King Power Stadium
|Full name||King Power Stadium|
|Former names||Walkers Stadium (2002–2011)|
|Record attendance||32,488 (Leicester Tigers v. Bath Rugby, Heineken Cup, 1 April 2006)|
|Field size||105 by 68 metres (114.8 yd × 74.4 yd)|
|Leicester City (2002–present)|
The King Power Stadium (also known as Filbert Way or Leicester City Stadium due to UEFA sponsorship regulations and formerly known as the Walkers Stadium) is a football stadium in Leicester, England. It has been the home stadium of Premier League side Leicester City since 2002, and was the stage as the club were crowned Premier League champions in 2016. The all-seater stadium has a capacity of 32,261, the 20th largest football ground in England. It is named after travel retail group King Power, a company owned by the club's owners.
Background and construction
Leicester's previous stadium was at nearby Filbert Street, which had been their home since 1891. It was gradually upgraded during the 20th century and with the advent of the Taylor Report in January 1990 requiring all clubs in the top two divisions to have all-seater stadiums by August 1994, Leicester City's directors began to investigate building a new stadium during the early 1990s, but decided to take the redevelopment option by building a new stand on one side of Filbert Street and fitting seats into the remaining standing areas, giving the stadium a 21,500 all-seated capacity by the 1994–95 season.
Filbert Street's conversion to an all-seater stadium coincided with their promotion to the Premier League after a seven-year exile from the top flight, and with their relegation after just one season it appeared the 21,500 capacity would be adequate.
However, success in the late 1990s saw crowds rise, which meant virtually every game at Filbert Street was a sell-out by the end of the decade. Relocation was soon back on the cards; several similar sized clubs had relocated to new stadiums around this time, including Leicester's midland rivals Stoke City and Derby County.
Some parts of the ground – the East and North Stands in particular – were also somewhat outdated, which led the manager, Martin O'Neill to joke that when he showed Filbert Street to new signings he led them backwards out of the players tunnel to prevent them from seeing the East Stand.
In early 1998, plans were announced for a 40,000 all-seater stadium to be built at Bede Island South in time for the 2000–01 season, but they were abandoned on 5 January 2000. Chairman John Elsom vowed other options, including relocation to another site or even further redevelopment of Filbert Street, would be considered, hoping either option would have materialised by August 2002.
The relocation option was soon settled upon, as plans were unveiled on 2 November 2000 for a 32,000-seat stadium at nearby Freeman's Wharf, with 2003–04 being the expected completion date, although it was suggested at the time relocation could happen at the start of the 2002–03 season. Work on the stadium began in the summer of 2001, and by 10 October that year it was confirmed the new stadium would be ready for the 2002–03 season.
The stadium was completed on time in the summer of 2002, ready for Leicester to take up residence for the start of the 2002–03 season. However, it was not an easy start at their new stadium as they had just been relegated from the Premier League and were more than £30 million in debt. The stadium is thought to have cost around £37 million to build.
The record attendance for football at the stadium is 32,242, for Leicester City's first home game of the 2015–16 season against Sunderland. The overall record attendance at the stadium is thought to be between 32,488-32,500, for a rugby union match between Leicester Tigers and Bath in 2006. This is because this rugby match took place prior to seats being removed to provide segregation of rival football fans, reducing the capacity of the ground from exactly 32,500 to 32,262.
The stadium was officially opened by former Leicester striker Gary Lineker on 23 July 2002. He used a giant pair of scissors to cut a ribbon on the pitch after arriving at the stadium in a Walkers lorry. The first game at the new stadium was a friendly against Basque team Athletic Bilbao, on 4 August 2002. The game finished 1–1, with Tiko scoring the first goal at the stadium, and Jordan Stewart scoring Leicester's first goal. The attendance was approximately 24,000 (no official figure was recorded due to a computer problem). The first competitive match took place six days later and Leicester beat Watford 2–0 in front of a near-capacity crowd of 31,022. Brian Deane scored both goals, including the stadium's first in competitive games. Leicester ended the 2002–03 season promoted back to the Premier League, losing just two home games in the season, despite spending the early part of the season in receivership due to their huge debts, until a takeover deal was completed.
