Sports are an important part of the culture of the United States. Four of the nation's five most popular team sports were developed in North America: American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, whereas soccer was developed in England. The four Major leagues in the United States are the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL); all enjoy massive media exposure and are considered the preeminent competitions in their respective sports in the world. Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are among the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. The top professional soccer league in the United States, Major League Soccer, has not yet reached the popularity levels of the top four sports leagues, although average attendance has been increasing and in fact has matched or surpassed those of the NBA and the NHL.
Professional teams in all major sports operate as franchises within a league. All major sports leagues use the same type of schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league-level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country.
Michigan Stadium, nicknamed "The Big House", is the football stadium for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan Stadium was built in 1927 at a cost of $950,000 and had an original capacity of 82,000. Prior to the stadium's construction, the Wolverines played football at Ferry Field. Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States with an official capacity of 109,901, but has hosted crowds in excess of 115,000. It is the third largest stadium in the world and the 31st largest sports venue including auto racing and horse racing. The one "extra seat" in Michigan Stadium is said to be reserved for former athletic director Fritz Crisler, although its location is not specified. Every home game since November 8, 1975 has drawn a crowd in excess of 100,000, an active streak of more than 200 contests. On September 7, 2013, 115,109 attended a game at Michigan Stadium between Michigan and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, making this the largest crowd to see a college football game since 1927 and setting an NCAA single-game attendance record, overtaking the 114,804 record set 2 years previously for the same match up.
Michigan Stadium was designed with footings to allow the stadium's capacity to be expanded beyond 100,000. According to the University of Michigan Library's and Athletics Department's history of the stadium, Fielding Yost envisioned a day where 150,000 seats would be needed. To keep construction costs low at the time, the decision was made to build a smaller stadium than Yost envisioned but to include the footings for future expansion.