Home field advantage: legendary crowds in sports
In coming weeks Olympic.ca will feature stories in a series exploring sports fans.
Not all sports fans are created equal. Some prefer to keep their allegiance quiet while many wear their support on their sleeve (myself included).
Ask any athlete and they will tell you that a raucous crowd can be one of the best home field advantages in sports.
Fans can change the atmosphere of a stadium significantly. Here are some historically notorious crowds from around the world:
Soccer – 1923 FA Cup Final in London
Officially announced attendance was 126,000, but it is estimated that 300,000 attended the 1923 FA Cup Final between Bolton & West Ham at London’s original Wembley Stadium. The crowd grew so big that thousands of fans had spilled on to the pitch. Mounted police came in to push supporters to the touchline before Bolton triumphed 2-0.
Ski Jumping – Norwegian fans at the Holmenkollen
The Norwegian version of National Hockey League’s frozen Winter Classic images come from ski jumping. At the Oslo 1952 Winter Olympics, the ski jumping event had over 130,000 spectators.
Ice Hockey – 2014 NHL Winter Classic
The 2014 NHL Winter Classic was played at Michigan Stadium in front of an NHL record 105,491 fans. Our community editor Asif Hossain can attest, the crowd was so big that washroom and concessions lines became a huge issue.
Volleyball – 2014 World Championships in Poland
Poland’s opening match versus Serbia at the 2014 Men’s World Championship had 62,000 spectators; the entire tournament had an International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) record 563,263 spectators, beating the previous 339,324. The Spodek Arena for the final (featuring the host Poles) was supposed to have capacity of 11,000 but there were actually 12,528 fans inside and another 15,000 outside watching on big screens.
Alpine Skiing – Kitzbühel downhill
Kitzbühel, possibly the most famous skiing venue in the world, hosted 42,000 spectators for the 2013 edition of the Hahnenkamm downhill on the Streif course.
Tennis – 2004 Davis Cup Final
The largest tennis crowd ever was 27,200 who watched Spain defeat USA in the 2004 Davis Cup Final at Olympic Stadium in Seville. The 2014 Davis Cup Final will be held at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France at which the expected capacity will be a minimum of 27,000.
Biathlon – German fans in Ruhpolding
Germans love biathlon. Ruhpolding is the most attended World Cup stop. At the 2012 World Championships there were a total of 240,000 spectators over the eight race days. The stadium itself holds 13,000 people while another 10,000 fans can watch from the track.
Speed skating – Dutch fans at the Thialf
The Dutch have been known to dominate the world of speed skating and their fans, clad in orange, usually dominate the stands as well. The Thialf in Heerenveen, Netherlands has a capacity of 12,500.