Odsal Stadium

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Odsal Stadium
Wembley of the North
Odsal Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 60082.jpg
Full name Provident Stadium
Former names Odsal Stadium (1933–2006, 2010–2012),
Grattan plc Stadium-Odsal (2006–10)
Location Provident Stadium, Odsal, Bradford, BD6 1BS
Coordinates 53°45′54″N 1°45′25″W / 53.76500°N 1.75694°W / 53.76500; -1.75694Coordinates: 53°45′54″N 1°45′25″W / 53.76500°N 1.75694°W / 53.76500; -1.75694
Broke ground 1933
Opened 1934
Renovated 1964, 1985, 2001–02.
Owner Rugby Football League
Operator Bradford Bulls
Surface Grass
Capacity 27,491[1]
Field dimensions 67.79m x 111.74m
Tenants
Bradford Northern/Bulls (1934–2001, 2003–present),
Bradford City A.F.C (1985–86),
Bradford Dukes (1945-1960, 1986-1997)

Odsal Stadium, also known as Provident Stadium through sponsorship rights, is a large outdoor sports stadium situated in Odsal near Wibsey, Bradford, West Yorkshire, sometimes referred to as the Wembley of the North.[2] It has been home to the Rugby League side Bradford Bulls (formerly Bradford Northern) since its opening in 1934, and was previously a permanent home to the city's now defunct speedway team Bradford Dukes (and their predecessors) and a temporary home to the city's professional football team, Bradford City, following the Valley Parade fire. Odsal has also been a venue for baseball, basketball, kabbadi, show jumping, tennis, live music and international Rugby League.

The stadium holds the all-time British (and former world) attendance record for a Rugby League match of 102,569,[3] set in 1954 at the Warrington-Halifax Challenge Cup final replay and the record for a domestic, non-final British Rugby League match of 69,429 for the third round Challenge Cup tie between Bradford Northern and Huddersfield on 14 March 1953. While the capacity has reduced significantly in intervening years, it remains the largest stadium in the European Super League.[citation needed] The stadium is currently owned by the Rugby Football League who purchased it in 2012 and rent it to Bradford Bulls.

Present use[edit]

The stadium is used primarily as the home of Bradford Bulls Rugby League team. The current official capacity of the stadium is 26,019,[4] with the highest recorded attendance of the Super League era being 24,020 against neighbouring rivals Leeds Rhinos on 3 September 1999.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Formed in 1907, the Bradford Northern club had played at a number of venues including the Greenfield Athletic Ground in Dudley Hill and Bowling Old Lane Cricket Club's ground in Birch Lane.[5] By the early 1920s, however, Birch Lane's limitations were clear and Northern began to seek another home. Precarious finances prevented the club being able to take up an offer to develop land off Rooley Lane or to upgrade and move back to Greenfield, but in 1933, Bradford City Council gave them the opportunity to transform land at Odsal Top into their home ground. On 20 June 1933 the club therefore signed a ten-year deal on the site, which was to become the biggest stadium in England outside Wembley.[6]

The site was a former quarry which was then being used as a tip. Ernest Call M.B.E., the Director of Cleansing for Bradford City Council devised a system of controlled tipping that saw 140,000 cart loads of household waste deposited to form the characteristic banking at Odsal. The club were to be responsible for boundary fencing, dressing rooms and seated accommodation.

To be able to turf the pitch, and other areas, a turf fund was put into place. The fund raised a total of £900 to cover the work. A stand was erected at the cost of £2,000, which was paid by the Rugby Football League. It held 1,500 on a mixture of benches and tip-up seats.

The ground was officially opened by Sir Joseph Taylor, President of Huddersfield on 1 September 1934. His club went on to beat the hosts 31-16, Australian winger Ray Markham scoring four tries in front of an estimated 20,000. [7]

The clubhouse and dressing rooms were officially opened before a match against Hull on 2 February 1935. Contemporary pictures show that as late as August 1935 the banking on the Rooley Avenue side was still being created.[6]

During the Second World War the lower floor of the clubhouse was also used as an Air Raid Precautions centre, and one of the dressing rooms was the map room.[8] The first floodlit rugby match in the North of England was held at Odsal in 1951.[citation needed]

£50,000 was spent on terracing the Rooley Avenue end in 1964,[citation needed] before the Wardley plan was officially dropped the following year. Arguably, the Wardley plan was the biggest missed opportunity of Bradford’s sporting history.[neutrality is disputed]

The second test of the 1978 Ashes series was played at Odsal, with Great Britain defeating Australia before a crowd of 26,761.

The ground's clubhouse had to be refurbished when it was condemned in the mid-1980s. The social facilities were also upgraded at the same time.

Following the Valley Parade fire disaster of 1985, Bradford City played a handful of games at Leeds Road, Huddersfield and Elland Road, Leeds, even though Odsal was the obvious venue for the Bantams whilst the future of Valley Parade was decided.[not specific enough to verify] On 23 September 1985, a Football League delegation visited Odsal to view the stadium in order to pass it fit to host City’s home games. Segregation fences were erected on the old Main Stand side and 1,000 uncovered seats were bolted onto the terracing – it was planned to install 7,000 in the future. Meanwhile a further £1 million was spent to conform with new safety standards – bringing the total spent on Odsal to £3.5 million. New boundary walls, turnstiles, exit gates, a bus layby in Rooley Avenue and access road were added. Odsal played host to Bradford City's Division Two home games until December 1986. Odsal Stadium also held a modern day attendance record for almost six years.[clarification needed]

Like most British stadia, Odsal had its capacity substantially reduced by the safety measures introduced in the 1990s following the Hillsborough disaster and the findings of the Taylor Report.

Structure and facilities[edit]

The Stadium seen from Rooley Avenue showing how street level is higher than the stadium.

The pitch as Odsal has a distinctive concave contour, with the corners of the pitch behind the try-line noticeably sloping up towards the stands. This was due to the stadium being used to host speedway events and so the corners of the pitch were removable to allow full use of the track. With the end of speedway at Odsal, the upturned corners are no longer as pronounced as they once were.

Attendances[edit]

Average attendances since 1996[edit]

  • 1996 – 10,346
  • 1997 – 15,159
  • 1998 – 13,022
  • 1999 – 13,212
  • 2000 – 14,520
  • 2001 – under redevelopment
  • 2002 – under redevelopment
  • 2003 – 14,939
  • 2004 – 13,495
  • 2005 – 12,786
  • 2006 – 11,406
  • 2007 – 12,084
  • 2008 – 10,435
  • 2009 – 9,676
  • 2010 – 8,891
  • 2011 – 13,351

Overall home advantages 1996–2000, 2003–present[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 187 130 5 52 5979 3678 +2301 268

Records[edit]

Odsal record

Bradford Super League record

Challenge Cup record

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ground Guide - The Provident Stadium'". Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Gibbons, Trevor (25 January 2012). "Bradford Bulls' Odsal Stadium 'takes breath away'". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Delaney 1991, p. 48.
  4. ^ Laybourn, Ian (27 Jan 2012). "Stobart Super League 2012 club-by-club guide". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Delaney 1991, pp. 44-45.
  6. ^ a b Delaney 1991, p. 45.
  7. ^ Delaney 1991, p. 45-46.
  8. ^ Delaney 1991, pp. 46.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]