Why are college football stadiums bigger?

Anybody who has ever attended an NFL or college football game knows how big the crowds can get. But many wonder why college football stadiums are bigger. 

why are college football stadiums bigger

Top programs in college football have bigger stadiums because they have massive student enrollments, and they need enough seating to accommodate fans, alums, and students. Tickets are also cheaper for students, and the schools are located much closer to their fans, so more seats are needed.

There is no environment quite like a power conference college football game. These larger schools have big budgets and dedicated fan bases, and we intend to explain why the stadiums are so much bigger.  

Why Are College Football Stadiums Bigger?

Football is one of the most beloved sports in the United States and has been that way for decades. This results in college football games attracting thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of people to stadiums nationwide every Saturday.

But why are college football stadiums so much larger than other sports stadiums?

why are college football stadiums bigger

Stadium Age

The primary reason why some of these stadiums are so much bigger is because of when they were built. The older stadiums built in the 1930s are compact, with bleacher-style seating to fit more fans. 

There are no NFL stadiums with this design anymore. They update and rebuild stadiums more frequently because of high revenues, so all the biggest college stadiums are 70-100 years old. 

It’s difficult to build new stadiums this size and still have enough seats for every fan to get a clear, unobstructed view of the field. 

Fanbase Size

One possible reason is because of school pride and tradition. College football fans are some of the most dedicated and passionate followers, with an unwavering devotion to their team regardless of how good or bad things are going on the field.

Because there is such an emotional attachment to teams, a larger stadium amplifies this connection by bringing more fans together to share wins and losses.

Schools tend to have bigger fan bases because of current student enrollment and all alums who attend games and root for their teams. 

Proximity To Fanbase

An ever-growing ticket demand could be another driving force behind why college football stadiums are bigger. Because colleges are closer to their fanbase with students on campus and local alums, filling up larger stadiums with fans is easier than a pro sport.

Many schools with the biggest stadiums also have massive student body enrollments. The extra seating is included in the stadium design to get more students inside the building, increase crowd noise, and help create a better gameday environment. 

why are college football stadiums bigger

Stadium Design

Some top programs have expanded their seating capacities to provide a better fan experience. College football games can get quite rowdy as students from rival schools battle it out for bragging rights.

By expanding stadium seating space so that everyone has an enjoyable experience without feeling overcrowded or uncomfortable, universities create an atmosphere ideal for intense competition while still providing a safe environment.

This kind of improvement also boosts overall university pride as alums feel proud to be part of such a large-scale celebration whenever they attend games at their alma mater’s home gameday venue.

College Football Vs. NFL Stadium Capacity Comparison

This comparison will show the difference in stadium capacity between college football programs and NFL teams. 

College Football Stadium Capacity

Below is a detailed chart of the biggest names in college football. These schools lead the country in stadium capacity, with Michigan ranking first at 107,601. 

Stadium NameSchoolConferenceCapacity
Michigan StadiumMichiganBig Ten107,601
Beaver StadiumPenn StateBig Ten106,572
Ohio StadiumOhio StateBig Ten104,944
Kyle FieldTexas A&MSEC102,733
Neyland StadiumTennesseeSEC102,521
Bryant Denny StadiumAlabamaSEC101,821
Tiger StadiumLSUSEC100,500
Royal Memorial StadiumTexasBig 12100,119
Los Angeles ColiseumUSCPac 1293,607
Sanford StadiumGeorgiaSEC92,746
Memorial StadiumNebraskaBig Ten92,000
Rose BowlUCLAPac 1289,702
Ben Hill Griffin StadiumFloridaSEC88,548
Jordan Hare StadiumAuburnSEC87,451
Memorial StadiumOklahomaBig 1284,000
Doak Campbell StadiumFlorida StateACC82,300
Memorial StadiumClemsonACC81,500

NFL Stadium Capacity

There are only about 15-20 colleges with stadiums over 80,000 fans. But as the chart shows below, only three are in the NFL. Clearly, many of the most popular college football stadiums are bigger. 

Stadium NameTeamCapacity
MetLife StadiumNew York Giants/Jets82,500
Lambeau FieldGreen Bay Packers81,441
AT&T StadiumDallas Cowboys80,000
FedEx FieldWashington Commanders79,000
Arrowhead StadiumKansas City Chiefs76,416
Empower FieldDenver Broncos76,125
Bank of America StadiumCarolina Panthers74,867
SuperdomeNew Orleans Saints74,295
NRG StadiumHouston Texans71,795
Highmark StadiumBuffalo Bills71,608
M&T Bank StadiumBaltimore Ravens71,008
Mercedes Benz StadiumAtlanta Falcons71,000
SoFi StadiumLos Angeles Rams/Chargers70,000
Nissan StadiumTennessee Titans69,143
Lumen FieldSeattle Seahawks68,740
Levi’s StadiumSan Francisco 49ers68,500
Acrisure StadiumPittsburgh Steelers68,400
FirstEnergy StadiumCleveland Browns67,895
Lincoln Financial FieldPhiladelphia Eagles67,594
TIAA Bank FieldJacksonville Jaguars67,264
Lucas Oil StadiumIndianapolis Colts67,000
US Bank StadiumMinnesota Vikings66,200
Raymond James StadiumTampa Bay Buccaneers65,890
Gillette StadiumNew England Patriots65,878
Paycor StadiumCincinnati Bengals65,515
Hard Rock StadiumMiami Dolphins65,326
Allegiant StadiumLas Vegas Raiders65,000
Ford FieldDetroit Lions65,000
University of Phoenix StadiumArizona Cardinals63,400
Soldier FieldChicago Bears61,500
NFL football stadium

Key Takeaways

  • College football stadiums are bigger because they are older and the teams have bigger fan bases because of students on campus. Many of the fans are in close proximity to the school, so more seats are needed. 
  • The biggest college football stadium is Michigan Stadium, which has a capacity of 107,601. 
  • The biggest NFL stadium is MetLife, with a maximum capacity of 82,500 for NFL games. 

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