Falmer Stadium

Coordinates: 50°51′43″N 0°5′0″W / 50.86194°N 0.08333°W / 50.86194; -0.08333
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Falmer Stadium
The Amex
Falmer Stadium at night in April 2011
Map
Full nameAmerican Express Stadium
LocationFalmer, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England
Public transitNational Rail Falmer
23, 25 and 28/29 bus routes[1]
OwnerThe Community Stadium Limited
OperatorBrighton & Hove Albion
Capacity31,876[3]
Record attendance31,752 vs Liverpool (Premier League – 8 October 2023)
Field size105 by 68 metres (114.8 yd × 74.4 yd)[2]
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Built17 December 2008; 15 years ago (2008-12-17)
Opened16 July 2011; 12 years ago (2011-07-16)
Construction cost£93 million
ArchitectKSS Design Group
General contractorBuckingham Group
Tenants
Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. (2011–present)

Falmer Stadium, known for sponsorship purposes as the American Express Stadium[4] and more commonly referred to as the Amex, is a football stadium in Falmer, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex. With a capacity of 31,876,[5] it is the second largest stadium in all of South East England, and the 31st largest stadium in the United Kingdom.

It serves as the home of Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, and was handed over from the developers to the club on 31 May 2011. The first competitive game played at the stadium was the 2010–11 season final of the Sussex Senior Cup between Brighton and Eastbourne Borough on 16 July 2011.[6] The first league game was against Doncaster Rovers, who were also the opponents in the last game played at Brighton's former stadium, the Goldstone Ground, 14 years earlier.

Falmer Stadium hosted Premier League football for the first time in August 2017, following Albion's promotion at the end of the 2016–17 season.

Falmer Stadium hosted European football for the first time on 21 September 2023 when Brighton played against AEK in the UEFA Europa League.

The stadium was designed to allow hosting for other sports and events. It hosted some matches from the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the UEFA Women's Euro 2022. It will also host some 2025 Rugby World Cup fixtures.

History[edit]

Plans[edit]

The plans were initiated by Brighton & Hove Albion after the club's previous home, the Goldstone Ground, was sold by the club's former board (consisting of Greg Stanley, Bill Archer and David Bellotti) to developers in 1995 with no new home arranged.

When the club was evicted at the end of the 1996–1997 season, it groundshared for two seasons at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium, 74 miles away by road, in Kent.[7]

Two years later, the club returned to Brighton as tenants of Withdean Stadium, which was upgraded to Football League capacity requirements and later expanded when Brighton reached Division One (now the EFL Championship) in 2002 following two successive promotions.

The site at Falmer was identified during the 1998–99 season and it was hoped that the stadium would be ready in the early to mid-2000s. However, subsequent delays in gaining planning permission meant that the club had to wait until August 2011 before being able to play their home games there – more than a decade after the stadium was first proposed.

Planning permission[edit]

Planning permission was given by the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove City Council in June 2002, with the intention of the stadium being ready for the 2005–06 season.[8] The plans for the stadium were opposed by neighbouring Lewes District Council and local residents. While the stadium lies completely within Brighton and Hove, part of the north-east of the site is in Lewes. Bennett's Field, as it is known, was initially used for parking, but has been abandoned since 2021.[9]

Further complications were due to both vacant fields, and the campus of the adjacent University of Sussex, being included in the South Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, although outside the National Park. This led to the designation of the stadium plans being the subject of a separate planning inquiry by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, approved the plans on 28 October 2005. However, Lewes District Council immediately mounted a new legal challenge to the stadium plan. In April 2006, Prescott admitted that he had given his approval based on the misconception that only a small part of the stadium site lay on the Lewes side, and withdrew it.

Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State responsible for planning, re-affirmed the approval on 25 July 2007. Her decision went against the advice of planning inspectors. Lewes District Council, Falmer Parish Council and the South Downs Joint Committee (the three main opponents) announced shortly afterwards that they would not mount a High Court challenge. On 4 September 2007, the deadline for appealing the new grant of permission expired and the club received full permission to proceed.

