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Expansion By The Numbers 7: Football Stadium Size

When it comes to the Southeastern Conference, football is king.  Oh, sure, when the league is looking at potential expansion partners basketball and Olympic sports matter on some (much smaller) level.  But football is where the money is.  And money — specifically the money from football-related network television packages — is driving expansion.

This Category:  Football Stadium Size

Why:  The easiest way to judge a school’s commitment to football is by judging how big and how nice its stadium is.  Since “nice” is a relative term, we’ll look at size only.

The easiest way to judge a fanbase’s passion for football — and it better be high if a school wants to be a cultural fit with the SEC — is to see how many seats a school has built for its backers.  Again, size matters.

Now, do we believe a school will rise or fall on an SEC wish list because of stadium size?  No.  League presidents won’t be passing around comparisons of seating charts the next time they get together for a chat.

However, league administrators have often spoken of finding a cultural fit for their league.  ”Cultural fit” is a rather amorphous topic.  It’s immeasurable.  Stadium size is one way for us to measure something that at least relates to the football-crazy nature of a school and its fans.  It allows us to measure the immeasurable.

Below are the stadium capacity numbers for each of the 35 schools we’ve been comparing in this series.  While I’m sure a few folks will claim that their school’s stadium can fit even more with standing-room-only tickets, we’re sticking with the following official numbers.

 

Rank School Football Stadium Capacity
1 Penn State 106,572
2 Texas 101,624
3 Texas A&M 82,600
4 Florida State 82,300
5 Oklahoma 82,112
6 Clemson 81,500
7 Notre Dame 80,795
8 Miami 74,916*
9 Missouri 71,004
10 Virginia Tech 66,233
11 S. Florida 65,647*
12 Pittsburgh 65,050*
13 N. Carolina 62,980
14 Virginia 61,500
15 W. Virginia 60,540
16 Texas Tech 60,454
17 Oklahoma State 60,218
18 NC State 57,583
19 Louisville 56,000
20t Georgia Tech 55,000
20t Iowa State 55,000
22 Maryland 54,000
23 Rutgers 52,454
24 Kansas State 52,200
25 Kansas 50,071
26t Baylor 50,000
26t E. Carolina 50,000
28 Syracuse 49,262
29 Boston College 44,500
30 TCU 44,008
31 Connecticut 40,000
32 Cincinnati 35,000
33 Navy 34,000
34 Duke 33,941
35 Wake Forest 31,500

 

* Schools marked with an asterisk play in an off-campus facility that is also home to a professional team.  That just doesn’t fit the SEC profile.

* Those schools with capacities over 80,000 — Penn State, Texas, A&M, FSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Clemson — they are SEC-caliber in terms of fan passion.

* Are you surprised t0 find that Missouri has a bigger football stadium than Virginia Tech?

* Schools with stadiums seating less than 50,000 had better have some serious basketball clout, because serious football schools have larger facilities.

For the sake of comparison, the numbers for current SEC stadiums are as follows:

 

Rank School Football Stadium Capacity
1 Tennessee 102,455
2 Alabama 101,821
3 Georgia 92,746
4 LSU 92,542
5 Florida 88,548
6 Auburn 87,541
7 S. Carolina 80,250
8 Arkansas 76,000
9 Kentucky 67,606
10 Ole Miss 60,580
11 Miss. State 55,082
12 Vanderbilt 39,790

 

* All told, the 12 SEC stadiums feature a combined seating capacity of 944,871.

* The average stadium size in the SEC is 78,739.  Take out Vanderbilt and the average jumps to 82,280.

* Kentucky may be thought of as a basketball school, but the Wildcats’ Commonwealth Stadium is bigger than the facilities at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

In Part 8 of our series on SEC expansion, we’ll look at athletic success.

 

UPDATE — Clemson’s 2011 media guide lists its official stadium capacity as 81,500 after a recent expansion project.  The chart above has been updated.

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