|The Britannia Stadium|
|Full name||The Britannia Stadium|
|Location||Stanley Matthews Way
|Opened||30 August 1997|
|Construction cost||£14.7 million|
|Field size||100 by 64 metres (109 by 70 yd)|
|Stoke City (1997–present)|
The Britannia Stadium is an all-seater football stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, England and the home of Premier League club Stoke City F.C.. It has space for 27,740 spectators (reduced from 28,384 due to segregation). The stadium was built in 1997 at a cost of £14.7 million as a replacement for the Victoria Ground. The name is taken from the sponsors of the stadium, the Britannia Co-operative Bank. Along with hosting football matches, the stadium has played host to performers such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and Elton John. The ground also holds conference and banqueting suites, the Delilah's Bar, and a club shop selling Stoke City merchandise.
The highest attendance recorded at the stadium was 28,218 for the sell-out fixture against Everton in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie in 2002. The first goal in the stadium was scored by Graham Kavanagh for Stoke in a league cup game against Rochdale. The club had played at the Victoria Ground until 1997. Former player Sir Stanley Matthews' ashes were buried beneath the centre circle of the pitch following his death in February 2000; he had officially opened the stadium on 30 August 1997.
The all-seater stadium cost nearly £15 million to build and brought the club up to standards with the Taylor Report of January 1990 to end 119 years at the Victoria Ground. Relocation had been considered by 1994 and by early 1996 the decision to build a new stadium had been confirmed.
By early 1997, the skeletal steel superstructure was in place and the stadium began to take shape. In August 1997 it opened its doors for the first time as the Britannia Stadium thanks to a £1million, 10-year sponsorship deal with the Britannia Building Society which was instrumental in the overall funding of the project. Another £3,000,000 was given as a grant by the Football Trust.
The Stadium's opening didn't go according to plan, as from the outset there was concern about actually getting there, as the plans covered only one access road from the nearby A50. That meant spectators arriving from the City or the motorway had to travel up the A50 for over a mile to a roundabout at Sideway and double-back the other way, which caused huge congestion problems. The official opening of the stadium was made by club legend Sir Stanley Matthews, then aged 82. After he died in February 2000, his ashes where buried beneath the stadium's centre circle and a statue showing different stages of his career was put up in his honour outside the ground. On 27 August 1997, Rochdale were the visitors for the historic first-ever competitive match a 1–1 draw in the League Cup watched by 15,439 - and four days later the first-ever league game took place against Swindon Town before a crowd of 23,859. The first season at the new ground was a bad one as Stoke were relegated from Division One and the supporters protested against chairman Peter Coates.
Four seasons of third tier football followed with Gunnar Gíslason taking control of the club in November 1999. In May 2006 he sold control of the club back to Peter Coates and soon after the Club obtained full ownership of the stadium in a deal worth £6 million following the previous joint-partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd.
Structure and facilities
|Boothen End sponsored by Staffordshire University||North||6,006|
|Seddon Stand + Family area||East||8,789|
|Marston's Pedigree Stand||South||4,996|
In total, the Britannia Stadium cost £14.7million and took around 10 months to construct on the former site of Stafford No.2 Colliery, which had been closed in 1969. Building work began in late autumn 1996 and was completed in August 1997. The all-seater stadium can hold 28,384 supporters in four cantilever stands. The main West stand consists of two tiers of seating which house 7,357 spectators, plus all of the Stadiums corporate and media facilities. The L-shaped Boothen and East stands hold 6,006 and 8,789 people respectively. The South Stand, which is used by both home and away supporters can hold 4,996 people but this unlikely to reach capacity due to spectator segregation. The stadium is not eligible to be a UEFA 4 star stadium but only because it seats less than 30,000. The clubs dressing rooms, offices, boardroom and club megastore are positioned between the West and South stands.
In 2006, work took place on the A50 to allow direct access to the stadium from the eastbound direction, involving the building of a bridge across the road. It is close to the Sideway junction with the A500. And at the start of the 2010-2011 season, the stadium was accessible via a new underpass under the Stanley Matthews Way. This was constructed to reduce traffic problems with exiting the area back onto the A50.
In the middle of 2009, surveyors were asked to investigate the feasibility of filling in one and possibly two of the stadium's open corners. Filling in a corner of the ground would cost approximately £3 million, increasing capacity by around 3,000 seats and taking the total capacity to over 30,000. In November 2009, chairman Peter Coates said that a decision on expansion would be made at the end of the season and was dependent on the club's Premier League survival.
In February 2010, the club were still considering whether to expand the 27,500 capacity by filling in the scoreboard corner between the South and East stands. Chief Executive Tony Scholes cautioned that expansion might jeopardise the atmosphere at the stadium, one of the factors credited with Stoke City's resurgence in the top tier of English football. "The big risk when anyone expands their stadium is that they could lose that 'sell-out' factor, which would have an impact on the atmosphere. I would loathe to give that up." At the end of the 2009–10 season, Peter Coates indicated that the club would wait at least another 12 months before deciding whether to spend up to £6 million on expanding the stadium, saying: "You don't do these things lightly It is on the drawing board and is something we will consider. But we want to feel confident we can justify it in terms of getting the increased capacity, filling it and it making economic sense."
On 13 November 2012 the club announced plans for an increase in capacity to the 30,000 mark. Speaking in June 2014 chief executive Tony Scholes stated that the club are in no rush to expand the stadium.
The stadium also has full Conference, Banqueting and Events facilities and has, as well as football, also staged firework displays and music concerts. The likes of Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Busted, and Elton John have all played out on the pitch at the ground in addition to the numerous summer music concerts.
The stadium hosted the 2002–03, 2003–04 and 2004–05 playoff finals for the Conference National and has also hosted an U21 international between England and Portugal on 16 April 2002. Portugal won the match 1–0. England U20s and 19s have also used the stadium.
The Stadium was originally owned jointly by Stoke City F.C., Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd. However, in December 2007 Stoke City F.C. announced that they had agreed a deal to buy the shares in the stadium from Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration for £6 million, giving them full ownership.
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