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Top facts about Stadium of Light, One of the Biggest in England

Thu 27 January 2022 | 11:30

Today in Top facts about Stadium of Light, we’re going to talk about the history of one of the largest stadiums in England and overall information about its development since it opened and etc.

Sunderland A.F.C.'s eighth and current home is the Stadium of Light, an all-seater football stadium in Sunderland, England. The Stadium of Light is England's ninth biggest stadium, with a capacity of 49,000 spectators. Sunderland A.F.C. plays their home games at the stadium.

Chairman Bob Murray chose the name to honor the North East's coal mining legacy and the former Monkwearmouth Colliery site where it now stands. A Davy lamp memorial stands at the entrance to commemorate the town's wealth thanks to the coal mining industry.

The stadium has held three England national football team matches, as well as an England under-20, an England under-21, and an England women's team match, in addition to Sunderland games. It was expanded in 2000 to seat 49,000.

It originally had a capacity of 42,000 people. Its straightforward design appears to allow for redevelopments up to a 63,000-person capacity. The record attendance at the Stadium of Light is 48,353, which was reached on April 13, 2002, when Sunderland met Liverpool, with the guests winning 1–0.

Beyonce, Rihanna, Oasis, Take That, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Spice Girls, and Elton John have all performed at the stadium, in addition to football matches. The stadium also has conference and banqueting suites, the Black Cats Bar, and a club shop selling Sunderland goods.

The annual graduation ceremony for University of Sunderland students is held at the Stadium of Light. For its use as the university's graduation site, the stadium won the RSVP magazine's Most innovative use of a sporting facility award in 2007.

Top facts about Stadium of Light you need to know

We start from the beginning, when it was still a work in progress, and eventually reach the point where it is now.

Stadium of Light Arrangement and Development

Sunderland

was forced to begin plans to convert their Roker Park home into an all-seater stadium after the Taylor Report was released in January 1990.

Roker Park was primarily made up of standing terraces, and converting it to all-seater seating would have resulted in significantly fewer spectators than before, one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light.

The expansion was nearly impossible because it was surrounded on all sides by residential streets. As a result, by 1991, Sunderland chairman Bob Murray had begun exploring the area for potential sites for a new all-seater stadium.

A proposed stadium on property near the Nissan car plant emerged as the front-runner. Sunderland fans dubbed the 49,000-seater stadium "the Wembley of the North," and it would have a capacity that not even Manchester United's

Old Trafford

could match until 1996.

The plans did not take place. Nissan filed an official complaint shortly after the plans were announced in 1992, forcing Sunderland to terminate the project.

By 1995, the Wearmouth Colliery site had been designated as the club's preferred option for a new stadium, despite the fact that it had closed in December 1993.

The area was located on the north bank of the River Wear in Sunderland's Sheepfolds district, just a few hundred yards from Roker Park and near to the city center.

Sunderland's proposed new stadium was on the shortlist for Euro 96 venues in 1993, after England was appointed as the competition's host in May 1992.

However, it became evident early on that Sunderland's new stadium would not be built in time for the tournament, another one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light.

The Tyne and Wear Development Corporation approved plans for Sunderland to build a 34,000-seater stadium on the Monkwearmouth site on November 13, 1995, according to Sunderland chairman Bob Murray.

The stadium was built for an initial cost of £15 million by Ballast Wiltshier plc, the same company that built the Amsterdam Arena. Construction began in June 1996, as the planned capacity increased to more than 40,000 people.

The stadium's capacity was altered again in early 1997, and it was built on schedule with a 42,000-seat capacity.

The stadium's design allows for the addition of a further tier; full expansion of the upper-tier would bring the total capacity to 63,000. While some believe the stadium can be expanded to a maximum capacity of 84,000, this seems unlikely to happen.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, officially opened the stadium on July 30, 1997, with concerts by Status Quo, Upside Down, and Kavana. Sunderland played a friendly against

Ajax

from the Netherlands to celebrate the stadium's opening, which ended in a 0–0 tie.

The move did not go unnoticed by the public. Peter O'Toole, a well-known actor and Sunderland supporter who has been dubbed "Sunderland's most famous supporter" by the media, said he hasn't been as enthusiastic about the club since it left Roker Park, one of the

Top facts about Stadium of Light.

"I Left My Heart at Roker Park," a one-man play by playwright Tom Kelly and actor Paul Dunn about a fan struggling with the transfer and what Roker Park meant to him, first premiered in 1997 and has had a few revivals since then.

The North Stand was added in 2000, bringing the total capacity to 49,000, at a cost of £7 million to the club, bringing the total cost of the stadium to £23 million.

A statue of Bob Stokoe, the 1973 FA Cup Final winning manager, was placed outside the stadium on July 18, 2006.

