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Tom Jones' Two Cents: Signature landmarks at sports arenas

Golf's U.S. Open will be at breathtaking Pebble Beach this week. It seems like every hole is a signature hole with crashing waves from the Pacific Ocean looking to swallow any errant shot. Our favorite hole is No. 7 — a short (103 yards) par-3 with a green that, from the tee, looks like a button floating on an ocean. It's one of the most famous settings in sports and one of this country's great sports landmarks. You see it on television and immediately know you're looking at Pebble Beach. So, in honor of the U.S. Open taking its championship to the Pacific shore, we look at this country's most famous sports landmarks — places where the sights and sounds are immediately recognizable and beloved.

Wrigley Field ivy

Weird, but we actually prefer the early spring when the vines are still a clump of tangled brown stems. Then again, is there anything more beautiful than the deep green vines in the middle of summer?

Lamade Stadium's outfield seating

Of course, we all recognize when we're watching the Little League World Series from Williamsport, Pa., because the players are 12 years old and the bases are 60 feet apart. But the TV shot of fans sitting on the hill beyond the outfield fence and chasing homers is one of the most precious in American sports.

Touchdown Jesus

Millard Sheets' mosaic titled The Word of Life was installed in 1964 on the wall of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library, which overlooks Notre Dame Stadium. Although it might not have been Sheets' intention, clearly Jesus is signaling "touchdown.''

LSU's yard markers

Tiger Stadium, home of the LSU football team, is immediately recognizable because the field is marked with numbers for every 5 yards — not the traditional 10 yards.

Boise State's blue field

If you're not going to have real grass then why not paint your fake grass a different color than green? Boise State's blue football field is such a good idea that you wonder why no one else ever thought of it, you know, to just give the field some pizzazz.

Cameron's crazies

Duke's basketball court isn't any more special than any other court, and there's nothing in the architecture that sets it apart, but when you see the Cameron Crazies jumping up and down with masks made out of the shells of basketballs, you know you're watching a Duke home game.

Fenway Park's Green Monster

Of all the landmarks, this one affects the game more than any other. The 37-foot-high wall sits just 310 to 315 away from home plate and turns routine pop-ups into homers and sure-fire homers into long singles. The most famous outfield wall in baseball history.

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's jets

Sometimes we recognize a sports landmark by sight. This one — home of tennis' U.S. Open — is recognized by sound. It's not the U.S. Open unless you hear the jets taking off and landing at nearby LaGuardia Airport.

Assembly Hall's walls

Indiana University's basketball home, with its walls in the end zones, doesn't look like an arena. It looks like a gym. And when you think of Indiana basketball, you're supposed to think of a gym. This perfectly captures the essence of Hoosier hoops.

Best of the rest

The Celtics' parquet floor. Georgia's football hedges. The raised basketball court and baseline benches at Vanderbilt. The azaleas at Augusta National Golf Club. The waterfalls at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. The rocks at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Jack Nicholson sitting courtside at Staples Center. Hey, you can see that tonight.

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Signature landmarks at sports arenas 06/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 11:02pm]
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