||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2009)|
|The Old Lady, The Bearpit|
|Full name||Ninian Park|
|Former names||Sloper Park|
|Location||Sloper Road, Cardiff CF11 8SX|
|Opened||1 September 1910|
|Owner||Cardiff City F.C.|
|Main contractors||Cardiff Corporation|
|Record attendance||62,634 (Wales vs England, 17 October 1959)|
|Field dimensions||110 x 75 yards|
|Cardiff City F.C. (1910-2009)|
Ninian Park was a football stadium in Leckwith, Cardiff, Wales. Until 2009, it was the home ground of Cardiff City F.C, who compete in the Premier League. Cardiff City now play at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Ninian Park is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart (15 May 1883 – 2 October 1915), son of John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (12 September 1847–9 October 1900).
The ground featured large floodlights in each corner and a plasma-screen television showed highlights during the game. The television was bought by the club in 2002 from Bolton Wanderers, who had previously used the screen in their former ground Burnden Park before moving to the Reebok Stadium, and was located between the Popular Bank and the Grange End.
The last ever Cardiff City football match played at Ninian Park was a 3-0 defeat to Ipswich Town, who had Roy Keane as their new manager in his first match in charge, on 25 April 2009. The last ever senior player to score at Ninian Park was Jon Stead, then of Ipswich Town and the last player for Cardiff City to score at Ninian Park was Ross McCormack in a 3-1 victory over Burnley in the penultimate senior game at Ninian Park. The club relocated to their new all-seater stadium (capacity nearly 27,000) for the 2009-10 season, and the 99-year-old Ninian Park was demolished later in 2009 to make way for a housing development.
The last ever football match played at Ninian Park was a Welsh Schools Cup Semi-Final fixture between Radnor Road Primary school and Corneli Primary School, with Corneli Primary School edging the game after penalties in front of the Grange End. This left Corneli Primary School's manager, lifelong Cardiff fan Alex Clarke, as the last winning manager at Ninian Park.
The stadium featured four stands: the Spar Family Stand (formerly known as the Canton End), the John Smith's Grange End (formerly known as the Grange End prior to being sponsored by John Smith's Brewery), the Popular Bank (commonly known as the "Bob Bank") and the Grandstand.
The Grandstand was a two-tier, all-seater stand, with old-fashioned wooden seats in the upper tier, and modern plastic seating in the lower tier. This stand also had several supporting poles holding up the roof. This stand also housed the area in which the player dressing rooms and tunnel were incorporated, as well as housing the dugouts, the V.I.P. area and the press/media benches.
The Popular "Bob" Bank Seating & Terrace
The Popular Bank had a mixture of covered seating to the rear of the stand, and uncovered standing terrace to the front. The seating had many supportive poles keeping the roof up, and in keeping with the tradition of many football teams, many seats were coloured white and when viewed from above spelled the word Cardiff.
John Smiths Grange End
The John Smiths Grange End became the most vocal area of the ground (from the Bob bank up until the 90's) and was a fully covered terrace, previously uncovered for many years, before its renovation in 2001 after Sam Hammam took over as chairman. It also had several supporting poles, and one section housed the away fans. The away section had terracing to the back and seating at the front. In between the home and away fans was a gap separating opposing fans from home fans. There was also netting in the middle just in case anybody wanted to get to the other side or throw anything. This gap in between the opposing fans came in in 2005 where before there was just a metal fence separating home and away fans.
It was officially opened on 1 September 1928 before a league match against Burnley by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff and could hold 18,000 spectators. The area behind the goal where the stand was built was previously an earth embankment. In the 1946/1947 season a spectator fell through the roof of the Grange End during a game with Bristol City. This hole remained in the Grange End roof until its demolition.The original stand was demolished during the 1977/78 season as structural engineers deemed it to be unsafe and it was replaced by a small, uncovered concrete terrace.
