Stadiums of the 2017/18 Premier League new boys

As usual, there are three football clubs joining the Premier League for the new season starting on August 12 – Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town. All three clubs have grounds that are architecturally interesting.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Albion were formed in 1901, and played their first season at Hove Cricket Ground. In 1902, the club shared the Goldstone Ground of Hove FC. They purchased the ground in 1930 and this was their home until 1997. At this time, the team was at the bottom of the Football league and faced relegation from the league. They won their last game at the Goldstone in April 1997 and a draw in the next game, an away fixture against Hereford, meant that they could remain in the Football League.

Against the wishes of most of the fans, the Goldstone Ground was demolished and Brighton played at Gillingham’s Priestfield, 75 miles away. In a disappointing season, average crowds in 1997/98 were just 2,300.

In 1998, the team returned to playing in Brighton at Withdean Stadium which was basically an athletics track that was used as a temporary football ground. This provided a much-needed breathing space while plans were made for a new stadium, and it took many years to find a suitable site and then obtain planning permission.

In 2007, building started on the new Falmer Stadium at a cost of £100m. The stadium was completed in 2011 and the first games played in the new stadium in August that year. Following a sponsorship deal with American Express, the stadium became known as the Amex Stadium.

In 2012, the stadium received the top New Venue Award at the Stadium Business Awards.

The Amex Stadium initially held 22,500 but was expanded to a capacity of 30,750 in 2013. The stadium has four stands, with the three-tiered West Stand boasting a capacity of 11,833 and housing 14 luxury boxes and the fans’ 1901 Club. The East Stand holds 13,564 and accommodates families. The North Stand has 2,688 seats, and 2,575 fans can be seated in the South Stand.

There are also conference facilities and a nursery/creche space. The University of Brighton has a 720 sq. meters teaching space at the stadium, and other facilities include office space, a club shop, and Dick’s Bar.

Newcastle United

The Leazes side of Newcastle’s St James’ Park is a tranquil historic park, but the rest of the stadium borders on Newcastle’s busy city centre.

St James’ Park is one of the oldest football stadiums in the country. Before the stadium was built. there was a hospital and chapel known as St James’ on the site. By the early 19th Century, the site was developed and comprised St James’ Place, St James’ Terrace, and Leazes Terrace. A football ground was built in the area and the first match was held in 1880. In keeping with its surroundings, the name St James’ was adopted for the ground.

In 1892, two clubs, Newcastle East End and West End FC merged and took up residence at St James Park. This club became known as Newcastle United. In 1899, the first major development of the ground was undertaken – a stadium holding 30,000 fans. In 1905, the capacity of the stadium was doubled to 60,000.

By 1926, there were plans to build covered stands, but after long planning disputes only the Leazes Stadium was built and completed in 1930. In the 1950s and ‘60s, plans to further develop the ground did not come to fruition. It was not until 1972 that planning permission and funds were available to build the new East Stand.

In 1987 the Leazes Stand was demolished because it was considered to be a fire risk. It was replaced by the two-tier Milburn Stand.

In 1992, under the new chairman of the club Sir John Hall and manager Kevin Keegan, major ground improvements were made, including the construction of the Sir John Hall Stand. By 1996, the ground was an all seater stadium with a capacity of 36,610.

In 1998, St James’ Park was extended. The new Leazes and Milburn stands were constructed. Work was completed by 2000 at a cost of £43m. St James’ is now a 52,000-seater modern stadium and regarded as one of the world’s best sporting arenas, and is ready to host Premier League games again.

Huddersfield Town

Commencing their first ever season in the Premier League, Town was formed in 1908 when it played at the Huddersfield Leeds Road ground. In 1910, the ground was improved and a seated stand constructed. Shortly afterwards, the club was elected to the Football League.

The club played at Leeds Road until 1994 when they moved into the Kirklees Stadium, which is now called the John Smith’s Stadium due to sponsorship by the well-known brewery. When the stadium opened in 1994, only two side stands were available – Riverside and Kilner Bank. The South Stand opened at the end of 1994. Construction started on the North Stand in 1996 and was completed in 1998., which brought the capacity of the stadium up to 24,500.

Like many football stadiums, there are four stands at the north, east, south and west sides of the ground. Behind the goalpost is the north stand known as the Fantastic Media Stand, which has two tiers and houses hospitality boxes. The east, Kilner Bank (or Britannia Rescue) stand is a large single tier covered stand that also houses the TV gantry. The south stand is used by away fans and has a large video screen.

The main stand is on the west, and is a two-tiered structure that also has 26 hospitality suites. Below the seating areas are the team dressing rooms, ticket office, and club shop. At the front of the stand is the dugout.

All three clubs that are entering the Premier League in the 2017/2018 season have modern, large capacity stadiums that are fit and ready to host matches at the highest level of English football.

Posted by Mark
August 3, 2017

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