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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
|Michigan Stadium||Michigan||Big Ten||107,601|
|Beaver Stadium||Penn State||Big Ten||106,572|
|Ohio Stadium||Ohio State||Big Ten||104,944|
|Kyle Field||Texas A&M||SEC||102,733|
|Bryant Denny Stadium||Alabama||SEC||101,821|
|Royal Memorial Stadium||Texas||Big 12||100,119|
|Los Angeles Coliseum||USC||Pac 12||93,607|
|Memorial Stadium||Nebraska||Big Ten||92,000|
|Rose Bowl||UCLA||Pac 12||89,702|
|Ben Hill Griffin Stadium||Florida||SEC||88,548|
|Jordan Hare Stadium||Auburn||SEC||87,451|
|Memorial Stadium||Oklahoma||Big 12||84,000|
|Doak Campbell Stadium||Florida State||ACC||82,300|
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.
|MetLife Stadium||New York Giants/Jets||82,500|
|Lambeau Field||Green Bay Packers||81,441|
|AT&T Stadium||Dallas Cowboys||80,000|
|FedEx Field||Washington Commanders||79,000|
|Arrowhead Stadium||Kansas City Chiefs||76,416|
|Empower Field||Denver Broncos||76,125|
|Bank of America Stadium||Carolina Panthers||74,867|
|Superdome||New Orleans Saints||74,295|
|NRG Stadium||Houston Texans||71,795|
|Highmark Stadium||Buffalo Bills||71,608|
|M&T Bank Stadium||Baltimore Ravens||71,008|
|Mercedes Benz Stadium||Atlanta Falcons||71,000|
|SoFi Stadium||Los Angeles Rams/Chargers||70,000|
|Nissan Stadium||Tennessee Titans||69,143|
|Lumen Field||Seattle Seahawks||68,740|
|Levi’s Stadium||San Francisco 49ers||68,500|
|Acrisure Stadium||Pittsburgh Steelers||68,400|
|FirstEnergy Stadium||Cleveland Browns||67,895|
|Lincoln Financial Field||Philadelphia Eagles||67,594|
|TIAA Bank Field||Jacksonville Jaguars||67,264|
|Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis Colts||67,000|
|US Bank Stadium||Minnesota Vikings||66,200|
|Raymond James Stadium||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||65,890|
|Gillette Stadium||New England Patriots||65,878|
|Paycor Stadium||Cincinnati Bengals||65,515|
|Hard Rock Stadium||Miami Dolphins||65,326|
|Allegiant Stadium||Las Vegas Raiders||65,000|
|Ford Field||Detroit Lions||65,000|
|University of Phoenix Stadium||Arizona Cardinals||63,400|
|Soldier Field||Chicago Bears||61,500|
- 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.