Stadiums (some history)

   Millions of sports fans jam stadiums each year to watch their favorite teams compete. The idea of a big "bowl," with terraced steps on which people can sit, goes back nearly 3,000 years, to the ancient Greeks. When the first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C., the events took place in a magnificent stadium built for the occasion in the city of Olympia. Ancient stadiums still stand, such as the one at Pergamum, in Turkey.
The Greeks, and later the Romans, erected many of these arenas, which often were used for entertainments other than sports. Circuses were held there, and plays were performed on a stage at one end.
Today, stadiums continue to have various uses. Yankee Stadium in New York City, for example, is mainly a place to play baseball. Yet it has also held huge crowds who have wanted to attend a concert or to hear the pope during his visit to the United States.
   Ancient stadiums were smaller than those we know. One of the largest, the Colosseum in Rome, could hold perhaps 40,000 people. Modern sta­diums have room for many more peo­ple. The soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, can hold 200,000, and one in Prague, Czechoslovakia, has a capacity of 240,000.
In the United States, the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, has room for 100,000, and the Cowboys Stadium, the domed stadium in Arlington, Texas, can house 80,000. Putting a roof over a stadium is a modern innovation. It solves the one problem that makes scheduling events in the open air so difficult: bad weather.
   The appeal of sports thus goes back many years. So, too, does the need to create a place where a large number of people can watch an event at the same time. The stadium remains the best way of meeting that need.

Panathinaiko stadium (Athens)