a large scale stadium. There’s just over 22,000 seats in the stadium, which puts this stadium on the smaller end of my ideal crowd size of 35,000.
There are some pretty small domed stadiums for NCAA Football. The UNI Dome (pronounced Younee Dome) isn’t the smallest football stadium but, hosting a paltry 16,000+ fans under its steel truss and fabric dome is a uniquely intimate experience. Ignore the unlikelihood of AEW coming to Cedar Falls, Iowa; there’s a lot that could happen in such unique venue.
5. Cumberland Caverns
The only subterranean venue on the list is Cumberland Caverns. Live music echoes throughout the cave complex, located 2 hours from Nashville and just over an hour from Chattanooga. With the acoustics of a cave, its hard to not get excited for the sounds of chops and super kicks to fill the halls of the cave complex.
4. Tacoma Dome
Made from trees that were felled in the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, the Tacoma Dome is one of the largest wooden domes in the world by volume. It can hold 23,000 but is flexible enough to host football, hockey, basketball and wrestling events. This due to is very small amount of fixed seating. In theory AEW could design the set of it’s dreams with a nearly blank canvas.
3. Providence Park
Getting into the top 3 now with the venerable Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. Multnomah Field has been present since 1893 and the stadium was built in 1926. A long time baseball stadium for minor league teams since 1956, the stadium was given a major renovation before it’s newest tenants, the Portland Timbers of the MLS took over in 2011. At 95 years old, Providence Park retains it’s old world charm, while sporting some modern amenities.
2. Indian Wells Tennis Garden (Stadium 1)
The second largest tennis specific stadium in America is in the desert town of Indian Wells, California. About 20 miles outside of Palm Springs, Indian Wells Tennis Garden is a smaller, more circular venue than Arthur Ashe Stadium. Without much protection from the desert sun, this could be a great winter locale. The sun setting earlier behind the San Benrnadino Mountains could be one of the most picturesque backdrops in pro wrestling.
1. Northwell – Jones Beach Theater
Number 1 on this list, sits in Zach’s Bay, apart of Jones Beach State Park. The 15,000 theater seats are on land but the stage juts into the bay allowing for a boat dock in the rear of the theater. The setting begs for a “Jones Beach Streetfight” that ends involves a high speed boat chase. Sure, there’s very little in the way of shade, but the unobstructed views of the bay and Atlantic Ocean in the distance are one of a kind.
I hope that AEW has sparked a renaissance of sorts, where the larger wrestling promotions step a bit further out of the normal arenas. AEW gets a bit of criticism for its lack creativity in the set design of it’s larger events. If you remember the beginning of the Daily’s Place era, how different everything felt, being in that amphitheater. Remember the pastel colored sunsets in the background and the sideways rain from a passing tropical storm. Part of the modern wrestling presentation is aesthetic. Hopefully AEW in one of these venues can go along way to creating another once in a lifetime experience to that of Arthur Ashe Stadium.