Mon 31 January 2022 | 8:30

Top Facts about Valley Parade, Bradford City Stadium

Stadiums are home to football and their stories are interesting to read! Today we are going to read about one of these stadiums in our Top facts about valley Parade.

Valley Parade, sometimes known as the Utilita Energy Stadium due to sponsorship, is a football stadium in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. It was built in 1886 and served as the home of Manningham Rugby Football Club until 1903.

They changed their name to Bradford City after switching from rugby football to association football. Since then, it has served as Bradford City's home, but it is now owned by former chairman Gordon Gibb's pension fund.

It has also hosted Bradford for one season and the Bradford Bulls rugby league team for two seasons, as well as a handful of England youth team fixtures. When Bradford City was promoted to the First Division in 1908, football architect Archibald Leitch was commissioned to renovate the stadium.

The stadium saw few changes before the catastrophic fire on May 11, 1985, which killed 56 fans and injured at least 265 more. It was reopened in December 1986 after a £2.6 million renovation. The stadium received substantial renovations in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it presently has a capacity of 25,136 people.

The attendance record of 39,146 was established in 1911 for an FA Cup match against


, making it the country's oldest surviving attendance record at a Football League ground. The largest crowd ever seen at Valley Parade, as it is currently known, was in the 2015 FA Cup Quarter-Finals. So, why waiting for more information? Let's start our Top Facts about Valley Parade.

Here we go! Top facts about Valley Parade

In Sportmob's top facts about Valley Parade, we will completely describe this stadium's story for those who have only seen it on television. We will also research and learn about Valley Parade's history, as well as the owners' plans for its future development. Without further ado, let us dive into the top facts about Valley Parade.

  • Full name:

    Utilita Energy Stadium

  • Location:

    Valley Parade, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 7DY, England

  • Owner:

    Gordon Gibb pension fund

  • Capacity:


  • Field size:

    113 yd × 70 yds (103 m × 64 m)

  • Surface:


  • Opened:


  • Tenants: 

    Bradford City (1903–present), Bradford (Park Avenue) (1973–1974), Manningham RFC (1886–1903) & Bradford Bulls (2001–2002)

Valley Parade history

Manningham Rugby Football Club, founded in 1876, played its first games at Cardigan Fields in Bradford's Carlisle Road neighborhood. When their land was sold to make way for the development of Drummond School, the club needed a new location.

As a result, they purchased one-third of the Valley Parade site in Manningham, signing a short-term lease on the balance of the land in time for the 1886–87 season. Valley Parade, a name derived from the steep hillside below Manningham, was given to both the new site and the road on which it was erected. The land was formerly a quarry and was part of a larger site held by the Midland Railway Company.

The club paid £1,400 for designers to oversee the excavation and leveling of the site and relocated a one-year-old stand from Carlisle Road to the highest point of the new pitch. The original stadium included the relocated stand, a 2,000-capacity tiered enclosure with the players' changing rooms beneath the stand, the playing area, a cinder athletics track, and fencing to keep the overall capacity at 18,000.

Ballast, ashes, soil, and sods were used to construct the playing field. The venue was officially opened on September 27, 1886, for a game against Wakefield Trinity, which drew a large crowd, although construction work meant that most of Manningham's early games were away.

On Christmas Day 1888, 12-year-old Thomas Coyle was killed on the ground when the barrier he was sitting beneath collapsed on him, breaking his neck. An inquest determined that the death was unintentional and that the accident occurred as a result of the weight of spectators leaning on the barrier. The proceeds from the game, which totaled £115, were divided among Coyle's family and the families of the other lads harmed in the incident.

Valley Parade Background

Let's continue Sportmob's

Top Facts about Valley Parade

with its background. The two stands that remained unchanged after the fire were both refurbished in the 1990s. In 1991, the Bradford end of the stadium was converted into a double-decker, all-seater stands with a new scoreboard. Following the club's promotion to Division One in 1996, chairman Geoffrey Richmond announced the construction of a 4,500-seater stand on the Midland Road side.

On Boxing Day 1996, it was utilized for a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United before being officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on March 27, 1997. Richmond's ambitions to renovate the stadium persisted as City rose in the league.

During City's 1998–99 promotion season, the roof of the Kop, which was the largest safe-standing terrace in the UK at the time, was dismantled and the capacity was lowered to prepare for a summer £6.5 million restoration work. The Kop was transformed into a two-tiered 7,500-seat stand.

A 2,300-seat capacity corner section was added to bridge the gap between the main stand and the Kop. When it opened in December 2000, it increased Valley Parade's capacity to more than 20,000 for the first time since 1970. At the same period, a suite of offices and a shop were constructed. After the renovation was finished, a second layer was erected to the main stand for £6.5 million. It opened in 2001, boosting the capacity of the main stand to 11,000 and the total capacity of the stadium to 25,000.

Richmond also planned to increase the capacity of the main stand by 1,800 seats by constructing additional changing facilities and office blocks, as well as adding a second tier to the Midland Road stand, bringing the total capacity to more than 35,000.

The club, however, went bankrupt in May 2002, and Richmond was replaced by new co-owners Julian Rhodes and Gordon Gibb. The following year, Valley Parade was sold for £5 million to Gibb's pension fund, with the club's offices, shop, and car park sold for an additional £2.5 million to London-based Development Securities. Bradford City's annual rent bill to Gibb's pension fund in 2011 is £370,000.

The overall budget for the year is £1.25 million, which includes other rent payments, levies, maintenance, and utility expenses.

For sponsorship purposes, the stadium has been renamed several times.

The Pulse radio station, Bradford & Bingley, Intersonic, and Coral Windows have all sponsored the event. The stadium was renamed the Northern Commercials Stadium in July 2016 due to sponsorship, however it was still generally known as Valley Parade throughout football. The stadium was renamed and re-sponsored by Utilita Energy in July 2019.

Valley Parade Structure and facilities 

Shall we dedicate this part of the

Top Facts about Valley Parade

to our eventful stadium's structure? The JCT600 Stand, the Kop, the Midland Road Stand, the North West Corner, and the TL Dallas Stand are the stadium's five all-seater stands. Except for a small portion of the main stand, all five stands are covered, with all but the Midland Road Stand being two-tiered.

The majority of the stands are cantilever buildings, and the Midland Road Stand overhangs the road due to its location on the hillside. Many of the stands had more traditional names before being renamed due to sponsorship deals. The JCT600 Stand is the primary stand at the stadium and is generally referred to as such by supporters, however, it is also known as the Sunwin Stand due to its past sponsor.

The Kop was the former standing section, and its name, like that of many other stadiums around the country, was derived from the Battle of Spion Kop. Because of the road on that side of the stadium, the East Stand, sponsored by Northern Commercials, is also known as the Midland Road Stand. Because it is closest to the city center, the TL Dallas Stand is also known as the Bradford end. Valley Parade has a total capacity of 25,136 people.

The JCT600 Stand has a capacity of 9,004 fans, followed by the Kop, which has a capacity of 7,492. The Midland Road Stand has a capacity of 4,500, while the North West Corner has a capacity of 2,300. With a capacity of 1,840, the TL Dallas Stand is the smallest of the five stands. The stadium has 134 seats reserved for media representatives.

The Sunwin Stand has additional expansion space and is unique in that it only runs three-quarters of the length of the pitch. The rest of this site is taken up by a brick building in the stadium's southwest corner, which houses the club changing rooms and security offices.

The Sunwin Stand also contains the stadium's 17 executive boxes and meeting facilities, which can accommodate up to 700 people. Another 300 persons can be accommodated in the Kop's second function area, the Bantams Bar.

In the parking park behind the Kop, there is also more office space, a club store, a ticket office, and a museum. From early 2010, the area surrounding the store will also include a dental surgery administered in collaboration with the football club by NHS Bradford and Airedale.

From 1995 to 2008, visiting team fans sat in the TL Dallas Stand, but for major matches, they were relocated to other areas of the stadium. The club announced in March 2008 that the TL Dallas Stand would be open to home fans for the 2008–09 season.

The club's supporters decisively voted in favor of using the Bradford End of the stadium in a text message poll. Since the start of the 2008–09 season, visiting team fans have been housed in the East Stand's end blocks.

Valley Parade Fire disaster

Bradford City's final Division Three game of the 1984–85 season against Lincoln City drew 11,076 fans on May 11, 1985. Bradford City had won the Division Three title the week prior, defeating Bolton Wanderers 2–0. Before the Lincoln game, the league trophy was presented to City captain Peter Jackson.

After 40 minutes of play, the score remained 0–0 when a small fire was discovered three rows from the back towards one end of the main stand. Within minutes, the flames became more evident, and police began evacuating people in the stand less than six minutes later.

Stafford Higginbotham, chairman of the club, who was in the main stand, recounted the effect and his reaction to the disaster: "In a matter of seconds, the fire had spread over the length of the stand. The smoke was consuming my lungs. We couldn't take a breath.

It was going to be our day." The game was halted, and the wooden roof began to burn. The fire engulfed the entire length of the stand, and timber and the roof began to fall on the spectators. Black smoke engulfed the back corridors, where spectators were attempting to flee.

In the end, the fire killed 56 people, ranging from 11-year-old toddlers to Sam Firth, the club's 86-year-old former chairman. At least 265 more supporters were hurt. In some cases, the few extant tiny escape paths led to locked doors, and for most spectators, the only way out was directly onto the field. 

The game was called off and never re-played, with The Football League directing that the score at the time of the call-off stand. Sir Oliver Popplewell's inquiry into the incident was published in 1986, and it resulted in new safety rules for sporting facilities across the country.

Forensic scientist David Woolley believes the fire was started by a thrown cigarette or match that fell through gaps in the benches to a space beneath the stand where trash had accumulated. A number of police officers and 22 bystanders were eventually recognized for their bravery for their actions on the day.

The original wooden roof of the stand was scheduled to be replaced the day after the Lincoln game because it did not fulfill the safety criteria for Division Two, where the team would play the following season. Instead, rebuilding work did not commence until July 1986.

