How big of a stadium crowd are consumers comfortable with?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
July 22, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

Just as sports venue closures in March 2020 marked the epoch of COVID-19 for many, venue openings around the world are signaling a return to pre-pandemic life. 

New global YouGov research shows a plurality of global consumers — about three in ten (29%) — say they’d be comfortable attending a sporting event that’s between 25% and 50% capacity. Only 8% of global consumers say they’re comfortable with a near or totally filled stadium. 

However, there are significant differences among the 17 markets in which YouGov conducted its study. 

For starters, Americans are significantly more likely to say they’re comfortable taking in a live sporting event in an at-capacity stadium (23%), perhaps a reflection of the relaxed COVID rules they’ve been enjoying over the last few months. In the US, all Major League Baseball teams have 100% capacity in their ballparks. It’s worth noting the Toronto Blue Jays have not been playing on home turf, but rather at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y. as a result of the border closure between the United States and Canda. Meanwhile, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup on home ice in front of a fully packed Amalie Arena. 

As England planned to shed much of its restrictions on July 19 – including any limits on sporting events – consumers in the United Kingdom are more in line with global opinion. Roughly a quarter (27%) of UK adults are fine with up to half-capacity and just 13% would be comfortable with full capacity. Most recently, the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium hosted some 65,000 fans for the semifinal and final matches of the UEAF European Football Championship in July. 

Urban residents of India, perhaps still reeling from a staggering wave of infections and deaths, are the most likely to feel stadiums should remain closed (14%), though a third say 25%-50% capacity is reasonable. Practically no urban Indian consumer is comfortable going to a full stadium (1%.) 

There are no dramatic fluctuations in public opinion between age groups. However, consumers aged 55 and over are more likely to be comfortable with full-capacity stadium. 

Stadiums aren’t only throttling capacity to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Apart from basic hygiene measures, Euro Championship venues such as the Puskás Aréna in Budapest and Olimpico in Rome required a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for ticketholders. Such measures are likely to remain common for the foreseeable future. 

Receive monthly topical insights about the sports industry, straight to your inbox. Sign up today. 

Discover more sports content  here 

Start building a survey now with YouGov Direct 

Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 509 and 2,012 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in June 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.