6 Most Attended Sporting Events of All Time
Over the past 25 years, sporting event attendance has surged thanks to gigantic cathedral-like stadiums and plenty of Standing Room Only sections. In the past decade alone, each of the four “major” sports in the United States (football, basketball, baseball and hockey) has hosted a competition which garnered over 100,000 paid attendees. This got us thinking: what are the most attended sporting events of all time? Some of the answers may surprise you.
#6. College Hockey: The Big Chill at the Big House (Michigan State vs. Michigan)
The Big House – Ann Arbor, MI – December 11, 2010
The number six event on our list was a college hockey game that took place back in 2010 between two bitter rivals: Michigan State and Michigan University. The two schools squared off in an outdoor game at the University of Michigan’s stadium (dubbed the “Big House”) where 104,173 fans braved a windy day to see the Wolverines clobber the Spartans by the score of 5-0. Given the popularity of the NHL’s outdoor Winter Classic, it’s particularly interesting that the most attended hockey game of all time was indeed a college game.
#5. Basketball: 2010 NBA All-Star Game
AT&T Stadium – Dallas, TX – February 14, 2010
After the City of Arlington shelled out 1.3 billion dollars to construct a new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys, the NBA All-Star game chose the stadium as the venue for their All-Star game in 2010. Since its inception, AT&T Stadium has hosted numerous football games, boxing matches, and even WrestleMania. However, the highest-attended sporting event in the stadium was the NBA All-Star Game. The game itself was decided by just two points, with the Eastern Conference winning by the score of 141-139. Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade was named the game’s MVP after scoring 28 points and finishing with 11 assists.
#4. Baseball: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, CA – March 29, 2008
Despite this writer being a lifetime Boston Red Sox fan himself, I somehow had no memory of the team’s exhibition game against the Dodgers back in 2008. The game was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which usually hosts USC Trojan football games. The Dodgers were celebrating their 50th anniversary of their move from Brooklyn to L.A. and decided to host the game at the Coliseum, where they had played for four seasons. Despite the awkward appearance of the baseball diamond in the middle of an oval-shaped stadium, over 115,000 people were in attendance. The Red Sox ended up besting the Dodgers by the score of 7-1 that day.
#3. Soccer: European Cup Semi-Final (Celtic vs. Leeds United)
Hampden Park – Glasgow, Scotland – April 15, 1970
Surprisingly enough, the most attended soccer match took place in the European Cup (now called the Champions League) semi-finals back in 1970. Visiting side Leeds United surely felt the pressure of the home town Celtic Supporters, seeing that 132,000 of the 136,505 were fans of the Glaswegian side. Long-time club servant Bobby Murdoch provided the game-winning goal that day as Celtic topped Leeds and advanced to the European Cup Final. Celtic would eventually lose to Feyenoord in the final.
#2. College Football: The Battle at Bristol (Virginia Tech @ Tennessee)
Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, TN – September 10, 2016
Our second remarkably well-attended event took place less than a year ago. College football rivals Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee squared off for a regular season game that was unlike any other before it. Taking place on the infield of the NASCAR track at Bristol Motor Speedway, the game was attended by over 150,000 people. The ceremonial coin toss was attended by former Volunteer Peyton Manning, and the game itself featured solid performances from recent NFL draftees Joshua Dobbs and Alvin Kamara. Tennessee rallied back from an early 14-0 deficit to beat the Hokies by the score of 45-24.
#1. Wrestling: Collision in Korea
May Day Stadium – Pyongyang, North Korea – April 29, 1995
Believe it or not, the event topping our list is actually a professional wrestling show. In late April of 1995, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) teamed up to produce a pay-per-view event held in North Korea. The show was headlined by a clash between two legends of the sport, Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki. Over the two days that the event took place, over 355,000 were in attendance at the May Day Stadium.
(Image courtesy Andrew Horne via Flickr.)