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!