The History of Stadium Events, One of the Rarest NES Games

Plus, how to tell if your copy is legit

Stadium Events is a sports fitness game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) where players compete in four different Olympic events: the 100M dash, 110M hurdles, the long jump, and the triple jump. It's also quite possibly the rarest NES title. But why is it so rare, and how do you know if you have a legit copy? We explain.

Why Is Stadium Events So Rare?

It isn’t the gameplay that makes the 1987 Stadium Events so sought after. It was actually re-released in 1988 with a new title: World Class Track Meet. This makes the North American version with the original title truly rare. Only about 10 or 11 copies have reportedly been spotted since.

The game was originally test marketed in the United States by publisher Bandai as part of their Family Fitness line of games, designed for use with their Family Fun and Fitness Pad (similar to the Dance, Dance, Revolution dance pad).

Rumor has it only 2,000 copies of the game were manufactured, and only 200 of those ever shipped to retail, selling exclusively at Woolworths in the northeastern United States. Nintendo bought up the North American rights to the Family Fun and Fitness pad shortly after copies of the game were sent to stores, repackaging and re-releasing it as the Nintendo Power Pad.

Once Nintendo owned the rights, all of the Family Fun games in North America were recalled, including those 200 copies of Stadium Events. Word around the collectors community is that only those few copies sold in the couple of days preceding the recall are actually out in circulation. The rest were all destroyed to make way for Nintendo’s repackaged version, World Class Track Meet.

So far only a handful of copies of Stadium Events have ever been spotted. Since most folks tossed the packaging back in the day, finding a copy with the original box and manual was unheard of until recently.

The repackaged version, World Class Track Meet, is actually a quite common NES game, having been sold by itself and packaged with the NES Power Pad bundle on the same cartridge as Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.

Foreign Versions of Stadium Events

Bandai Stadium Events NES game
Namco Bandai

The North American version of Stadium Events is the most sought after by collectors. The game cartridge alone sells anywhere from $500 to $1,2000, but with an original box and manual, it can sell for over $13,000.

But, the game wasn't limited to North America. The Family Fitness edition also shipped to West Germany and Sweden in 1988. The game was widely available and never recalled in these territories, as Bandai retained the international rights to the Family Fun and Fitness Pad. While these copies are harder to find and valued around $200, their rarity is nowhere near that of the North American version.

How to Know if Your Copy of Stadium Events Is Legit

Once you know how to identify a legitimate edition of Stadium Events, it's easy to know if the seller has an original copy or the more common foreign edition. Here's what you need to look out for:

If It's Easy to Find, It's Not Rare

Collectors have been hunting this title for over 20 years, with only a few actual copies ever spotted.

At the writing of this article, there are 30 different auctions on eBay, all claiming to be legitimate versions of the rare Stadium Events. Since only about 10 to 20 copies of the game have ever been seen, the majority of these look like they're foreign versions or all-out scams. Only one listing actually looks legitimate.

Check the Seller's Rating

If purchasing from an auction site or places that offer used games, first check the seller's rating. If they have a zero rating from previous buyers or several negatives, be cautious. Many scammers often create phony profiles and drop them after their scams put their ratings in the negatives. Then they quickly create a new profile to continue ripping folks off.

Avoid Craigslist for All Collectibles Valued Over $200

Craigslist is famous for scams. While some sellers are honest folk looking to avoid eBay fees and sell locally, it's unlikely that $1,000+ mint in box copy of Stadium Events you find posted there is legit.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when using Craigslist:

  • Avoid picking up a Craigslist item from the seller's home. Arrange a public place to meet, like a restaurant or bar. If the item is too large for this and you absolutely have to go to the seller's home, bring a friend or two with you. Just tell the seller they're there to help you move the item.
  • Don't purchase from out-of-towners who post on local sections of Craigslist, especially international sellers. Often scam artists post ads in towns they don't live in, and even other counties. You might as well kiss your money goodbye forever if you fall for this.

How to Identify a Legit Copy of Stadium Events

To say "legit" copy isn't truly accurate. The non-rare versions of Stadium Events are actually official releases of the game and they still do bring in some value in the collectors market, averaging around $200 for a copy in good condition. But they're nowhere near as valuable or rare as the North American copy of the game.

When an unknowing eBay seller posted a near-perfect copy of the game complete with box and manual (the only complete version found) in February 2010 and ended up selling it for $13,105, the story blew up in the press. All over the country everyone, including non-gamers, talked about it and searched attics and eBay for lost retro gaming gold. The result has been a flood of foreign versions of Stadium Events popping up, trying to pass themselves off as the North American rarity, with rip-off prices upwards of $10,000.

If you're truly serious about buying a legitimately rare version of the game, then learn the following identifiers.

  • While most of the text on the box and cartridge are written in English, on the less rare international versions, a line of text in the orange stripe just below the title Stadium Events and above the words "Nintendo Entertainment System" should be written in English only.
  • The line should always read as "Licensed by Nintendo for play on the..." If this one line of text is written in any other language, then it's not the rare North American version.
  • The circular "Nintendo Seal of Quality" is vastly different on the North American version than it is on European games. On NES games in North America the Nintendo Seal of Quality is circle-shaped, the color of the box shows though the hollow circle with the text printed over it, and the text reads, "This seal is your assurance that Nintendo has approved and guaranteed the quality of this product." Meanwhile, the European Seal of Quality is oval-shaped, is white with gold text, and reads, "Official Nintendo Seal of Quality."
  • The lower right corner of the box front should have the item number. International versions of the game have no printing on the lower right corner or the letter "B."

Even if the photo of the game that accompanies the online listing follows all of these identifiers, ask the seller for additional images. Several sellers are using images of the legit version they've swiped from legit copies to try and deceive potential buyers. If the seller refuses to send additional images then you've likely come across another scam.