The £37 million cost of the new stadium, combined with relegation from the Premiership, the collapse of the English transfer market due to the introduction of the transfer window and the collapse of ITV Digital meant Leicester went into receivership shortly after moving to the new stadium. Birse Construction who had built the stadium therefore lost a large part of their fee, and they withdrew from football ground construction.
As part of the deal which brought the club out of receivership, the stadium's ownership reverted to American academic retirement fund TIAA–CREF, who had supplied £28 million via a bond scheme towards the stadium's construction, with the club taking a long-term lease while the bond repayments were made.
In 2015, vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha stated plans were in place to increase the ground's capacity to around 42,000. Relocation to a bigger stadium has also been considered. In April 2018, it was announced that initial planning for the expansion and development of the King Power Stadium is underway. On 28th July 2021, the club confirmed that it would reveal plans to the public which included increasing the capacity to 40,000, as well as a new club shop, sports arena, hotel, and multistory car park in the surrounding areas.
On 27 October 2018, club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter crashed in the car park outside the stadium, shortly after taking off from the pitch. Four other people were on the helicopter at the time. There were no survivors.
In 2002, former Leicester City shirt sponsors Walkers signed a ten-year deal for naming rights. The agreement was superseded halfway through the period, in May 2007, when they again paid a seven-figure sum to extend their sponsorship of the stadium until 2017. Originally the ground was to have been called the "Walkers Bowl," but the name was dropped after fans objected on the grounds the name was too "American" (referring to the American college football bowl game concept). As a result of a fans' petition, the name was quickly changed to the "Walkers Stadium"; however, some fans were still unhappy the name only referenced the sponsor, with no Leicester City reference, such as "Filbert," "Fosse" or "Foxes". Consequently, the stadium was sometimes derogatorily referred to (by both Home and Away supporters) as the "crisp bowl," in reference to Walkers best-known products. The naming rights were sold to King Power for the 2011–12 season.
The King Power Stadium has honoured past greats of the club, by naming suites and lounges inside the stadium after the club's former players Gordon Banks, Adam Black, Arthur Chandler, Gary Lineker, Arthur Rowley, Sep Smith, Keith Weller and former manager Jimmy Bloomfield.
Some fans refer to the stadium as Filbert Way after the ground's address, retaining a link with the past, while others refer to the ground as Freeman's Wharf, after the area of the city in which the stadium is situated. During the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League, and the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League the stadium was known as the Leicester City Stadium.
The King Power Stadium has four stands that each join in an enclosed design and, like many other football stadia in England, its stands are named for the cardinal points of the compass (i.e. The North, East, South and West stands respectively). The North and South stands have original names dating back to when the stadium was built. Away supporters are situated in the corner between the North and East Stand. At either end of the ground are two large 20-metre screens which were installed in 2018.
The first game at the new stadium was a friendly against Spanish team Athletic Bilbao, on 4 August 2002. The game finished 1–1, with Tiko scoring the first goal at the stadium, and Jordan Stewart scoring Leicester's first goal.
During their absence from Wembley Stadium, the England national football team played a home friendly game against Serbia and Montenegro at the stadium on 3 June 2003. Goals from Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole gave England a 2–1 victory. On 12 October of the same year, the ground hosted an international friendly match between Brazil and Jamaica, with Roberto Carlos scoring the winner.
On 20 May 2006, the stadium hosted the Football Conference play-off final between Hereford United and Halifax Town. A goal in extra time gave Hereford a 3–2 win and promotion to the Football League. Nine days later, the ground was also the venue for another international friendly, with Ghana beating Jamaica 4–1.
On 12 October 2007, it hosted the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification Group 3 match between England's under-21s and Montenegro's under-21s. The hosts edged out the visitors 1–0 with Matt Derbyshire's goal.
On 30 July 2011, Leicester City played a strong Real Madrid side in the Npower Cup in front of a record 32,188 home fans, with star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká playing for Madrid. After falling behind to a first-half goal from José Callejón and a second on the hour from Karim Benzema, Sven-Göran Eriksson's men pulled a goal back a minute from the end through substitute Lloyd Dyer.
