Football attendances: Arsenal in Europe – part 1
By Walter Broeckx
After I gave you some numbers on how Arsenal manage to fill the Emirates game after game I got the question to see how we do compared to let us say the other big teams in Europe.
First of all I thought it would be interesting to make a list with the biggest football stadiums in Europe that are used by clubs. So I left out stadiums like Wembley as this isn’t a place that needs filling up week after week. I just added a number after the names so you can see in which place in the list the stadium is situated in case you get lost halfway through it.
And the biggest football stadium in Europe is (as you will probably know) Camp Nou (1) in Barcelona. With their current 99354 seats it is the biggest football ground we know in Europe for the moment. But it is getting older and sure could do with a face lift. However the Camp Nou is someway away from being the biggest football stadium in the world. That accolade, quite surprisingly, goes to the May Day Stadium in North Korea of all places.
The next stadium in the list is, and this might be a bit of a surprise but the Signal Iduna Park (2) from Borussia Dortmund. Some 81264, dressed in yellow and black, football crazy Dortmunders can fill the stadium over there. And people who have been there in the past know that it is a very hot atmosphere over there. One could say a real old fashioned football ground with high stands round the pitch.
It has a bigger capacity than the third the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (3) the famous home of Real Madrid. The capacity of the stadium in Madrid is 80354 places.
In 4th place we find San Siro the home of both Inter and AC Milan. They have a capacity of 80065 seats in this impressive stadium.
And in 5th place we find the Luzhniki Stadium in which Spartak Moscow is playing their home games. If they could fill the stadium to the last person there would be some 78360 human beings in this stadium.
So no English stadiums in this list so far. But Old Trafford is the first one on the list in 6th place. We all know by know that the biggest English football stadium has a capacity of 75957 seats. But this is some 25.000 seats less than Camp Nou.
But then we go back to the European continent and we go to Turkey. As in Istanbul you have the Ataturk Olympic stadium (7) which can hold 75145 people and where the home games of the fairly unknown Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediye Spor Kulübü plays it home games. Never heard of it? I hadn’t heard of them until today so you are not alone.
Back to more familiar names as we go to Germany where the biggest stadium is the Olympiastadion (8) in Berlin with a capacity of 74228 seats. The home of Hertha BSC Berlin.
And we stay in the Olympic stadiums as next on the list is the Stadio Olimpico (9) in Rome. And as the name indicates this stadium was also build for the Olympic games first and is now the home of the two clubs in Rome: SS Lazio and AS Roma. Imagine us sharing a ground with Tottenham. Now that would be a scary thought.
But sharing grounds by clubs with fierce rivalry is not that unusual in Europe. As we can see in the next stadium on the list and guess what the names is? Yes, the Athens Olympic stadium (10) with a capacity of 71030 people. And the home of the clubs AEK Athens FC and their rivals Panathinaikos FC.
But when it comes to sharing grounds we also have an example of this in Germany. The next football stadium with a capacity of 69901 seats is the Allianz Arena (11) and we all know that Bayern Munich plays their games over there but how many people will have known that the other big club in Munich plays their games over there? The name of this club is TSV 1860 München. Could be a nice trivial pursuit question I think.
The next stadium we have is situated in Portugal and we all know that we don’t like to go there with Arsenal as we always find it difficult to even win a game in this country. In the capital of Portugal we find the Esadio da Luz (12) with a capacity of 65647 people and the home of Benfica.
And then we have a stadium which I have visited and if you ever happen to be in the neighbourhood of Gelsenkirchen and have a bit of time, I really can advise you to try to visit this stadium. How often do you see a football ground without a pitch in it? Well this is the one. The capacity is 61482 so just a bit bigger than our Emirates but the secret weapon in this stadium is the pitch.
After a game the pitch is rolled out the stadium. Some very powerful engines pull the impressive piece of land together with the concrete construction in which the pitch is kept out of the ground. The reason is that the Veltins Arena (13) from FC Schalke 04, is based on the same plans as the Amsterdam Arena was. And as the Amsterdam Arena has had a lot of troubles with the pitch they came up with this drastic solution. In Amsteram the grass couldn’t grow as there was not enough sunlight and fresh air in the stadium and so Ajax had to change it pitch every 6 weeks and this was very costly. And so in Schalke they drive the pitch out so it can have much sun and fresh air when there is no game. And this also has as a result that the stadium can be used for other things like concerts even during the football season and without hurting the pitch.
It really is worth the visit and when you are there you can just step a few hundred meters watch the team train on the training ground next to the Veltins Arena and you can go in to the old stadium in which Schalke used to play before. An old fashioned German football ground with an athletic track surrounding the pitch. There you can see the difference between the old football culture in Germany where many teams had athletic tracks and the new one with pure football grounds.
And when we talk of pure football grounds we can go over the border to Scotland and we see that Celtic Park (14), home of Celtic Glasgow, is the next in our list. With a capacity of 60832 people it just beats Arsenal with some 500 seats.
And then we find our own home in the list. Our new stadium is the 15th biggest football stadium in Europe and I think it is the newest one around. And as it is our home sweet home it is one of the most beautiful stadiums around. The comfort is great by the way with very comfortable seats. It is the only ground so far where I have been sitting for 4 hours a few seasons ago when I came over for the Emirates cup where I don’t have any problems in my back after sitting for such along time. So a big thank you for who ever has chosen the seats.
We could go on and on and go further in the list but in the first article around football stadiums in Europe we will leave it for this. We have had the most important one now so who cares about the rest.
I will however give you a count per country and so we can see that in this list we have 4 German stadiums, 2 English, 2 Spanish, 2 Italian stadiums. And from the following countries we have one stadium: Turkey, Russia, Greece, Portugal and Scotland. The Germans sure do know how to build big stadiums. And most of them are very new and have a high level of comfort I have seen and have been told.
Next in our series we will try to give an answer to the question: who can fill their stadium? How much people come in average for home games in the home leagues and how does this match with the size of the stadium. As it can be great to have a big stadium but with all empty seats in it, it doesn’t make you money.
The list in total:
- Camp Nou, Barcelona
- Signal Iduna Park, Borrusia Dortmund
- Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid
- San Siro, Inter and AC Milan
- Luzhniki Stadium, Spartak Moscow
- Old Trafford, Manchester United
- Ataturk Olympic stadium, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediye Spor Kulübü
- Olympiastadion, Hertha BSC Berlin.
- Stadio Olimpico, As Roma and Lazio Roma
- Athens Olympic stadium, AEK Athens FC and Panathinaikos FC
- Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 München
- Esadio da Luz, Benfica
- Veltins Arena, FC Schalke 04
- Celtic Park , Celtic Glasgow
- Emirates, Arsenal
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