A stadium (plural stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for
(mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a
field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered
structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the
Pausanias noted that for about half a century the only event at the
ancient Greek Olympic festival was the race that comprised one length
of the stade at Olympia, where the word "stadium" originated.
In modern times, a stadium is officially a stadium when at least 50%
of the actual capacity is an actual building, like concrete stands or
seats. If the majority of the capacity is formed by grasshills, the
sports venue is not officially considered a stadium.
Most of the stadiums with a capacity of at least 10,000 are used for
association football, or soccer, the most popular sport in the world.
Other popular stadium sports include gridiron football, baseball, ice
hockey, basketball, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, Australian
football, Gaelic football, rugby sevens, field lacrosse, arena
football, box lacrosse, futsal, minifootball, bandy, athletics,
volleyball, handball, hurling, gymnastics, ski jumping, motorsports
(formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, motorcycle road racing, motorcycle
speedway, Monster Jam), wrestling, boxing, mixed martial arts, sumo,
netball, tennis, table tennis, badminton, cycling, ice skating, golf,
swimming, field hockey, Kabaddi, bullfighting, box lacrosse,
international rules football, equestrianism, polo, horse racing and
weightlifting. A large amount of large sports venues are also used for
Basketball is the most popular arena (or indoor stadium)
sport in the world. Large race circuits and large horse racing tracks
are not stadiums, but sports venues, because the entire playing
surface can't be seen from the stands. For the difference, compare
List of stadiums by capacity with List of sports venues by capacity.
2.1 Modern stadiums
3 The ancient stadium
3.1 Examples of ancient stadiums
4 The modern stadium
4.2 Design issues
4.3 Spectator areas and seating
4.3.1 Safety and security
4.4 Political and economic issues
4.4.1 Corporate naming
4.5 Music venues
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Stadium in Olympia
"Stadium" is the
Latin form of the Greek word "stadion"
(στάδιον), a measure of length equalling the length of 600
human feet. As feet are of variable length the exact length of a
stadion depends on the exact length adopted for 1 foot at a given
place and time. Although in modern terms 1 stadion = 600 ft
(180 m), in a given historical context it may actually signify a
length up to 15% larger or smaller.
The equivalent Roman measure, the stadium, had a similar
length – about 185 m (607 ft) – but instead of
being defined in feet was defined using the Roman standard passus to
be a distance of 125 passūs (double-paces).
The English use of stadium comes from the tiered infrastructure
surrounding a Roman track of such length.
Most dictionaries provide for both stadiums and stadia as valid
English plurals, although etymological purists sometimes apply stadia
only to measures of length in excess of 1 stadium.
The oldest known stadium is the one in Olympia, in the western
Peloponnese, Greece, where the
Olympic Games of antiquity were held
from 776 BC. Initially 'the Games' consisted of a single event, a
sprint along the length of the stadium. The stadion, a measure of
length, may be related to the "Stadium", but the track at the Stadium
at Olympia is longer than the conventional stadion. Greek and Roman
stadiums have been found in numerous ancient cities, perhaps the most
famous being the
Stadium of Domitian, in Rome.
The excavated and refurbished ancient
Panathenaic stadium hosted an
early version of the
Olympic Games in 1870, 1875, 1896 and 1906.
The excavation and refurbishment of the stadium was part of the legacy
of the Greek national benefactor Evangelos Zappas, and it was the
first ancient stadium to be used in modern times.
Bridge stadium in 1909.
The first stadiums to be built in the modern era were basic
facilities, designed for the single purpose of fitting as many
spectators in as possible. With tremendous growth in the popularity of
organised sport in the late Victorian era, especially football in the
United Kingdom and baseball in the United States, the first such
structures were built. One such early stadium was the Lansdowne
Road Stadium, the brainchild of Henry Dunlop, who organised the first
All Ireland Athletics Championships. Banned from locating sporting
events at Trinity College, Dunlop built the stadium in 1872. "I laid
down a cinder running path of a quarter-mile, laid down the present
Lansdowne Tennis Club ground with my own theodolite, started a
Lansdowne archery club, a Lansdowne cricket club, and last, but not
least, the Lansdowne Rugby Football Club – colours red, black and
yellow." Some 300 cartloads of soil from a trench beneath the railway
were used to raise the ground, allowing Dunlop to use his engineering
expertise to create a pitch envied around Ireland.
Other early stadiums from this period in the UK include the Stamford
Bridge stadium (opened in 1877 for the London Athletic Club) and
Anfield stadium (1884 as a venue for Everton F.C.).
In the U.S., many professional baseball teams built large stadiums
mainly out of wood, with the first such venue being the South End
Grounds in Boston, opened in 1871 for the team then known as the
Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves). However, many of these
parks caught fire, and even those that did not burn proved inadequate
for a growing game. All of the 19th-century wooden parks were
replaced, some after only a few years, and none survive today.
Goodison Park was the first purpose-built football stadium in the
world. Walton-based building firm Kelly brothers were instructed to
erect two uncovered stands that could each accommodate 4,000
spectators. A third covered stand accommodating 3,000 spectators was
also requested. Everton officials were impressed with the builder's
workmanship and agreed two further contracts: exterior hoardings were
constructed at a cost of £150 and 12 turnstiles were installed at a
cost of £7 each. The stadium was officially opened on 24 August
1892 by Lord Kinnaird and Frederick Wall of the Football Association.
No football was played; instead the 12,000 crowd watched a short
athletics event followed by music and a fireworks display. Upon its
completion the stadium was the first joint purpose-built football
stadium in the world.
White City Stadium
White City Stadium during the 1908 Summer Olympics.
Archibald Leitch brought his experience with the
construction of industrial buildings to bear on the design of
functional stadiums up and down the country. His work encompassed the
first 40 years of the 20th century. One of his most notable designs
Old Trafford in Manchester. The ground was originally designed
with a capacity of 100,000 spectators and featured seating in the
south stand under cover, while the remaining three stands were left as
terraces and uncovered. It was the first stadium to feature
continuous seating along the contours of the stadium.
These early venues, originally designed to host football matches, were
adopted for use by the Olympic Games, the first one being held in 1896
in Athens, Greece. The White City Stadium, built for the 1908 Summer
Olympics in London is often cited as the first modern seater stadium,
at least in the UK. Designed by the engineer J.J. Webster and
completed in 10 months by George Wimpey, on the site of the
Franco-British Exhibition, this stadium with a seating capacity of
68,000 was opened by King
Edward VII on 27 April 1908. Upon
completion, the stadium had a running track 24 ft wide
(7.3 m) and three laps to the mile (536 m); outside there was a
35-foot-wide (11 m), 660-yard (600 m) cycle track. The
infield included a swimming and diving pool. The London Highbury
Stadium, built in 1913, was the first stadium in the UK to feature a
two-tiered seating arrangement when it was redesigned in the Art Deco
style in 1936.
During these decades, parallel stadium developments were taking place
in the U.S. The Baker Bowl, a baseball park in
opened in its original form in 1887 but was completely rebuilt in
1895, broke new ground in stadium construction in two major ways. The
stadium's second incarnation featured the world's first cantilevered
second deck (tier) in a sports venue, and was also the first baseball
park to use steel and brick for the majority of its construction.
Another influential venue was Boston's Harvard Stadium, built in 1903
Harvard University for its
American football and track and field
teams. It was the world's first stadium to use concrete-and-steel
construction. In 1909, concrete-and-steel construction came to
baseball with the opening of venues in each of Pennsylvania's two
Shibe Park in
Philadelphia and, a few months later,
Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The latter was the world's first
three-tiered sporting venue. The opening of these parks marked the
start of the "jewel box" era of park construction. The largest stadium
crowd ever was 199,854 people watching the final match of the 1950
World Cup at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã on 16 July 1950.
The ancient stadium
Stadiums in ancient
Greece and Rome were built for different purposes,
and at first only the Greeks built structures called "stadium"; Romans
built structures called "Circus." Greek stadia were for foot races,
whereas the Roman circus was for horse races. Both, however, had
similar shapes and bowl-like areas around them for spectators. The
Greeks also developed the theatre, with its seating arrangements
foreshadowing those of modern stadiums. The Romans copied the theatre,
then expanded it to accommodate larger crowds and more elaborate
settings. The Romans also developed the double-sized round theatre
called amphitheatre, seating crowds in the tens of thousands for
gladiatorial combats and beast shows. The Greek stadium and theatre
and the Roman circus and amphitheatre are all ancestral to the modern
Examples of ancient stadiums
Stadium at Olympia
212.54 m (697.3 ft)
28.5 m (94 ft)
Stadium at Delphi
177 m (581 ft)
25.5 m (84 ft)
Stadium of Domitian
200 m (660 ft) – 250 m (820 ft) (estimated)
Stadium at Aphrodisias
225 m (738 ft) (approx.)
30 m (98 ft) (approx.)