Since September 1985, the ground has been utilized for reserve team matches, but only media and club officials have been allowed to attend. While Valley Parade was being rebuilt, Bradford City's senior team played home games at other venues in West Yorkshire for 19 months.

The new stadium cost £2.6 million to rebuild (£7.8 million today) and reopened in December 1986. The Bradford Disaster Appeal Fund raised more than £3.5 million (£10.8 million today) for fire victims and their families.


Memorials have been constructed at the stadium and at Bradford City Hall, with the latter presented by Bradford's German twin town of Hamm. The disaster is also commemorated through an annual memory service at Bradford City Hall on 11 May, as well as an annual Easter-weekend youth competition involving Bradford, Lincoln, and other teams from across Europe.

Other uses for Valley Parade

It might be interesting to know the other uses of our stadium! So let's get into details in this section of Top Facts about Valley Parade. Valley Parade held its first international football match barely two months after hosting its first Football League game. The game's governing organizations sought to promote the sport in the West Riding of Yorkshire, so they chose Valley Parade to host a game between an English League team and an Irish League team, despite the fact that the pitch was subpar.

The English League won the match 2–1 in front of an estimated 20,000 fans on October 10, 1903. The venue held a number of further representative games over the next 20 years, including an England international trial, the 1904 FA Amateur Cup Final, and an under-15s schoolboy international between England and Scotland.

However, the field did not host another international match until 6 April 1987, when England's under-18s drew 1–1 with Switzerland. Since then, several under-18 matches have been played, the most recent of which was in November 2000 between England and Belgium.

It held two international friendlies for England's under-21 team. The first was on October 8, 1999, versus Denmark's under-21s. The visitors were trounced 4–1 by the hosts. The other was on March 26, 2002, versus Italy's under-21s. With 21,642 people in attendance, it concluded in a 1-1 tie. 

Valley Parade's next international appearance came seven years later when Bradford City hosted an under-19s European Championship qualifying game, which England won 4–1. The England women's team has also played at Valley Parade, including their first home match under The Football Association's auspices against Spain in 1994.

Bradford (Park Avenue) have played 29 games at Valley Parade, including a 2–0 friendly win over Swiss side AC Lugano in 1962 and all of their home games in 1973–74, their final season before extinction.

Bradford Northern, a rugby league team based in Bradford, played a handful of games at Valley Parade between 1920 and 1937, as well as three games in the 1980s and 1990s. Bradford Northern became Bradford Bulls with the introduction of the Super League, and they spent two seasons at Valley Parade during the rebuilding of their home site at Odsal in 2001 and 2002.

Valley Parade Records

Let's get into the records in this part of Sportmob's

Top Facts about Valley Parade

. Bradford City's FA Cup fourth-round match against Burnley on March 11, 1911, drew 39,146 people to Valley Parade. On 17 September 1927, the highest league attendance of 37,059 was for a Bradford derby match between Bradford City and Bradford (Park Avenue) in Division Three (North).

The club's all-seated attendance record since the Valley Parade grounds was rebuilt in 1986 is 24,321, set on 7 March 2015 in the 2015 FA Cup Quarter-finals draw against Reading, breaking the previous record of 23,971 set on 10 December 2012 in the club's 2012–13 Football League Cup Quarter-finals victory over



On 15 May 1981, the lowest attendance for a league home match at Valley Parade was 1,249 for a Division Four match against Hereford United. Bradford City's record gate receipts are £181,990 for the Premier League game against

Manchester United

on January 13, 2001.

The Football League did not keep official attendance numbers for league games until 1925. Since then, City's highest official average attendance at Valley Parade has been 18,551 for the 1928–29 promotion season from Division Three (North), but the club recorded an average of 22,585 in 1920–21.

It wasn't until City's promotion to the Premier League in 1999 that the club had average attendances of more than 18,000. In 1999–2000, City averaged 18,030 and 18,511 the following season. The Bradford Bulls' biggest attendance during their two years at Valley Parade was 16,572 on March 4, 2001, versus St. Helens.

In Super League VII, the Bulls averaged 11,488. The largest audience for a Bradford Northern match at Valley Parade was 20,973 on 13 February 1926 for a Challenge Cup game against Keighley, which ended 2–2.

Valley Parade Transport 

Bradford has two railroad stops. Bradford Interchange, which is also the city's main bus terminal and is 1 mile (2 km) away from the ground, and Bradford Forster Square, which is 0.6 miles (1 km) away from the ground, are the two locations.

Bradford Interchange connects to Leeds railway station for London North Eastern Railway and Cross-country train services, Grand Central provides a direct route to London, and First Bradford and Keighley Bus Company buses provide ground transportation.

Northern train services run through Forster Square, which also links to Leeds. On matchdays, there are no parking facilities available to fans at the stadium. As part of the Valley Parade expansion in 2000, the club devised a green transportation plan to alleviate traffic congestion near the stadium.

A new railway station on the line between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square, as well as a subsidized bus service, were proposed. There has never been a station built, and a discounted bus route was .discontinued due to low patronage. Thanks for reading Sportmob's

Top Facts about Valley Parade


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