The stadium could accommodate up to about 60,000 spectators (the record attendance being approximately 70,000, was recorded against Saint Etienne). The stadium subsequently underwent major changes and restructuring for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The maximum capacity of Sant'Elia was reduced to 39,905 spectators.
From the air
The Sant'Elia was also used for sporting events outside football such as the Terra Sarda athletics meet.
Before the 2002–03 season, also due to the reduced number of fans following the poor form of the team, long reduced to yo-yoing between Serie A and B, the stadium was restructured again. Over the athletics track, a new stand was built, behind the goals so as to reduce the distance between the terrace and the playing field, with the central terraces remaining intact. The new format of the stadium, which almost halved its maximum capacity to 23,486 seats, came under harsh criticism.
Cagliari Calcio president Massimo Cellino has plans to build a new stadium for the football team to play in, however the council and mayor Emilio Floris refused to give consent for the project to go ahead, despite the fact that Cellino was willing to finance the new stadium himself.
However plans were drawn up, and the draft revealed in September 2007, with Cellino and Cagliari Calcio meeting all expenses. The project provides a stadium with 25,000 seats. The plan declares that construction will commence in August 2009, and is expected to be completed a year later. But late in 2009, Cagliari Calcio proposed a revamped plan for the Karalis Arena, in order to be added to the list of the Euro 2016 candidature. The new stadium will be able to accommodate about 30,000 spectators and will have new Skybox, restaurants and café.
The stadium was one of the venues of the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Although it was denied by local and FIFA organisers, it was widely rumoured that the stadium had been chosen for all of England's group matches as a way to control their reputation at the time for hooliganism. The following matches were held at the ground: