Big Football: Largest College Stadiums by Capacity

Big Football: Largest College Stadiums by Capacity

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There is nothing that easily compares to a football stadium filled with cheering fans. The emotions, the unity of colors and the connection to more than 100 years of gridiron history is something that every fan should take in.

Professional football is a more recent phenomenon and the NFL has certainly impacted the way college football teams recruit, train and advance their players. The NFL does not have an official minor or development league — instead, nearly every player got his start in college before moving up.

The following are the top five venues for college football in the nation. Oh, by the way, college football has the largest stadiums in the country. MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home to the Giants and the Jets, wouldn’t even rank in the top ten of college stadiums by capacity if it served in that role primarily.

1. Michigan Stadium — Place nearly 110,000 screaming fans in one stadium and you’re talking about Michigan Stadium, home to the University of Michigan Wolverines. Known as “The Big House,” Michigan Stadium was built in 1927 and originally seated 72,000 fans. Several expansions and modifications over the years have pushed the officially seating capacity to 109,901. However, there have been greater crowds on hand, including a 2013 contest viewed by more than 115,000 people. The stadium cost less than $1 million when it was built and a recent $232 million renovation project made significant upgrades. Michigan Stadium is also used for other events including lacrosse, hockey and professional soccer.

2. Beaver Stadium — Home to Penn State University’s Nittany Lions, Beaver Stadium is situated in Happy Valley — University Park, Pennsylvania. Seating 106,572, Beaver Stadium was opened in 1960 with an original capacity of about 46,000 seats. Capacity was expanded multiple times through the years, reaching its present configuration in 2011. Credit the late Joe Paterno with building up the fan base, necessitating each upgrade. Like other stadiums, room for additional fans can be made. Standing room only crowds have topped 110,000 at least six times.

3. Kyle Field — The Texas A&M Aggies, not the Texas Longhorns, have the largest college football stadium in the Lone Star State. Located in College Station, Texas, Kyle Field was built in 1927 with seating for just 32,890 fans. It wasn’t until 1949 that the stadium underwent its first expansion, reaching 40,000 seats. More than one dozen expansions later the stadium surpassed the 100,000 mark in 2014 and now seats 106,512 fans. As of this writing, it has yet to be filled to capacity.

4. Ohio Stadium — Ohio State University is one of the largest public universities in the United States. It is befitting that a stadium be named for the state where the Buckeyes play. Located in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio Stadium opened in 1922, seating 66,210 fans. Ohio Stadium has undergone more renovations than nearly any other stadium, breaking the 100,000 mark in 2001. Its current capacity for 104,944 fans was reached just this year, but 108,362 were on hand on Sept. 27 in a game against Cincinnati.

5. Neyland Stadium — Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, Neyland Stadium is home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers. When it opened in 1921, the stadium seated just 32,000 fans. Several expansions were made during the Great Depression, but it wasn’t until 1996 that seating capacity topped 100,000 seats. The stadium currently seats 102,455 people — about 2,000 less than its peak capacity. Major renovations completed in recent years upgraded the facade, created new entry plazas and renovated the sky boxes. Record attendance of 109,061 fans was reach in 2004 in a game against Florida.

Fan Base

There are three other stadiums with capacities exceeding 100,000 seats. Tiger Stadium, home to the Louisiana State University Tigers in Baton Rouge, Bryant-Denny Stadium, home to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and Darrell K Royal — Texas Memorial Stadium, home to the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin, have each surpassed that mark.

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