Construction[edit]

Falmer under construction in July 2010

On 27 November 2008, the Buckingham Group signed the construction contract for the new stadium[10] and began preparation work on the site on 17 December. The stadium is set three storeys down into the ground. 138,000 cubic metres of chalk was excavated during its construction, which was put on the field on the south side of Village Way. This has been estimated to prevent 22,000 lorry trips taking the chalk to off-site landfill.[11]

Construction at the site started on 17 December 2008 and finished in May 2011. The stadium was designed with scope for expansion, and plans were put in place to increase the capacity.

The stadium was designed by London-based architects, KSS.[12] The stadium capacity has been expanded, with an extra seating tier being installed above the East Stand (Family stand), which increases the capacity to over 30,000 seats. The deal with American Express Europe, Brighton and Hove's biggest private-sector employer, confirming the stadium's naming rights was announced on 22 June 2010.[13]

Opening[edit]

The first League game played at Falmer stadium

The stadium officially opened on 30 July 2011, hosting a friendly match against then-Brighton manager Gus Poyet's old club Tottenham Hotspur, the home-side narrowly losing 3–2. The first competitive match had been held on 16 July 2011, when Brighton's development squad beat Eastbourne Borough 2-0 in the Sussex Senior Cup final,[14] with Gary Hart scoring the first goal.[15] The first competitive first team fixture was held on 6 August 2011, when Brighton beat Doncaster Rovers 2–1, after being 1–0 down.[16]

The stadium set its first record attendance with 21,897 against Liverpool. They were also the first away team to win a competitive match at the stadium, beating Brighton 2–1 in a League Cup tie in September 2011.[17] The stadium witnessed its first league defeat in its history when rival side Crystal Palace came from behind to win 3-1.[18]

In use[edit]

On 2 January 2012, Brighton & Hove Albion submitted an application to Brighton and Hove City council to increase the stadium capacity by a further 8,000 seats as well as to add additional corporate boxes, new television facilities and a luxury suite.[19] This was granted unanimously by Brighton & Hove City Council's planning committee on 25 April 2012. The stadium was expanded to 27,250 by the start of the 2012–13 season, 27,750 by December 2012 and stood at 30,750 by the end of the 2012–13 season.

Ellen White and Abby Erceg compete for the ball in the women's international friendly between England and New Zealand, at Falmer in 2019.

A new record attendance was set on 15 December 2012 when 26,684 saw Brighton draw 0–0 with Nottingham Forest.[20] This record attendance was broken on 26 January 2013, when 27,113 attended a 3-2 defeat against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup[21][22] Less than two months later and the record was broken again; this time 28,499 people watched Brighton beat Crystal Palace 3–0 on 17 March 2013.[23] This record was broken once again on 4 May 2013, on the last league game of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, 30,003 attended the game. This figure was beaten on 25 January 2015, when Arsenal visited in the FA Cup fourth round to once again win 3–2, in front of an attendance of 30,278. Another new attendance record of 30,292 came on 2 May 2016, when Derby County visited in the last home game of the 2015–16 season. A few weeks later this record was broken again when Brighton and Hove Albion played Sheffield Wednesday in the second leg of the play-offs. The record was broken once again on 24 September 2017 when 30,468 attended Brighton's 1–0 win over Newcastle United.[24] The current record of 31,746 was set at a Premier League match against Chelsea on 29 October 2022.[25] Falmer Stadium hosted European football for the first time on 21 September 2023 when Brighton played against AEK in the UEFA Europa League.

On 25 March 2013, the stadium hosted England's under-21s international friendly against Austria's under-21s.

