5 Bislett Stadium
An oval of crumbling mortar and rotted wood in a residential neighborhood not far from the center of Oslo, Bislett Stadium transforms itself each summer into a cauldron of desperate noise and rhythmic clapping that carries runners on invisible wings. Sixty-one world records have been set on its forgiving, brick-colored track; Lynn Jennings, the 10,000-meters bronze medalist in the 1992 Olympics, once called it a distance runner's Fenway Park. Bislett is scheduled to be torn down and replaced by a new stadium. Replaced but not improved upon.
6 Wrigley Field
It's impossible to feel blue at Wrigley Field, even though your beloved Cubs are losing again. The place has grown a bit larger and, amazingly enough, even more graceful since it was built in seven weeks in 1914 for $250,000. It's a national treasure, a true American original. It's ivy and brick and bleachers and a manual scoreboard and seats so close to the field you can almost hear the infield chatter of Hornsby, Hartnett and Banks.
7 Roland Garros
If you like tennis, the French Open is the best sports event in the world to attend. If you don't like tennis, it's still the best sports event in the world to attend because it's in Paris. In the spring Roland Garros is more at ease with itself than Wimbledon, which is so self-conscious. Wimbledon is in a distant suburb of London; Roland Garros is at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. And Roland Garros may be the only friendly place in Paris.
8 Lambeau Field
In Green Bay, where the local time is always 1963, the citizens worship their Packers with religious fervor, and Lambeau Field is their ageless cathedral. The benches are aluminum, the grass (when not iced over) is resplendent, and the fans are rabid but realistic without being rude. No wonder Packers players leap into the stands after scoring touchdowns. On a truly cold day you can feel the spirit of Vince Lombardi—even if you can't feel your toes.
9 Fenway Park
The spiritual blueprint for the dozens of new-old ballparks that have been built in the past decade, our favorite old-old ballpark, built in 1912, doggedly survives as developers plot its demise in the next decade. Babe Ruth pitched here. Ted Williams hit and spit here. Yaz won a Triple Crown here. Batters aim for the 37-foot-tall Green Monster in left because in this park, hitting the wall is always a good thing.
10 Saratoga Race Course
Directions to Saratoga Race Course, by Red Smith: "From New York City you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years." With its striped awnings, old wooden clubhouse and grandstand, and paddock shaded by elms, Saratoga transports you back to the days when people came to the races in surreys with the fringe on top.
11 Pebble Beach
Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scot but not a golfer, called the curve of Carmel Bay upon which the Pebble Beach golf course was built in 1919, "the most felicitous meeting of land and sea in creation." Other courses are as architecturally brilliant, but none overwhelms the senses like Pebble Beach—raw nature is on display here as at no other golf course on earth.
12 Wembley Stadium
The most famous soccer stadium in the world was built in 1923 and that year hosted the English FA Cup Final, the so-called White Horse Final, at which 200,000 peaceable spectators were policed by a lone constable on a white stallion. Since then countless pilgrims have entered grounds as charmless as Cleveland's old Municipal Stadium. No matter: Wembley means big matches, and its mystique lies in a team's just making it here.
13 The Pit
A mile high but 37 feet underground, the Pit in Albuquerque has been the site of many mind-blowing college basketball games, including North Carolina State's upset of Houston in '83 and just about any New Mexico home game. The noise created by fans, which has been measured at 125 decibels—the pain threshold for the human ear is 130—is a palpable force.
14 Boston Marathon Course
For 103 years the hale and hardy and inexplicably optimistic have gathered in little Hopkinton, Mass., at noon on Patriots' Day to run the 26.2 miles to downtown Boston. Heartbreak Hill is actually the last of four hills three quarters of the way through the journey. That climb completed, runners still have six miles to travel before they reach the office towers of the city, where the hale and the hardy will become the lame and the halt—and victors, all of them.