While most cities boast stadiums that can accommodate only a tiny proportion of the inhabitants residing in them, there are some unusual cases where football grounds exceed the population size of the very cities they reside in.
In this article, we will explore such stadiums. And if you know any other stadium that falls into that category feel free to share it in the comments below.
Stadiums that have a seating capacity that is larger than the population
Probably the most recognizable stadium is the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, France. The stadium has a capacity of 38,223 seats, which is about 7,000 more than the city’s population. It has hosted several international football competitions including matches during Euro 1984 and Euro 2016 as well as games during the World Cup in 1998. The stadium serves as the home to Lens and was named after two former presidents of the team, Félix Bollaert and André Delelis. Lens has a rich history in France football having been the champions in 1998. They also finished in the 2nd place 5 times and reached the Uefa Cup semifinal in 2000.
Next in terms of capacity is the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in the town of Sinsheim in Germany. The stadium has a capacity of 30,150 which is close to the town’s total population. The stadium is home to Hoffenheim of the German Bundesliga. It opened in 2007 following the team’s promotion to the top flight of the German football. A fifth-division side in 2000, the club rapidly advanced through the German football league system and in 2008 Hoffenheim was promoted to the top-tier Bundesliga, in which it has played since then. Their biggest achievement is the 3rd place in the 2017–18 season.
The Stade Louis Dugauguez in Sedan, France is another unique stadium whose capacity exceeds the population of the city of Sedan itself. The stadium, which opened in 2000, has a capacity of 23,189 while the population of the city is around 16,000. The stadium is home to Sedan Ardennes which now competes in the France 3rd division. Under the coach who has given his name in the stadium and was in charge of the club for 30 years, Sedan managed to win two French Cup finals in 1965 and 1971. The team has also spent more than 20 years in the French top division with the last being in 2007.
The 3rd French stadium on the list is the Stade de Roudourou in Guingamp which has an approximate capacity of 19,000. Guingamp has a population of only 7,000 people, making it one of the smallest towns in Europe to boast a top-tier professional football club. Guingamp has competed in French Ligue 1 13 times in its history. The club is also one of the two French teams to have won a cup title while playing in the 2nd division in 2009. They won their second cup title in 2014.
For the next stadium, we are heading to the mining town of El Salvador in Chile. Here we will find the El Cobre Stadium. With a capacity of approximately 12,000, the stadium is able to seat more than the entire population of the town which now is 7,000, although at its peak, El Salvador had a population of 34,000 inhabitants. Following the participation of Cobresal in the 1986 Copa Libertadores, the capacity was increased to 20,752. The capacity is now reduced to 12,000. The stadium was built in 1980, to serve as the home to Cobresal which was founded this year. The club has spent 30 Seasons in the Chilean Primera División having won the title in 2015. They also won the Copa Chile title in 1987.
Next, we are heading to Liechtenstein, the sixth smallest nation in the world, and its capital, Vaduz. The city has a population of around 6,000 people while its stadium, Rheinpark Stadion, has a total capacity of 7,584. The stadium, which opened in 1998, is home to Vaduz FC. Vaduz is the only club in Europe that represents its country in European competitions while playing in another’s country league, the Swiss 2nd division. This is due to Liechtenstein not organising its own league so Vaduz represents its own national association in the UEFA Conference League after winning the domestic cup.
The Victoria Park in the town of Dingwall in Highlands is the smallest stadium in the Scottish premiership with a capacity of 6,541 seats. However, the capacity still exceeds Dingwall’s population which stands at 5,491. The stadium opened in 1929 and since then it is the home stadium of Ross County F.C. The club gained its first promotion to the Scottish Premiership in 2012 and has only missed one season since then. They won the Scottish League Cup in 2016.
Finally, we have the Fosshaugane Campus which is the current home ground for Sogndal of the second tier of the Norwegian football league system. It opened in 2006 and has a total capacity of 5,622. While the municipality of Songdal has a population of around 12,000 the town where the stadium is located, the Sogndalsfjøra, has a population of 4,000 people. In spite of the small size of Sogndalsfjøra and the low population of the municipality, Sogndal has managed to spend several seasons in Norway’s top division. The team gained significant attention in Norway as in 1976 became the first 3rd tier team to participate in a Norwegian Cup final.