Communities have gathered en masse for leisure and entertainment since way back in the day, when Roman emperors entertained the masses at the Colosseum with gladiators, lions and extreme justice. This time-honoured tradition can be seen today in the behemoths of cutting edge architecture that are modern stadiums.
Currently, the biggest sports stadiums in the world all host football matches, including American football and soccer. Well over half of the world’s biggest stadiums are American colosseums that are dedicated to the United States’ obsession with college football, particularly the interstate rivalries that often draw in excess of 100,000 spectators.
Most of these large stadiums tend to exist for giant events in sports, including FIFA World Cup matches, the summer olympics and other rare events such as the Pan Am games and the NHL’s winter classic outdoor matches. With the exception of the biggest stadium in the world – which exists to serve the insane propaganda of a multi-generational dictatorship – concerts, political gatherings and other cultural events are secondary concerns for these massive facilities.
10. Bryant-Denny Stadium – 101,821
Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Bryant-Denny Stadium was originally opened in 1929 and currently serves as the home field of the University of Alabama’s football team, named the Crimson Tide.
The first of three expansions occurred in 1998 with the construction of the east upper deck. In 2006 the north end zone was expanded and the south end zone received its own expansion in 2010. The field design includes a ribbon made of a houndstooth pattern, representing efforts to recover from and honor the victims of a major tornado that swept through the state in 2011.
The visitor’s locker room was christened “The Fail Room” in honor of James M. Fail, noted donor and alumnus.
9. Tiger Stadium – 102,321
Also known as death valley and “where opponent’s dreams come to die”, Tiger Stadium resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This facility is home to the Louisiana State University Tigers and opened in 1924 with a maximum capacity of 12,000. Since then, numerous expansions have grown the stadium’s capacity to over 100,000. Recently ranked as the best stadium to attend a game in all of college football, Tiger Stadium consistently earns accolades from college football fans.
Opposing coaches consider it the most difficult environment to play away games while broadcasters and fans compliment the stadium as the best, loudest atmosphere in college football.
8. Neyland Stadium – 102,455
Named after General Robert Neyland, credited for raising the Tennessee Volunteers football team to national contention, Neyland Stadium was initially called Shields-Watkins Field and was opened in 1921. With the exception of two tours of duty during WWI and WWII, General Neyland coached the athletic program from 1926 to 1952.
The total capacity of this stadium has fluctuated over the past couple of decades, peaking at 104,079 between 2000 and 2005 before recent renovations. Originally, this facility was an unfinished project that ran out of cash, before students and faculty pitched in to complete construction of the first stadium.
7. Ohio Stadium – 104,944
When Ohio Stadium finished construction in 1922, it was instantly the biggest building in the world made by the pouring of concrete. This stadium was so large and had such capacity that it worried university officials; they feared that the venue would never sell out, although that myth was dispelled when over 90,000 fans attended a Michigan-Ohio football contest in 1925.
Renovations that finished in 2014 expanded Ohio Stadium to its current capacity, keeping pace with other top college football stadiums initially constructed during the 1920s. The Ohio Buckeyes call this facility home, regularly selling out games with a record 108,610 fans witnessing Ohio States take down Michigan on November 29th, 2014.
6. Estadio Azteca – 105,064
Among the most storied football stadiums in the world, Estadio Azteca has seen some of the best, most dramatic and most important World Cup matches of the 20th century. Famous moments at this stadium included Maradona’s “hand of God” goal against England during the quarterfinals in 1986, and the “game of the century” which featured Italy beating West Germany 4-3 during a match that extended into extra time.
Since opening in 1966, Estadio Azteca has also hosted the Olympics, Mexico’s national football team, an NFL game and the Pan Am Games. Amazingly, the largest attended event at this legendary stadium was Julio Cesar Chavez boxing Greg Haugen, which drew 132,247 spectators.
5. Kyle Field – 106,511
Yet another gigantic shrine to American college football, Kyle Field was completed in 1927 and has only recently broken the 100,000 mark in terms of official capacity due to renovations.
In addition to being the home turf of the Texas A&M Aggies football team, the stadium is also referred to as the “home of the 12th man”. Although the current capacity is listed as more than 106,000, once renovations are completed in 2015 the official capacity will likely be lowered to just over 102,000. Kyle Field is considered one of the most oppressive environments for visiting teams, a reputation cemented by 31 straight Aggie wins between 1990-1995 and 22 straight victories between 1996-2000.
4. Beaver Stadium – 106,572
Beaver Stadium is a bit younger than most of the American super-stadiums hosting college football rivalries. This particular facility was established in 1960 and at its maximum capacity it hosted 107,282. Recent changes to accommodate the Americans with Disabilities Act resulted in capacity reduced to 106,572.
The largest attended event at Beaver Stadium took place in 2002 when Penn State whipped Nebraska 40-7. Similar to other gigantic football stadiums, the atmosphere and noise generated by Penn State fans make it difficult for opponents to win. This is the first stadium to have its interior mapped in detail by Google Street View.
3. Michigan Stadium – 109,901
The largest stadium in the United States, Michigan Stadium finished construction in 1927, earning the nickname “The Big House”. The stadium was constructed to make it easy to expand capacity and quickly grew to include space for more than 100,000 people by 1955.
In addition to hosting the decades-long college football rivalries of the Michigan Wolverines, The Big House has welcomed former president Lyndon Johnson and has hosted international soccer, the NHL Winter Classic and Michigan Wolverine hockey.
American attendance records set here include the best-attended soccer match in the nation’s history, with 109,318 spectators watching Manchester United defeat Real Madrid, and the biggest crowd for a hockey game with 105,491 watching the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Day in 2014.
2. Salt Lake Stadium – 120,000
Located in Kolkata, India – not Utah – Salt Lake Stadium set its own attendance record of 131,000 in 1997 during a football match between Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal FC.
This stadium opened in 1984 with a football tournament honoring the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The newest tenant at this facility is Atlético de Kolkata, which is the first team established in a new Indian Super League, which kicked off its first game on October 12th, 2014. Salt Lake Stadium also hosts cultural events, national athletics and India’s national football team.
1. Rungnado May Day Stadium – 150,000
Located in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, Rungnado May Day Stadium was completed on May 1st, 1989. The official capacity of this stadium is listed at 150,000, although this facility has held up to 190,000 event attendees in the past.
In addition to hosting the North Korean men’s and women’s football teams, Rungnado hosts annual Arirang celebrations to honor Kim Il-Sung, the divine patriarch and original great leader of the country.
With more than 207,000 square meters of floor space, the performances that take place have been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as some of the largest shows on earth.
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