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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

26-04-09 Stadium Tour

Millennium Stadium

It’s a shame in some ways that the FA Cup, League Cup and play-off finals have all returned to London as it’s unlikely now that I will get a chance to see a game of club football played at the Millennium Stadium. Ipswich having missed out on playing there on three occasions, defeated by Birmingham City in the semis of the Worthington Cup in 2001, and the Championship Play-Offs in 2004 and 2005 - losing twice to West Ham.

But the stadium offers regular tours on most days at £5/£6 admission which, while not being the next best thing, was certainly well worth the effort. Our very enthusiastic and highly informative guide was full of all sorts of interesting facts and anecdotes about games, concerts and other events that have been hosted since it was first opened in 1999 and of course the story of 74,500 capacity stadiums construction.

Millennium Stadium Millennium Stadium Millennium Stadium

Arriving by train in the Welsh capital it’s impossible to miss the stadium, which sits slap bang in the city centre just a few minutes walk from Cardiff Central Station.

With the exception of the East Stand approach (this side of the stadium looks a bit tired in my opinion) all other views are quite something, particularly from the other side of the River Taff. From this viewpoint the stadium looks as though it is hanging out over the water, indeed entry into the west stand is from a pedestrian walkway that does just that.

Millennium Stadium

Although the stadium is not quite on the scale of the new Wembley most of the seats on its three tiers are a lot closer to the action than it’s English counterpart. I can imagine that the atmosphere on match day is pretty special (especially with the roof closed).

The tour took us to all three levels and there seemed to be excellent views and plenty of legroom on each although, oddly, those in the royal box have slightly less than elsewhere due to the extra padding provided for the Queen et al.

Millennium Stadium

Behind the goal at the north stand end there are just two tiers where it backs on to one of the stands of neighbouring Cardiff Rugby Club. Efforts to persuade the Club to move failed and the stadium had to be redesigned accordingly, indeed the steel work of the old ground can be seen poking through the wall of the stadium where the two meet.

Notable features of the place include: the aforementioned retractable roof (which can be closed in 20 minutes); two giant TV screens behind each goal; a modular turf system that means the entire pitch can be wheeled in and out by forklift; and the four distinctive 296 ft masts that provide support for the stadium roof.

Millennium Stadium

Being right in the centre there is no shortage of bars and restaurants to keep everyone happy before a game. I read a stat somewhere that said there was sufficient capacity to feed and water over 60,000 fans before they headed into the stadium.

There is of course plenty of other good stuff to look at in Cardiff too. The National Museum is well worth a visit, as is Cardiff Castle and Bute Park all of which are just minutes away.

The pictures continue here.

posted by chevblue at 5:03 pm






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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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AFC Bournemouth
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Aldershot Town
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Blackpool
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Boston United
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Bradford City
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Braintree Town
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Brantham Athletic
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Debenham Leisure Centre
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Derby County
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Derby County
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Diss Town
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Eastleigh
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Ely City
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Everton
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Fareham Town
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FC Clacton
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FC Fleetlands
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Felixstowe & Walton United
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Framlingham Town
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Fulham
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Gillingham
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Gorleston
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Gosport Borough
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Great Yarmouth Town
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Grimsby Town
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Hadleigh United
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Halstead Town
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Hamble ASSC
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Harwich & Parkeston
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Havant & Waterlooville
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Heybridge Swifts
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Histon
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Hull City
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Leeds United
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Wivenhoe Town
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Woking
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Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Woodbrige Town
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Worcester City
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Aberdeen
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Heart of Midlothian
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Northern Spirit
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RSC Anderlect
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FC Brugge
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SV Zulte-Waregem
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Tampere United
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Borussia Dortmund
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AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
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FC Groningen
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FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

Feyenoord
(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle
(Oosterenkstadion)

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem
(Gelredome)

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)

IRELAND

Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)

ITALY

Inter Milan
(San Siro)

LUXEMBOURG

Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)

NORWAY

Skeid Oslo
(Ulevall)

POLAND

Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)

SPAIN

Barcelona
(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

Valencia
(Luis Casanova)

SWEDEN

Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
(Idrottspark)

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF
(Strandvallen)

Trelleborgs FF
(Vangavallen)

IFK Goteborg
(Ullevi)

USA

Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures
(Odeum)

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)