Five of the most unique sporting venues in the world

When you think of the world’s most iconic stadiums, images of venues such as Wembley, the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Yankee Stadium in New York may come to mind.

But among the multi-million pound arenas, a few places stand out for their innovative design or remote locations.

BBC Bitesize takes a look at some of the world’s most unique sports grounds.

Elie Beach, Scotland

You’ll often see cricket matches delayed if rainfall has meant too much water on the pitch – but for one team in Scotland, they’re more concerned about the tide stopping play.

The Ship Inn in Elie, on the Fife Coast, are the United Kingdom’s only cricket team who play all of their home matches on a beach.

The Ship Inn take on Borderers in May 2019 on Elie Beach.

Elie Beach has been their home venue for over 30 years, and has played host to the world-famous Marylebone Cricket Club, touring teams and test players and the Scottish national women’s team.

Matches take place around the tide times, often with 30 overs per side. The pitch is marked out on a section of the beach which is meticulously rolled to provide the perfect bowling conditions. A rubber ball is used instead of the traditional cricket ball.

Field of Dreams, Iowa

When Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred visited Iowa in 2016, the idea for one of the most spectacular sporting venues ever seen came to mind.

The city of Dyersville in the US state was home to 1989 film Field of Dreams – where Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella built a baseball pitch in the cornfields in order to attract the ghosts of sporting legends.

The film production actually built a baseball field on farmland and it became a popular tourist attraction, also hosting charity baseball games.

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the Field of Dreams game against the Chicago White Sox.

Manfred saw the potential and decided to host a regular season match at the Field of Dreams – but it wasn’t possible to upgrade the existing field for a professional game without causing significant damage to the site.

A new baseball diamond was constructed, with room for 8,000 spectators, for a 2021 match between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. The match was the first ever MLB game played in the state of Iowa and in a nod to an iconic scene in the film, players entered the arena by walking through the cornfields, alongside Costner himself.

World Ice Golf Championships, Greenland

In golf, when is a green not a green? When it’s white.

The sport of ice golf is thought to have been played for hundreds of years, with some evidence in paintings of a snowy round dating back to the 17th Century.

Roger Beames of Scotland in action at the 2002 World Ice Golf Championships in Greenland.

The sport even has its own world championship, which takes place every year in Uummannaq in Greenland. Naturally, typical white golf balls are substituted for a brighter orange version and players will often take to the course with crampons on their shoes for better grip.

The rulebook even has potential eventualities for if a polar bear interferes with a player’s shot, which is not something that usually crops up at The Open.

Estadio Municipal de Braga, Portugal

For the most part, football stadiums are made up of four stands or a complete bowl – with some notable exceptions.

One of which is in Braga in northern Portugal, but the fact the Estadio Municipal de Braga only has two stands doesn’t tell the full story.

Calm in the Estadio Municipale de Braga before Sporting Braga’s Europa League game against Crvena Zvezda in December 2021.

The stadium, which opened in 2003 and is the home of Portuguese side Sporting Braga, was carved out of the side of a quarry on the edge of Mount Castro, which overlooks Braga. Behind one of the goals is an almost-sheer rock face while the other end looks out on the city.

The two stands are connected by steel strings, a design influenced by the appearance of some South American Incan bridges. The stadium has a total capacity of just over 30,000 seats. It’s impossible to walk all the way around the ground because of the cliff edge, so fans navigate between stands via a 5,000-sq-m plaza underneath the pitch.

USS Carl Vinson, California

To mark both Veterans Day (held annually in the United States on 11 November) and the start of the college basketball season, a unique location was proposed to host games.

The Carrier Classic saw two teams go head-to-head on USS Carl Vinson, a US Navy aircraft carrier that was docked in San Diego.

North Carolina and Michigan State face off during the Carrier Classic on November 11, 2011, aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, California.

The game between North Carolina and Michigan State was played in front of then-US President Barack Obama and was paused at sunset so that sailors could conduct the traditional retiring of the colours.

Carrier Classic matchups were scheduled for the following year on another aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. However, following a game between Notre Dame and Ohio State’s women’s teams, the first of a double header, the subsequent men’s match was cancelled because of condensation on the court which made it too slippy and dangerous to play. The Carrier Classic hasn’t returned since, but college games to honour the armed forces and veterans are held each year on military sites around the world.

This article was published in September 2022