In 2017, America’s NFL drew in 67,405 spectators per game. MLB drew in approximately 30,000 visitors, while MLS drew in approximately 22,000 fans. That is just in America alone, and those numbers do not take into account college Football games, many of which bring in more than 100,000 visitors per game.
On any given day, 800 MILLION lightning bolts strike Earth’s surface. That equates to approximately three billion bolts each year. Lightning is attracted to stadiums and people, which means that, with more than 100,000 individuals sitting in outdoor stadiums on any given day throughout any given sports season, millions of people are at risk for death by lightning each year. Stadiums implement their own measures to prevent fatalities, but even those are often not enough.
Factors That Make Lightning Particularly Deadly in Sporting Arenas
Several factors make lightning a cause for concern for stadium managers. For one, stadiums have a significant amount of exposed, ungrounded metal, including the seats and railings. Two, stadiums have large amounts of people in one concentrated area at any given time. Three, most people are hesitant to leave sporting events when weather turns bad, even when they would have gone indoors in any other situation. Finally, the large crowds make it difficult for stadium coordinators to quickly evacuate an arena before the heart of a storm hits.
Stadiums Must Rely on Severe Weather Tracking Software
Though there is not much stadium managers can do about the first three factors, there is no excuse for delayed evacuations. Lightning data and tracking software can provide event managers with advanced warning of impending lightning storms. If lightning strikes within 15 miles, these systems can alert managers and allow them enough time to form a plan of action. If lightning strikes within 10 miles, an alert will notify managers that it is time to evacuate. When lightning strikes within eight miles, play is suspended and everyone ushered to safety.
Meteorologists are not only privy to the severe weather tracking software that stadium managers rely on, but also, they are the ones that know how to operate and read said technology. For this reason, every stadium should have a meteorologist on staff or, at the very least, on call. It could save lives.