I posed a simple question on Twitter on Friday:
Planning some fun research this weekend… Any guesses on which Wyoming high school football stadium has the highest seating capacity?
— Wyoming-Football.com (@WyomingFootball) April 22, 2016
I asked the question because, honestly, I didn’t know the answer.
But I had a plan to find out, at least unofficially.
Now, after a few hours putting together some estimates, I have an answer — well, the best answer I can surmise up to now.
Unofficially, the Wyoming high school football stadiums with the highest capacity are Cheyenne South (about 4,096), Kelly Walsh (about 4,077), and Natrona (about 3,924). Cheyenne East also has a capacity of 4,000 in its stadium; East and South are expandable to capacities of 4,360.
Estimated capacities for most other stadiums in the state (that I could get capacity for) is less than 3,000, down to the smallest capacity stadium at Meeteetse (seating capacity 115).
How I calculated the capacities: Using satellite images from Google Maps, I looked at the seating for every stadium. I calculated the length (in yards) of each seating area at the stadium; I multiplied that number by 36 (number of inches in a yard) to get the total number of inches; I divided that number by 20 to figure out the number of available seats per row (average seat size in most major college and pro stadiums varies between 18-22 inches, so 20 seemed like a good compromise); I counted the number of rows in that seating area; finally, I multiplied the number of available seats per row by the number of rows to get the seating capacity for that seating area. Most stadiums have more than one seating area, so I repeated the process as many times as necessary for each stadium before adding all the capacities together.
Obviously, this method has its limitations. Two schools (Big Piney and Farson) couldn’t be included because the satellite imagery fell short for one reason or another. The images were also subject to time differences — for example, some teams use portable seating that’s only put out during the season. If those portable stands weren’t out when the satellite took the image flying over the town, then that added capacity wasn’t added to my total. The seating totals also don’t account for variations in aisles or for the presence or absence of portals.
For example, Meeteetse uses portable stands behind its visitor bench during the season. Those stands do not show up in Meeteetse’s Google Maps view of the stadium. Therefore, they weren’t counted — and Meeeteetse’s capacity of 115 people, the state’s “smallest,” is likely off by at least a couple dozen.
Other stadiums — such as Lyman and Shoshoni — had stands that washed out in the satellite imagery, and I had to use my best guess (based on depth of seating) as to the number of rows in a particular seating area.
Other stadiums — such as Burns and Cheyenne Central — have undergone renovations since the last time the satellites passed over town. The capacities shown here are for the stadiums prior to renovations (although Central’s updated capacity has since been provided).
And, of course, these capacities don’t account for standing room alongside the seating.
In short, these stadium capacities are my best guess with what I had available to me at the time: Google Maps satellite imagery on April 23, 2016. At best, they’re educated guesses. For smaller stadiums, seating capacities could be off by a few dozen; for larger stadiums, capacities could be off by as many as a couple hundred. Capacities could be even higher than this if people squeezed into 18 inches per seat instead of 20 inches.
It goes without saying, but, just in case you tl;dr: These capacities are unofficial. They’re a lot of fun, though…
Cheyenne South: 4,097 (capacity provided by school officials gave a capacity of 4,000; expandable to 4,360)
Kelly Walsh: 4,077
Cheyenne East: 4,000 (capacity provided by school officials, not by Google Maps estimate; expandable to 4,360)
Cheyenne Central: 1,458 (prior to addition of north stands; capacity provided by school officials after addition of north stands is 3,222, expandable to 3,582)
Rock Springs: 3,024
Green River: 2,952
Star Valley: 1,190
Mountain View: 792
Big Horn: 630
Burns: 594 (prior to renovation last year)
Big Piney’s capacity could not be calculated; satellite photos showed the current Puncher Stadium under construction.
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs: 918
Tongue River: 853
Rocky Mountain: 706
Wind River: 324
Wyoming Indian: 202
Class 1A six-man
Snake River: 288
Ten Sleep: 175
St. Stephens: 162
Rock River: 158
Farson’s capacity could not be calculated; temporary stands used on the field were not present in the satellite photo.
Other interesting stadium seating notes: The longest stands in the state belong at Cheney Alumni Field at Natrona, where the stadium seating stretches from goal line to goal line — 100 yards. Natrona’s stadium is the only one in the state with seating stretching from goal line to goal line. Laramie’s 90-yard seating stretch, from one 5-yard line to the other, was the second-longest. Green River’s unofficially stretches 82 yards, while Kelly Walsh, Rock Springs and Cody have stands that stretch from the 10 to the 10, or 80 yards. … The tallest stands are those in Rawlins, which unofficially stretch 26 rows high. Worland unofficially goes 22 rows high; Gillette, Lander and Rock Springs unofficially go 21 rows high; Buffalo, Douglas and Green River go 20 rows. … The smallest 11-man stadium is at Cokeville, which measured out to a seating capacity of 162.
Which stadium is your favorite? Your least favorite? Is it because of the seating? Leave your comment and let’s talk locales.
Updated 7:45 a.m. April 28 to add Cheyenne East information, as well as info for other Cheyenne school stadiums. Thanks to David Bartlett for the help!