Ranking the CFL’s American Expansion Stadiums

In 2021, the CFL offseason was dominated by talks of a merger with the XFL, a move that could’ve perhaps led to CFL teams playing meaningful football against American teams for the first since the mid-1990s. Back then, there was a wide array of stadia used by the CFL’s American expansion teams, which makes taking a look back and ranking the seven American CFL stadium’s a fun and interesting prospect!

Disclaimer; Due to the inconsistencies in finding mid-nineties images for each stadium, the stadiums were ranked by their modern appearance, with the exception of the demolished Memorial Stadium.

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7. Hornet Stadium – Sacramento Gold Miners

Hornet Stadium – Sacramento Gold Miners

The first American team to ever play in the CFL, the Gold Miners began play in the 1993 season making the 21,195 capacity stadium the trailblazing venue in this lineup. Hornet Stadium has a typical college stadium look to its design, with two large stands on either sideline and a running track. The stands themselves have a barebones look to them, but the inclusion of an “S” in the grandstand gives the stadium a little bit of a unique feel, but ultimately, this really is just a run-of-the-mill college stadium.

6. Independence Stadium – Shreveport Pirates

Independence Stadium – Shreveport Pirates

Independence Stadium is famous in Louisiana for hosting the NCAA’s Independence Bowl, and from 1994 to 1995 was the home of the CFLs Shreveport Pirates. The 63,000 seater stadium has gone through many renovations and, as such, is very imposing. Its uniquely shaped stands help to make it stand out, alongside its dominating use of red seating in the middle of both sideline stands. This really helps to add some spark and colour to the otherwise lifeless-looking colour scheme for the seats and elevates the stadium.

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5. Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas Posse

Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas Posse

The distinctly red and incredibly hot to play in Sam Boyd Stadium was the home of the Las Vegas Posse for their one CFL season in 1994. The 36,800 capacity stadium operates a horseshoe-like design with three smartly conjoined stands and fills the space at the other end with a large scoreboard. The future of the stadium going forward is in doubt as it lacks a primary tenant, and is now plays second fiddle in Vegas to Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV Rebels.

4. Legion Field – Birmingham Barracudas

Legion Field – Birmingham Barracudas

The biggest stadium on this list is the hugely imposing 71,594 capacity Legion Field, home of the Birmingham Barracudas in 1995. Known as the Football Capital of the south, the stadium is all connected and equal in size on all sides creating a very intimidating look. While the seating is colourless, its sheer size and stature are still enough to bring some life to the stadium.

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3. Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis Mad Dogs

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis Mad Dogs

Another large college venue, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium has an interesting shape with its large sideline stands that curve at the end zones to give it a unique shape. The 58,325 seater stadium also uses flashes of colour, with blue being a prevalent colour scheme in the lower part of the stadium, helping to add some more character to the iconic Memphis stadium.

2. Memorial Stadium – Baltimore Stallions

Memorial Stadium – Baltimore Stallions

The Stallions were by far the darlings of the American expansion teams. Led by the legendary Don Matthews, the Stallions made the Grey Cup twice in their two seasons of existence and are still remembered fondly to this day. Baltimore’s famous Memorial Stadium was their home. For much of its life, the stadium hosted both baseball and football, which at best is always an uneasy setup in which usually nobody is pleased. This led to a bit of an unusual shape with its curved stands and very exposed-looking design. But its sheer size and unique look helped to make it special. It had three huge conjoining stands which looked incredibly intimidating when the 60,586 seater stadium was full. It was replaced by the Baltimore Ravens’ new M&T Bank Stadium in 1998 and was demolished soon afterwards, but it is still very fondly remembered by those in the city of Baltimore.

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1. Alamodome – San Antonio Texans

Alamodome – San Antonio Texans

By far the youngest stadium of the bunch, the Alamodome also holds the distinction of not only being the only domed American CFL stadium but could also fully accommodate a CFL-sized field, something which most American stadiums were unable to do. The exterior resembles somewhat that of an arena, and the Alamodome has actually hosted its fair share of basketball games. But make no mistake, this is a football stadium. Its interior features plenty of lighting to offset the dome and the stands are pretty close to the action. Blue is by far the most dominant colour used throughout the 64,000 capacity stadium, and its two-tier design is very smart and makes the stadium stand out as a great place to watch a game of football. The Alamodome has been very well received over its near thirty-year existence and has definitely earned its spot as the best American CFL stadium.

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