From Blood-Soaked Sand to Retractable Roofs: A History of Stadiums

In the next year National Geographic will partner with Fox Sports to cover the world’s most popular sporting event: the FIFA World Cup. The 2018 matches, to be held in Russia, will be played in stadiums remarkably similar to the monumental structures built in ancient Greece and Rome, when acts of physical prowess were as culturally powerful and as compelling to watch as they are today.

Stadium construction hiatus from approximately sixth through 19th centuries A.D.

NOTE: Stadiums are drawn to scale. Capacities vary depending on event, archaeological estimates, or information source.

Hologram Players and Transparent Fields: The Stadium of Tomorrow

We asked Populous, an architecture firm that designs stadiums around the world, to envision the stadium of the future. The firm came up with a venue that incorporates current technology pushed to the extreme—with some creative leaps—but that also serves the same purpose as those built almost 3,000 years ago: allowing people to experience astounding athletic feats together.

Explore the Stadium