The Stadium of Light was named the Best Away Ground at the Football League's end-of-season awards, beating out Crewe Alexandra's Alexandra Stadium and Plymouth Argyle's Home Park.

Sunderland faced

Juventus

in a pre-season friendly on August 6, 2007, to celebrate the stadium's tenth anniversary; the game ended in a 1–1 draw.

Stadium of Light, Stadium of Light, How it Got its Name

The stadium had no official name during construction and was referred to as "Wearside Stadium" and "New Roker Park" by locals.

The Stadium of Light was officially named at a naming ceremony on July 30, 1997, just hours before the first game versus Ajax.

Bob Murray, speaking during the naming ceremony, noted that the name was inspired by the region's coal mining history and the Monkwearmouth Colliery site:

"For many years, miners at Wearmouth Colliery carried with them a Davy lamp as part of their working lives. Reflecting this tradition, the name allows the image of this light to shine forever."

A statue of a miner's Davy lamp was placed in front of the stadium's ticket office, close to the stadium, to emphasize the point.

Sunderland fans initially had mixed feelings about the name, with many expressing dissatisfaction with the fact that it was already connected with

S.L. Benfica

's home ground, one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light.

A film crew for the Premier Passions documentary series captured Bob Murray facing Sunderland fans after the name was announced, with many expressing their displeasure.

Because of the resemblance to Benfica's home, Estadio da Luz (commonly anglicized to The Stadium of Light), some visitors and media had mistakenly assumed that Sunderland's stadium was named after the Portuguese venue.

Murray addressed this explicitly in a 2017 interview with the Evening Chronicle, saying:

"The Estadio de Luz in Portugal isn’t the Stadium of Light, it is named after the area – Luz. It’s like, say, Elland Road or Old Trafford. We are the only club whose stadium has that name, and it was because of the history of the region that I named it".

Murray said in the same interview that he was approached by an official of the Labour administration shortly after the stadium opened, asking if he would consider renaming it after Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in September 1997.

Murray turned down the suggestion, believing that the stadium should be named for those who had to work in the dark in the region.

Another one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light is that the 'Of Light' suffix became a well-known part of the Sunderland A.F.C. brand and was also used in a number of other areas related to the club:

The Academy of Light is the club's training facility and youth academy, the Foundation of Light is a registered charity affiliated with the club, and the Beacon of Light is a sports and education center owned by the Foundation and located adjacent to the stadium. Before it was canceled in January 2017, the club's official magazine was called Legion of Light.

Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn revealed in March 2010 that the team was considering selling naming rights to the stadium as a new source of revenue.

Shortly later, the plans were abandoned. Margaret Byrne, the chief executive, proposed the idea of selling the naming rights again in 2013.

In October 2018, when discussing the possibility of selling the stadium name, chairman Stewart Donald said:

"I think the fans should have a say on whether they are comfortable with it. My gut feel is that even if we didn't consult with them, the vibe I get is that they aren't particularly attached to the name of the stadium. It's not a sacred thing like some of the other grounds."

Stadium of Light Seats

The East Stand had a Sunderland symbol and the words "SUNDERLAND A.F.C." in white lettering, and the North Stand had the motto "HA'WAY THE LADS" ("Ha'way" is a Mackem dialect equivalent of the Geordie word "Howay," meaning "Come on") in white text.

The tops of the East and South stands were also surrounded by a thin strip of white seats.

The Sun bleached sections of red seats, turning them pink over time, which became a subject of mocking from rival fans, one of the

Top facts about Stadium of Light.

Sunderland fans urged the club to replace the seats, pointing out that the faded pink seats were included in the FIFA video game's digital representation of the Stadium of Light.

The club announced in 2016 that as part of a face-lift for the stadium's 20th anniversary, a program of seat modifications will be implemented.

The East Stand was partially reconstructed, but further work was delayed.

Frustration over the pink seats (and the general status of the Stadium) came up repeatedly in Stewart Donald's early contacts with fans when he purchased the club in the summer of 2018.

Donald stated in June that he had purchased 31,500 seats and was looking for volunteers to help replace them.

Hundreds of supporters volunteered to help with the seat swap, which was done in stages with the help of club officials and players on occasion.

Phase I was the southeast corner, which was finished on July 19, 2018, Phase II was the North-East corner, which was finished on September 15, 2018, and Phase III was the South West corner, which was finished in October 2018.

On October 29, 2018, the fourth and last phase, which included replacing 10,000 seats in the South and West stands, began.

White seats were installed in the corners, while the sides and ends were left red. The writing and emblem stayed the same.

The seat change activity was nominated as a finalist in the 'Best Club Marketing Initiative' category at the 2018 Business Football Awards.

