How to Calculate Seating Capacity for Bleachers

Written by eric angevine
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How to Calculate Seating Capacity for Bleachers
Football yard-markers are a built-in measuring stick. (50 Yard Line on Football Field image by Chuck Alexander from

Determining seating capacity for sporting events is easy when an arena or stadium has seat-back chairs. The number of seats equals the capacity. But bleachers have no set parameters; a row may seat seven grown-ups or make room for six grown-ups and four children just as easily. Using calculations provided here, a reasonable amount of space is assumed for each spectator, giving a general idea of how many people of any size can attend an event that is filled to capacity.

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  1. 1

    Count the number of rows of bleachers from top to bottom. This is the first number in your calculation. In the formula (R)ows x (L)ength x (I)nches / (P)ersonal space, this number comes first. For our purposes, we have 20 rows:

    20 x L x I / P = Capacity

  2. 2

    Find the length of the section of seating. This is easy on a football field as the yard markers act as a ruler of sorts. Each yard is three feet. In a basketball arena, it may be necessary to physically measure the length of one section of bleacher to get the baseline. This number (expressed in feet) is L. For this exercise, L = 10 feet.

    20 x 10 x I / P = Capacity

  3. 3

    I is always the same. There are 12 inches in a foot, so I will always equal 12 (assuming you've broken down yards into feet to represent 'L' in a football situation). Now we have:

    20 x 10 x 12 / P = Capacity

  4. 4

    P is the somewhat tricky part. Some bleacher companies suggest allotting 18 inches of personal real estate to each spectator. Others prefer to give each person a full two feet: 24 inches. For the sake of comfort, we'll use the larger number.

    20 x 10 x 12 / 24 = Capacity

  5. 5

    Do the math, step by step:

    20 x 10 x 12 / 24 = Capacity

    20 x 10 = 200 feet of bleachers: (200 x 12) / 24 = Capacity

    200 x 12 = 2,400 inches of bleachers: 2,400 / 24 = Capacity

    2,400 / 24 = 100 spectators in your bleachers

    Capacity = 100

Tips and warnings

  • If you're estimating using yards, the calculation can be (R)ows x (Y)ards x (I)nches) / (P)ersonal real estate = Capacity. In this case (I) would be 36 instead of 12.
  • Venues often have odd corners or gaps for tunnels that keep sections from being uniform. Using the larger personal space allotment of 24 inches can help adjust your estimate to account for these variations.
  • If using this calculation before an event, to determine how many spectators to admit, it's probably safer to underestimate capacity than overestimate and leave customers without seats.

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