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The Olympic Stadium in Greece
Stadium in Messene with stone seating steps and unpaved grandstands
The Colosseum in Rome. Amphitheater as a model for modern stadiums
The Strahov Stadium in Prague, the largest stadium of modern times

A stadium (plural stadiums ), sometimes also referred to as an arena , is a venue for sporting competitions in the form of a playing field , surrounded by a structural structure that is usually open at the top, which enables the public to watch the action from standing or seated . Stadiums are often used for concerts and other major events.


Stadium ( old Gr . Στάδιον ) denoted in the original sense of the word an ancient Greek measure of length with a distance of 600 feet, which corresponded to a length between 165 and 196 m depending on the regional foot measure. In Greece, running over the course of a stadium was probably already a popular competition in the geometric period (from approx. 900 BC), for example in Olympia since 776 BC. Historically handed down. The designation of the length dimension has been carried over to the competition facility, i.e. to the running track and the spectator walls along it. The length of the running route and the length measure often do not exactly match. The stadium route in Athens is around 185 meters long, whereas the Attic stadium is around 178 meters long.

Stadiums have been found in many ancient Greek cities and sanctuaries, such as: B. in

While stadiums were erected in Greece and Asia Minor in Roman times, they hardly played a role in Italy, as the Greek sports fights had no cultic significance there and were long considered immoral. Nevertheless, Emperor Domitian built a stadium in Rome (today's Piazza Navona ).

The amphitheater , in which fighting games and animal hunting took place, were of far greater importance . The most famous example is the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome, now known as the Colosseum . The shape of the modern stadium developed from the Roman amphitheatres. The word meaning of the stadium is much broader today and describes sports arenas with visitor stands, usually with a running track around a grass field.

Riding stadium in Aachen during the 2006 World Equestrian Games

Playing fields

Possible types of "playing fields" are:


In general, a stadium consists of the earth stadium , civil engineering structure and (grandstand) roof. Some modern stadiums can be converted into a hall with a lockable roof if necessary. Well-known German examples are the Veltins-Arena , the Commerzbank-Arena and the Gerry Weber Stadium , as well as the Johan Cruyff Arena on an international level . Other stadiums are characterized by a special facade or shell ( Allianz Arena Munich).


The floor plan of a modern stadium is essentially shaped by the intended use, for example the shape of the playing field, and the resulting arrangement of its stands. Since these should give as many spectators as possible a good view of the sporting scene, certain floor plans for stadiums have proven themselves over time for the respective purpose:

Rosenaustadion Augsburg . Second largest German "post-war stadium" after Leipzig's central stadium

Oval floor plan

A stadium with this floor plan corresponds to the general idea of ​​a typical stadium. In the case of particularly spacious stadiums of this type (e.g. for motorsport events ), strictly speaking, the floor plan is not oval due to the two parallel straight lines, but only approximates this shape. In addition, the grandstands are usually not closed. Stadiums with an oval floor plan can be used for the following purposes:

"Busch Stadium" (baseball) in St. Louis

Circular floor plan

In addition to the circular floor plan, stadiums with circular floor plans are also included here. This mainly applies to baseball stadiums , which have an isosceles triangular playing field .

Tennis arena "Rod Laver" in Melbourne

Rectangular floor plan

This floor plan is created by the closed arrangement of four straight stands around the field. However, relatively few of these structures really have a rectangular floor plan, as the corners or even the entire stands are usually slightly rounded (e.g. Camp Nou ). This design, which is based on the classic oval stadium shape, should allow an equally good view of the field from all spectator seats. Another implementation is embodied in the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen , for example . Here, the grandstands are not parallel to the side and goal lines, but are slightly offset. Strictly speaking, the floor plan for this is therefore a hexagon . Stadiums with a rectangular floor plan are primarily used for the following sports:

This section only represents a simplified classification of the stadium types and their use and therefore does not necessarily apply to every stadium. An example of this are some of the so-called motor speedways, which clearly stand out from the “oval” standard look of the North American circuits and each have their own characteristics (e.g. Darlington Raceway and Daytona International Speedway ). The same applies to the Nuremberg Stadium in Nuremberg. Further examples are the “pure” football stadiums in South America, which, contrary to the norm prevailing in Europe, often have a circular floor plan. This affects the Maracanã and Morumbi stadiums (both in Brazil ) and the Estadio Centenario ( Uruguay ). A special case among stadiums are the conventional race tracks , which are used in Formula 1 or motorcycle racing , for example , due to their irregular shape .

