How Much Would It Cost To Build The Roman Colosseum Today?

Perhaps the closest thing the modern world has to the Roman Colosseum is the NFL arena, where padded gladiators risk bone breaks and brain damage while violently trying to toss, carry, or kick what looks like a giant chocolate-covered almond to the promised land, which comes with a promise of millions of dollars if you're really good at it. But even the closest thing to the Colosseum seems worlds away. Nowadays, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are just beefy people who sport fancy animal pictures, whereas centuries ago, men fought actual bears and lions as well as elephants and other lethal beasts in one of the most intense sports of the ancient world: the Venatio.

When the Colosseum — formally dubbed the Flavian Amphitheater — first opened in 80 AD, Emperor Titus baptized the arena in blood, holding a hundred-day extravaganza of animal fights and gladiator combat, according to History. The Roman historian Suetonius wrote that Titus put on "a most magnificent and costly gladiatorial show." Men fought in the naumachia, a "sham sea-fight" in which the the massive amphitheater was filled with water and men fought each other in a decidedly non-sham fashion. Per the University of Chicago, it was said that Titus put bulls and horses in the water as well. The closest thing you'll come to that in modern football is watching the Houston Texans take on the Denver Broncos in the rain. But there's one respect in which the NFL is way more extreme than ancient Rome's meat grinder: stadium costs.

How much bread will this circus cost?

In 2019, the World Atlas listed MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and New York Giants, as the most expensive stadium on the planet. Built in 2010, its cost a whopping $1.6 billion. But that giant price tag dwarfs the cost of building the Roman Colosseum today. Based on the cost-per-square-inch of Las Vegas's Caesar's Palace, Big Rentz estimates that Rome's Thunderdome would take $435.3 million to recreate. Obviously, the lions, bears, and bulls would cost extra.