Ranking the Big Ten Stadiums for 2015

Athlon ranks and analyzes Big Ten stadiums and attendance numbers.

Last summer, Athlon Sports asked 12 Big Ten experts Gerry DiNardo, Eddie George, Tom Dienhart, David Jones and more to rank their favorite stadiums in the Big Ten.

 

Based on general atmosphere, fan support, home-field advantage, amenities, tailgating, surrounding campus and even scoreboards, here is how the voting shook out.

 

However, attendance is an increasing concern for all athletic directors and tweaks are made to college football stadiums every year. Using our expert rankings, here is a statistical breakdown and update of Big Ten stadiums and how they stack up against each other entering the 2015 season.


 

1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State

There is little doubt that the Horseshoe is the Big Ten’s best place to watch a game. The Buckeyes led the nation at 106,296 fans per game in 2014 and finished second in the Big Ten at 101.3 percent capacity. This while being the third-largest building in the conference behind Michigan and Penn State. Urban Meyer is 21-1 in three years at home with that one loss coming to Virginia Tech last fall.

 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1922 104,944 (3rd) 106,296 (1st) 101.3% (2nd)

108,362 ('14)


2. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska

This venue has been sold out since 1962. Seriously, 1962! The amazing streak allowed Nebraska to lead the Big Ten in capacity at 104.9 percent full every game. The Big Red finished 10th in the nation in attendance last fall with the fourth-biggest venue in the conference.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1923 87,000 (4th) 91,249 (10th) 104.9% (1st) 91,471 ('13)

 

3. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin

With the fifth-biggest building in the Big Ten, Wisconsin finished 18th nationally in attendance. Virtually every seat was filled a year ago with the fourth-largest average capacity at 99.0 percent. Only Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State could claim a more packed house than UW. 
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1917 80,321 (5th) 79,520 (18th) 99.0% (4th) 83,184 ('05)

 

 

4. Beaver Stadium, Penn State

Normally, 5,000 empty seats would be a big problem but not at Penn State. Despite those empty seats, Penn State still finished fifth in the nation in attendance at 101,623, which actually represented a five percent increase over 2013. So while the 95.4 percent average capacity (8th in the Big Ten) doesn't look great when comparing it to the rest of the conference, the numbers are trending in the right direction for one of the best buildings in the country.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1960 106,572 (2nd) 101,623 (5th) 95.4% (8th) 110,753 ('02)

 

5. Michigan Stadium, Michigan

Much like Penn State, the Wolverines had 5,000 empty seats at every game but still managed to draw over 100,000 fans per home date. The Maize and Blue finished third in the nation in attendance at nearly 105,000 per game. However, with Jim Harbaugh now in town, expect the six percent attendance drop from 2013-14 to be totally reversed this fall. Season tickets and suite sales are soaring for the Big Blue right now.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1927 109,901 (1st) 104,909 (3rd) 95.5% (7th) 115,109 ('13)



 

6. Kinnick Stadium, Iowa

How many stadiums seat more than 70,000 people and are just the seventh-biggest building in its own conference? But that is what Iowa is dealing with in the Big Ten. The 67,512 average attendance was 22nd in the nation and up one percent from 2013. Kirk Ferentz is 10-11 at home over the last three years and has lost at least three times in Kinnick in three straight seasons.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1929 70,585 (7th) 67,512 (22nd) 95.6% (6th) 70,585

 

7. Spartans Stadium, Michigan State

Michigan State finished in the top 20 nationally in attendance and was third in the Big Ten at 99.6 percent capacity. The Spartans also saw a three percent growth in sales from 2013l. Mark Dantonio and company are 13-1 at home over the last two seasons.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1925 75,005 (6th) 74,681 (20th) 99.6% (3rd) 80,401 ('90)

 

8. TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota

The newest building in the Big Ten also serves beer — making it a must-see stop. Until it expands, however, it will still be one of the smallest in the league (11th). Minnesota ranked 45th nationally in attendance last fall and ninth in the Big Ten in average capacity. Jerry Kill is starting to make it work for his team, however, going 11-3 at home over the last two seasons.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
2009 52,525 (11th) 47,865 (45th) 91.1% (9th) 50,805

 

 

9. Memorial Stadium, Illinois

The Illini's home stadium keeps getting nicer but continues to shrink in size. At one time holding nearly 80,000 fans, Memorial Stadium averaged just 41,549 last fall (55th) and is now the eighth-biggest venue in the Big Ten. The five percent dip in attendance last season ranked Illinois ahead of only Purdue in terms of average capacity (68.5 percent). Tim Beckman is 10-13 at home in three years at Illinois (but did post his best season at 5-2 last year).
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1923 60,670 (8th) 41,549 (55th) 68.5% (13th) 78,297 ('84)

 

10. Byrd Stadium, Maryland

Surprisingly, Maryland's Byrd Stadium is only bigger than Northwestern's Ryan Field when it comes to capacity in the Big Ten. However, the move to the Big Ten created a 14 percent jump in attendance from 2013, a number only bested by Texas A&M (21 percent) nationally. The Terps finished 48th in total attendance and renovations could be coming soon.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1950 51,108 (13th) 46,981 (48th) 90.7% (10th) 58,973 ('75)

 

 

11. Ryan Field, Northwestern

The smallest building in the Big Ten finished just 59th in the nation in attendance last fall. Unfortunately, the Wildcats also had one of the worst average capacities as well, filling up just 81.9 percent of their venue on average — better than only Purdue, Illinois and Indiana. Northwestern has won just two of its last 11 home games.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1926 47,130 (14th) 38,613 (59th) 81.9% (11th) 55,752 ('62)

 

12. High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers

Rutgers finished 43rd nationally in attendance last fall with the third-smallest building in the Big Ten. However, it was second in the Big Ten with a nine percent jump in attendance and was fifth in the Big Ten at 96.5 percent capacity.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1994 52,454 (12th) 50,632 (43rd) 96.5 (5th) 53,737 ('09)

 

 

13. Memorial Stadium, Indiana

It's tough to draw fans to Indiana football games, plain and simple. That said, nearly 42,000 fans on average saw the Hoosiers play in person last season. That number only ranks 54th nationally but is only a few thousand behind major winners like TCU (44,719) and Baylor (46,710). Maybe there is hope as Kevin Wilson continues to improve this team.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1960 52,929 (10th) 41,657 (54th) 78.7% (12th) 56,223 ('69)

 

14. Ross Ade Stadium, Purdue

There doesn't seem to be much hope at all in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have the ninth-biggest stadium in the Big Ten but finished last in attendance and just 62nd nationally. Only Duke, Wake Forest, Washington State, Kansas, Vanderbilt and Boston College drew worse crowds last fall among Power 5 teams and the 61.6 percent average capacity was the lowest in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC combined.
 

Opened Capacity (Rk) '14 Avg. (Rk) % (Rk) Record (Yr)
1924 57,236 (9th) 35,269 (62nd) 61.6% (14th) 71,629 ('80)

 

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