Spar Family Stand
The Spar Family Stand was a fully covered, all-seated stand with several supporting poles along the width of the stand. The club ticket office was also located within this stand where an exterior entrance was provided. The rear of the stand was also home to a number of executive boxes and hospitality areas, although work began in the early 1980s they were not completed until 2001 due to financial difficulties.
The stadium and surrounding area was served by Ninian Park railway station (on the Cardiff City Line) on one side of Sloper Road and Grangetown railway station (on the Vale Line) on the other side. Trains operate frequently to Central and Queen Street stations.
Since it was built the ground has been used for numerous other events including:
- It has hosted numerous Wales international matches alongside Wrexham's The Racecourse Ground which was the venue for the Wales U21 team.
- As part of his Rastaman Vibration Tour Bob Marley staged a concert at the ground on 19 June 1976. This date had originally been scheduled for Stephen Stills but when he was unable to play Bob Marley filled the date. On the day the concert itself was mostly played through heavy rain.
- Pope John Paul II held a rally here during his visit to the United Kingdom in 1982.
- During the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games it hosted the show-jumping championships.
- Cardiff rugby club played at the ground twice between 1960-1961 due to their ground not having floodlights, and the Cardiff City Blue Dragons rugby league team used the ground as their home between 1981 and 1984.
- The Welsh national rugby league team, the Wales Dragons, used Ninian Park as one of its home venues. The ground hosted 6 internationals between 1981 and 1995. The Dragons held a 3-3 record at Ninian Park, winning its last game 28-6 over France in front of the largest International Rugby League crowd at the ground (10,250) on their way to a Semi-final berth in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup.
- Capacity: 22,000
- There was an advert on the roof of the Spar Family Stand for Redrow Homes, former shirt sponsor of the club (2003–2006). There was also an advert on the roof of the Bob Bank for Brace's Bread, a local bread-making firm. Prior to this an advert for Captain Morgan Rum on the Bob Bank roof dominated the ground for many years and it survived despite attempts to paint over it in the early 1980s.
- There was previously a mechanical scoreboard similar to that found in cricket or baseball.
- Record Attendance: 62,634; Wales-England, 17 October 1959
- The record attendance for a Cardiff City match is 57,893 v Arsenal, 22 April 1953.
- The 2005-2006 season's average attendance at the ground, over 23 home Cardiff City matches, was 11,720.
- Address: Sloper Road, Cardiff CF11 8SX
Demolition and the future of the site
The stadium was handed over to Redrow Homes by Cardiff City chairman Peter Ridsdale on 10 September 2009. Redrow will build 142 new homes on the site, but it will still be known as Ninian Park. It is proposed at the centre of the new housing development will be a planted square, in the area of Ninian Park’s centre spot. It is also possible that street names of Cardiff City legends are being considered, though this is yet to be decided. The first show home of the £24m development will be opened by late spring 2010. The housing will be a mixture of terraced, detached and semi-detached houses.
The new stadium for Cardiff City
Work started on the new Cardiff City Stadium to replace Ninian Park at the end of 2007 on the site of the Cardiff Athletics Stadium, it was officially opened on 22 July 2009. It holds 26,828 spectators, with foundations in place to increase the capacity to 60,000, if needs be. On 6 August 2008 a contract was signed for naming rights at the stadium after Cardiff City recruited a leading specialist, who provided Arsenal with the Emirates Stadium sponsor to find their stadium a sponsor. Although a fee hasn't been released it is reported to be in excess of £3million over a 100 year period. It is currently called the Cardiff City Stadium, although it is proposed that a sponsor's name will eventually go in front of this.
- Rugby League Project - Wales at Ninian Park
- "Bluebirds average attendances" cardiffcityfc.co.uk Retrieved on 10 September 2013
- "Ninian Park to live on in new streets". Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
Media related to Ninian Park at Wikimedia Commons
- The official website of the Ninian Park Fans
- The official website of Ninian Park housing on www.redrow.co.uk