Have you ever been to a live college or professional football game? There’s nothing quite like watching an exciting game in the open air with 50,000 or more of your closest friends!

Stadiums are huge places, aren’t they? It’s kind of fun to realize you and tens of thousands of other people are all there to watch the same thing. But have you ever thought about all the thinking and planning that has to go into creating a place where so many people can all watch and enjoy the same thing?

It’s not as easy as it might sound. After all, a playing field isn’t all that big…at least not when you realize there are 50,000-100,000 people all wanting to watch it at the same time. How can you find a place for all those people to sit where they can all see and enjoy the game at the same time?

If everyone was sitting on the same level, you’d have real problems. All the tallest people would have to sit in the very back, so that shorter people could see all the action. Plus, your stadium would have to be humongous to find room for that many people. And there would be many people who would still have trouble seeing and enjoying the game.

Thousands of years ago, early architects solved this problem by creating what we know today as stadium or theater seating. Stadium seating features an arrangement in which each new row of seats is placed several inches higher than the row in front of it. This allows each row of people to see easily over those sitting in front of them.

This arrangement works well for sports and other performing arts that are best observed from above. It also allows more seats to fit into a smaller area, since they’re not all on the same level.

In addition to sports stadiums, you will find stadium seating in movie theaters, churches and lecture halls at colleges and universities. This type of seating is popular in any setting where you need to maximize the number of seats, so that everyone in attendance can easily focus on a central location.

Stadium seating is created by building a stepped surface on which to install the seats. The stepped surface then creates a natural set of steps in aisles to allow access to each row of seats. Of course, steps can be hard for handicapped people to navigate, so most stadium seating areas have special areas set aside at ground level for handicapped persons.

In case you’re WONDERing how many people can fit in the world’s largest stadiums, it’s a lot! Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, can seat 150,000 people! The stadium with the greatest capacity in the United States is Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which can hold almost 110,000 fans!

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    • Hey there TJ, you had a great guess! We’re so glad you are here today, Wonder Friend, and we hope you have a SUPER time celebrating your father! Have a great time with your family! :)

  1. To tell you the truth, the best seat in my house is the couch because you can move the seat up or the seat down. There is also another couch that when you pull the lever, it goes up and you can control the length of the couch. 😉 :)

    • It sounds like you have found an awesome spot on the couch, Carlos! How cool- we are fascinated by the fact that you can move the seat up and down! WOW! You’ve got some high-tech places to sit in your home. Thanks for sharing your comment and connection with us, Carlos! :)

  2. I think the best seat in the house is the first deck, and maybe five rows up. The fifth row because you can see the whole field, or stage, basically the playing or performing surface.

    • That’s awesome Alex! We think that sounds like a WONDERful location to enjoy the show or game! What a great place, you did an awesome job of describing the best seat in the house! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where is the best seat in the house?
  • What is stadium seating?
  • Why are stadium and theater seats designed the way they are?

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Try It Out

Have a seat! Find a few friends or family members to help you check out one or more of the following activities:

  • Where’s your favorite place to sit? Of course, your favorite place to sit probably depends upon where you are. If you’re at school, your favorite place to sit is probably different than it is at home or at the movies. Make a list of some of the places you regularly sit and then write a description of where your favorite place to sit is in each of those locations. If you want, you can even draw a diagram of the area and your favorite place to sit. Do you notice any things in common about the places you like to sit? For example, do you usually like to sit in the back?
  • Ask a parent or older adult about some of the best seats they’ve ever had. Most likely, they’ve been to their fair share of concerts, plays, concerts, and the like. Do they have a favorite story about the time they got to sit in the front row at a great concert? Or perhaps those seats they had right on the 50-yard line at the Super Bowl? Based upon their stories, make a wish list of the best seats you’d like to have for a variety of events. Have fun dreaming of great seats to great events!
  • Do you love to go to the movies at the theater? Who doesn’t, right? The popcorn, the snacks, the huge screen, the great sound systems…what’s not to love? Of course, if you’re a kid and adults are sitting in front of you, sometimes it can be difficult to see. If the theater you visit has stadium seating, though, there’s usually a great view to be had by everyone. Modern theaters have mastered the art of making watching movies a fantastic experience. Large speakers surround you with sound. Huge screens display digital movies in high definition that makes the action nearly leap off the screen toward you. Of course, that doesn’t mean that things couldn’t be made even better. You never know. You might have a future in theater design. What would you improve about your local movie theater experience? How would you make the seats better? Could they be more comfortable? What about the temperature in the theater? Is it too hot or too cold? What could be done about that? Put on your thinking caps and come up with some ways that you think movie theaters could be made even better. If your idea really strikes a chord with a friend or family member, share your idea with the movie theater manager on your next trip. Maybe your idea will come to life!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus lesson, children make believe that the year is 1955 and they just heard about Parks’ arrest. Children write newspaper editorials with their points of view on segregation.

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