The modern stadium
Wembley Stadium in London, England
Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany is an example of a stadium
with a retractable roof and a retractable pitch
Journalist Mario Filho Stadium, popularly known as Maracanã
Domed stadiums are distinguished from conventional stadiums by their
enclosing roofs. Many of these are not actually domes in the pure
architectural sense, some being better described as vaults, some
having truss-supported roofs and others having more exotic designs
such as a tensegrity structure. But, in the context of sports
stadiums, the term "dome" has become standard for all covered
stadiums, particularly because the first such enclosed stadium,
the Houston Astrodome, was built with an actual dome-shaped roof. Some
stadiums have partial roofs, and a few have even been designed to have
moveable fields as part of the infrastructure. The Mercedes-Benz
New Orleans is a true dome structure made of a lamellar
multi-ringed frame and has a diameter of 680 feet (210 m). It is the
largest fixed domed structure in the world.
Even though enclosed, dome stadiums are called stadiums because they
are large enough for, and designed for, what are generally considered
to be outdoor sports such as athletics, American football, association
football, rugby, and baseball. Those designed for what are usually
indoor sports like basketball, ice hockey and volleyball are generally
called arenas. Exceptions include the basketball arena at Duke
University, which is called Cameron Indoor Stadium; Red Bull Arena,
which is home of the
New York Red Bulls
New York Red Bulls of MLS; U
Arena near Paris,
home to the rugby union club Racing 92; and the now-demolished Chicago
Stadium, former home of the
Chicago Blackhawks of the
NHL and Chicago
Bulls of the NBA.
Multi-purpose stadium § Criticisms
Different sports require fields of different size and shape. Some
stadiums are designed primarily for a single sport while others can
accommodate different events, particularly ones with retractable
seating. Stadiums built specifically for association football are
quite common in Europe; however,
Gaelic games stadiums (such as the
incomplete Croke Park) would be most common in Ireland, while ones
built specifically for baseball or
American football are common in the
United States. The most common multiple use design combines a football
pitch with a running track, a combination which generally works fairly
well, although certain compromises must be made. The major drawback is
that the stands are necessarily set back a good distance from the
pitch, especially at the ends of the pitch. In the case of some
smaller stadiums, there are not stands at the ends. When there are
stands all the way around, the stadium takes on an oval shape. When
one end is open, the stadium has a horseshoe shape. All three
configurations (open, oval and horseshoe) are common, especially in
the case of American college football stadiums. Rectangular stadiums
are more common in Europe, especially for football where many stadiums
have four often distinct and very different stands on the four sides
of the stadium. These are often all of different sizes and designs and
have been erected at different periods in the stadium's history. The
vastly differing character of European football stadiums has led to
the growing hobby of ground hopping where spectators make a journey to
visit the stadium for itself rather than for the event held there. In
recent years the trend of building completely new oval stadiums in
Europe has led to traditionalists criticising the designs as bland and
lacking in the character of the old stadiums they replace.
In North America, where baseball and
American football are the two
most popular outdoor spectator sports, a number of football/baseball
multi-use stadiums were built, especially during the 1960s, and some
of them were successful.
However, since the requirements for baseball and football are
significantly different, the trend has been toward the construction of
single-purpose stadiums, beginning with Kansas City in 1972–1973 and
accelerating in the 1990s. In several cases, an American football
stadium has been constructed adjacent to a baseball park, to allow for
the sharing of mutual parking lots and other amenities. With the rise
of MLS, the construction of soccer-specific stadiums has also
increased since the late 1990s to better fit the needs of that sport.
In many cases, earlier baseball stadiums were constructed to fit into
a particular land area or city block. This resulted in asymmetrical
dimensions for many baseball fields. Yankee Stadium, for example, was
built on a triangular city block in The Bronx, New York City. This
resulted in a large left field dimension but a small right field
Before more modern football stadiums were built in the United States,
many baseball parks, including Fenway Park, the Polo Grounds, Wrigley
Field, Comiskey Park, Tiger Stadium, Griffith Stadium, Milwaukee
County Stadium, Shibe Park, Forbes Field, Yankee Stadium, and
Sportsman's Park were used by the
National Football League
National Football League or the
American Football League. (To a certain extent, this continues in
lower football leagues as well, with
TD Ameritrade Park
TD Ameritrade Park being used as
the home stadium of the United Football League's Omaha Nighthawks.)
Along with today's single use stadiums is the trend for retro style
ballparks closer to downtown areas.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards was
the first such ballpark for Major League
Baseball to be built, using
early-20th-century styling with 21st-century amenities.
