What Are the Biggest Crowds to Have Attended Sports Events in the USA?

It is common to see huge crowds enjoying the thrill of NBA, NFL, and NHL games. Americans love their sports, with about 60% of them calling themselves fans of one or more sports. What are the biggest sporting crowds to have gathered in this country?

123,000 – College Football Record

The all-time record attendance for college football was set in 1927. In November of this year, 123,000 spectators crammed in to see Notre Dame run out 7-6 victors over USC. The game took place in Soldier Field, Chicago.

A similar figure was reported the following year for the game at the same stadium in which Notre Dame beat Navy 7-0.  Some sources give the true attendance as 120,000, although the official capacity of the stadium was 117,000 at the time so we will probably never know the exact number.

Before long, one of the ends of the area was removed, reducing the capacity and ensuring that the record set in these couldn’t be matched.

103,985 – The Biggest Super Bowl Crowd

At the start of 1980, Super Bowl XIV was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. A massive crowd of 103,985 turned up to see if the Los Angeles Rams could beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the end, the Steelers won 31-19 and become the first team in history to claim 4 Super Bowl wins. The winning team’s quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, was the game’s MVP, as a strong performance in the 4th quarter sealed the victory.

The following year, a slightly smaller crowd of 103,219 watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by 31-25 in the Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington, Texas.

201,003 – The Biggest Single Day Attendance in Golf

Which golf event do you think has drawn this huge crowd on a single day? The answer is the 2016 Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, which attracted over 200,000 fans on the Saturday. The overall event brought in 618,365, which is also a tournament record.

All of the spectators who attended the last day saw Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama beat Rickie Fowler to the title during a dramatic playoff over 4 holes. The pair had tied on a total of 270, which was 14 under par, but the water proved to be Fowler’s downfall, as Matsuyama walked away with the top prize.

170,513 – The Horse Racing Record

Horse racing is another sport that has traditionally pulled in enormous crowds in the US. The biggest attendance of all came at the Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs in Louisville.

This popular event draws huge crowds, including celebrity spectators, every year. The record came in 2015, with an incredible 170,513 going along on the Saturday. This was over 5,000 higher than the previous record, which had been set in 2012.

It was the 141st Kentucky Derby and it was won by American Pharoah, who was driven home by jockey Victor Espinoza in a thrilling finish. What are the odds than the 2020 Kentucky Derby surpasses that?

400,000 – The Estimated Biggest Attendance at the Indy 500

It is almost certain that the Indianapolis 500 holds the record for the biggest sporting attendance in the country. Official crowd figures are never released, but it is estimated that up to 400,000 have crammed in here to watch the race.

The arena has 250,000 of permanent seating capacity and many more fans can be squeezed in for big events. You may recall the incredible photo from space of the 2016 event. This was the first time the race had been sold out and it is thought that the image shows over 350,000 spectators.

Some sources suggest the record figure as 400,000, but it isn’t clear in which year that number might have turned up to see the action.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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