|Former names||Tulloch Caledonian Stadium|
|Record attendance||7,753 (Football) 10,000+ (Concert)|
|Opened||9 November 1996|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC||1996–present|
The Caledonian Stadium, is an association football stadium situated in the Longman area of Inverness, Scotland. The stadium plays host to the home matches of Scottish Professional Football League club Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle was formed in 1994 by the merging of two Highland League clubs, Caledonian and Inverness Thistle. Between 1994 and 1996, the new club played their home matches at Telford Street Park, which had been the home ground of Caledonian. However, one of the pledges made to gain entrance into the Scottish Football League (SFL) was that they would move to a newly built ground by August 1995. Four sites were considered until early in 1995, when Highland Council gave approval to a site called East Longman, next to the A9 road and the Kessock Bridge. This site had to overcome concerns of the local Harbour Trust that the stadium floodlights would interfere with traffic in the Moray Firth and the need for an access road to relieve traffic from the A9. Inverness District Council approved the plans and authorised £900,000 of public funds to cover a funding gap.
The SFL extended the deadline for a new stadium to 1996, but the District Council was provided legal advice that the public funds could only be provided under set conditions, which caused further delay. The club threatened to resign from the SFL if the funds were not forthcoming, but eventually the District Council granted the funds in December 1995. The new stadium opened in November 1996 and hosted its first SFL match, a 1–1 draw between Caley Thistle and Albion Rovers. The stadium held 5,000 supporters at opening and cost £5.2 million. This was funded by selling the old grounds of Caledonian and Inverness Thistle for £1.1 million, the grant from Inverness District Council, £500,000 from the Football Trust and the rest was provided by the Inverness and Nairn Enterprise Board, sponsors and supporters. The local authority retained ownership of the ground, with Inverness Caledonian Thistle being given a 99-year lease on the site.
When the club won promotion to the Scottish Premier League (SPL) in 2004, they faced a problem in that the Caledonian Stadium did not meet a SPL requirement for stadiums to have 10,000 seats. At that time, the Caledonian Stadium had a total capacity of 6,280 and only 2,280 seats. Inverness CT agreed to groundshare with Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The SPL initially rejected the groundsharing application, but accepted it on appeal. The SPL also voted to reduce the 10,000 seat requirement to 6,000. Inverness CT played at Pittodrie for the first two rounds of fixtures of the 2004–05 season, while redevelopment works were carried out at the Caledonian Stadium.
The redevelopment in 2004–05 included the construction of two new stands at either end of the ground, which made the stadium all-seater and increased its capacity to over 7,500. These stands were built in a remarkable 47 days by the Tulloch Construction Company who are also the club's biggest shareholder. As Tulloch also paid part of the development cost, the stadium had the Tulloch name added to it on completion of the work and the lease on the site was transferred to Tulloch. The lease reverted to the football club in December 2017, except for the stadium car parks. In February 2019, the stadium was renamed the "Caledonian Stadium" after long time sponsors Tulloch gifted the stadium to the club.
In 2007, the club added a very small stand opposite the Main Stand - called the West Stand. It has a capacity of around 400 and was initially intended to be a 'singing section'. The highest football attendance recorded at the Caledonian Stadium is 7,753, set on 20 January 2008 against Rangers.
In mid-2018, Inverness CT swapped out the original manned turnstiles for more modern barcode scanning ones, becoming one of a handful in Scotland to use these turnstiles, and the first in the Highlands. The ground hosted the 2019 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, played between Highland club Ross County and Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads.
The stadium first appeared as a concert venue when it successfully hosted Elton John in 2007 and its reputation was bolstered further when Rod Stewart entertained 19,400 fans there in 2010.
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- Inglis 1996, p. 431
- Forsyth, Roddy (17 May 2004). "Inverness promotion prompts SPL stadium rethink". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
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- "Ross County: Fans condemned for 'bringing club into disrepute'". BBC Sport. 24 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- Inglis, Simon (1996). Football Grounds of Britain. Collins Willow. ISBN 0-00-218426-5.
- Tulloch Caledonian Stadium - Scottish Ground Guide
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