In December 2018, it was announced that the stadium would be one of the venues for the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 tournament.[26]

The stadium uses hawks to scare away seagulls and pigeons.[27]

UEFA Women's Euro 2022[edit]

The stadium was one of the 10 venues used to host matches at the UEFA Women's Euro 2022. It was used to host Group A matches, which had the hosts England, and a quarter-final, which also involved England.[28]

Date Home Away Result Attendance Stage
11 July 2022  England  Norway 8–0 28,847 UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A
15 July 2022  Austria  Norway 1–0 12,667 UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A
20 July 2022  England  Spain 2–1 28,994 UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Quarter Final

Rugby Union[edit]

2015 Rugby World Cup[edit]

An aerial photograph of the stadium, 2011.

The stadium hosted two Pool B matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup,[29] labelled as the Brighton Community Stadium.[30] The first match was between South Africa and Japan on 19 September 2015 where with 29,290 in attendance,[31] Japan caused one of the biggest upsets in Rugby World Cup history by beating twice winners South Africa 34–32. The other match was between Samoa and United States with Samoa winning 25–16 with 29,178 in attendance.[32] Before them, as a trial run pre-World Cup, the stadium hosted the England U20s vs France U20s match in the final round of the 2015 Six Nations Under 20s Championship.[33]

In 2019, a film was produced telling the story of the match between Japan and South Africa, called The Brighton Miracle.[34]

2025 Rugby World Cup[edit]

In August 2023, the stadium was confirmed as one of eight host venues for the 2025 Rugby World Cup.[35] During the tournament, it will be known as the Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium.[36]

Attendances[edit]

Brighton playing against Gillingham in the League Cup in 2011. Brighton and Gillingham groundshared at Priestfield in Kent from 1997 to 1999.
Season Season Average Highest Gate Lowest Gate
2011–12 20,028 20,968 18,412
2012–13 25,705 30,003 21,740
2013–14 27,283[37] 29,093[38] 25,725
2014–15 25,645 28,890 23,044
2015–16 25,583 30,292 21,397
2016–17 27,972 30,338 24,116
2017–18 30,402 30,631 29,676
2018–19 30,464 30,654 13,651[dubious ]
[There would have had to be at least about 90 matches for that lowest gate to have so little impact on the average.]

Layout[edit]

The West Stand is a three-tiered stand, which holds 11,833 fans, including 14 luxury boxes. The East Stand (including the Family Stand and the premium fans' 1901 Club) holds 13,654 fans, with 10% reserved for away fans during cup games. The North Stand has 2,688 seats. The South Stand, is for visiting away supporters which contains 2,575 seats.

As well as football matches, the stadium is also designed for other sports such as rugby and hockey, and music concerts, conferences and exhibitions.[39] The stadium's drinking outlets offer real ales from two local breweries, Harvey's and Dark Star, both of which supported the club's appeal for a new stadium at Falmer, along with special guest beers from breweries local to the away teams.[40]

The stadium also incorporates a banqueting and conference facility, a nursery school/crèche, 720 square metres of teaching space for the University of Brighton, 1,200 square metres of office space for the University of Sussex, the club shop for tickets and merchandise and above it the 200 capacity bar/lounge named Dick's Bar after the club's life president, Dick Knight.

A panorama of The Falmer Stadium before expansion looking north from the South Stand

Transport[edit]

The adjacent Falmer railway station, with the Stadium visible in the backdrop.

The stadium is close to the A27 Brighton by-pass,[41] linking it northbound to the A23 and M23 motorway towards London and southbound to the A270 and the city centre. Falmer railway station is next to the stadium; it is a nine-minute journey from Brighton railway station and seven minutes from Lewes railway station, both of which are served by trains from London.

