Seating capacity is the number of
Safety is a primary concern in determining the seating capacity of a venue: "Seating capacity, seating layouts and densities are largely dictated by legal requirements for the safe evacuation of the occupants in the event of fire". The International Building Code specifies, "In places of assembly, the seats shall be securely fastened to the floor" but provides exceptions if the total number of seats is fewer than 100, if there is a substantial amount of space available between seats or if the seats are at tables. It also delineates the number of available exits for interior balconies and galleries based on the seating capacity, and sets forth the number of required
The International Fire Code, portions of which have been adopted by many jurisdictions, is directed more towards the use of a facility than the construction. It specifies, "For areas having fixed seating without dividing arms, the occupant load shall not be less than the number of seats based on one person for each 18 inches (457 mm) of seating length". It also requires that every public venue submit a detailed site plan to the local fire code official, including "details of the means of egress, seating capacity, [and] arrangement of the seating...."
Once safety considerations have been satisfied, determinations of seating capacity turn on the total size of the venue, and its purpose. For sports venues, the "decision on maximum seating capacity is determined by several factors. Chief among these are the primary sports program and the size of the market area". In motion picture venues, the "limit of seating capacity is determined by the maximal viewing distance for a given size of screen", with image quality for closer viewers declining as the screen is expanded to accommodate more distant viewers.
Seating capacity of venues also plays a role in what media they are able to provide and how they are able to provide it. In contracting to permit performers to use a theatre or other performing space, the "seating capacity of the performance facility must be disclosed". Seating capacity may influence the kind of contract to be used and the royalties to be given. The seating capacity must also be disclosed to the copyright owner in seeking a license for the copyrighted work to be performed in that venue.
Venues that may be leased for private functions such as