Stadium of Light Fan Zone

Sunderland City Council approved a 6,000-capacity Fan Zone in July 2015, inspired by similar schemes at

Manchester City

and NFL games in the United States. It came after a successful trial in January 2013 ahead of a game against West Ham United.

It was completed during the 2015–16 season's first home game. Live music, children's activities (including a five-a-side football pitch), food and drink kiosks, and on-stage interviews with club icons were all part of the zone, which was placed in the car park outside the East Stand and southeast corner.

The Fan Zone was open to ticket-holding spectators, including away fans, three hours before kickoff and for a few hours after the game.

During moments of heavy winds, the Fan Zone was closed for safety reasons due to the temporary structures in place. In 2016, the Fan Zone was upgraded for England's senior international match against

Australia

.

The Fan Zone reappeared for the 2016–17 season-opening against Middlesbrough, but as the season progressed, poor on-field performance and financial difficulties off the field forced the cancellation of the Fan Zone, one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light.

In an interview with the fans group 'Red & White Army,' new club owner Stewart Donald stated that the Fan Zone would be rebuilt.

It returned for the 2018–19 season's first game against Charlton Athletic, and while it was smaller than the 2015 version, it was open to everyone and not just ticket holders. After a game, the Fan Zone is no longer open.

Stadium of Light Hosting International Games

The stadium has hosted England matches in addition to Sunderland games. The stadium was one of three temporary home grounds for the England team while Wembley Stadium was undergoing renovations.

It hosted its first England match in 1999 when England defeated Belgium 2–1 in a friendly match. It hosted its first competitive England match on April 2, 2003, when England beat Turkey 2–0 in a Euro 2004 qualifying match.

On November 27, 2002, the Stadium of Light hosted an England under 20 match versus

Italy

, which Italy won 5–3. On June 10, 2003, it hosted a 2004 U21 European Championship qualifier match between England's under-21s and Slovakia's under-21s.

With 11,223 spectators, the hosts defeated the visitors 2–0 thanks to Peter Dolezaj's fortieth-minute own goal and Phil Jagielka's eighty third-minute goal.

On March 4, 2016, it was announced that England would face Australia in a friendly at the Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016, as part of their Euro 2016 preparations.

England won the sold-out match 2–1 thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford (on his international debut),

Wayne Rooney

, and an own goal by Eric Dier.

One of the Top facts about Stadium of Light is that the Stadium's first women's football international, an England 2023 World Cup qualifier against Austria on November 27, 2021, was confirmed on September 30, 2021.

Stadium of Light Records

The biggest football attendance at the Stadium of Light was 48,353 for a Premier League match between Sunderland and

Liverpool

on April 13, 2002.

On June 20, 2013, for a Rihanna concert, the Stadium set a non-football attendance record of 54,529, one of the

Top facts about Stadium of Light.

The stadium's lowest league attendance was 22,167 against Wigan Athletic on December 2, 2003.

The lowest recorded attendance at the Stadium of Light for a first-team competitive game was 3,498 against Oldham Athletic in the EFL Trophy Second Round on December 1, 2021. On November 9, 2021, a dead rubber match against Bradford City in the same tournament had no official attendance.

The stadium's greatest season average since it opened was 46,790 in the 2000–01 season when Sunderland was in the Premier League.

In Division One, the lowest average attendance at the Stadium of Light was 27,119 in the 2003–04 season. The greatest overall seasonal attendance was 890,660 in the 1998–99 season when Sunderland won the First Division and reached the League Cup semi-finals.

The lowest season-to-date attendance at the Stadium of Light was 572,241 in the 2019–20 season when Sunderland only played 19 of a planned 23 games because of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Due to the pandemic, all games were played behind closed doors the next season, another one of the Top facts about Stadium of Light.

Sunderland's home league attendance averaged 32,156 in the 2018-19 season, a new record for the third division, while the Boxing Day game against Bradford City drew 46,039, a League One record and the best-attended league game outside of the Premier League that season.

The 7–0 win over Oxford United in Division 1 during the 1998–99 promotion season was Sunderland's biggest margin of victory at the stadium.

Sunderland's worst defeat at the Stadium of Light came in a preseason friendly against Celtic on July 29, 2017, which marked the stadium's 20th anniversary.

Sunderland's greatest league defeat at the Stadium of Light is 4-0, which has occurred four times (all in the Premier League): against Arsenal (11 May 2003), Manchester United (26 December 2007), Aston Villa (14 March 2015), and Southampton (11 February 2017).

A 6-3 Sunderland victory over Exeter City in Round 2 of the EFL Cup on August 25, 2015, and a 5-4 Sunderland defeat to Coventry City in League One on April 13, 2019, are the two highest-scoring matches at the Stadium of Light with nine goals.

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source: SportMob

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