The site also includes: a new link road from the A270 skirting the southern edge of Stanmer Park to the Sussex campus; a new high capacity footbridge over the railway at Falmer station; a transport interchange/coach park to the south of the stadium across Village Way; a 1,000-space car park at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy; alterations to the A27/A270 road junction, including a new flyover; a combined footpath/cycleway; a 150-space car park for club officials, players and disabled drivers; 220 cycle spaces.[41]

Awards[edit]

In May 2012, the stadium won the New Venue Award at the Stadium Business Awards.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Football Buses". Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  2. ^ "Premier League Handbook 2022/23" (PDF). 19 July 2022. p. 12. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 August 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Brighton & Hove Albion".
  4. ^ "Why Brighton have changed full name of the Amex stadium". www.theargus.co.uk. 29 June 2023. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Brighton & Hove Albion".
  6. ^ "Sussex FA". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  7. ^ Cleeves, Kieran (26 April 2017). "THE GOLDSTONE: 20 YEARS ON". Brighton & Hove Albion official website. Archived from the original on 11 October 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Falmer Timeline". Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  9. ^ Wadsworth, Jo (22 March 2022). "Revealed: plans for student housing on Amex car park". Brighton and Hove News. Retrieved 23 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Club Signs Stadium Contract". Archived from the original on 4 September 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  11. ^ "The scheme" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  12. ^ "BUCKINGHAM TO KICK OFF FOR BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION". Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  13. ^ "Brighton's American Express Community Stadium unveiled". The Argus. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  14. ^ Roberts, Anna (16 July 2011). "Fans 'nearly in tears' at first Amex game". The Argus. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  15. ^ Naylor, Andy (16 July 2011). "Hart so pleased to score Amex opener". The Argus. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  16. ^ "Spurs friendly opens Brighton's Falmer stadium". BBC News. 30 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Brighton 1 Liverpool 2: Final Whistle Report". Liverpool Echo. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  18. ^ "Brighton 1-3 Crystal Palace". BBC Sport. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Albion's £36 million plans to push for Premiership". The Argus. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  20. ^ [1] BBC Sport
  21. ^ "Brighton 2-3 Arsenal" BBC Sport. 26 January 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  22. ^ "FA Cup: Brighton v Arsenal proved Cup can still have magic" BBC Sport. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  23. ^ "Brighton 3-0 Crystal Palace". BBC Sport. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  24. ^ Emons, Michael (24 September 2017). "Brighton & Hove Albion 1 - 0 Newcastle United - Brighton Hang on". bbc.co.uk. bbc. Retrieved 25 September 2017. Watched by an Amex Stadium record crowd of 30,468
  25. ^ "Where Brighton sit in attendance table compared to Crystal Palace, Chelsea, West Ham and Fulham – brilliant photos of fans | SussexWorld". 2 November 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  26. ^ "Women's Euro 2021: England named hosts of European Championship". BBC Sport. 3 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Hawks to scare pigeons from Brighton's Amex stadium". BBC News. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  28. ^ UEFA.com (2 August 2022). "Event guide: Brighton & Hove | UEFA Women's EURO 2022". UEFA.com. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  29. ^ "Olympic Stadium confirmed on 2015 Rugby World Cup shortlist". BBC Sport. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  30. ^ "Brighton Community Stadium". englandrugbytravel.com. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Pool B, Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton". Rugby World Cup. 19 September 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  32. ^ "Pool B, Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton". Rugby World Cup. 20 September 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  33. ^ Ian Malin (20 March 2015). "England win Under-20 Six Nations title for fourth time in five years". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  34. ^ Robert Kitson (3 September 2019). "Japan's famous Rugby World Cup win is coming to a screen near you". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  35. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2025: Eight host venues named for tournament in England". BBC Sport. 21 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  36. ^ "World Rugby and RFU confirm host cities and venues with two years to go until Rugby World Cup 2025". World Rugby. 21 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  37. ^ Sky Bet Football League Championship Attendance Table Archived 19 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Football 365
  38. ^ Brighton 0-2 Ipswich BBC Sport, 22 March 2014
  39. ^ "The stadium". Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  40. ^ "It's the real deal for ale fans". Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  41. ^ a b "The site". University of Sussex. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  42. ^ Brighton Amex stadium wins best new venue award BBC News

External links[edit]

50°51′43″N 0°5′0″W / 50.86194°N 0.08333°W / 50.86194; -0.08333