In this article, we will be taking a look at the 15 biggest stadiums in the world. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 biggest stadiums in the world.
There is nothing quite like sports, and there is nothing quite like supporting your favorite team. For most of us who weren't good enough or had the opportunities needed to be elite athletes, the next best thing was to support our favorite teams with the same fervor as we would as if we were on the field ourselves. Be it the national team in a variety of sports, your local football club or just a sports team with a global appeal that you found yourself supporting from a young age and is now part of your soul, there are few things more rewarding or heartbreaking than sports.
When you support a team, you give it your all. Every win, draw or less is incredibly happy, frustrating or sad depending on the result. I once read somewhere that sports embody our inner drive to keep going, and nothing else could be truer. This is even more magnified when you're sitting in a stadium with tens of thousands of likeminded fans and equally, tens of thousands of supporters of the opposing team. Sports rivalries are some of the most passionate rivalries in the world, be it India-Pakistan or Australia-England in cricket, Arsenal-Spurs or Manchester United-Liverpool or Spanish El Clasico in football or Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics in NBA, you are willing your team on for every second of the match. Emotions are higher as are the stakes, regardless of the actual championship or trophy on stake. Often, the victor has bragging rights and the loser is left trying to get over a loss, and even worse is the prospect of facing friends and colleagues who support the winner.
Initially, sports stadiums didn't face many regulations, even when hosting tens of thousands of people. In 1923, in the FA Cup final between Bolton Wanderers vs West Ham United, the official attendance was 126,047 though many more people entered without tickets, with unofficial records stating that close to 300,000 people were in attendance, a number unimaginable today despite the much better infrastructure. This has led to many major stadium disasters as well, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people. Just recently, there was a stampeded in an Indonesian football stadium after police started tear gassing spectators who invaded the pitch after a tense football match, resulting in the deaths of 135 people. There have been other high-profile cases as well, especially involving Liverpool football club on two occasions. On the first occasion, in 1985, Juventus fans trying to escape Liverpool fans were pressed against a collapsing wall, resulting in the deaths of 39 people and the ban of English clubs from European competition for at least five years. The second disaster, even worse than the Heysel Stadium disaster, took place at Hillsborough in 1989. During an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, poor police instructions led to the stadium being crowded crushing hundreds of people in the stadium resulting in the deaths of 97 people and 766 injuries and is the worst British sporting disaster in history.
While you would think that football organizations would have learnt their lessons, a similar situation could have occurred in the 2021-2022 Champions League final, the most prestigious football club match in the world. With a major buildup of fans prior to the start of the match, French police began to attack fans unprovoked and used pepper spray and tear gas. While a full inquiry has been commissioned, it seems that the French police used extremely heavy-handed tactics which could have resulted in a major situation.
Even then, the examples mentioned above are more well-known but not even close to the worst stadium disaster in the world. That belongs to Peru where a football match between Peru and Argentina in 1964 after a pitch invasion saw people invade the pitch and police fired tear gas into the crowd, resulting in a crush that caused the deaths of 328 people.
Nowadays, not only are stadiums much better equipped to handle the crowds and implement tech for greater efficiency, they are actually becoming tourism options. One example of this is the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is the home of Tottenham Hotspurs in the Premier League with a seating capacity of 62,580 people. Costing more than £1 billion, the stadium is an asymmetric bowl and in addition to its pitch, which can be retracted for an NFL pitch, the stadium includes a world class training facility, bars, the world's first microbrewery, in-house bakery, cashless access, Michelin level star dining, a Sky Bridge and premium facilities for premium members. There is even an art gallery within the stadium so you can imagine the size of the stadium.
The biggest stadiums in the world can each easily seat more than 90,000 people with the top 10 seating more than 100,000 people each. Most of these are in the United States and belong to American football clubs, which is the most popular sport in the country. These stadiums cost hundreds of millions of dollars in most cases and we will discuss further details in the entries. Some of the most iconic stadiums in the world haven't made this list including Old Trafford which is the home of Manchester United football club, Santiago Bernabeu which is the home of Real Madrid, and Madison Square Garden which is one of the most iconic sporting stadiums in the country despite the relatively lower seating capacity. It is of course owned by Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:MSGE). Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:MSGE) was created in 2020 when MSG Sports spun off its non-sports assets as a separate company. So, without further ado, based on seating capacity, let's take a look at the biggest sports stadiums in the world, starting with number 15:
15. Cotton Bowl Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 92,100
Owned by the city of Dallas, Cotton Bowl Stadium is one of the most iconic stadiums in the United States, hosting numerous important events including the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup, the 2021 CONCAFAF Gold Cup and various major concerts.
14. Sanford Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 92,746
The football stadium for University of Georgia, the Sanford Stadium has been expanded and renovated several times over the years. Due to the views from the stadium, it has often been cited among the most beautiful stadiums in the United States.
13. FNB Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 92,746
The biggest stadium in Africa, FNB Stadium is located in Johannesburg, South Africa and hosts both football and rugby matches.
12. Camp Nou
Total capacity of the stadium: 99,354
Home of Barcelona FC, Camp Nou is one of the most prestigious football stadiums in the world. The largest stadium in Europe, Barcelona has hosted two Champions League finals among many other games and has seen a huge level of success thanks to the exploits of Barcelona in the past two decades. In March 2022, Spotify Technology S.A. (NYSE:SPOT) acquired the rights to name the stadium in a deal worth over $300 million.
11. Melbourne Cricket Ground
Total capacity of the stadium: 100,024
The second-biggest cricket stadium in the world, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, more popularly known as the "MCG" is among the biggest stadiums in the world and definitely one of the most prestigious. It is also among the oldest stadiums in the world having been built in 1853. It has been the centerpiece stadium for many major events held in Australia including the 1956 Summer Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, two Cricket World Cups and will be a host for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in 2026. The stadium hosted both the first Test cricket match in the world as well as the first One Day International cricket match. It has also recently held the final of the T20 Cricket World Cup.
10. Bryant-Denny Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 100,077
The football stadium of The University of Alabama's Alabama Crimson Tide football team, the Bryant-Denny Stadium was opened 93 years ago. The stadium has been regularly renovated and expanded through the decades.
9. Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 100,199
Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium is the home football stadium for the Longhorns football team from the University of Texas. The highest attendance record in the stadium was set just a couple of months ago in September 2022 when more than 105,000 people watch the team play against The University of Alabama and lose. The renovation and expansion of the North and South end combined has been nearly $350 million.
8. Neyland Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 101,915
One of the biggest stadiums in the world and in the United States, Neyland Stadium is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Constructed just over a century ago, it is owned by the University of Tennessee and has undergone around 16 expansion projects in the past several decades. The renovations between 2004 - 2010 have cost around $136 million in costs.
7. Tiger Stadium
Total capacity of the stadium: 102,321
Opening with a capacity of 12,000 people in 1924, Tiger Stadium is the football stadium of Louisiana State University. $1.8 million was spent on the stadium in 1936 while $183 million have been spent on expansions and renovations over the decades.
6. Kyle Field
Total capacity of the stadium: 102,733
The football stadium of Texas A&M University, the stadium was constructed well over a century ago. In 2014, the football stadium recorded its biggest attendance when 110,633 people attended a match between Ole Miss Rebels and Texas A&M.
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Disclosure: None. 15 biggest stadiums in the world is originally published at Insider Monkey.