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

Plus, how to tell if your copy is legitimate

Stadium Events is a sports fitness game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) where players compete in four Olympic events: the 100M dash, 110M hurdles, the long jump, and the triple jump. It's possibly the rarest NES title. But why is it rare, and how do you know if you have a legitimate 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 re-released in 1988 with a new title: World Class Track Meet. This makes the North American version with the original title rare. Only about 10 or 11 copies have reportedly been spotted since then.

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 Fitness pad (similar to the Dance, Dance, Revolution dance pad).

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

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

So far, only a handful of copies of Stadium Events have been spotted. Since most people 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 a common NES game. It was 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

The North American version of Stadium Events is the most sought after by collectors. The game cartridge sells for between $500 and $1,200. With an original box and manual, it can sell for over $13,000.

Bandai Stadium Events NES game
Namco Bandai

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 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 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 spotted.

There may be as many as 30 auctions on eBay that claim to be legitimate versions of the rare Stadium Events. Since only about 10 to 20 copies of the game have been seen, many of these may be foreign versions or scams.

Check the Seller's Rating

If purchasing from an auction site or a place that offers used games, check the seller's rating. If they have a zero rating from previous buyers or several negative ratings, be cautious. Many scammers create phony profiles and drop the profile after their scams put their ratings in the negatives. Then, they create a new profile to continue their scam.

Avoid Craigslist for All Collectibles Valued Over $200

Craigslist is famous for scams. Some sellers are honest people looking to avoid eBay fees and sell locally. However, it's unlikely that a $1,000 or more, mint, in-box copy of Stadium Events you find posted there is legitimate.

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 a police station. If the item is too large for this and you must go to the seller's home, bring a friend or two with you. 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, states, or countries where they don't live.

How to Identify a Legit Copy of Stadium Events

The non-rare versions of Stadium Events are official releases of the game. These versions have some value in the collectors market, averaging around $200 for a copy in good condition. But these aren't as valuable or as 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 sold 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 as the North American rarity, with rip-off prices upwards of $10,000.

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

  • Most of the text on the box and cartridge is written in English. On the less rare international versions, the line of text in the orange stripe below the title Stadium Events and above the words Nintendo Entertainment System should be written in English.
  • The line should always read as Licensed by Nintendo for play on. If this one line of text is written in any other language, 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 through 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." 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 these identifiers, ask the seller for additional images. Several sellers use images of the legitimate version they swiped from legitimate copies to deceive potential buyers. If the seller refuses to send additional images, you may have come across another scam.

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