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World Cups and… college hockey? Here are the 10 all-time highest attended events

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highest ever attendances at sporting events

Jam-packed sporting attendances are nuts.

Every corner of the globe sees stadiums packed with fervent fans manically cheering their favourite sides with tens of thousands of others just like them.

From 90,000 watching the AFL at the MCG, to 80,000 screaming Real Madrid fans back into the Bernabeu with only victory on their mind, there are plenty of sporting venues and events attracting plenty of eyeballs.

But, have you ever wondered which sporting event has had the highest attendance ever recorded?

This article will highlight the top 10 highest ever attendances for sporting events. Prepare to have your mind blown!

Top 10 highest ever attendances at sporting matches

Here are the 10 highest ever attendances from sporting events across the globe.

10. The Big Chill at the Big House

Sport: Ice Hockey

Crowd Attendance: 104,173

When: December 11, 2010

Michigan University and Michigan State took on each other in an ice hockey game known as ‘The Big Chill at the Big House‘. Contested in front of a record total attendance for any hockey game of just over 104,000 people, the affair provided supporters with plenty of entertainment as the Michigan University Wolverines ran out 5-0 winners over the Michigan State Spartans.

9. 2010 NBA All-Star Game

Sport: Basketball

Crowd Attendance: 108,713

When: February 14, 2010

Although the City of Arlington forked out more than 1.3 billion dollars to build a new stadium to host the Dallas Cowboys, it was decided the NBA All-Star Game should take place at AT&T Stadium.

The chance to see the best players in basketball was one the good people of Arlington seized with both hands, as a record number of tickets were sold for sports attendances in Texas. Crowds of just under 109,00 saw the Eastern Conference team win 141-139, with Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat being MVP.

NBA, Lebron, Dwayne Wade, 2010 All-Star, highest ever attendances
Dwayne Wade and Lebron James starred in front of 108,000 people at the 2010 NBA All-Star game

8. Australia v New Zealand

Sport: Rugby Union

Crowd Attendance: 109,874

When: 15th July 2000

The largest crowd ever to watch a rugby match was just under 110,000, which saw Australia narrowly lose to New Zealand 39-35 at Stadium Australia. The game was a real nail-biter, causing many in the capacity crowd to call it the ‘greatest game of rugby ever played’.

7. Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Sport: Baseball

Crowd Attendance: 115,300

When: March 29, 2008

When the Red Sox took on the Dodgers in front of a record crowd at the Los Angeles Colleseum, it wasn’t for a Major League Baseball or even a World Baseball classic event. It was for an exhibition match to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to LA.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox spoilt the party by defeating the Dodgers 7-1.

6. Celtic vs. Leeds United

Sport: Soccer

Crowd Attendance: 136,505

When: April 15, 1970

When Celtic drew Leeds in the European Cup Semi-Final of 1970, the encounter was initially slated to be held at Celtic Park. However, the demand for the contest was so huge that the second leg was switched to Hampden Park, allowing over 136,000 fans to pack into the stadium for what is now known as one of the highest ever attendances for any sporting affair.

The partisan, largely home crowd wasn’t disappointed as the Scottish giants built on their 1-0 first-leg match advantage to win 3-1 on aggregate against the team from England. Celtic eventually lost that year’s final 2-1 to Dutch outfit, Feyenoord.

5. Celtic v Aberdeen

Sport: Soccer

Crowd Attendance: 147,365

When: April 24, 1937

In one week in April 1937, two of the highest ever attendances for sporting events were recorded.

The second, and lesser, of the pair occurred when Celtic and Aberdeen clashed in that year’s Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park. The Hoops were the triumphant team, winning 2-1.

Such was the demand to witness this encounter, it’s reported around 30,000 fans were locked out of the jam-packed stadium.

4. Scotland v England

Sport: Soccer

Crowd Attendance: 149,547

When: April 17th, 1937

A week before Celtic and Aberdeen’s 1937 Scottish Cup final, Scotland downed England 3-1 in front of almost 150,000 fans during an international football match — also at Hampden Park, the same venue.

Interestingly, all leagues in England and Scotland had a full round of games played on the same day, which made the attendance figure even more impressive.

3. The Battle at Bristol

Sport: College Football

Crowd Attendance: 156,990

When: September 10th, 2016

Imagine being a university student going from a quiet week of working on a research paper to playing a college football match in front of a record more than 155,000 spectators. That is exactly what happened to some players from the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech during their regular season match-up in 2016.

Tennessee came from 14-0 down to defeat the Hokies 45-24 in front of more spectators than have ever watched an NFL or sports game in the USA.

2. Collision in Korea

Sport: Wrestling

Crowd Attendance: 190,000

When: April 29th, 1995

As sporting events go, this wrestling event in Pyongyang, North Korea was a massive entertainment success. A collaboration between the WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling), this fabulous pay-per-view event was headlined by a clash between two legends of the sport, Antonio Inoki and Ric Flair.

The total crowd of 190,000 was in awe in the arena, with reports suggesting they could have sold twice as many tickets.

1. 1950 FIFA World Cup Final

Sport: Soccer

Crowd Attendance: 199,854

When: 16 July, 1950

Sporting events don’t come any bigger than the Football World Cup, and this was proved at the 1950 tournament when an official record attendance of just under 200,000 turned out to see Uruguay play the hosts Brazil in the World Cup final at the Maracanã stadium.

Uruguay came from behind to win the final 2-1. While this estimated crowd is a record number that is unlikely to ever be broken, the actual spectator attendance who watched the match was probably higher, as the ground was standing room only.

Conclusion

As you can see, these sporting events all drew record attendance, making millions of dollars in ticket sales and creating massive interest among the supporters who wanted to witness them.

For all those teams that played in front of these big crowds, it must have been a hell of a thrill.

How was this event attendance record list made?

This list of the 10 highest ever attendances was derived from research and the figures quoted by various sources. It takes into account international and domestic matches and official or estimated crowd numbers that have been published elsewhere.

Picture of Jarryd Salem
Jarryd Salem
Professional traveller by day, extreme sports binger by night and coffee drinker all the time, Jarryd Salem looks after the operations here at OnlySports. When he's not climbing mountain peaks in some country ending in 'Stan' or snapping pics in the polar regions, he's diving deep into everything that makes the internet work, shopping for sports NFTs and planning his next big snowboarding adventure.

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