America's 100 most important sports venues   

Updated: September 21, 2008, 9:15 AM ET

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No. 1 | Nos. 2 through 5 | Nos. 11 through 100

6. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Baseball Hall of Fame

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Location: Cooperstown, N.Y. Opened: 1939. Capacity: Not applicable.

Because it was the first major sports Hall of Fame and is by far still the best. Because fans will reach out to touch those bronze plaques with as much emotion as they do their spouses. Because Cooperstown is so difficult to reach -- either by car or by career -- yet remains one destination that is better than the journey. Because no single venue sparks more passionate conversation about who is worthy of entry. (How can Bruce Sutter be in while Luis Tiant is not?) Because even with the lines in the surrounding streets waiting for $25 autographs during induction weekend, it is as timeless as a game of catch among grandparent, parent and child.

7. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

Location: Indianapolis. Opened: 1909. Capacity: 400,000 (including infield)

Because with a permanent seating capacity of 257,000 and infield seating that raises the capacity to more than the population of St. Louis, it is the largest-capacity sports facility in history. Because long before there was NASCAR, the Indy 500 wedded America's two passions -- sports and cars -- into one Memorial Day tradition and made auto racing what it is today. Because it is so ingrained in Americana that every motorist changing a tire imagines himself or herself on the pit crew at Indy.

8. Nike headquarters

Nike Headquaters

AP Photo/Don Ryan

Location: Beaverton, Ore. Opened: 1978. Capacity: Not applicable.

Because no other company dominates American sports the way Nike does. Because more than 4,000 athletes owe as much allegiance to the Swoosh as to their own teams. Because the campus is so outrageous you could vacation there, swimming in its Olympic-sized pool, kicking the ball around its two international-sized soccer pitches, racing around its outdoor track and running paths, playing in its beach volleyball pit, dribbling on its basketball courts, riding a simulated Tour de France on one of its stationary bikes, scrambling up a 44-foot climbing wall or teeing off on a replica of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach with a bunker guarding the green 317 yards away. Because who knew a waffle iron could produce so much?

9. The Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl

Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Location: Pasadena, Calif. Opened: 1922. Capacity: 92,542.

Because the game made the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl possible (not to mention the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl). Because when you're hungover on New Year's morning and looking outside at the snow and icicles of Wisconsin, there is no more intoxicating sight than nearly 100,000 fans cheering under heavenly blue skies by the San Gabriel Mountains. Because it also has hosted the men's and women's World Cup and five Super Bowls. Because it's The Granddaddy of Them All.

10. ESPN headquarters

ESPN Bristol Campus

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Location: Bristol, Conn. Opened: 1979. Capacity: Not applicable.

Because although this choice seems self-aggrandizing, it really isn't. Because it's hard to imagine what today's sports world would be like without 24/7 coverage originating right here. Because for better or worse, what is broadcast from the studios here has a profound influence on sports around the country. Because for better and worse, "SportsCenter" highlights and TV money have changed the way athletes play games and even when those games are played. Because we're a long, long way from monster truck shows.

No. 1 | Nos. 2 through 5 | Nos. 11 through 100


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