The Kingspan Stadium following renovation
|Location||85 Ravenhill Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|Renovated||2009 and 2012/14|
|Owner||Irish Rugby Football Union|
|Public transit access||Belfast Central railway station|
The Kingspan Stadium is a rugby stadium located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the home of Ulster Rugby. With the opening of a brand new stand for the 2014 Heineken Cup quarter final against Saracens on 5 April 2014, the capacity of the stadium is now 18,196. The stadium is owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union.
The Kingspan Stadium opened in 1923. It features an ornate arch at the entrance that was erected as a war memorial for those players killed in World War I and World War II. Prior to 1923, both Ulster and Ireland played games at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society grounds in Belfast.
The Kingspan Stadium has been the annual venue for the Ulster Schools Cup final since 1924, which is traditionally contested on St Patrick's Day. The stadium is traditionally the venue for the Ulster Towns Cup, played on Easter Monday.
The Kingspan Stadium has hosted 18 international matches, including pool games in both the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups. The most recent Ireland international played at the stadium was on 24 August 2007 against Italy in a warm-up match for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Before that, Scotland was the last visitor in the 1954 Five Nations Championship. The Kingspan Stadium also hosted the 2007 Under 19 Rugby World Championship final in which New Zealand defeated South Africa.
The Kingspan Stadium hosted memorable Ulster games in the Heineken Cup. Ulster beat Toulouse 15-13 at the Kingspan Stadium in the quarter-finals of the 1998-99 Heineken Cup. The Kingspan Stadium then hosted the 1998-99 Heineken Cup semi-final in which Ulster defeated Stade Francais 33-27. The most memorable moment in that game was when out half David Humphreys ran from the Ulster 10 meter line to score a try.
On 5 June 2014, the stadium was renamed the Kingspan Stadium. It was called Ravenhill.
The new stand at the Kingspan Stadium was officially opened on 9 October 2009 by First Minister Peter Robinson, before a match between Ulster and Bath Rugby. The stand has however been in use since the first home match of the 2009-2010 season, against Edinburgh Rugby.
The stand is on the Mount Merrion side of the ground, and consists of a terraced area, over 500 premium seats, and 20 corporate boxes. The terrace area is now covered by a roof for the first time in the stadium's history. The cost of the project is approximately £4.5 million, and has been funded by a mixture of public-sector funding, sales of premium tickets and boxes, and loans from the IRFU.
In 2011, the Northern Ireland Executive announced that it had granted £138m for various stadium redevelopment projects throughout Northern Ireland. Ulster Rugby received approximately £14.5m of it, which was be used to redevelop the Kingspan Stadium and expand its capacity to from around 12,000 to 18,000.
In 2012, Ulster Rugby confirmed that three new stands will be built at the Kingspan Stadium, with work commencing in late 2012. The existing stands at the Memorial and Aquinas ends of the stadium were designed and the main stand got demolished and rebuilt. The major refurbishment was completed in April 2014.
The Ulster Rugby website provides FAQs about accessing the ground.
Rugby World Cup matches hosted
14 October 1991
|Japan||52 – 8||Zimbabwe|
|Tries: Yoshida (2), Mashuho (2), Kutsuki (2), Horikoshi, Luaiufi, Matsuo
Hosokawa (4), Hosokawa
|(Report)||Tries: Tsimba, Nguruve|
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Referee: Rene Hourquet
3 October 1999
|Australia||57 – 9||Romania|
|Tries: Toutai Kefu (3), Joe Roff (2), Rod Kafer, Matthew Burke, Jason Little, Tim Horan
Con: Matthew Burke (5), John Eales
|Pen: Petre Mitu (3)|
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Referee: Paul Honiss
- Ulster Rugby agrees stadium naming rights deal with Kingspan - Ulster Rugby, 05/06/14
- "Rugby fans line out for grandstand view - Local & National, News". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
- "BBC Sport - Rugby Union - Ulster 26-12 Bath". BBC News. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
- "Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Ulster play the rugby but lose their way". The Irish Times. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
- [dead link]
- Stadiums fit for our heroes on way at last - Belfast Telegraph, 11/03/11
- Plans for Ravenhill refurbishment are unveiled - BBC News, 24/01/12
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