Sizing Stadium’s Sizes

Talking about the massive size of sports stadiums in America is nothing new. It’s no secret America boasts attendance records and has the stadiums and infrastructure to host the World Cup on the drop of a hat, (which is was the base of the USSF’s 2022 bid, a bid made 12 years into the future).

But when there’s talk about how “small” some stadiums are here, such as when Nebraska visited Wyoming for a college football game this past weekend, it puts things into perspective a bit for us Fulham fans. From the AP:

The stadium has a listed capacity of just about 29,200, which the smallest stadium Nebraska has played in since 1971.

We all know Craven Cottage is a small stadium (25,700) but Wyoming’s “small” War Memorial Stadium (one of the tiniest in all of D-1 college football) still holds 3500 more seats than our lovely cottage. In fact, it’s larger than 9 other stadiums in the EPL and La Liga, 7 in Serie A, 12 in League Uhhhhh and 14 in the Championship.

Oddly enough, only one Bundesliga stadium is smaller. Hmph.

(Alright, sorry for the tangent. But what else is there to discuss after another draw?)

17 thoughts on “Sizing Stadium’s Sizes

  1. It is hard to compare – most of the stadiums in the US are one town, one team. There are so few NFL teams that the College teams are the defacto ‘team’ for the town/city. Most are in some god-awful spot in the middle of no-where and everyone drives to get there. Also ticket sales are the biggest revenue stream for colleges – where TV money drives everything in the Premier League.

    Aussie Rules teams in Melbourne had a similar dilemma as EPL teams – no space to expand on the suburban sized stadiums, Craven Cottage size (and back then the tv money was not what it is today.) So they went through ground rationalisation. The league ‘pushed’ teams into a few larger stadiums. We are now at the stage where Melbourne only has 2 AFL venues left (down from about 12) – the MCG, which holds 100,000 and the other one (corporate name changes every few years) which is the purpose built, closing roof 50,000 capacity (This was the staduim that thecompany that build Wembley did and got them the contract.) Liverpool is a classic case where ground rationalisation makes financial sense – build a 80,000 seat stadium that the 2 teams share.

    The big elephant in the room for stadium sizes in England is relegation. Craven Cottage would be bigger now if we did not have the scare a few years ago

    1. Yep, exactly.

      A strong case of be careful what you wish for, too. Darlington and Oxford, to name but two, have large stadiums that are almost entirely empty. I believe MLS took this into account when designing their new venues: better to be compact, full and atmospheric than have the giant capacities that some of the 70s bowls used to have.

      We’re about where we need to be, I suspect. We more or less fill the Cottage but I tihnk this is regularly topped up by school/promotional tickets.

      Final note: QPR are some way off us in their capacity!

      1. Having lived in Oxford and visited the Kassam Stadium on many occasions, I can confirm that it is an incredibly depressing place. Three stands and a 7ft fence surround the pitch, backing onto a windswept carpark in the middle of nowhere. Nearby features are a cinema, chain restaurants and a bowling alley. On a cold, wet day, with 2,000 people in the stands it is horrible.

        The worst thing is that I never worked out how to get there by public transport, only ever going by car. So how on earth do the majority of fans get there?

  2. The other thing I like about our ground is that it’s *somewhere*. Places like Middlesbrough, Reading and Wigan all moved their grounds outside the two to get the space they thought they needed. I believe the same occurs to an extent with baseball stadia.

    Fulham, like Tiger Stadium and a lot of the old New York/Philly grounds (google the Baker Bowl!), is jammed into its location by hook or by crook. You can’t expand it because there’s a river and loads of houses in the way. This feels right, somehow.

    1. It feels like we’re moving back toward the “jamming into a dense urban area” idea with the more recent stadium construction. Back in the 70s, everybody thought it was a good idea to build huge multi-sport facilities, and built them wherever they could find space. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but with different sports requiring different size and shaped playing surfaces, it wasn’t really a good fit for anything, and some of them were demolished after only 20 or 30 years of use.

  3. Upon re-reading my post, I forgot to add the crux of my argument. Oops.

    Mainly I just found it interesting that one big team hasn’t played in such a “small” stadium, even though it’s bigger than nearly half the EPL, in 40 years. Especially when you consider the facts that Wyoming is, and has always been, terrible; and it’s even the professional level of the sport.

  4. Timmy, that last is a bit confusing? What’s a professional level? Surely you don’t mean Wyoming. Some of the big Division I schools, are close to it in some ways, like my Beloved LSU Fightin’ Tigers and our home Tiger Stadium. TS dates back, to 1926, and to be sure, there are “ghosts” in the atmosphere, as well as record-setting din.

    I do think the multi-purpose stadia, part of “urban renewal” of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s here in the U.S. was a mistake in the name of “progress.” I like that some historical sensibilities are being recognized, now. But then you have Liverpool and the football club negotiating over Stanley Park….

    1. Wyoming, Nebraska, LSU et al are colleges. Even though they have huge fanbases and are de-facto professional programs, they still rank per se behind the NFL; the professional level of the sport.

    2. I think maybe he meant to say “not even the professional level of the sport”. As in, Wyoming is a historically terrible, non-professional team, and yet they still have a stadium bigger than the Cottage.

      1. Certainly. The NFL, of course, is exclusive, only 53 on the roster, so they are ALL elite athletes. But this gets us well away from the discussion. Wrigley Field in Chicago only seats about 38,000, and Fenway Park in Boston only about 35,000 or 36,000 (it used to be 33,000.) Which is a lot closer to the dynamic we’re discussing. School pride over college football is a different factor, of course, especially in states without professional sports.

  5. A few years ago when Arsenal were at Highbury (capacity 35,000+?) they played their Champions League home matches at the old Wembley. It seemed very sensible to me, but it didn’t work. Attendances were disappointing, the atmosphere flat and their performances weren’t much better (I think they failed to go beyond the first group stage).

    1. Was it because Highbury wasn’t up to UEFA’s muster? If so, this happens a lot to smaller clubs and those in Eastern Europe, which completely screws said clubs over.


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