Number of ranks

Depending on the design, stadiums have a different number of spectator stands, i.e. H. Superimposed levels of the spectator stands. In football stadiums, a distinction is usually made between:

In addition, there are stadiums with more than three tiers, for example the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City or the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid . In general, this type of classification is rather subjective in many cases, as the definition of a rank is not clearly established. To make matters worse, there are stadiums that have an uneven structure due to repeated renovations, which is sometimes also reflected in stands with an unequal number of ranks (e.g. Ibrox Stadium or Westfalenstadion ).

Modular stadium

A modular stadium is a sports facility that is built from modules. Compared to a temporary stadium, modular stadiums are built without any time limit, i.e. permanently. Concrete is not used in the actual building. The focus is on steel construction . The modular construction works with elements that can be expanded or reduced even after the actual completion. In this way, the constructions remain flexibly reusable and can be adapted to new requirements without great effort - for example when a football club is promoted to the next higher league.

In connection with the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, concepts for the construction of modular stadiums have already been drawn up and plans for modular extensions to existing sports facilities have been submitted.

Project list of modular stages:

Renaming of the stadium

Since the 1990s, many stadiums have lost their ancestral names, some of which have existed for decades, through being sold to a sponsor. In the case of new stadiums, it is now common practice to sell the name to a sponsor in order to use the proceeds to finance part of the construction costs ( see list in the football stadium article ).


The biggest stadium disaster of modern times is the mass panic in the Peru National Stadium in 1964 , in which around 350 people died and between 500 and 1000 were injured when the police tried to appease angry fans with tear gas during an Olympic qualifying match . In the 2001 mass panic at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana, 127 people were killed and 150 injured.

Comparable events include the Heysel disaster in 1985, when 39 people died and 454 were injured in a mass panic after fan riots during a football game. The Hillsborough disaster , which killed 96 people and injured 766 in an overcrowded stadium , gained greater prominence .

According to Section 7, Paragraph 4, No. 1 of the Model Assembly Ordinance, a width of 1.20 m per 600 people is mandatory for escape routes for stadiums in Germany. This gives the rescue service quick access to the injured.


The largest stadium with a pitch in today's usual dimensions is the May Day Stadium on the island of Nangna-do in Pyongyang , North Korea . It has a capacity of 150,000 spectators and is used for sporting events, parades and celebrations.

The absolutely largest stadium in the world is the Strahov Stadium in Prague . It holds around 220,000 spectators. The playing field is surrounded on all sides by grandstands and has an area of ​​62,876 m² (eight soccer fields, six of which are standard size and two smaller fields). It was mainly used for gymnastics events, Spartakiads, and other mass events.

The largest sports facility in the world is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with approx. 257,000 seats . Together with the standing room in the inner field, it has a total capacity of over 300,000 spectators.

From 1937 on, the German Stadium with 100-meter high stands and seats for 400,000 spectators was to be built on the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg . However, the construction work was stopped in the Second World War . The excavation pit that had been dug up to then filled up with groundwater within a short time and was partially filled with debris and rubble after the end of the war.

Worth mentioning

Stadionwurst : In all German and many international stadiums, the bratwurst is the most popular hot snack . It is known colloquially there as the stadium sausage .

In the Wimbledon tennis stadium , on the other hand, strawberries with cream are the most popular meal.

La Ola , the wave, is a mass stadiums performed by the audience.

Groundhopping is the term used to describe the endeavor of people to visit as many stadiums, arenas or halls as possible for a particular sport. These people are known as ground hoppers .

A speedster is the name given to people who want to attract attention in stadiums by frequently walking completely or partially unclothed across the field during an event. The best known speedster is the Briton Mark Roberts .

A passage from the playing field under the grandstand to the outside is called a mouth hole , the mining term for a tunnel entrance.

See also

Web links

Commons : Stadium  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Stadion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  2. Brita Arena SV Wehen Wiesbaden: Stadium building based on the modular principle. Modular stadium Brita Arena SV Wehen Wiesbaden Place of construction: Wiesbaden Area: 2,300 m². In: September 24, 2007, accessed March 23, 2010 .
  3. Alternative option ready in just three months - stadium world. In: January 6, 2010, accessed December 24, 2019 .
  4. Reto Hunziker: Green stadiums in Qatar are “complex, but feasible” - Sports News: Football - In: December 3, 2010, accessed December 24, 2019 .
  5. Qatar Stadiums for Fifa 2022 World Cup. In: Accessed December 24, 2019 .
  6. - press releases. In: June 13, 2011, archived from the original on March 18, 2011 ; accessed on December 24, 2019 .
  7. ↑ Places of assembly ordinance (ordinance of the Ministry of Economic Affairs on the construction and operation of places of assembly) § 7 Dimensioning of escape routes