The rapid growth of western sports in China in the early twentieth century gave rise to modern sports venues and facilities. During the past 100 years, an increasing number of large sports complexes were built around the country to facilitate the development of sport and serve the mission of modernisation. This article examines the origins and development of large sports venues in China in the context of history, politics and society. State-funded sports facilities laid the foundation for the development of sport in China. However, due to the high operating cost and the lack of commercialised sporting events, many sports venues suffered severe financial losses. On the one hand, the government should change its elite sport first' strategy and avoid the oversupply of large sports venues. On the other hand, we should bear in mind that large sports fixtures are important to the welfare of the society. Their social, cultural and economic values should not be measured by a model that is based solely on cost and profit. Considering China's growing consumer market and the further development of sport industry, it is evident that a strong spectator sports market will take shape and the long-term future of China's large sports venues is likely to be bright.