There is a solar-powered stadium in Taiwan that produces as much
energy as it needs to function.
Stadium designers often study acoustics to increase noise caused by
fans' voices, aiming to create a lively atmosphere.
Until the advent of floodlights, most games played on large areas had
to rely on natural lighting.
Bramall Lane was reportedly the first floodlit stadium. Floodlighting
in association football dates as far back as 1878, when there were
floodlit experimental matches at Bramall Lane,
Sheffield during the
dark winter afternoons. With no national grid, lights were powered by
batteries and dynamoes, and were unreliable.
Since the development of electrical grids, lighting has been an
important element in stadium design, allowing games to be played after
sundown, and in covered, or partly covered stadiums that allow less
natural light, but provide more shelter for the public.
Spectator areas and seating
Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain is the largest stadium in Europe.
An "all-seater" stadium has seats for all spectators. Other stadiums
are designed so that all or some spectators stand to view the event.
The term "all-seater" is not common in the U.S., as very few American
stadiums have sizeable standing-only sections. Poor stadium design has
contributed to disasters, such as the
Hillsborough disaster and the
Stadium disaster. Since these, all Premier League, UEFA
European Championship and
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup qualifying matches require
all spectators to be seated (though not necessarily in an all-seater
stadium, if terraces are left empty).
The spectator areas of a stadium may be referred to as bleachers,
especially in the U.S., or as terraces, especially in the United
Kingdom, but also in some American baseball parks, as an alternative
to the term tier. Originally set out for standing room only, they are
now usually equipped with seating. Either way, the term originates
from the step-like rows which resemble agricultural terraces. Related,
but not precisely the same, is the use of the word terrace to describe
a sloping portion of the outfield in a baseball park, possibly, but
not necessarily for seating, but for practical or decorative purposes.
The most famous of these was at
Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Many stadiums make luxury suites or boxes available to patrons at high
prices. These suites can accommodate fewer than 10 spectators or
upwards of 30 depending on the venue. Luxury suites at events such as
Super Bowl can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Safety and security
Due to the number of people congregating in stadiums and the frequency
of events, many notable accidents have occurred in the past, causing
death, pain and horror. For example, the
Hillsborough disaster was a
human crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, England on
15 April 1989. The resulting 96 fatalities and 766 injuries makes this
the worst disaster in British sporting history.
See also: Category:
Much effort has been spent to avoid the recurrence of such events,
both in design and legislation. Especially where there is a perceived
risk of terrorism or violence attention remains high to prevent human
death and keep stadiums as places where families can enjoy a public
In Europe and South America, during the twentieth century, it was
common for violent bands of supporters to fight inside or close to
soccer stadiums. In the United Kingdom they are known as hooligans.
Structural features that increase safety include separate entry and
exit accesses for each spectator area, especially separating accesses
for home and visitor supporters, dividing walls, glass parapets,
vibration attenuation and sprinkler systems.
Security features that have been adopted include armed surveillance,
Identity document checks, video surveillance, metal detectors and
security searches to enforce rules that forbid spectators to carry
dangerous or potentially dangerous items.
Political and economic issues
Empire Field was a stadium made with temporary structures built in
2010 and demolished in 2011.
Modern stadiums, especially the largest among them, are megaprojects
that can only be afforded by the largest corporations, wealthiest
individuals, or government. Sports fans have a deep emotional
attachment to their teams. In North America, with its closed-league
"franchise" system, there are fewer teams than cities which would like
them. This creates tremendous bargaining power for the owners of
teams, whereby owners can threaten to relocate teams to other cities
unless governments subsidize the construction of new facilities.
In Europe and
Latin America, where there are multiple association
football clubs in any given city, and several leagues in each country,
no such monopoly power exists, and stadiums are built primarily with
private money. Outside professional sports, governments are also
involved through the intense competition for the right to host major
sporting events, primarily the
Summer Olympics and the
FIFA World Cup
(of association football), during which cities often pledge to build
new stadiums on order to satisfy the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) or FIFA.
Naming rights and List of sports venues with sole naming
Arena in Gdańsk,
Poland is an example of corporate naming.
In recent decades, to help take the burden of the massive expense of
building and maintaining a stadium, many American and European sports
teams have sold the rights to the name of the facility. This trend,
which began in the 1970s, but accelerated greatly in the 1990s, has
led to sponsors' names being affixed to both established stadiums and
new ones. In some cases, the corporate name replaces (with varying
degrees of success) the name by which the venue has been known for
many years. But many of the more recently built stadiums, like the
Arena in Wolfsburg, Germany, have never been known by a
non-corporate name. The sponsorship phenomenon has since spread
worldwide. There remain a few municipally owned stadiums, which are
often known by a name that is significant to their area (for example,
Minneapolis' Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome). In recent years, some
government-owned stadiums have also been subject to naming-rights
agreements, with some or all of the revenue often going to the team(s)
that play there.
One consequence of corporate naming has been an increase in stadium
name changes, when the namesake corporation changes its name, or if it
is the naming agreement simply expires. Phoenix's Chase Field, for
example, was previously known as Bank One Ballpark, but was renamed to
reflect the takeover of the latter corporation. San Francisco's
Candlestick Park was renamed as
3Com Park for several years,
but the name was dropped when the sponsorship agreement expired, and
it was another two years before the new name of Monster Cable
Products' Monster Park was applied. Local opposition to the corporate
naming of that particular stadium led San Francisco's city council to
permanently restore the
Candlestick Park name once the Monster
contract expired. More recently, in Ireland, there has been huge
opposition to the renaming of Dublin's historic
Lansdowne Road as the
Aviva Stadium. Lansdowne was redeveloped as the Aviva, opening in May
On the other hand, Los Angeles' Great Western Forum, one of the
earliest examples of corporate renaming, retained its name for many
years, even after the namesake bank no longer existed, the corporate
name being dropped only after the building later changed ownership.
This practice has typically been less common in countries outside the
United States. A notable exception is the Nippon Professional Baseball
league of Japan, in which many of the teams are themselves named after
their parent corporations. Also, many newer European football
stadiums, such as the Macron and Emirates Stadiums in England and
Signal Iduna Park and
Allianz Arena in Germany have been corporately
This new trend in corporate naming (or renaming) is distinguishable
from names of some older venues, such as Crosley Field, Wrigley Field,
and the first and second Busch Stadiums, in that the parks were named
by and for the club's owner, which also happened to be the name of the
company owned by those clubowners. (The current
Busch Stadium received
its name via a modern naming rights agreement.) Sky
Dome in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada was renamed
Rogers Centre in 2005, removing any
reference that it is a domed stadium.
During the 2006
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup in Germany, some stadiums were
temporarily renamed because
FIFA prohibits sponsorship of stadiums.
For example, the
Allianz Arena in Munich was called the
FIFA World Cup
Stadium, Munich during the tournament. Likewise, the same stadium will
be known as the "München Arena" during the European Competitions.
Similar rules affect the Imtech
Arena and Veltins-Arena. This rule
applies even if the stadium sponsor is an official
Johannesburg stadium then commercially known as "Coca-Cola Park",
bearing the name of one of FIFA's major sponsors, was known by its
historic name of
Ellis Park Stadium
Ellis Park Stadium during the 2010
FIFA World Cup.
Corporate names are also temporarily replaced during the Olympics.
A Queen concert in Drammen, Norway in April 1982, showing the scale
and lighting of an arena rock concert
Although concerts such as for classical music had been presented there
for decades, from the 1960s stadiums began to be used as live venues
for popular music, giving rise to the term "arena rock" or "stadium
rock", particularly for forms of hard rock and progressive rock. The
origins of stadium rock are sometimes dated to when
The Beatles played
Shea Stadium in New York in 1965. Also important was the use of large
stadiums for American tours by bands in the later 1960s, such as The
Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin. The tendency
developed in the mid-1970s as the increased power of amplification and
sound systems allowed the use of larger and larger venues. Smoke,
fireworks and sophisticated lighting shows became staples of arena
rock performances. Key acts from this era included Journey, REO
Speedwagon, Boston, Foreigner, Styx, Kiss, Peter Frampton and
Queen. In the 1980s arena rock became dominated by glam metal
bands, following the lead of Aerosmith and including Mötley
Crüe, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and Ratt. Since the 1980s, rock, pop
and folk stars, including the Grateful Dead, Madonna, Britney Spears,
Beyoncé, Lepa Brena, Taylor Swift, have undertaken large-scale
stadium based concert tours.
List of indoor arenas
List of sports attendance figures
Lists of stadiums
List of stadiums by capacity
Stad, Stead (as in Homestead), Stadt
^ Stadia is the
Latin plural form, but both are used in English.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stadiums.
Stadium DB – Database of Football Stadiums
Football Tripper – Independent
See also: Architecture