On 4 April 2014, Leicester won 2-1 in a Friday night home victory against Sheffield Wednesday. The win put them on the brink of promotion back to the Premier League, and the next day their Premier League status was confirmed as results went in Leicester's favour.
On 21 September 2014, Leicester went on to produce one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history, as they won 5-3 against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium. They came back from 3–1 down with 30 minutes left to score four goals.
On 8 August 2015, Leicester City hosted Sunderland at the King Power Stadium for the first game of the 2015–16 Premier League season. The attendance for the match was 32,242, which is thought to be the largest-ever league attendance at the stadium since it opened in 2002.
On 7 May 2016, Leicester City lifted the 2015–16 Premier League trophy following a 3–1 win versus Everton, less than a week after officially becoming champions as Tottenham Hotspur failed to beat Chelsea. Andrea Bocelli performed live before the match.
On 14 March 2017, at the stadium the club played its UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg fixture against Sevilla FC. The match finished 2–0 on the night, and 3–2 on aggregate which resulted in Leicester reaching the quarter-finals of the competition.
On 11 September 2018, the stadium hosted a friendly between the England national team and Switzerland. England won 1-0 with a goal from Marcus Rashford, with Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell making his England debut as a 79th minute substitute at his home stadium.
|3 June 2003 Friendly||England||2–1||Serbia and Montenegro||Leicester|
|20:00 BST||Gerrard 35'
J. Cole 82'
|Stadium: Walkers Stadium|
Referee: Paul Allaerts
|12 October 2003 Friendly||Jamaica||0–1||Brazil||Leicester|
|15:00 BST||Roberto Carlos 15'||Stadium: Walkers Stadium|
Referee: Rob Styles
|29 May 2006 Friendly||Jamaica||1–4||Ghana||Leicester|
|Euell 58'||Muntari 5'
Stewart 19' (o.g.)
|Stadium: Walkers Stadium|
|11 September 2018 Friendly||England||1–0||Switzerland||Leicester|
|20:00 BST||Rashford 54'||Stadium: King Power Stadium|
Referee: Clément Turpin
In 2004 Leicester Tigers considered sharing the stadium with Leicester City as their own 16,815-capacity ground at Welford Road was considered too small to handle the growing popularity of rugby union. The plan would have seen the two clubs form a jointly owned company to buy the stadium from, then owners, Teachers. The deal was abandoned in 2005 as the clubs failed to fully agree terms. Because of the continued parlous state of the football club's finances, rumours groundsharing was still being discussed continued to circulate, with some suggestions Tigers were considering buying the stadium outright from Teachers. In 2007, a permanent groundshare was ruled out as Leicester Tigers received planning consent for a major expansion of their own Welford Road venue with a new 10,500-seat stand taking Welford Road to a capacity of 24,500.
However, Tigers have played six matches at the stadium The first three were either to capitalise on the larger capacity with the greater interest in high-profile games or when competition rules demanded the match be played away from their normal home ground while the other three was due to the demolition of the old Caterpillar Stand at Welford Road.
|24 April 2005||2004–05 Heineken Cup Semi-final||Toulouse||19 – 27|
|1 April 2006||2005–06 Heineken Cup Quarter-final||Bath||12 – 15|
|21 April 2007||2006–07 Heineken Cup Semi-final||Llanelli Scarlets||33 – 17|
|11 April 2009||2008–09 Heineken Cup Quarter-final||Bath||20 – 15|
|25 April 2009||2008–09 Guinness Premiership, Round 22||Bristol||73 – 3|
|9 May 2009||2008–09 Guinness Premiership Semi-final||Bath||24 – 10|
The King Power Stadium has also hosted international rugby, including a match between a World XV and South Africa on 3 December 2006 to mark the centenary of the Springboks' first game abroad. South Africa won 32–7.
|Date||Stage of Tournament||Team 1||Score||Team 2||Attendance|
|4 October 2015||Pool C||Argentina||45 – 16||Tonga||29,124|
|6 October 2015||Pool D||Canada||15 – 17||Romania||27,153|
|11 October 2015||Pool C||Argentina||64 – 19||Namibia||30,198|
Average league attendances